CIRCULAR SATELLITE-AIDED SEARCH AND RESCUE - THE COSPAS-SARSAT SYSTEM Approved by the Secretary General and published under his authority INTERNATIONAL CIVIL AVIATION ORGANIZATION MONTREAL CANADA
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FOREWORD 1. General 1.1 The essence of successful search and rescue lies in the speed with which it can be set up and carried out and the accuracy with which the search area can be defined. This is so because it must be presumed that in each incident there are survivors who need help and whose chances of survival diminish with every passing minute. 1.2 The COSPAS-SARSAT system, which has been developed by Canada, France, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the United States, introduces space technology to assist in expediting search and rescue and in defining the search area. Experience gained from the COSPAS-SARSAT project has demonstrated significant advantages to be gained by satellite-aided alerting. 1 .3 The purpose of this circular is a to acquaint personnel responsible for search and rescue, as well as air traffic services personnel, communications specialists and pilots, with the status of the COSPAS-SARSAT system and how it assists search and rescue and b to inform States which may be interested in taking advantage of the COSPAS-SARSAT system of the points of contact, levels of participation, and likely costs. Although this circular focuses on aeronautical applications of the COSPAS-SARSAT system it has broader humanitarian applications which include maritime and terrestrial search and rescue. 1.4 The term "emergency transmitters" when used in this circular is a generic term which encompasses emergency location beacons - aircraft ELBA, survival radio equipment which emits a distinctive tone, emergency position indicating radio beacons EPIRB and emergency locator transmitters ELT. 2. Background 2.1 At the 23rd Session of the ICAO Assembly in 1980, the Technical Commission took note of a report submitted by the Delegation of Canada on experimental work related to search and rescue satellite-aided tracking SARSAT. Since that time, the develop- ment of the COSPAS-SARSAT system has been monitored and reported on in annual reports of the Council, articles in the ICAO Bulletin and State letters. COSPAS/ SARSAT COSPAS Kosmicheskaya Sistyema Poiska Avariynych Sudov KOSPAS SARSAT Search and Rescue Satellite-Aided Tracking
ii ICAO Circular 185 2.2 In November 1985, the Secretariat prepared a summary report on the COSPAS- SARSAT system. The Air Navigation Commission, after reviewing this report, agreed that a appropriate information concerning COSPAS-SARSAT be prepared in the form of an ICAO circular b States not yet participating in the COSPAS-SARSAT programme be invited to reconsider such participation in accordance with the Council's request of 14 December 1983 c all States be invited to take action aimed at reducing the number of false alarms on 121.51243.0 MHz caused by inadvertent activation of emergency transmitters and eliminating misuse of those frequencies for unauthorized purposes, and to continue their efforts to eliminate unauthorized transmissions in the band 406.0 MHz and 406.1 MHz and d an air navigation study group be established to assist the Secretariat in examining the various aspects relating to the use of the COSPAS- SARSAT system and developing specific proposals for action. 2.3 The decisions in b and c above were reflected in State Letter AN 15112-86150 dated 7 May 1986 and the air navigation study group mentioned in d began work in June 1986. This circular is in response to a above.