This is an introduction and guide to the TracPlus Automated Monitoring Service (AMS).
What is Automatic Monitoring Service?
AMS is a value added service available from TracPlus that automatically monitors aircraft, vessels, vehicles and personnel. When used with aircraft, the AMS is an Automated Flight Following (AFF) service.
AMS looks for breaks in regular transmissions from a tracking terminal.
If there is an unexpected break in position reports, or if too many position reports come from the same position, AMS will send an SMS alert to your cell phone alerting you to a possible emergency situation.
AMS is a crew or a user activated feature, and is turned on (‘activated’) at the start of a trip and turned off (‘cancelled’) at the safe conclusion of that trip.
While the AMS is active, if no position reports are received from a terminal within a pre-determined period of time, or if the terminal is stationary for a specified number of consecutive reports, an ‘Of Concern’ alert is sent to your list of nominated cell phone numbers.
Example: Of Concern Message
“N195MB is OF CONCERN as at 07 Sep 00:39 UTC. Last fix 07 Sep 00:25 UTC, W031 59 54.0227, N141 28 16.922. To cancel AMS, reply STOP 823 N195MB”
If no further reports are received from the installation for a subsequent pre-set period of time, an ‘Overdue’ alert is sent to the same cell phone numbers.
Example: Overdue Message
“N195MB is OVERDUE as at 09 Sep 14:51 UTC. Last fix 20 Aug 20:28 UTC, W045 52 39.12, N170 30 33.72. To cancel AMS reply STOP 099 N195MB”
In this way, immediate actions can be taken to respond to a potential emergency situation within a very short period.
Note: Using AMS does not release you from any legal or regulatory obligations to fit emergency locator transmitters, or to have in place appropriate flight following procedures and manual backups.
In the event of an emergency, crews must not solely rely on AMS and must take all appropriate measures to alert others to their situation, including the issuing of ‘Mayday’ radio calls, activating an ELT, and using a TracPlus Distress switch.
Your use of the AMS is subject to Terms and Conditions, which are available online at here.
How to Enable the Automatic Monitoring Service?
AMS can be enabled for one, several or all of your installations. To do so, visit my.tracplus.com, and log in using your TracPlus Usercode and password. If you do not have a TracPlus Usercode and password, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
AMS supports the Rock7 RockAIR, Flightcell DZM, NAL Research 9601-LP and NAL Research 9602-A/LP when connected to an MDT-860 message head. For convenience, the latter combination is referred to throughout this guide as an MDT-860.
Enabling the Automatic Monitoring Service in My TracPlus
- Click on ‘My Assets’ and
- Click on the registration to be monitored.
- Scroll down to the AMS section. Click on ‘Register.’
- If you have a Flightcell DZM, set Of Concern, Overdue and Stationary Limit to appropriate values by pressing the < and > buttons. If you have an MDT-860, these settings are made on the terminal and take precedence over any settings made here.
- Choose cell phones and pagers to notify in the event of an emergency.
- Click ‘Register’ to enable AMS for the installation.
Note: If changes are made to the settings from what had been previously set you will need to stop and restart the AMS for the new settings to be applied.
What Settings should I use?
The settings you choose for ‘Of concern,’ ‘Overdue’ and ‘Stationary Limit’ are essential to the effectiveness of AMS. Settings that are too low will increase the possibility of false alerts. Settings that are too high will cause unnecessary delays in the event of a genuine emergency.
Of Concern and Overdue Timeouts
The timeouts should be set according to the terminals standard reporting frequency. The ‘Of Concern’ timeout should be sufficient to allow a minimum of three regular position reports, and the ‘Overdue’ timeout to be sufficient to allow a minimum of two regular position reports.
The Stationary Limit is used to identify potential emergency situations where the aircraft, vessel, vehicle or person has stopped, but the tracking terminal continues to operate and transmit reports.
Stationary Limit is the maximum number of position reports that can be transmitted from a single position while AMS is active before it is considered a potential emergency situation. For example, if the Stationary Limit is set to ten reports, an ‘Of Concern’ alert will be transmitted following receipt of the eleventh position report from the same location.
Note: If a crew anticipates being stationary for a period of time longer than normal reporting rate x ‘Stationary Limit’, AMS should be turned off (‘cancelled’) for that period of time, and then reactivated.
A student pilot activates AMS as part of their pre takeoff checks. There are no en-route stops, and upon completion of the flight, they deactivate the AMS as part of his shutdown procedures.
A skipper activates the AMS as part of their pre departure checks. Upon arrival at their destination, they leave the vessel but forget to deactivate AMS. Subsequently, they receive an ‘Of Concern’ alert on their cell phone, and not wishing to return to the marina, cancels the AMS by SMS.
A top dressing pilot wants to use AMS during spraying operations. The aircraft position reporting interval is set to two minutes and ‘Stationary Limit’ is set to five reports. Their turn-around time on the ground is less than ten minutes, so they leave AMS active during turn-around. As refueling and lunch will take longer than ten minutes, they deactivate the AMS during that time so as not to cause a false alert.
A pilot activates the AMS prior to takeoff on a four-hour cross-country flight. They suffer an engine failure shortly after takeoff and is incapacitated in the ensuing forced landing. AMS issues an ‘Of Concern’ alert four minutes after the accident, followed by an ‘Overdue’ alert three minutes later.
How to Enable AMS on a Device
In addition to registering an installation to use AMS (see above), the terminal itself must be correctly configured to use AMS. The steps required to do this vary with the type of terminal used, and require physical access to the terminal.
Enable the AMS with a Flightcell DZM
The instructions below refer to the acronym ‘AFF’. Later versions of the Flightcell DZM use the acronym ‘ARM’ and these instructions should be amended as appropriate. The following process need only be completed once.
- Switch on the Flightcell DZM by pressing and holding the POWER key.
- Press the MENU key to enter the menu system. The ‘Main menu’ is displayed.
- Use the arrow Keys to highlight the Setup Menu.Press ENTER to select.
- Use the arrow keys to navigate to ‘Installation Settings’ and press ‘ENTER.’
- Enter ‘2468’ as the PIN and press ‘ENTER.’
- Use the arrow keys to navigate to ‘Tracking Setup’ and press ‘ENTER.’
- Use the arrow keys to navigate to ‘AFF Settings’ and press ‘ENTER.’
- Use the arrow keys to highlight ‘On’ and press ‘ENTER.’
- Press ‘MENU’ repeatedly to return to the default screen.
The Flightcell DZM is now configured to use AMS.
Enable AMS with the MDT-860 Message Head
The instructions below refer to ‘Stop Count’. This is the same as ‘Stationary Limit’ referred to in the last section. The following process need only be completed once.
- Power on the MDT-860. Do NOT press the ‘Start/Stop’ key.
- On the four way directional keypad, press > to navigate to ‘Monitoring’.
- Press to highlight ‘Of Concern.’
- Press < and > to set the desired value.
- Press to highlight the ‘Overdue’ value and < and > to set the desired value.
- Press to highlight the ‘Stop Count’ value and < and > to set the desired value.
- Press to save your changes.
The MDT-860 is now configured to use AMS.
Using Automatic Monitoring Service
The effective use of AMS requires careful integration into your standard operating procedures, which can involve amending start-up, shut-down, pre-departure and post arrival checks.
This integration should take into account the following operational requirements:
- AMS should be activated as part of your pre-departure checks for any trip that you wish to be monitor and cancelled at the safe conclusion of that trip.
- AMS should be activated as close as practicable to the time of departure (e.g. pre takeoff checks) so that unexpected delays in departure do not trigger an alert based on ‘Stationary Limit’.
- AMS should be cancelled as soon as possible after safe arrival (e.g. post landing checks) so that unexpected delays in shutting down do not trigger an alert based on ‘Stationary Limit’.
Note: Once activated, the AMS must be cancelled before the tracking terminal is shut down at the end of the trip. Failure to do so will cause an ‘Of Concern’ alert to be issued, and, if not immediately cancelled, an ‘Overdue’ alert.
Cancelling AMS with a Flightcell DZM
- From the main screen, press the AFF quick key to cancel TracWatch. The AFF Status on the Main Screen shows ‘AFF – Cancelling’.
- Upon confirmation that AMS is cancelled, the AFF Status in the Main Screen will change to ‘AFF – Terminated’.
- If the Flightcellâ DZM cannot communicate with the AMS service, the AFF Status on the Main Screen will show ‘No AFF Response’”. No option is provided to retry.
Activating AMS with a MDT-860 Message Head
- Power on the MDT-860 and commence tracking by pressing by pressing the ‘Start/Stop’ key.
- Press ‘Monitor’ to request AMS. The ‘Monitor’ status changes to ‘PEND’ to show AMS activation is pending. At this stage, the AMS is not yet active and you are not yet being monitored.
- Upon confirmation that AMS is activated, the ‘Monitor’ status will change to ‘On’. AMS is active, and you are now being monitored.
Cancelling AMS with a MDT-860 Message Head
- Press ‘Monitor’ to cancel AMS. The ‘Monitor’ status changes to ‘CANC’ to show AMS cancellation has been requested. At this stage, AMS is active and you are still being monitored.
- Upon confirmation that the AMS has been cancelled, the Monitor status will change to ‘OFF’. AMS is no longer active, and you are no longer being monitored.
- If appropriate, stop tracking by pressing the ‘Start/Stop’ key.
Note: AMS is ‘ACTIVE’ while the Monitor status shows ‘ON’ or ‘CANC’.
AMS is ‘INACTIVE’ while the Monitor status shows ‘OFF’ or ‘PEND’.
If the MDT-860 is powered off or loses power while the status will show ‘ON’ or ‘CANC’, AMS has not been cancelled, and an ‘Of Concern’ alert will be issued. If this is not immediately cancelled by SMS, an Overdue’ alert will subsequently be issued.
Cancelling AMS by SMS
If necessary, the AMS can be cancelled remotely by cell phone.
For example, assume the following ‘Overdue’ alert has been sent to nominated cell phones.
“N195MB is Of Concern as at 07 Sep 00:39 UTC. Last fix 07 Sep 00:25 UTC, W031 59 54.0227, N141 28 16.922. To cancel AMS reply STOP 823 N195MB”
If the recipient is certain that the trip has been safely completed, AMS can be cancelled by replying to the alert with the SMS message “STOP 823 N195MB”.
The confirmation SMS will then be received:
“Monitoring Cancelled for N195MB as at 09 Sep 15:00. Last fix 09 Sep 14:44, S045 52 39.12, E170 30 33.66”
At this point, AMS has been cancelled.
Note: The AMS must only be remotely cancelled via SMS when it can be absolutely confirmed that the trip has been safely completed and monitoring is no longer required.
Should you have further questions please don’t hesitate to contact either the TracPlus support team on email@example.com or call +64 (3) 477 8656.