The Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) has launched an automated Aeronautical Search and Rescue System at the Aeronautical Rescue Coordination Centre (ARCC) located at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.
KCAA said the system which is going to replace the current manual system will enhance efficiency in response to aeronautical Search and Rescue operations in the country.
The authority says the new system costs Ksh31 million and will enable Air Navigation Service Provider to have continuous coordination of all Aeronautical Search and Rescue missions within the country.
KCAA Director General Capt. Gilbert M. Kibe expressed his confidence in the system saying it will greatly boost chances of tracking aircraft in distress and thus saving lives.
“The 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 manual search coordination process took longer time in determining the probable area to be searched, hence delaying mobilization of Search and Rescue response agencies.”
According to KCAA, the new system was initially being activated when there was need for Search and Rescue following a reported emergency.
This required mobilization of Search Mission Coordinators who would then proceed to conduct a manual search using maps and charts.
The ARCC system is currently being manned on a 24-hour basis with qualified Search Mission Coordinators who have undergone an on-job-training to familiarize themselves with the new system and standard operating procedures.
The new system was put to test by KCAA during the first-ever Search and Rescue drill in East Africa conducted on 3rd December 2019.
The newly installed system is linked to a search and rescue satellite that aids in the tracking of Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT), enabling 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.