UPGRADE

KCAA automates aeronautical search and rescue

The new system will help KCAA achieve fast and efficient response in event of a tracking mission

In Summary

•The Sh31 million system has been installed at the Aeronautical Rescue Coordination Centre (ARCC) located at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

•All aircraft operating in Kenya are required to be fitted with a serviceable ELT which is triggered automatically when the aircraft experiences impact.

Bystanders watch the Fokker 50, 5Y-IZO plane operated by Silverstone Air that crash landed after take-off from the Wilson Airport in Nairobi, last year/
Bystanders watch the Fokker 50, 5Y-IZO plane operated by Silverstone Air that crash landed after take-off from the Wilson Airport in Nairobi, last year/
Image: FILE

The Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) has launched an automated Aeronautical Search and Rescue System, in a bid to improve efficiency in tracking aircraft in distress.

The Sh31 million system has been installed at the Aeronautical Rescue Coordination Centre (ARCC), located at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

It will enable KCAA Air Navigation Service Provider (ANSP) to have continuous coordination, of all Aeronautical Search and Rescue missions within the country.

This automation will help the authority achieve fast and efficient response in event of a search and rescue mission.

It is a shift from the previous manual system.

The KCAA Director-General, Captain Gilbert  Kibe, said the new system will greatly boost the chances of tracking aircraft in distress and thus saving lives.

“The manual search coordination process took longer time in determining the probable area to be searched, hence delaying mobilisation of search and rescue response agencies,"Kibe said.

"With the right data obtained from the system, the search area can now be narrowed to a specific location after which response agencies are informed and this increases the chances of saving lives and property,” he added.

Initially, the ARCC was only activated when there was need for search and rescue following a reported emergency.

This required mobilisation of search mission coordinators who would then proceed to conduct a manual search using maps and charts.

Currently, the ARCC is manned on a 24-hour basis with search mission coordinators, who have undergone an on-job-training to familiarise themselves with the new system and standard operating procedures.

The new system was put to test by KCAA during a search and rescue drill in East Africa conducted on December 3, 2019.

Search and rescue agencies involved during the drill, included government agencies such as the National Police Service-Air wing and National Police Service Operations, Kenya Defence Forces, National Disaster Management Unit, Kenya Meteorological Department, Kenya Airports Authority among others.

The newly-installed system is linked to a search and rescue satellite that aids in tracking of Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT), enabling a faster detection of aircraft in distress.

All aircraft operating in Kenya are required to be fitted with a serviceable ELT which is triggered automatically when the aircraft experiences impact.

The new system is able, via satellite, to indicate the location of the aircraft which then, puts into motion the search and rescue operation.