GADSS: Automated Distress Tracking is Less Challenging Than You Think

In November 2018, in response to the losses of MH370 and Air France 447, the first phase of ICAO’s Global Aeronautical Distress and Safety System (GADSS) will take effect. Focusing on capturing robust aircraft position data, the 2018 ICAO Normal Tracking initiative recommends that aircraft send position reports at a minimum of every 15 minutes for flights over water and in remote locations. To date, ICAO Normal Tracking has been adopted for EASA, CAAC, CAAS, Malaysian and Singapore airspace with more civil aviation authorities expected to follow suit.

However, Normal Tracking represents just the first and simplest phase of ICAO GADSS. In 2021, ICAO’s full vision will come into play. More than just position tracking, the 2021 deadline includes recommendations for automatically and autonomously tracking aircraft in distress, and for speeding the retrieval of black box data post accident.

The final design for GADSS Autonomous Distress Tracking (ADT) and Timely Recovery of Flight Data (TRFD) remain under review.

We look at the current scope of GADSS 2021, its operational safety impacts and the technology solutions proposed with a view to simplifying the landscape for operators researching GADSS.

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