Feb. 14, 2019

The FAA has released an Information for Operators (InFO 19001) to educate the aviation industry about new guidance for tracking large aircraft flying internationally.

According to the InFO, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) adopted recommendations for improving aircraft tracking (AT) after Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 disappeared over the Indian Ocean in 2014. Those recommendations are now in effect.

The AT guidance applies to commercial operators with a takeoff mass of more than 60,000 pounds and a seating capacity greater than 19 seats when operating in international airspace. In oceanic areas, the guidance applies to aircraft with a takeoff mass greater than 100,300 pounds and a seating capacity greater than 19 seats.

The InFO calls for an operator to:

  • Establish a four-dimensional (latitude, longitude, altitude and time) AT capability to track airplanes throughout its area of operations.
  • Track the position of the airplane though automated reporting at least every 15 minutes for that portion of the operation where Air Traffic Services position information is greater than 15-minute intervals whether in Oceanic airspace or over remote continental airspace.
  • Establish procedures for retaining tracking data to assist search-and-rescue operations in determining the aircraft’s last known position. Those procedures should be approved by the local certificate holding district office.

Flight MH370 also prompted ICAO to adopt recommendations for the Global Aeronautical Distress Safety System (GADSS). The FAA said it plans to address those recommendations in future guidance.

According to “ICAO Circular 347: Aircraft Tracking Implementation Guidelines,” AT is a “near-term solution” and “the first step necessary to move from current systems towards the GADSS target concept, which addresses the growing consensus in the global aviation community that the location of an aircraft should always be known.”

Read the Aircraft Tracking InFO.

Read ICAO Circular 347 Aircraft Tracking Implementation Guidelines.