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Cobham teams up with Acacia Systems on Dash 8 update program

written by Hannah Dowling | March 3, 2022

Cobham’s Special Missions unit has partnered with defence software and systems engineering provider Acacia Systems to undertake a modification project for the Dash-8 surveillance aircraft in Adelaide.

Both South Australian companies have confirmed that they have partnered together to undertake aircraft integration work at Cobham’s Adelaide site, upgrading both the technology within Cobham’s Dash-8 surveillance capabilities as well as their ground centre.

This isn’t the first occasion in which both companies have partnered together on a project.

“Cobham and Acacia have a successful track record collaborating on customised Mission Management Systems (MMS) for aircraft considered national Tier 1 assets,” James Woodhams, managing director of special mission at Cobham said.

“Acacia is designing and developing the software integral to the success of our Dash-8 aircraft modification project that is currently underway.

“The partnership will extend beyond Project Slingshot, with Acacia providing long-term through-life support for the software, including further development and improvements.”

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Cobham undertakes in-house upgrades of their fleet of surveillance aircraft, engaging with local businesses to support their capability.

“We are extremely proud of the work we have done with Cobham to date and are thrilled to continue this strategic partnership to develop and install custom software that contributes to safeguarding Australia,” Ted Huber, founder and chairman of Acacia Systems said.

The partnership between the two companies has already developed innovative benefits for the Australian economy with the development of Australia’s first MMS system, ensuring companies no longer rely on imported MMS technology.

“We are committed to working with smart Australian companies – such as Acacia – to continue to innovate and build our capability within civil and military domains in Australia and abroad,” Woodhams said.

Last month, Australian Aviation reported that Cobham welcomed its sixth Dash 8 Q400 into its fleet, ahead of its planned start of commercial services from mid-February.

The new aircraft will support the operator’s charter and fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) operations from its Perth base.

Cobham’s regional services managing director Claude Alviani said that Cobham’s growing Q400 fleet marks the company’s commitment to reducing emissions and improving environmental outcomes.

“The Q400 turboprop has the lowest fuel consumption per passenger seat of any turboprop in the industry, while maintaining jet-like speed,” he said.

It comes after news dropped that Cobham’s global parent company is reportedly seeking to sell off its Australian business, in a deal expected to be worth over $1 billion.

According to a report by The Australian Financial Review, US-based private equity firm Advent International, which owns UK company Cobham and its Australian branch Cobham Aviation Services Australia, has hired Australian investment bank Macquarie Capital to oversee the sale and seek out potential buyers.

The report suggests the auction will take place in two parts, which is likely to mean that the businesses’ two major units – that being its charter/FIFO operations and its special missions unit – could be sold off separately.

Cobham Aviation Services Australia reported $368 million revenue and $87.2 million EBITDA in the year to December 2020, making it the third biggest player in Australia’s aviation industry behind Qantas and Virgin Australia.

It is understood that Cobham’s special missions unit, which largely includes government contracts for conducting airborne surveillance and search and rescue operations, makes up the majority of the Australian business’ earnings.

Cobham Aviation Services Australia also boasts over $407 million in assets, and 33 aircraft in its fleet.

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