RCC efficiency can be enhanced through the inclusion of radar monitoring services.

In Search and Rescue services time is of vital importance. An action must be taken promptly when required. A delay in an initiative can cause the loss of lives at stake. Rescue Coordination Center supplemented with monitoring efforts can achieve its objectives effectively. The monitoring cell works just like a rapid response team to provide search and rescue services without undue delay. In an air traffic control environment, there is a lot of traffic on the radar scope. The airspace of any country providing air traffic control services is occupied by different types of air traffic. There are transit flights overflying the territory of a country. These flights enter and exit a country’s airspaces from specific significant points. There are arriving aircraft for landing as well as departing traffic for other airports either national or international. The situation becomes even more complex when this civil traffic is joined by Military traffic as well as training traffic. This scenario makes air traffic a complex woven web. With increased density of traffic probability of expected incidents or occurrences increases. Even the best system happens to confront downtimes. Whether we call such moments unavoidable or moments happening due to reason unknown. Such incidents and occurrences happen to take place. 


Air traffic incidents like mid-air collisions, crash landings, etc. are words we happen to hear many times in our lifetime. Whether such incidents take place in our homeland or somewhere else around the globe. In an air traffic control environment, one must be fully ready and equipped to deal well when confronted with such a catastrophic situation. Monitoring in Rescue Coordination Centre not only helps to improve efficiency it also elevates the standards of search and rescue services. A trained search and rescue professional is well equipped with signal identification related to emergency conditions. Professional who can act preemptively predicting happenings based on probable consequences. An Airspace is divided into different sectors. This sectorization can be based on the geographical partition, level, or both altogether. 


Consider a busy day when all types of flights are operating. Radarscope is fully occupied by various types of traffic. Commercial airliners are operating as usual and all other types of traffic are performing their activities as well. Between the different arriving flights one of a flight let’s suppose ABC20 suddenly stops responding to Air Traffic Instructions. There is no communication between the aircraft and the controller.

This scenario is being monitored by a member of the search and rescue monitoring team. The aircraft deviates from the standard Air Traffic Service Route. The search and rescue coordinator collects all required information related to aircraft through secondary surveillance radar related to its position and level. The same information can be obtained by coordinating with the air traffic control unit. Although the level and position are constantly changed by the aircraft.

The search and rescue monitoring person identifies that the aircraft is trying to make a shorter approach to the destination aerodrome. He identifies it through projectile and estimated times abeam the significant points. This projectile information is obtained by clicking on the target that is correlated in the Air Traffic Management System.

When a squawk of an aircraft is matched with the squawk code in the ATM flight plan then the moving target on the radar scope gets correlated with this flight plan information. By clicking on the correlated target its estimated flight path is shown with tentative time overhead for each significant reporting point. After identifying the estimated time for the destination aerodrome, the search and rescue personnel coordinates with Air Traffic Controller for verification and then disseminates that information to the stakeholders that are part of regional search and rescue services.

The rescue coordination center does not only pass on information but also alerts the alerting post existing near the expected approach area. While on way the aircraft target on radar scope is lost. Instead of the true correlated target in green, a synthetic target is formed with less information. Now everything in synthetic target is based on the last known position, time, level, and direction.

How precisely the ATM system has been designed for this synthetic track generation it will impact the level of support for search and rescue provided by the monitoring system of radar scopes. The observer will again pass on the required minimal information to the concerned stakeholders.

As you can see the information dissemination promptly at the right time to the right personnel has been made possible through consistent monitoring. The aircraft does not report and the estimated time of arrival has been passed. All the concerned stakeholder starts the search and rescue services in a precise manner shortly after the onset of the emergency phase. 


Distress signals originating from ELTs or Personal Locator Beacons are transmitted on 406 MHz and received by the Search and rescue satellites in the orbit. These signals are retransmitted by satellites at 1.544 – 1.545 GHz to downlink stations i.e., Local User Terminals. These signals are transmitted onward to the concerned MCC. The Mission Control Centre functions to store data and locate the RCC close to the signal. The rescue coordination center also receives distress alert signals from the Mission Coordination Center about traffic in need of search and rescue services.

These messages are sometimes backed by an alert mechanism so that they can gain the attention of the observer. The location of the beacon is identified by LUT through Doppler shift caused by satellite movement concerning the beacon. There are various signals required to be observed by the controller or search and rescue personnel to identify the level of emergency of an aircraft.

For instance, as we have already studied that whenever an air traffic controller or a search and rescue personal observer squawks 7700 for an aircraft. It is a clear intimation that the aircraft is confronted with an emergency condition. To observe this squawk, the aircraft must be equipped with a transponder so that it would be depicted on radar scope in visual form. 


Availability of radar scope at RCC can also be a preemptive measure to guide aircraft participating in search and rescue operations for instant identification of location. The Rescue Coordination Centre can easily keep observation on the whole process in a more efficient manner by utilizing a radarscope. By incorporating the Latitudes and Longitudes values in the radar system pin location is identified over the scope. The search and rescue aircraft can easily be seen and advised if deviating from the path. And we can make aircraft fly direct to that pin location. In this way, we can save time to avoid the loss of lives. 

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A Global Search and Rescue Concept using Synthetic Aperture Radar by W.E. Sivertson and Jr Langley.

An international satellite system for search and rescue by J.V. King.

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