On June 15 this year, EUROCONTROL began testing the initial stage of the Location of an Aircraft in Distress Repository (LADR) system, one of the core elements of ICAO’s work to ensure that key aviation stakeholders, including search and rescue operators, have up-to-date information related to the last known position of an aircraft. An initial operational version will be available at the end of 2023, with further development in early 2024.
The LADR system (see “EUROCONTROL’s role in enabling GADSS via LADR and OPS CTRL”) is being developed within the agency’s Network Management Directorate and the beta version “allows contributors to connect to the system, to provide data about the last known position,” says Anastasiia Sobchenko, Common Services Expert in the Network Manager Directorate. “In this first step we are working with contributors to ensure they can connect to the system, and we receive data from them.”
The ICAO Global Aeronautical Distress and Safety System (GADSS) has four core elements: aircraft tracking, distress location, post-flight localisation and data recovery.
“The aircraft tracking requirements became applicable in 2018,” says Ian Knowles, Technical Officer at the Operational Safety Section of the Air Navigation Bureau of ICAO. “Broadly speaking, this requires a 15-minute position report from an aircraft when it’s in oceanic airspace. If an aircraft is operating in airspace controlled by an air navigation service provider (ANSP) then we can use that automated report.”
To assist in the implementation of these standards, the Normal Aircraft Tracking Implementation Initiative (NATII) was established, and group members decided there needed to be a better means of communication between aircraft operators and ANSPs, which led to the establishment of the OPS Control Directory. “If an aircraft operator has a reason to doubt the safety of an aircraft it needs to know who to get in touch with,” says Ian Knowles. “So the OPS Control Directory was established in direct response to that initial first standard.” EUROCONTROL will host the Ops Control Directory as part of the LADR system, where the usage of OPS Control will be extended to all users of LADR.
The deadline for fitting new aircraft – produced from 1 January 2024 onwards – with distress equipment tracking requirements will be 1 January 2025, following a delay to the initial planned implementation date as a result of the COVID pandemic.