DGCA Issues Guidelines to Operators for Real Time Tracking of Aircrafts

In 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 network.

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.