Updated June 2016: .
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 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 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.
In June 2016 NAFC renewed an
agreement with TracPlus Global Ltd (www.tracplus.com) to provide the integration
services. 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 are required
to participate in the tracking component of the system. Most aircraft are also
required to participate in the event logging component of 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 event 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 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
“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.
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.
functionality in AFAMS is currently in the process of being implemented. As requirements vary according to the tasks to
be performed by the aircraft, the specifics are will be detailed in individual contract
or other procurement arrangements
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 and event data to the required
standard. We do recommend that consideration
be given to installing terminal equipment capable of accommodating future requirements.
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: