2011 Draft Event Logging Specification
available - see downloads below.
October 2010 : The national aircraft tracking and
event logging system will now be known as "AFAMS" (Australian
Fire Aircraft Monitoring System)
NAFC and its
Members (Australian states and territories) have decided to adopt a national
standard approach to the provision of tracking and event logging services for
aircraft involved in firefighting and related
operations. It is planned that this will extend to messaging systems in
the future. The adoption of a national approach follows extensive
investigation and consultation with agencies and operators throughout
Australia. A number of operational trials have also been undertaken.
adopted is a "Integrator" model which will
allow aircraft operators to continue to select their own provider of tracking
services and to select and install tracking and event logging equipment
appropriate to their aircraft and operation. The aircraft operator's tracking
provider must arrange to forward the tracking data (to the required standard)
to a central Integrator. In turn, the Integrator stores and forwards the
data to the various user agencies and organisations.
is also designed to integrate with and to complement systems that are already
in place in some States and Territories. It provides flexibility to
participate at a number of different levels, according to the particular needs
of individual agencies.
TracPlus Global Ltd (www.tracplus.com) is
the currently appointed Integrator. NAFC has entered into a
Service Level Agreement (SLA) with TracPlus. The SLA
ensures a guaranteed standard of service and also sets pricing.
is in three stages. The first stage will concentrate on the national
standard approach to aircraft tracking. The second stage will cover event
logging, while the third stage will implement messaging.
of the system include:
All aircraft engaged in fire operations will
ultimately be required to participate in the system, although there will be a
phase-in period. There will also be a requirement for some vehicles provided by
aircraft operators (eg fuel tenders) to participate.
Aircraft operators will continue to
make their own arrangements for tracking services including selection of their
preferred tracking provider, but will also make arrangements directly with TracPlus to deliver the tracking data (and later, event
logging and messaging data) into the national “fire aircraft”
system. This may require the establishment of a “gateway” to the TracPlus integration system for a particular tracking
Authorised fire agencies and
organisations wishing to view or use the data will also make arrangements
directly with TracPlus. There will be a number of
different ways of accessing the data, according to the needs of the user.
Why have tracking at all?
A. Experience with existing tracking
systems over nearly a decade in some States has reinforced the value of
real-time resource tracking. The technology is currently used to:
support “manual” flight following (regular
position reporting) for search and rescue (SAR) and resource management
purposes, reducing aircrew and ground crew workload and reducing radio traffic;
support SAR missions by providing last known positions;
aid dispatching and resource allocation and to support
improve situational awareness for aircrew, fire
managers and supervisors;
aid verification of operating times and work performed
to support invoicing and accounting processes;
undertake basic mapping;
automatically provide other relevant data e.g. wind
speed and direction, amount of water delivered, type of suppressant;
automatically integrate aircraft or vehicle data with
other electronic systems;
support effective monitoring of performance of assets
e.g. amount of fire control line built in a period of time; and
provide data for research and evaluation of
fire control techniques.
In addition, the communications layer that transfers
data from aircraft often provides extra functionality such as messaging and
Aircraft operators have also rapidly been adopting
tracking services for their own fleet management and safety purposes.
A. The general principle is that the
aircraft operator pays to put the data into the system, and the fire agencies
and other data users will pay to get the data out of the system.
The amount that an operator would pay to put data into
the system will depend on a number of factors. If you already have suitable
tracking equipment in an aircraft and an arrangement with a suitable provider
you will normally only pay a small additional surcharge to feed the data in
(plus an account establishment fee).
Who makes the arrangements?
A. The aircraft operator makes the
arrangements to acquire and install appropriate in-aircraft terminal equipment
and makes the arrangements with a tracking service. The aircraft
operator’s tracking provider makes an arrangement directly with TracPlus to pass the data
into the national system via TracPlus.
Agencies (and aircraft operators) who wish to view or
use the data also make their own arrangements directly with TracPlus.
There is a range of options depending on the degree of access required.
Even though arrangements are made by aircraft
operators and agencies directly with TracPlus, all
arrangements are covered by an over-arching agreement between NAFC and TracPlus that, amongst many other things, sets out minimum
service levels and defines standard pricing for anybody participating in the
national “fire aircraft” system.
Who owns the data?
A. Whoever paid for it to be collected. Normally this will be the aircraft
operator, but as a condition of engagement on fire operations the aircraft
operator grants NAFC and other participating agencies a licence to use the
Why an “integration approach” … why not just appoint one tracking provider?
A. For a whole range of reasons, but mainly
to give aircraft operators a much better range of options for participation and
hopefully to take advantage of systems and equipment that is already in
Also, the agencies viewing and using the data need to
get it in a range of different ways, as they all have different information
systems. This is really the only practical way of achieving that.
Note that TracPlus does also
offer a full tracking solution as well as the integration service.
Why not the same approach as Automated Flight
Following (AFF) in the U.S.?
(where a data standard is specified, and the data is fed by
tracking providers directly into a “government” system.)
A. In effect this is what we are actually
doing. You could regard TracPlus as our outsourced
provider of the Australian equivalent of AFF. Taking this outsourced
approach will however provide greater flexibility, especially given the number
of parties who will receive and use the data in different ways. It will
also ultimately provide greater functionality for more advanced tracking and
mapping features and for when we get to event logging and two-way
messaging. Additionally it allows aircraft operators to take advantage,
if they wish, of other value-added services offered by TracPlus.
The Australian system has been designed, as far as
practicable, to be compatible with AFF. Aircraft fitted with AFF
equipment and complying with the AFF standard will mostly be able to fit
straight into the Australian system.
What about event logging?
A. We still need to do a little bit
more work on that – including some decisions about what event data can
remain stored on board the aircraft and what data needs to be transmitted in
near-real-time alongside the tracking data and into the integrated
system. Some aspects are currently being trialled.
Realistically this stage will not be fully implemented until 2011-12. See also
the answer under “What in-aircraft terminal equipment should I
choose?” below, and see draft data
specification in the downloads area below.
What about messaging?
A. Again, we still need to do a little bit
more work on standards. Stay tuned See also the answer under “What
in-aircraft terminal equipment should an aircraft operator choose?” below.
What about voice?
A. Our operational trials have confirmed
that for a range of reasons it is best to treat voice communications capability
separately. This gives much greater flexibility in selection and ongoing
maintenance of aircraft equipment.
What in-aircraft terminal equipment should an aircraft operator choose?
A. Essentially it depends on what is the
best fit for the aircraft and the business, provided it is capable of providing
the tracking data to the required standard. We do recommend that terminal equipment
be capable of accommodating future event logging and messaging requirements. (Many terminals on the market have the
required interfaces). TracPlus can provide advice on this.
Is there a data specification?
A. For tracking - we are producing a revised
version and will make it available as soon as possible. At a minimum, if data conforms with the
AFF specifications in the United States [see https://www.aff.gov/ ] then there should be
For event logging - a draft specification is available - see downloads below
See downloads, below, or ......
For general information and
specifications contact NAFC at: firstname.lastname@example.org
For other information regarding the
system, terminal equipment and for technical and sales queries contact Tracplus at:
– see Downloads area below
under development, come back soon. (Use AFF specs in the meantime)