What data does ACARS send back to base? Can it be used to track a plane?

AsheeshR
  • What data does ACARS send back to base? Can it be used to track a plane? AsheeshR

    An aircraft's Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System uses line of sight HF via ground stations or satellites to communicate with its base station.

    This system allows for three types of messages to be sent:

    • Air Traffic Control
    • Aeronautical Operational Control
    • Airline Administrative Control

    Aeronautical operational control and airline administrative control messages are used to communicate between the aircraft and its base. Various types of messages are possible, for example, relating to fuel consumption, engine performance data, aircraft position, in addition to free text.

    So, questions:

    • Can ACARS be turned off? Would this generate a warning at the base station?
    • Can ACARS send postion, altitude and heading information automatically?
    • Can ACARS be repeatedly pinged to track an aircraft's position and heading? Would this require any intervention by the pilots? (posted separately)
    • Is this system standard on commercial airliners?
    • What data do Airlines collect from the ACARS, if any at all?

  • ACARS does not include coordinates. It does include airspeed and altitude, as these are of interest for engine health. ACARS was functional on the Malaysian air flight, it was stated that before it went of radar, several messages were received.

    A good starting point on ACARS can be found on SKYbrary.

    • Can ACARS be turned off? Would this generate a warning at the base station?

    Yes, ACARS can be turned off. See another answer of mine for more details. Typically other systems use ACARS to send reports on a regular basis to update position and track other information, plus on an "as-needed" basis for abnormal things. It would be up to the individual airline to look for these reports and to generate a warning if one didn't check in at the expected time, but I don't believe that they do this. There is a lot of variation in the communication systems and they aren't 100% reliable so a lot of false alarms would be triggered.

    • Can ACARS send postion, altitude and heading information automatically?

    ACARS itself can not, but other systems like the Flight Management Systems (FMS) or ADS-C on board the aircraft can use ACARS to send reports like this automatically, and in some cases they do.

    • Can ACARS be pinged to track an aircraft's position and heading? Would this require any intervention by the pilots?

    Again, ACARS is simply a communication system. A message can be sent via ACARS which will forward to the appropriate system requesting this information and have it respond.

    • Is this system standard on commercial airliners?

    I believe that most airliners that travel over international waters have ACARS, but I'm not sure if it's a requirement or not.

    • What data do Airlines collect from the ACARS, if any at all?

    This varies from airline to airline, but messages at the beginning and end of the flight (used to track flight time, etc.) and periodically during the flight are typical. Usually periodic position updates and abnormal system indications are included as well.

    • Can ACARS be turned off? Would this generate a warning at the base station?

    Everything can be turned off, especially in an aircraft. It will probably not generate a warning at the base station immediately, because long distance data comms are not always reliable. It would cause too many false warnings.

    • Can ACARS send position, altitude and heading information automatically?

    Yes, ADS-C (Automatic Dependent Surveillance - Contract) provides such functionality over ACARS for ATC purposes. ATC have to establish the link first to get the reports automatically.

    • Can ACARS be pinged to track an aircraft's position and heading? Would this require any intervention by the pilots?

    Using ADS-C position can be extracted by ATC, and the airline can do the same. Intervention by the pilots is not needed

    • Was this system installed and functional on MAS370?

    Installed yes, functional I don't know.

    • What data does Malaysian Airlines collect from the ACARS, if any at all?

    I have no idea.

Related questions and answers
  • pinged to track an aircraft's position and heading? Would this require any intervention by the pilots? (posted separately) Is this system standard on commercial airliners? What data do Airlines collect...An aircraft's Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System uses line of sight HF via ground stations or satellites to communicate with its base station. This system allows for three... are used to communicate between the aircraft and its base. Various types of messages are possible, for example, relating to fuel consumption, engine performance data, aircraft position, in addition to free

  • Here are a few thoughts: 'Real' accidents happen much too seldom to be of any real measure, and they would have to be compensated for the number of passenger kilometers as well to be objective. Large airlines may have be involved in more accidents, but they have more aircraft. Many airlines low down on the reports had accidents many years ago. Avherald and the like may be good sources but emphasize that they don't report on all accidents. Different jurisdictions have different reporting requirements. What is a fair and unbiased method of measuring airline safety?

  • Is there a Canadian law or regulation which requires me to have my Radiotelephone Operator's Restricted Certificate (Aeronautical) on-board the aircraft with me? This is what I've found so far: Canada requires you to hold the certificate (Radiocommunications regulations, Part V, Section 33): A person may operate radio apparatus in the aeronautical service, maritime service or amateur radio... uses in its regulations to say that you need to actually have the document with you is at CARS 401.03 (1)(d) (regarding pilot licences): the person can produce the permit, licence or rating

  • Based on the reading I've been doing of FAA's Next Generation Air Traffic Control (NextGen) plans, I've been wondering if and how radar systems will continue to be used for ATC as NextGen rolls out? Questions include: Is it correct to assert that radar coverage will effectively become a less precise, backup only, data feed? I am suggesting this because my understanding (which could easily be incorrect) is that ADS-B will mandated for most (everyone?) and so aircraft will be actively reporting their precise position without the need for a radar track. Will existing radar coverage eventually

  • This is a followup to What data does ACARS send back to base? Can it be used to track a plane? I had asked this as a part of the earlier question, but it seems to be a large enough issue to be separate (plus no answers covered this aspect). All electronic communication systems have low level diagnostic and channel check packages (commands). By pinging, I mean to send a system specific query... a process like this be possible with a high speed aircraft's ACARS? Are there any aspects specific to an aircraft that would make this impractical?

  • that the aircraft went that way. In reality, this would be more complicated. For example, the plane most probably did not go along a straight path at max speed. However, useful inferences can be made by adding other...I had posted the question below on a New York Times article, but did not get any useful replies. The series of six successful Inmarsat pings known to exist, MAY carry enough information to say... position at 3:11AM. From the ping at 3:11AM, another circle can be drawn, like the one drawn at 8:11AM. The intersection of the two circles give an arc of most likely 3:11 AM positions. At 4:11AM, we

  • Following acceleration paramters are transmitted from Inertial Reference System (IRS) to Flight Control System (FCS) Flight Path Acceleration Along Track Acceleration Cross Track Acceleration Vertical Acceleration Unbiased Normal Acceleration Along Heading Acceleration Cross Heading Acceleration I only know acceleration based on the aircraft axis i.e lateral, longitudinal & Normal acceleration but what these acceleration paramters signifies?

  • Provided an aircraft with a fly-by-wire system, there are basically two possible choices when it comes deciding how to let the pilots interface with it: rate control / attitude hold: a deflection of the stick will command a certain rate, releasing it will make the system maintain the current attitude. See the Airbus Normal control law. direct control: a deflection of the yoke will directly translate to a deflection of the surfaces, mimicking the "old" mechanical control setup. It is my understanding that this is the design choice of Boeing in its new aircrafts. I do not wish to discuss

  • How does autobrake work? Gabriel Brito

    An autobrake is a type of automatic wheel-based hydraulic brake system for advanced airplanes. The autobrake is normally enabled during takeoff and landing procedures, when the aircraft's longitudinal deceleration system can be handled by the automated systems of the aircraft itself in order to keep the pilot free to perform other tasks - Wikipedia How does the aircraft "know" when is time to activate the autobrake systems on a rejected takeoff and landing? Does it apply full brake to all the aircraft's wheels? Is it really used by commercial jets?

  • I hope this is a relevant place for me to ask a math question regarding aircraft design. I am trying to understand how one would implement a controller to control the pitch angle of an airplane for a small exercise. I understand the control part and its implementation. What I do not grasp is how one acquires the longitudinal equations of motions (which are then used for the control part) which serves as the starting point. What is the starting point or what are the principles used to derive these equations? If I know how to derive these equations for a very simple case, then I know I have

Data information