Update August 2014:
A Request For Proposals to provide Data Handling
Services for AFAMS is to be released soon. Keep an eye on the Tenders Tab.
NAFC and its
Members (Australian states and territories) have decided to implement a
national standard approach to the provision of tracking and event logging
services for aircraft involved in firefighting and related operations. It
is now planned that this will also extend to a short-message system. The adoption of a national approach followed
extensive investigation and consultation with agencies and operators throughout
Australia. A number of operational trials were also been undertaken.
aircraft tracking and event logging system is referred to as "AFAMS" (Australian
Fire Aircraft Monitoring System).
adopted is a data integration model. This allows 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 organisation.
The aircraft operator's tracking
provider must arrange to forward the tracking data (to the required standard)
to a central data 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.
of the system include:
All aircraft engaged in fire operations will
ultimately be required to participate in the system. There is also a requirement for some vehicles
provided by aircraft operators (eg fuel trucks) to
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 the
Integrator to deliver the tracking data (and later, event logging and messaging
data) into AFAMS. This may require the establishment of a “gateway” to the integration
system for a particular tracking provider.
Authorised fire agencies and
organisations wishing to view or use the data make arrangements directly with the
Integrator. There will are a number of different ways of accessing the data,
according to the needs of the user.
tracking at all?
with existing tracking systems over more than a decade in some States has
reinforced the value of real-time resource tracking. The technology is
currently used to:
“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;
missions by providing last known positions;
dispatching and resource allocation and to support resource management;
situational awareness for aircrew, fire managers and supervisors;
verification of operating times and work performed to support invoicing and
provide other relevant data e.g. wind speed and direction, amount of water
delivered, type of suppressant;
integrate aircraft or vehicle data with other electronic systems;
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
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 pay to get the data out of the
The amount that an operator pays
to put data into the system depends 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. Depending on the circumstances there may be a small monthly access
charge and/or an account establishment fee.
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 (or event logging provider, if applicable)
makes an arrangement directly with the Integrator to
pass the data into AFAMS.
Agencies (and aircraft operators) who wish to view or
use the data also make their own arrangements directly with the Integrator . 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 (as the
current Integrator), 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
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
“integration approach” … why not just appoint one tracking and event logging 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 place.
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.
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 the Integrator 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 AFAMS.
A. Event-logging functionality
in AFAMS is currently in the process of being implemented. There does still need to be 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 AFAMS.
See also the answer under “What in-aircraft terminal equipment should I
choose?” below, and see draft data
specification in the downloads area below.
A. 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.
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.
in-aircraft terminal equipment should an aircraft operator choose?
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 consideration be given
to installing terminal equipment capable of accommodating future event logging
and messaging requirements. (Many
terminals on the market have the required interfaces).
Is there a
A. For tracking and
event logging - we are producing a revised version for an upcoming RFP process and
will make it available as soon as possible.
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:
Revised specs coming soon. (For tracking, use AFF specs in the meantime)