Comtech Supplies Location Technology for Civil Air Patrol
Tuesday, September 12, 2017 | Comments

Comtech Telecommunications developed a real-time location, web-based portal for simultaneously tracking multiple search-and-rescue aircraft for the Civil Air Patrol (CAP), a volunteer organization of citizen airmen and an auxiliary of the United States Air Force (USAF).

Developed using Comtech’s Location Studio platform, CAP’s search-and-rescue portal tracks the flight patterns and GPS locations of all CAP search-and-rescue planes, as well as their altitude and speed. This information is transmitted to the portal using Garmin GPS tracking devices placed on all CAP planes. CAP traffic control members can access this information using the portal’s web-based user interface, selecting which plane(s) they want to track.

CAP pilots are also capable of communicating with other CAP pilots and traffic control through a messaging system built into the portal, allowing them to exchange vital information and better coordinate routes.

“In the past year, recent downed aircraft incidents have provided a clear picture of the difficulty and complexity of search-and-rescue operations,” said Fred Kornberg, president and CEO of Comtech. “This tracking portal gives CAP complete visibility of their search-and-rescue squadrons, allowing them not only to track the real-time location of multiple aircraft simultaneously, but historical data as well where they can view and compare previous search routes. This helps them narrow down and adjust the designated search area as needed, as well as provide them with better tools for monitoring the condition of planes in flight and pilot safety.”

During a recent evaluation conducted by the USAF, the CAP search-and-rescue tracking portal passed several successful tests that assessed the performance of the system during natural disaster scenarios. The portal has been successfully used during a real-world situation, searching for a downed aircraft in Lake Tahoe, California.

Twenty-eight CAP search-and-rescue planes are equipped with Garmin GPS devices capable of transmitting data to the portal. These planes are primarily located in the western U.S. with further rollout of the technology to be determined at a later date.

“Using Comtech’s Location Studio to track California Wing’s 28 aircraft has huge safety and operational efficiency benefits,” said CAP’s California Wing Commander Col. Alan Ferguson. “It will not only allow CAP planes to be better tracked by CAP, but this information can be shared with local and state emergency services as well as USAF assets in real time, keeping everyone safer.”

CAP is a volunteer organization providing search-and-rescue services for finding downed planes, missing or lost civilians, and providing necessary assistance in times of disaster and emergency. The organization has more than 56,000 volunteer members.

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