Kenya Launches Hi-Tech Search and Rescue System

Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Kenya

The Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) has launched an automated Aeronautical Search and Rescue System at the Aeronautical Rescue Coordination Centre (ARCC) at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA).


The update will enhance efficiency in response to aeronautical Search and Rescue operations in the country. This is a move from the old manual systems which were previously in operation.

The new system is powered by satellite technology and will help to pinpoint the location of aircraft which will advance search and rescue operations at the airport.

KCAA Director-General, Captain Gilbert M. Kibe said the system installed at the ARCC 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,” added Captain Kibe.

“The manual search coordination process took longer time in determining the probable area to be searched, hence delaying mobilisation of Search and Rescue response agencies. With the right data obtained from the system, the search area can now be narrowed to a specific location after which response agencies are informed and this increases the chances of saving lives and property.”

In December 2019, the new system was first tested for use by KCAA for its first search and rescue drill,  before being approved for full utilisation.

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.


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