Search and Rescue services : Contracting States(CS) shall, individually or in cooperation with other States, establishment and prompt provision of SAR services within their territories to ensure that assistance is rendered to persons in distress. Services shall be provided on a 24-hour basis.

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Portions of the high seas or areas of undetermined sovereignty for which SAR services will be established shall be determined on the basis of regional air navigation agreements. CS having accepted the responsibility to provide SAR services individually or in cooperation with other States, arrange for the services to be established and provided in accordance with the provisions of this Annex.

High seas/ areas of undetermined sovereignty.

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Kantor SAR Tipe A :

  • Kantor SAR Medan
  • Kantor SAR Jakarta
  • Kantor SAR Surabaya
  • Kantor SAR Denpasar
  • Kantor SAR Makassar
  • Kantor SAR Biak

Kantor SAR Tipe B :

  • Kantor SAR Banda Aceh
  • Kantor SAR Pekanbaru
  • Kantor SAR Tanjung Pinang
  • Kantor SAR Palembang
  • Kantor SAR Padang
  • Kantor SAR Pontianak
  • Kantor SAR Banjarmasin
  • Kantor SAR Balikpapan
  • Kantor SAR Semarang
  • Kantor SAR Manado
  • Kantor SAR Kendari
  • Kantor SAR Kupang
  • Kantor SAR Mataram
  • Kantor SAR Ambon
  • Kantor SAR Jayapura
  • Kantor SAR Sorong
  • Kantor SAR Timika
  • Kantor SAR Merauke

POS SAR : Sibolga, Tanjung Balah, Nias, Cirebon, Bandung, Jember, Tulungagung,  Pelabuhan Gilimanuk, Pelabuhan Padangbai, Kab. Bone, Kab. Selayar, Palu, Kab. Nabire, Kab. Serui, Lhokseumawe, Meulaboh, Bengkulu, Lubuk Sikaping/ Jambi, Bengkalis, Jambi, Natuna Besar, Tanjung Balai Karimun, Bangka Belitung, Lampung, Yogyakarta, Cilacap, Wadu Mbolo, Kayanangan, Kab. Manggarai, Maumere, Sintete, Kendawangan, Kotabaru, Palangkaraya, Tarakan, Kutai Timur, Bau-Bau/ Buton, Kolaka, Gorontalo, Ternate, Namlea, Banda, Manokwari, Fakfak, Waimena, Sarmi, Agats, Kimam/ P. Dolak.

Note.— The phrase “regional air navigation agreements” refers to the agreements approved by the Council of ICAO normally on the advice of Regional Air Navigation Meetings.

Basic elements of SAR services shall include a legal framework, a responsible authority, organized available resources, communication facilities and a workforce skilled in coordination and operational functions.

In providing assistance to aircraft in distress and to survivors of aircraft accidents, CS shall do so regardless of the nationality or status of such persons or the circumstances in which such persons are found.

Regardless nationality & status

Where separate aeronautical and maritime rescue coordination centres (RCC) serve the same area, States shall ensure the closest practicable coordination between the centres.

Recommendation.— CS should facilitate consistency and cooperation between their aeronautical and maritime SAR services.

Recommendation.— CS should establish joint rescue coordination centres to coordinate aeronautical and maritime SAR operations, where practical.

Joint aeronautical and maritime SAR operation.

Search and Rescue Regions : CS shall delineate the SAR regions (SRR) within which they will provide SAR services. Such regions shall not overlap and neighbouring regions shall be contiguous.


Note 1.- SRR are established to ensure the provision of adequate communication infrastructure, efficient distress alert routing and proper operational coordination to effectively support SAR services. Neighbouring States may cooperate to establish SAR services within a single SRR.

Note 2.— The delineation of SRR  is determined on the basis of technical and operational considerations and is not related to the delineation of boundaries between States

Recommendation.— SRR should, in so far as practicable, be coincident with corresponding Flight Information Regions (FIR) and, with respect to those areas over the high seas, maritime SRR.

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Rescue coordination centres and rescue subcentres : 

CS shall establish a rescue coordination centre (RCC) in each SRR.

Note.— A CS may establish a RCC with an associated SRR that, in accordance with regional air navigation agreement, extends over an area greater than its sovereign airspace.

Recommendation.— Where all or part of the airspace of a CS is included within a SRR associated with a RCC in another CS, that former State should establish a rescue subcentre (RSC) subordinate to the RCC wherever this would improve the efficiency of SAR services within its territory.

Each RCC and, as appropriate, RSC, shall be staffed 24 hours a day by trained personnel proficient in the use of the language used for radiotelephony communications

Recommendation.— RCC personnel involved in the conduct of radiotelephony communications should be proficient in the use of the English language.

Recommendation.In areas where public telecommunications facilities would not permit persons observing an aircraft in emergency to notify the RCC concerned directly and promptly, CS should designate suitable units of public or private services as alerting posts.

Each RCC shall have means of rapid and reliable two-way communication with:

  1. Associated Air Traffic Services (ATS) units;
  2. Associated Rescue Sub Centre (RSC);
  3. Appropriate direction-finding and position-fixing stations;
  4. Where appropriate, coastal radio stations capable of alerting and communicating with surface vessels in the region
  5. The headquarters of SAR units (SRU) in the region;
  6. All maritime RCC in the region and aeronautical, maritime or joint RCC in adjacent regions;
  7. A designated meteorological office or meteorological watch office;
  8. Search and rescue units (RSU);
  9. Alerting posts; and
  10. The Cospas-Sarsat Mission Control Centre servicing the SRR.

Each RSC shall have means of rapid and reliable two-way communication with:

  1. Adjacent RSC;
  2. A meteorological office or meteorological watch office;
  3. SRU; and
  4. Alerting posts

Search and rescue units (RSU) : 

CS shall designate as SAR units (SRU) elements of public or private services suitably located and equipped for SAR  operations.

Note.— The minimum units and facilities necessary for provision of SAR operations within a SRR are determined by regional air navigation agreements and are specified in the appropriate Air Navigation Plan and Facilities and Services Implementation Document publications.

CS shall designate as parts of the SAR plan of operation, elements of public or private services that do not qualify as SRU but are nevertheless able to participate in SAR operations.

Search and rescue equipment : 

SAR units shall be provided with equipment for locating promptly, and for providing adequate assistance at, the scene of an accident

Recommendation.— Each SRU should have means of rapid and reliable two-way communication with other SAR facilities engaged in the same operation.

Each SAR aircraft shall be equipped to be able to communicate on the aeronautical distress and onscene frequencies and on such other frequencies as may be prescribed.

Each SAR aircraft shall be equipped with a device for homing on distress frequencies.

Note 1. — Emergency locator transmitter (ELT) carriage requirements are given in Annex 6, Parts I, II and III.

Note 2.— Specifications for ELTs are given in Annex 10, Volume III.

Each SAR aircraft, when used for SAR over maritime areas, shall be equipped to be able to communicate with vessels.

Note.— Many vessels can communicate with aircraft on 2182 kHz, 4125 kHz and 121.5 MHz. However, these frequencies, and in particular 121.5 MHz, may not be routinely monitored by vessels.

Each SAR aircraft, when used for SAR over maritime areas shall carry a copy of the International Code of Signals to enable it to overcome language difficulties that may be experienced in communicating with ships.

Note.— The International Code of Signals is published in English, French and Spanish by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) as documents I994E, I995F and I996S.

Recommendation.— Unless it is known that there is no need to provide supplies to survivors by air, at least one of the aircraft participating in a SAR operation should carry droppable survival equipment.

Recommendation.— States should locate, at appropriate aerodromes, survival equipment suitably packed for dropping by aircraft.


 Cooperation between States

CS shall coordinate their SAR organizations with those of neighbouring States.

Recommendation.— CS should, whenever necessary, coordinate their SAR operations with those of neighbouring States especially when these operations are proximate to adjacent SRR.

Recommendation.— CS should, in so far as practicable, develop common SAR plans and procedures to facilitate coordination of SAR operations with those of neighbouring States.

Subject to such conditions as may be prescribed by its own authorities, a CS shall permit immediate entry into its territory of SAR units of other States for the purpose of searching for the site of aircraft accidents and rescuing survivors of such accidents.

The authorities of a CS who wish their SAR units to enter the territory of another CS for SAR purposes shall transmit a request, giving full details of the projected mission and the need for it, to the RCC of the State concerned or to such other authority as has been designated by that State.

The authorities of CS shall:

— immediately acknowledge the receipt of such a request, and

— as soon as possible, indicate the conditions, if any, under which the projected mission may be undertaken.

Recommendation.- CS should enter into agreements with neighbouring States to strengthen SAR cooperation and coordination, setting forth the conditions for entry of each other’s SAR units into their respective territories. These agreements should also provide for expediting entry of such units with the least possible formalities.

Recommendation.— Each CS should authorize its RCC to:

  1. Request from other RCC such assistance, including aircraft, vessels, persons or equipment, as may be needed;
  2. Grant any necessary permission for the entry of such aircraft, vessels, persons or equipment into its territory; and
  3. Make the necessary arrangements with the appropriate customs, immigration or other authorities with a view to expediting such entry.

Recommendation.— Each CS should authorize its RCC to provide, when requested, assistance to other RCC, including assistance in the form of aircraft, vessels, persons or equipment

Recommendation.— CS should make arrangements for joint training exercises involving their SAR units, those of other States and operators, in order to promote SAR efficiency.

Recommendation.— CS should make arrangements for periodic liaison visits by personnel of their RCC and RSC to the centres of neighbouring States.

Cooperation with other services :

CS shall arrange for all aircraft, vessels and local services and facilities which do not form part of the SAR organization to cooperate fully with the latter in search and rescue and to extend any possible assistance to the survivors of aircraft accidents.

Recommendation.— CS should ensure the closest practicable coordination between the relevant aeronautical and maritime authorities to provide for the most effective and efficient SAR services.

CS shall ensure that their SAR services cooperate with those responsible for investigating accidents and with those responsible for the care of those who suffered from the accident.

Recommendation.— To facilitate accident investigation, rescue units should, when practicable, be accompanied by persons qualified in the conduct of aircraft accident+investigations.

States shall designate a SAR  point of contact  for the receipt of Cospas-Sarsat distress data.

Dissemination of information : 

Each CS shall publish and disseminate all information necessary for the entry of SAR units of other States into its territory or, alternatively include this information in SAR service arrangements

Recommendation.— When such information could benefit the provision of SAR services, CS should make available, through the RCC or other agencies, information regarding their SAR plans of operation.

Recommendation.— CS should, to the extent desirable and practicable, disseminate information to the general public and emergency response authorities regarding actions to be taken when there is reason to believe that an aircraft’s emergency situation may become cause for public concern or require a general emergency response.


Preparatory information :

Each RCC shall have readily available at all times up-to-date information concerning the following in respect of its SRR:

  1. SAR units, RSC and alerting posts;
  2. ATS units;
  3. Means of communication that may be used in SAR operations;
  4. Addresses and telephone numbers of all operators, or their designated representatives, engaged in operations in the region; and
  5. Any other public and private resources including medical and transportation facilities that are likely to be useful in SAR

Recommendation.— Each RCC should have readily available all other information of interest to SAR, including information regarding:

  1. The locations, call signs, hours of watch, and frequencies of all radio stations likely to be employed in support of SAR operations;
  2. The locations and hours of watch of services keeping radio watch, and the frequencies guarded;
  3. Locations where supplies of droppable emergency and survival equipment are stored; and
  4. Objects which it is known might be mistaken for unlocated or unreported wreckage, particularly if viewed from the air.

Recommendation.— Each RCC whose SRR includes maritime areas should have ready access to information regarding the position, course and speed of ships within such areas that may be able to provide assistance to aircraft in distress and information on how to contact them.

Note.— This information may either be kept in the RCC or be readily accessible.

Recommendation.— CS should, individually or in cooperation with other States, either establish ship reporting systems in cooperation with maritime authorities or arrange communication links with Amver or regional ship reporting systems to facilitate SAR operations at sea.

Note.— Amver is a cooperative international ship reporting system with worldwide coverage that is available for interrogation by all RCC. A number of CS also operate regional ship reporting systems.

Plans of operation : 

Each RCC shall prepare detailed plans of operation for the conduct of SAR operations within its SRR

Recommendation.— SAR plans of operations should be developed jointly with representatives of the operators and other public or private services that may assist in providing SAR services or benefit from them, taking into account that the number of survivors could be large.

The plans of operation shall specify arrangements for the servicing and refuelling, to the extent possible, of aircraft, vessels and vehicles employed in SAR operations, including those made available by other State.

The SAR plans of operation shall contain details regarding actions to be taken by those persons engaged in SAR, including:

  1. The manner in which SAR operations are to be conducted in the SRR;
  2. The use of available communication systems and facilities
  3. The actions to be taken jointly with other RCC;
  4. The methods of alerting en-route aircraft and ships at sea;
  5. The duties and prerogatives of persons assigned to SAR;
  6. The possible redeployment of equipment that may be necessitated by meteorological or other conditions
  7. The methods for obtaining essential information relevant to SAR operations, such as weather reports and forecasts, appropriate NOTAM, etc.
  8. The methods for obtaining, from other SAR, such assistance, including aircraft, vessels, persons or equipment, as may be needed;
  9. The methods for assisting distressed aircraft being compelled to ditch to rendezvous with surface craft;
  10. The methods for assisting SAR or other aircraft to proceed to aircraft in distress; and
  11. Cooperative actions to be taken in conjunction with ATS units and other authorities concerned to assist aircraft known or believed to be subject to unlawful interference

Recommendation.— SAR plans of operation should be integrated with airport emergency plans to provide for rescue services in the vicinity of aerodromes including, for coastal aerodromes, areas of water.

Search and rescue units (SRU) : 

Each SAR unit shall:

  1. Be cognizant of all parts of the plans of operation prescribed in 4.2 that are necessary for the effective conduct of its duties; and
  2. Keep the RCC informed of its preparedness

CS shall:

  1. Maintain in readiness the required number of SAR facilities; and
  2. Maintain adequate supplies of rations, medical stores, signalling devices and other survival and rescue equipment.

Supply Colour Coding and Pictograms :

  • RED    Medical supplies and first aid equipment
  • BLUE   Food and water
  • YELLOW     Blankets and protective clothing
  • BLACK   Miscellaneous equipment such as stoves, axes, compasses and cooking utensil.

Training and exercises :

To achieve and maintain maximum efficiency in SAR, CS shall provide for regular training of their SAR personnel and arrange appropriate SAR exercises.

Wreckage : 

Recommendation.— Each CS should ensure that wreckage resulting from aircraft accidents within its territory or, in the case of accidents on the high seas or in areas of undetermined sovereignty, within the SAR regions for which it is responsible, is removed, obliterated or charted following completion of the accident investigation, if its presence might constitute a hazard or confuse subsequent SAR operations.


Information concerning emergencies

Any authority or any element of the SAR organization having reason to believe that an aircraft is in an emergency shall give immediately all available information to the RCC concerned.

RCC shall, immediately upon receipt of information concerning aircraft in emergency, evaluate such information and assess the extent of the operation required

When information concerning aircraft in emergency is received from other sources than ATS units, the RCC shall determine to which emergency phase the situation corresponds and shall apply the procedures applicable to that phase.



  • All a/c provided with ATCS
  • All other a/c filed FPL or known to ATS
  • Known/believed subject of unlawful interference
  • FIC & ACC shall serve as the central point

Urgency situation > ADC & APP shall first

alert > local rescue & emg. org.

Notification of Rescue Co-ordination Centre

  • Uncertainty phase
    •     No comm. within 30 min
    •     Fails to arr within 30 min of ETA

except no doubt exists > safety of a/c & occupants.

Alert phase :

  1. Following uncertainty phase, failed at temts to comm or no news
  2. Has been cleared to land & fails to land within 5 min.
  3. Received info. operating a/c has been impaired but no force landing. Except evidence exists > would allay apprehension as to safety of a/c & occupants, or
  4. Known/believe subject of unlawful interference.

Distress phase :

  1. Following alert phase, unsuccessful at tempt establish comm, unsuccessful widespread inquiries
  2. Fuel on board exhausted or insufficient
  3. Ops of a/c impaired  > forced landing
  4. Information received/reasonable certain that a/c about to make or has made forced landing.

Except reasonable certainty a/c & occupants are not threatened by grave & imminent danger & not require immediate assistance.

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Procedures for RCC during  emergency phases :

Uncertainty phase : Upon the occurrence of an uncertainty phase, the RCC shall cooperate to the utmost with ATS units and other appropriate agencies and services in order that incoming reports may be speedily evaluated.

Alert phase : Upon the occurrence of an alert phase the RCC shall immediately alert SRU and initiate any necessary action.

Distress phase : Upon the occurrence of a distress phase, the RCC shall:

  • Request at an early stage such aircraft, vessels, coastal stations and other services not specifically included in the appropriate plan of operation and able to assist to:
  • Notify the associated ATS unit, when the information on the emergency has been received from another source;
  • Notify other RCC, the help of which seems likely to be required, or which may be concerned in the operation;
  • Notify the operator, where possible, and keep the operator informed of developments;
  • Ascertain the position of the aircraft, estimate the degree of uncertainty of this position, and, on the basis of this information and the circumstances, determine the extent of the area to be searched
  • Immediately initiate action by SRU in accordance with the appropriate plan of operation;
    • Maintain a listening watch for transmissions from  the aircraft in distress, survival radio equipment or an ELT; Note.— The frequencies contained in the specifications for ELTs given in Annex 10, Volume III, are 121.5 MHz and 406 MHz.
    • Assist the aircraft in distress as far as practicable; and
    • Inform the RCC of any developments;
  • From the information available, draw up a detailed plan of action for the conduct of the SAR operation required and communicate such plan for the guidance of the authorities immediately directing the conduct of such an operation;
  • Amend as necessary, in the light of evolving circumstances, the detailed plan of action;
  • Notify the appropriate accident investigation authorities; and
  • Notify the State of Registry of the aircraft
  • The order in which these actions are described shall be followed unless circumstances dictate otherwise.

Initiation of search and rescue action in respect of an aircraft whose position is unknown :

In one of two or more SAR regions, the following shall apply:

  • When a RCC is notified of the existence of an emergency phase and is unaware of other centres taking appropriate action, it shall assume responsibility for initiating suitable action in accordance with 2 (proc emg phase) and confer with neighbouring RCC with the objective of designating one RCC to assume responsibility forthwith.
  • Unless otherwise decided by common agreement of the RCC concerned, the RCC to coordinate SAR action shall be the centre responsible for:
    • the region in which the aircraft last reported its  position; or
    • the region to which the aircraft was proceeding when its last reported position was on the line separating two SRRs; or
    • the region to which the aircraft was destined when it was not equipped with suitable two-way radio communication or not under obligation to maintain radio communication; or
    • the region in which the distress site is located as identified by the Cospas-Sarsat system.
  • After declaration of the distress phase the RCC with overall coordination responsibility shall inform all RCC that may become involved in the operation of all the circumstances of the emergency and subsequent developments. Likewise, all RCC becoming aware of any information pertaining to the emergency shall inform the RCC that has overall responsibility.

Passing of information to aircraft in respect of which an emergency phase has been declared : 

Whenever applicable, the RCC responsible for SAR action shall forward to the ATS unit serving the FIR in which the aircraft is operating, information of the SAR action initiated, in order that such information can be passed to the aircraft.

Procedures where responsibility for operations extends to two or more Contracting States : 

Where the conduct of operations over the entire SRR is the responsibility of more than one CS, each involved State shall take action in accordance with the relevant plan of operations when so requested by the RCC of the region.

Procedures for authorities in the field : 

The authorities immediately directing the conduct of operations or any part thereof shall:

  1. Give instructions to the units under their direction and inform the RCC of such instructions; and
  2. Keep the RCC informed of developments

Procedures for rescue coordination centres — termination and suspension of operations : 

SAR operations shall continue, when practicable, until all survivors are delivered to a place of safety or until all reasonable hope of rescuing survivors has passed.

RCC shall normally be responsible for determining when to discontinue SAR operations.

Note.— CS may require input from other appropriate State authorities in the decision-making process leading to termination of SAR operations.

When a SAR operation has been successful or when a RCC considers, or is informed, that an emergency no longer exists, the emergency phase shall be cancelled, the SAR operation shall be terminated and any authority, facility or service that has been activated or notified shall be promptly informed.

If a SAR operation becomes impracticable and the RCC concludes that there might still be survivors, the centre shall temporarily suspend on-scene activities pending further developments and shall promptly inform any authority, facility or service which has been activated or notified. Relevant information subsequently received shall be evaluated and SAR operations resumed when justified and practicable.

Procedures at the scene of an accident :

When multiple facilities are engaged in SAR operations on-scene, the RCC or RSC shall designate one or more units on-scene to coordinate all actions to help ensure the safety and effectiveness of air and surface operations, taking into account facility capabilities and operational requirements.

When a PIC observes that either another aircraft or a surface craft is in distress, the pilot shall, if possible and unless considered unreasonable or unnecessary:

  • Keep the craft in distress in sight until compelled to leave the scene or advised by the RCC that it is no longer necessary
  • Determine the position of the craft in distress;
  • As appropriate, report to the RCC or ATS unit as much of the following information as possible:
    • Type of craft in distress, its identification and condition.
    • Its position, expressed in geographical or grid coordinates or in distance and true bearing from a distinctive landmark or from a radio navigation aid;
    • Time of observation expressed in hours and minutes Coordinated Universal Time (UTC);
    • Number of persons observed;
    • Whether persons have been seen to abandon the craft in distress;
    • On-scene weather conditions;
    • Opparent physical condition of survivors;
    • Apparent best ground access route to the distress site; and
  • Act as instructed by the RCC or the ATS : When it is necessary for an aircraft to convey information to survivors or surface rescue units, and two-way communication its not available, it shall, if practicable, drop communication equipment that would enable direct contact to be established, or convey the information by dropping a hard copy message.

If the first aircraft to reach the scene of an accident is not a SAR aircraft, it shall take charge of on-scene activities of all other aircraft subsequently arriving until the first SAR aircraft reaches the scene of the accident. If, in the meantime, such aircraft is unable to establish communication with the appropriate RCC or ATS unit, it shall, by mutual agreement, hand over to an aircraft capable of establishing and maintaining such communications until the arrival of the first SAR aircraft.

When a ground signal has been displayed, the aircraft shall indicate whether the signal has been understood or not by the means described in 5.6.3 or, if this is not practicable, by making the appropriate visual signal.

When it is necessary for an aircraft to direct a surface craft to the place where an aircraft or surface craft is in distress, the aircraft shall do so by transmitting precise instructions by any means at its disposal. If no radio communication can be established, the aircraft shall make the appropriate visual signal.

Note.— Air-to-surface and surface-to-air visual signals are published in Volume III of Doc 9731.

Procedures for a pilot-in-command intercepting a distress transmission : 

  • Whenever a distress transmission is intercepted by a PIC of an aircraft, the pilot shall, if feasible:
    • Acknowledge the distress transmission;
    • Record the position of the craft in distress if given;
    • Take a bearing on the transmission;
    • Inform the appropriate RCC or ATS unit of the distress transmission, giving all available information; and
    • At the pilot’s discretion, while awaiting instructions, proceed to the position given in the transmission.

Search and rescue signals : 

The air-to-surface and surface-to-air visual signals in  the Appendix shall, when used, have the meaning indicated therein. They shall be used only for the purpose indicated and no other signals likely to be confused with them shall be used.

Upon observing any of the signals in the Appendix, aircraft shall take such action as may be required by the interpretation of the signal given in that Appendix.

Maintenance of records :

Recommendation.— Each RCC should keep a record of the operational efficiency of the SAR organization in its region.

Recommendation.— Each RCC should prepare appraisals of actual SAR operations in its region. These appraisals should comprise any pertinent remarks on the procedures used and on the emergency and survival equipment, and any suggestions for improvement of those procedures and equipment. Those appraisals which are likely to be of interest to other States should be submitted to ICAO for information and dissemination as appropriate.


Signals with surface craft : The following manoeuvres performed in sequence by an aircraft mean that the aircraft wishes to direct a surface craft towards an aircraft or a surface craft in distress:

  • Circling the surface craft at least once;
  • Crossing the projected course of the surface craft close ahead at low altitude and:
    • rocking the wings; or
    • opening and closing the throttle; or
    • changing the propeller pitch. 

      Note.— Due to high noise level on board surface craft, the sound signals in 2) and 3) may be less effective than the visual signal in 1) and are regarded as alternative means of attracting attention.

  • Heading in the direction in which the surface craft is to be directed. Repetition of such manoeuvres has the same meaning.

The following manoeuvres by an aircraft means that the assistance of the surface craft to which the signal is directed is no longer required: — crossing the wake of the surface craft close astern at a low altitude and:

  • rocking the wings; or
  • opening and closing the throttle; or
  • changing the propeller pitch.

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Note.— The following replies may be made by surface craft to the signal in 1.1:

— for acknowledging receipt of signals

  • the hoisting of the “code pennant” (vertical red and white stripes) close up (meaning understood);
  • the flashing of a succession of “T’s” by signal lamp in the Morse code;
  • the changing of heading to follow the aircraft.

— for indicating inability to comply:

  • The hoisting of the international flag “N” (a blue and white checkered square);
  • the flashing of a succession of “N’s” in the Morse code. Note.

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Symbols shall be at least 2.5 metres (8 feet) long and shall be made as conspicuous as possible.

Note 1.— Symbols may be formed by any means such as: strips of fabric, parachute material, pieces of wood, stones or such like material; marking the surface by tramping, or staining with oil.

Note 2.— Attention to the above signals may be attracted by other means such as radio, flares, smoke and reflected light.

Air-to-ground signals :

The following signals by aircraft mean that the ground signals have been understood:

  • During the hours of daylight:
    • by rocking the aircraft’s wings;
  • During the hours of darkness:
    • flashing on and off twice the aircraft’s landing lights or, if not so equipped, by switching on and off twice its navigation lights.

Lack of the above signal indicates that the ground signal is not understood.

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Sources for SAR Assistance : 

State, Provincial, and Local Government Departments :

(a) Agricultural and forestry departments. Personnel and organization for land searches, fire fighters and first-aid personnel, communication networks, light aircraft and helicopters.

(b) Broadcasting stations. Communications networks and public information broadcasts.

(c) Civil aviation administrations. Air traffic services personnel, communications networks and departmental aircraft.

(d) Coastguard and lifeboat authorities. Where established, these authorities are typically the primary source of maritime SAR assistance. The services which these authorities may provide cover a wide range, but the following are among the more important:

– trained personnel and specialized, all-weather SAR equipment;

– medical assistance and emergency medical evacuation;

– alerting posts, communications networks, direction-finding and radio facilities;

– survival equipment; and

– testing, prototype and experimental equipment.

(e) Electric and public works departments. First-aid personnel, helicopters and communication lines.

(f) Fire departments. Fire departments are often focal points to which the general public turns for help or to report an accident. They may provide:

– alerting post services; and

– rescue units, including vessels, ambulances, emergency medical technician teams and fire-fighting brigades.

(g) Health departments. Hospital and first-aid facilities, ambulances and medical stations in remote areas.

(h) Hydrographic and other marine survey departments. Marine navigation warnings and information, and vessels.

(i) Land survey departments. Aircraft, aerial photography and photo-interpretation personnel.

(j) Lighthouse and pilotage authorities. Vessels and crews.

(k) Marine and fisheries departments. Vessels and crews, and vessel reporting systems.

(l) Meteorological departments. Weather information and communications networks.

(m) Military services. Often the military services are the best source of all-weather facilities and trained personnel, rivalling even an established coastguard or lifeboat service in SAR capabilities. With their communications networks, military operations centres make excellent sites for co-locating an RCC.

(n) Police departments, including municipal, State or provincial police forces. Police departments are focal points to which the general public often report abnormal observations. SAR-related services that police departments may provide are:

– alerting posts;

– helicopters, small aircraft, rescue boats and land search parties;

– communications facilities;

– traffic control; and

– fencing and guarding of accident sites.

(o) Railway departments. Communication networks.

(p) Telephone and telegraph departments. Communications networks and repair personnel.

Communications Facilities :

SAR managers should ensure that, whenever possible, each RCC has access to the following communications networks:

– air traffic services networks;

– amateur radio stations;

– State-owned and private broadcasting stations;

– cable, telephone and telegraphic corporations;

– coast radio stations;

– meteorological communications networks;

– military communications networks;

– railway communications systems;

– dedicated SAR communications networks;

– satellite communications systems, e.g., Inmarsat and Cospas–Sarsat; and

– transport communications systems.

Aircraft Operating Agencies :

– requesting air crews to keep a visual or radio watch for aircraft or vessels lost in the vicinity of their route;

– diverting en-route aircraft to the extent practicable for SAR purposes;

– making suitable aircraft and crews available for SAR operations;

– providing RCCs with detailed information concerning one of their own aircraft in distress and the survival equipment carried by that aircraft; and

– encouraging aircraft operators and aerodromes to monitor the radio frequency 121.5 MHz.

Fishing Vessels, Yachts, and Small Craft :

Fishing vessels, yachts, and other private small craft are sources from which volunteer assistance may be obtained. Those sources will have various levels of training in SAR operations. Police, customs and harbour authorities also usually have small craft suitable for SAR operations in coastal or protected waters.

Merchant Vessels :

– one or more communications stations that receive and relay vessels’ reporting messages;

– a facility (personnel and equipment) for recording, plotting, updating and filing vessels’ reports;

– a standard operating procedure available to participating ships; and

– immediate access to system information by any RCC which may need the data.

Auxiliaries :

Auxiliaries, both maritime and aeronautical, are organizations which provide training and an operational framework for privately owned craft that volunteer to do SAR. Though not specifically designed for SAR, these craft frequently are useful over land and in coastal waters. These craft vary in size, type, design, power, endurance and durability. SAR planners should maintain updated information on how to contact these volunteer resources and be familiar with their capabilities and limitations.

Sports Clubs and Similar Organizations :

Aviation clubs, parachute jumping clubs, scouting troops, mountain climbing and hiking clubs may give valuable assistance, particularly with SAR over land. Aircraft operated by parachute clubs may be used for dropping supplies and aircraft operated by aviation clubs may be used for air searches that must be conducted at low speed and altitudes in areas well known to the pilots.

Commercial Businesses :

(a) Crop and insect spraying corporations. Aircraft and helicopters.

(b) Polar trading posts and tropical plantations. Alerting posts.

(c) Oil companies and others exploiting natural resources. Vessels and crews; aircraft and helicopters normally used for patrolling pipelines, transportation and surveying; and first-aid and communications facilities.

(d) Salvage companies. Undersea salvage equipment and personnel, vessels and crews, salvage expertise, equipment and ocean-going tugs.

(e) Shipping information agencies and classification societies. Sailing and arrival schedules, descriptive information and shipping particulars.

Other Institutions :

Institutions situated in isolated locations are particularly valuable to the SAR system. They are generally well equipped to serve as alerting posts, organize search parties and give medical aid. Examples include missionary and medical stations, monasteries, convents and other voluntary enclaves.

SAR Organization in the world : 


-Provided by AusSAR, part of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA)

-Covering 52.8 million square kilometres of the Indian, Pacific and Southern Oceans.

-AusSAR will call on assistance from Defence forces, Border Protection Command, trained aviation organisations (Civil SAR Units), emergency medical helicopters, state Police services, trained Air Observers from the State Emergency Service, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), airlines, the general aviation industry, volunteer marine rescue groups, the Bureau of Meteorology, the shipping industry and fishing cooperatives.

Azerbaijan : 

Managed by the Ministry of Emergency Situations onshore in cooperation with the State Civil Aviation Administration in air and the State Maritime Administration offshore.

Belgium :

SAR duties along the Belgian part of the North Sea are executed by the Belgian Air Component. From its Koksijde Air Base it operates 5 Westland Sea King Mk.48 helicopters

Brazil : 

Search and rescue duties in Brazil are the responsibility of the Para-SAR, of the Brazilian Air Force.

Canada : 

Responsibility of the Canadian Forces and Canadian Coast Guard in conjunction with provincial and municipal governments and private organizations.

-The Department of National Defence (DND) has overall responsibility for the coordinated search and rescue system.

-Authority for the provision of maritime SAR is assigned to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans by the Canada Shipping Act and the Canada Oceans Act

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and other police forces also coordinate ground search and rescue (GSAR) operations.

Denmark :

SAR operators in Denmark are primarily: Danish air force Squadron 722, Danish navy air squadron, naval home guard and the Danish Maritime Safety Administration, coordinated by the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre, operated by the navy and air force in the Danish Naval Commands facilities near Aarhus.

Estonia : 

The Estonian Border Guard (Piirivalve) is the Estonian security authority responsible for the border security. It is the main support organisation for SAR missions in Estonia, and operates a small fleet of SAR vessels and helicopters.

Finland : 

In Finland the responsible authority for land and inland water SAR is the Fire and the Crisis and the Frontier Guard in the maritime area.

Germany : 

SAR in German waters is conducted by the Deutsche Gesellschaft zur Rettung Schiffbrüchiger DGzRS (German Society for the Saving of Shipwrecked, more common: German Maritime Rescue Service GMRS) with air support by the German Navy and the German Air Force. All incoming requests are coordinated by the Maritime Rescue Coordination Center in Bremen. The DGzRS is a non-governmental organization entirely supported by donations.

Hong Kong :

SAR operations are conducted by the Government Flying Service (GFS)

As of 2010, the GFS fleet consists of nine aircraft including:

Iceland :

The Icelandic Coast Guard Service has overall command and is responsible for the Search and Rescue Service within the Icelandic Search and Rescue Region.

Netherlands :

SAR responsibility in the Netherlands is held by the Royal Netherlands Coast Guard

New Zealand :

New Zealand‘s Search and Rescue Region extends from the South Pole to the southern border of the Honolulu region, including Norfolk, Tonga, Samoa, and Cook Islands

LandSAR for land-based operations, such as for lost hikers, and the Royal New Zealand Coastguard for coastal maritime incidents.

Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ), based in Avalon, which coordinates response from local coastguard, helicopter operators, merchant marine, air force and naval resources.

Norway :

Norsk Selskab til Skibbrudnes Redning, also called the Redningsselskapet (Norwegian Society for Sea Rescue (NSSR)), is Norway’s maritime rescue service

The search and rescue helicopters are operated by the Royal Norwegian Air Force (RNoAF)

Norwegian Red Cross Search and Rescue Corps (Røde Kors Hjelpekorps) have a large number of local SAR teams spread across the country

Portugal : 

The Portuguese Navy is responsible for all sea rescues, the Portuguese Air Force for all the rescues originating within the airspace, including aircraft crashes and the Autoridade Nacional de Protecção Civil (ANPC) for all inland rescues.


South Africa :

The South African Search and Rescue Organization (SASAR), is a voluntary organization that functions under the auspices of the Department of Transport. SASAR is responsible for responding to aviation and maritime incidents

Sweden :

The Swedish Maritime Administration is responsible for maritime SAR in Swedish waters

To carry out this role they employ resources from the Swedish Coast Guard, Pilot service, police and the volunteer Sea Search And Rescue organization SSRS

United States of America : 

Search and Rescue is divided into 4 primary elements, while assigning a federal agency with the lead role for each of the 4 elements



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