New initiatives to support the Global Aeronautical Distress and Safety System

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The Global Aeronautical Distress and Safety System (GADSS) concept was developed by ICAO, with the help of worldwide experts and European subject matter experts led by EUROCONTROL, following two high-profile incidents involving airliners that went missing triggering complex and highly costly search efforts: the crash of Air France Flight 447 on 1 June 2009 and the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight 370 on 8 March 2014.

Recently, ICAO Secretary General Juan Carlos Salazar and EUROCONTROL Director General Raúl Medina deepened the cooperation between the two organizations towards its implementation and the reoccurrence of similar tragedies in the future. A signature of letters between the leaders tasks EUROCONTROL with the development and hosting of a Location of an Aircraft in Distress Repository (LADR) and an Operational Control Directory (OPS CTRL).

LADR is part of the GADSS that covers autonomous distress tracking equipment on aircraft airframes, and improved systems and procedures to collect and share the last known aircraft location information. The OPS CTRL will facilitate the exchange of information between air operators, air navigation service providers, and rescue coordination centres.

“Improving aircraft tracking and identifying distress situations during a flight in order to initiate a timely rescue operation, wherever in the world that flight might be taking place, is the ultimate goal of the GADSS,” remarked ICAO Council President Salvatore Sciacchitano. “Both the Repository and the Directory that will move forward as a result of this new agreement between EUROCONTROL and ICAO will assist rescue efforts by coordinating all affected actors in the event of an aircraft in distress.”

“This is a major step forward in addressing a global aviation need and we are delighted to be supporting global aviation and the flying public,” EUROCONTROL Director General Raúl Medina stated. “We are fully committed to delivering and hosting the LADR – a web-based repository which will collect, store and provide access to the last known position of an aircraft in distress information. Thanks to LADR, impacted stakeholders will be able to locate swiftly an aircraft in distress, greatly speeding up crucial search, rescue and recovery capabilities when a distress turns into an accident’”.

“Implementation of LADR will allow search and rescue services to better employ their resources in a timely manner to the most effective locations, thereby assisting in their mission to save lives,” remarked ICAO Secretary General Juan Carlos Salazar. “The opportunity to collaborate with EUROCONTROL on this important development for the implementation of the ICAO GADSS concept reflects ICAO’s commitment to both look for new ways to work with partners and to focus on the development of implementation support for States.”

LADR will allow data submissions from accredited contributors in order to ensure all information related to the location of an aircraft in distress from suitably equipped aircraft is stored and made available to users.

In case of an ‘aircraft in distress’ anywhere, anytime around the globe, LADR will provide a single point of access to the required information and notify the appropriate stakeholders, including aircraft operators, air navigation service providers and search and rescue, of a potential event.

An initial version of LADR with core functionality is expected to be delivered by the end of 2023, and an enhanced and scaled-up version that conforms with existing requirements is expected to be delivered by November 2024.