Air Traffic Services Message Handling System (AMHS) specification

EUROCONTROL Specification on the Air Traffic Services Message Handling System (AMHS) - PUBLISHED


This EUROCONTROL Specification refines and augments the detailed technical specifications for AMHS in ICAO Annex 10 and associated ICAO technical manuals, for deployment in the European Air Traffic Management Network (EATMN).The goal is to enable EATMN-wide support of a specific profile of the extended level of service of the ATS Message Handling Service, as defined by ICAO. This includes:

  1. support for binary information transfer,
  2. operation over a network infrastructure based on the internet protocol (IP),
  3. use of standard message heading extensions to convey Air Traffic Services (ATS) header information,
  4. use of directory functionality to enhance interoperability,
  5. migration to the use of digitally signed secure messages at a future date if required.

This EUROCONTROL specification has been recognised as a Community specification (CS) after a positive opinion of the Single Sky Committee and after publication of the specification’s reference in the Official Journal of the European Union.


The Aeronautical Fixed Telecommunications Network (AFTN), complemented in Europe by the Common ICAO Data Interchange Network (CIDIN), has provided an effective store-and-forward messaging service for the conveyance of text messages, using character-oriented procedures, for many years.
However AFTN / CIDIN technology is now becoming obsolescent, and is not sufficiently flexible to support messaging functions found in modern messaging systems (such as transfer of binary information).

It is intended that existing AFTN and CIDIN users and systems will transition to the architecture of the Aeronautical Telecommunication Network (ATN), and this is enabled in part by the ATSMHS application, which has been defined by ICAO to replace the AFTN telegraphic style of working with a modern store and forward Message Handling System based on international Standards.


At its 21st meeting, the Single Sky Committee (SSC) agreed to follow the SSC advisory procedure in accordance with Framework Regulation 550/2004 for the mandate request to Eurocontrol to draw up Eurocontrol specifications (in accordance with Interoperability Regulation 552/2004, Article 4.1.b) for AMHS.

As a result, a draft EUROCONTROL Specification was submitted to a formal written consultation from 22nd January 2009 to 24th April 2009, using the mechanisms of the EUROCONTROL Notice of Proposed Rule-Making (ENRPM) process.

The summary of responses document was updated following the formal workshop held 23rd June 2009.

The Final Report for the EUROCONTROL Specification on AMHS was delivered to the European Commission on 30th October 2009. It included the EUROCONTROL Specification on AMHS, title translations in EU languages and the summary of responses (SOR) for the consultation on the specification.

  • AMHS Final Report (zip)
  •    30 October 2009, by EUROCPNTROL, English - pdf - 1.5 MB


AMHS developments are coordinated at global level through ICAO and at European regional level through the ICAO AFSG (Aeronautical Fixed Service Group).

EUROCONTROL is an active contributor to these developments and provides the off-line network management services in support of the ground ATS Messaging network of Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs) in Europe.

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