GADSS Compliant Distress Tracking ELT

Kannad Ultima-DT

Orolia provides a complete GADSS end-to-end solution, based on its Kannad Ultima-DT for the airborne segment, using Cospas-Sarsat MEOSAR infrastructure for the service segment, and including Orolia’s PRISMA Aircraft Distress Tracker (ADT), as the front end to enable stakeholders (RCCs, operators, ATSUs) to retrieve and manage distress tracking data.

This end-to-end solution is based on Orolia’s world-leading position and long track record of supporting the entire COSPAS SARSAT ecosystem, including ELTs, as well as MCC turnkey systems and RCC software applications.

GADSS-Compliant Distress Tracking ELT

The Kannad ULTIMA-DT is an Emergency Locator Transmitter – Distress Tracking type, designed to meet the ICAO GADSS ADT requirement which will be applicable in January 2021 for all new-build large commercial aircraft. Instead of being activated during a crash like a traditional automatic ELT, it automatically transmits a Cospas Sarsat 406MHz distress message with the encoded accurate aircraft position, upon receipt of a distress trigger from the avionics - should a distress situation be detected during the flight. As a crash-survivable unit, it also transmits both a 406MHz message and a 121.5 MHz homing signal after the crash. It locates the end-of-flight site with 200 meters’ accuracy, which in turn enables efficient and quick location of survivors by search and rescue teams. The Kannad ULTIMA-DT meets FAA/EASA Special Conditions on non-rechargeable lithium batteries.

Main Benefits

The Kannad ULTIMA-DT design simplifies onboard implementation and operations, minimizing the required investment while meeting all GADSS ADT requirements.

  • Same unit addresses ADT and PFLR requirements for accident site location
  • Transmission system dedicated and optimized for distress situations (device robustness, short bursts, protected Cospas Sarsat frequencies)
  • Crash survivable, maximizing the probability of locating survivors
  • Ensures continuity with ELT from an installation, operations (procedure) and maintenance perspective
  • Small Size, Weight and Power (SWaP) – size, weight and power consumption minimized
  • Simple integration and installation, with single external antenna to reduce implementation time and cost
  • High onboard testability (interfaces, health, history) minimizes in service maintenance requirements
  • Leverages the existing, worldwide, Cospas-Sarsat MEOSAR satellite and ground infrastructure

Service Segment: Cospas-Sarsat MEOSAR

The international Cospas-Sarsat system provides accurate, timely and reliable distress alert and location data to help search and rescue authorities assist persons in distress.

To achieve this mission, Cospas-Sarsat participants implement, maintain, coordinate and operate a satellite system capable of detecting distress alert transmissions from radio beacons that comply with Cospas-Sarsat specifications and performance standards, capable of determining their position anywhere on the globe. The distress alert and location data is provided by Cospas-Sarsat participants to the responsible SAR services worldwide, including oceanic coverage.

Cospas-Sarsat cooperates with the International Civil Aviation Organization, the International Maritime Organization, the International Telecommunication Union and other international organizations to ensure the compatibility of the Cospas-Sarsat distress alerting services with the needs, standards and applicable recommendations of the international SAR community.

More information on the Cospas-Sarsat organization can be found at

Cospas-Sarsat System

Cospas-Sarsat System View

The new MEOSAR satellite infrastructure currently being deployed by Cospas-Sarsat will significantly increase system performance and robustness, including:

  • Global coverage with near instantaneous detection through more than 70 satellites in the GPS, GALILEO and GLONASS constellations (plus legacy LEO and GEO satellites)
  • From beacon activation to MCC: a few minutes latency
  • Increased robustness against beacon-to-satellite obstruction (typically more than 20 satellites in visibility at any given time)
  • Specific enhanced signal for ELT(DT) supports the GNSS encoded aircraft position in the message, along with a quick repetition rate
  • Independent location capability of high speed / in-flight objects (if the message contains no encoded position)
  • Cancellation capability

The new MEOSAR infrastructure is planned to support ELT(DT) protocol by the first half of 2019.

Optional remote activation from ground

As an option, Kannad ULTIMA-DT provides the ability for a stakeholder (Airline Operations Center, RCC, ATSU) to remotely – e.g. from the ground – and manually activate the Kannad ULTIMA-DT in flight, resulting in the transmission of the 406 MHz distress message, to be received and managed by COSPAS-SARSAT like any other ELT(DT) alert.

This method of activation is relevant in a few situations where the aircraft is not yet in a distress condition (according to ICAO definition of distress conditions), where stakeholders, like Operators and ATSUs, have a suspicion that the aircraft is in a very abnormal situation such as :

  • Missing Aircraft Tracking reports and difficulty locating the aircraft
  • Aircraft Tracking reports showing a different than planned route
  • Uncooperative aircraft crew

If attempts (by operator or ATSU) to communicate with crew prove to be unsuccessful and the abnormal situation cannot be cleared, it is important to elevate the aircraft status to “distress condition” and ensure closer tracking of the aircraft, in a timely manner.

The main benefit of remote activation via Galileo RLM Command Serviceis, therefore, to provide the ability to track more closely (than normal tracking) aircraft with suspicious pre-distress or emergency situations that would not be detected by the in-flight distress detection logic.

Orolia’s ADT Vision — Supported by the Industry

Supported by the European GSA.Orolia, through its McMurdo brand, currently leads a consortium of well-established, proven European companies and industry experts as part of the HELIOS project. Their expertise in aircraft manufacturing, airline modifications, protective clothing design, and search and rescue operations, allows the ongoing development of GADSS compliant distress tracking (DT) beacons, compliant with the ICAO GADSS concept of operations, applicable by January 1,2021. More information can be found at

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Kannad Ultima-DT