view of the difficulties faced in search and rescue operations after an
aircraft goes missing or meets with an accident, the DGCA has issued guidelines
to all operators, in the form of Air Safety Circular, for real time tracking of
aircrafts engaged in carrying passengers and cargo from departure to arrival
. This is significant in view of the preliminary report released by
Ministry of Transport, Malaysia into the accident of B777-200 aircraft 9M-MRO
operating flight MH-370 on 8th March 2014, which has revealed
that the location of wreckage is still unknown due to the fact that there is no
real time tracking of the aircraft. It is now known that after
Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) had stopped
transmitting, the satellite communication system automatically transmitted
seven messages that confirmed that the system was still logged onto the
air transport operators have now been asked vide Air Safety Circular 04 of 2014
dated 5th May 2014, to use onboard Aircraft Communications
Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) /Automatic Dependent Surveillance –
Broadcast (ADS-B) for this purpose and they have to ensure their serviceability
before every departure. Operators have also been advised to devise a
procedure for effective tracking of the aircraft while flying over areas where
there is no coverage of ACARS/ADS-B.
During the last five
years, there have been two occasions when large commercial transport aircrafts
went missing and their last position was not accurately known. While
commercial air transport aircrafts spend considerable amount of time operating
over remote areas, there is currently no international requirement for real
time tracking of the aircraft. This uncertainty resulted in
significant difficulty in locating the aircraft in a timely manner in both the
cases. Such incidences as well as the recent Malaysian tragedy have prompted
the DGCA to take necessary action.
A copy of the Air Safety
Circular is given below.
THE DIRECTOR GENERAL OF CIVIL AVIATION
CENTRE, OPP. SAFDARJUNG AIRPORT, NEW DELHI
CIRCULAR 04 OF 2014
File No. AV15019/04/2014-AS Dated:
5th May 2014
Subject: ACARS and its continuous
operation during flight
Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS)
a digital datalink system, is increasingly being used
for transmission of short messages between aircraft and ground stations via airband
radio (HF and VHF) or satellite and
also for flight tracking. Major
functions of ACARS are as follows:
It automatically detects and report changes to the flight phases
(out of the gate, off the ground, on the ground and into the gate).
Interfaces with Flight Management System (FMS) for
communication of flight plans and
weather information from the ground station, which enables the airlines to
update the FMS during flight and allows the flight crew to examine new weather
conditions or alternative flight plans.
Transmits information from the aircraft to ground stations about
the conditions of various aircraft systems and sensors on real-time basis
including maintenance faults and abnormal events for health monitoring of
equipment and better planning of repairs and maintenance related
Automated ping messages
are used to test aircraft connection with the communication station. A ping
response indicates healthy ACARS communication. In the event of aircraft ACARS
unit being silent for a longer than a preset time interval, the ground station
can ping the aircraft (directly or via satellite).
ACRAS data is, therefore, of great significance in locating the
last position of the aircraft and launch search and rescue after it has met
with an accident. In a recent accident, which has drawn the attention of all
concerned across the globe, the preliminary report has revealed that after
ACARS stopped transmitting, the satellite communication
system automatically transmitted seven messages that confirmed
that the system was still logged onto the network. With the
primary radar data, analysis of satellite data
and aircraft performance data, the investigators have been
able to establish the probable search areas of ill-fated aircraft.
While IATA has created a Taskforce that will make recommendations
by the end of year 2014 as to how commercial aircraft can be tracked
continuously, we need to implement measures in the interim period with an
objective of increasing the capability of all agencies involved with airline
operations to effectively track their aircraft.
this Circular is to clearly state the policy and procedures of ‘Flight
Following’ on real time basis by all Indian scheduled/non-scheduled operators
with immediate effect.
INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMPLIANCE
3.1 In view of difficulties
faced in the search and rescue, after an aircraft goes missing or meets with an
accident, all operators operating commercial flights are required to ensure the
Operators should use all suitable means to track all its aircraft
engaged in the carriage of passengers/cargo from departure (Chocks-off) to
arrival (Chockson) so as to ensure real time tracking.
b) Aircraft wherein the
ACARS system is not available/disabled, operator must ensure real time flight
tracking using Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast (ADS-B).
Operators must ensure that ACARS/ADS-B are fully functional before
Strict instructions should be given to the flight crew not to
switch it off during the flight.
where there is no coverage of ACARS/ADS-B, operator should devise a procedure
for effective tracking of the aircraft. While flying over such areas, the
flight crew should report the aircraft coordinates, speed and altitude at an
interval of not exceeding 15 minutes.
f) Flight crew should
immediately report to the ground station any intermittent behavior / unserviceability
of ACARS/ADS-B during flight either using data link or voice message.
should monitor both fault and warning messages of ACARS. They should opt for
this facility from their service providers.
operators are required to develop procedures for compliance of Para 2.1 of this
Circular and submit in writing to DGCA.
2.2.1 The procedures must be
specific and cover each aircraft on the AOP.
2.2.2 The procedures must be
conducted under the supervision of a Post Holder who shall be accountable for
2.2.3 The procedures must contain
specific instructions and actions in the event when an aircraft is declared
‘overdue’, ‘missing’ or ‘unreported’.
2.3 DGCA will review the
implementation of this circular in its surveillance inspections.
above instructions are for strict compliance by all scheduled/non-scheduled
General of Civil Aviation
All Scheduled/Non-Scheduled Operators