Leidos aircraft at EF celebrates Torres Strait’s Islander culture

Plane spotters at Essendon Fields Airport have a new aircraft to photograph for their collection – the freshly painted Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) Challenger 604 rescue aircraft and its striking artwork designed by Torres Strait artist Michael Nona called ‘Baydham’.

Leidos Airborne Solutions Australia (formerly Cobham Special Mission) base and maintain the most advanced civil search-and-rescue aircraft for the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) – Bombardier Challenger SAR jets – out of their Essendon Fields location. In total, 36 people are employed at the base, performing search-and-rescue operations over land and sea.


Pictured | Some of the Challengers Essendon Fields Airport based crew; Emily, Monique, Fred, Adrian & Tom.

Mr Nona was selected by AMSA to design the artwork following a search undertaken by the Torres Strait Regional Authority (TSRA) last year. The artwork has been wrapped around the front section of the Challenger 604 aircraft, a critical part of the search and rescue fleet based at Essendon Fields.

The design features a shark, known as Baydham in Kala Lagaw Ya language and is an important symbol in the Torres Strait region. Known as the protectors of the reef, sharks play an important role in maintaining balance in the seas.

Paul McLaughlin, Base Manager for Leidos Australia at Essendon Fields, says the aircraft was already turning heads at the airport with its impressive artwork.

“We respectfully acknowledge the strong connection of First Nations people to land and sea, and our crew are very proud to operate this aircraft,’’ he said.

John Nahyna, Operations Manager at Essendon Fields Airport, says the arrival of this special aircraft is an honour and a fantastic cultural acknowledgment of the Torres Strait region and its people.

“The AMSA Challenger 604 makes a great contribution every day, helping keep our maritime channels around the country safe from its base at Essendon Fields Airport. This artwork is a great symbol that represents Leidos Australia and AMSA’s ongoing commitment to safe and clean seas,’’ he said.

To find out more about the work of Emergency Services Air Wings at Essendon Fields, including Leidos, visit https://ef.com.au/airport/emergency-services/