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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Flight Following using Mobile Satellite Services, and the Indonesian Telecommunications Law

In an effort to improve safety, airline sin Indonesia has begun looking for new Flight Following solutions that can comply with or exceed CASR 121.125, as well as easing operational communications through alternatives opened by CASR 121.127. But to date, no Indonesian company has managed to provide 3rd party Flight Following service as defined in CASR 121.125 (b).

121.125 Flight Following System: Flag, Domestic and Supplemental Air Carriers
(a) Each air carrier must show that it has: 
    (1) An approved flight following system established in 
        accordance with Subpart U of this part and adequate for 
        the proper monitoring of each flight, considering the 
        operations to be conducted; and 
    (2) Flight following centers located at those points 
        (i) To ensure the proper monitoring of the progress of 
            each flight with respect to its departure at the 
            point of origin and arrival at its destination, 
            including intermediate stops and diversions 
            there from, and maintenance or mechanical delays 
            encountered at those points or stops; and 
        (ii) To ensure that the pilot in command is provided 
             with all information necessary for the safety of 
             the flight. 
(b) The air carrier may arrange to have flight following 
    facilities provided by persons other than its employees, but 
    in such a case the air carrier or commercial operator
    continues to be primarily responsible for operational 
    control of each flight. 
(c) A flight following system need not provide for in-flight 
    monitoring by a flight following center. 
(d) An air carrier's operations specifications must specify the 
    flight following system it is authorized to use and the 
    location of the centers.

121.127 Flight Following System Requirements: Flag, Domestic and Supplemental Air Carriers
(a) Each air carrier using a flight following system must show 
    (1) The system has adequate facilities and personnel to 
        provide the information necessary for the initiation and 
        safe conduct of each flight to: 
        (i) The flight crew of each aircraft; and 
        (ii) The persons designated by the air carrier to 
             perform the function of operational control of the 
             aircraft; and 
    (2) The system has a means of communication by private or 
        available public facilities (such as telephone, 
        telegraph, or radio) to monitor the progress of each 
        flight with respect to its departure at the point of 
        origin and arrival at its destination, including 
        intermediate stops and diversions there from, and 
        maintenance or mechanical delays encountered at 
        those points or stops. 
(b) The air carrier must show that the personnel specified in 
    Paragraph (a) of this section, and those it designates to
    perform the function of operational control of the aircraft, 
    are able to perform their required duties.

It is understood that:
121.125 (a)(2)(i) Flight Following only require departure time, arrival time of the flights, including those of transit stops and information on maintenance or mechanical delays at each stop (including at origin, and at destination).
121.125 (c) specifies In-flight monitoring (real time position report) as optional.
121.125 (d) requires Part 121 carriers to disclose the service and/or methodology used for the Flight Following, to be put into the carrier’s OpsSpec.

Flight Following Services offered by foreign companies offer excellent service quality and is backed by communications channel that surpasses voice radio communications on VHF, of which one alternative method is through satellite data communications service.

Unfortunately, many of those foreign companies do not understand the rules and regulations that apply in Indonesia regarding communications that is outlined by the Telecommunications Law (UU No. 36 Tahun 1999) which specify that all telecommunications devices including satellite communications over Indonesian territory must comply to its articles as it is regarded as a use of limited resources in the preamble.

Increase the role of the citizen in the provision of telecommunication does not discard the basic principle of Article 33 Para (3) of the Constitution  (Undang-Undang Dasar 1945), which defines that earth and water and the natural resources contained therein is controlled by the country and is to be used to the fullest extent to the welfare of it’s people. Therefore, the use of radio frequency spectrum and satellite orbits are regarded as limited natural resources controlled by the state.

Hence, satellite telecommunications providers are regulated by the law through:

Article 7
(1) Provision of telecommunications include:
    a. the provision of a telecommunications network; 
    b. the provision of a telecommunications service;
    c. the provision of special telecommunications.

Where it is explained that:

Point c
Provision of special telecommunications such as for meteorological and geophysical purposes, television broadcast, radio broadcast, navigation, aviation, search and rescue, amateur radio, citizen band communication, and state or private company special telecommunications provision.

Special telecommunications service providers are regulated in the following article:

Article 8
(1) Provision of a telecommunications network and or 
    telecommunications service outlined in Article 7 para (1)(a) 
    and (b) can be performed by a legal entity set up for that 
    purpose in accordance to the applicable laws, which can be 
    one of the following:
    a. State Owned Enterprise (SOE/BUMN);
    b. Regional Government Owned Enterprise (RGOE/BUMD);
    c. private company; or
    d. Co-operative.

(2) The provision of special telecommunicationas per Article 7 
    para (1)(c) can be made by:
    a. an individual;
    b. a government agency;
    c. a legal entity other than a telecommunications network 
       provider or a telecommunications service provider.

The equipment used and usage of the frequency spectrum is regulated as follows:

Article 32
(1) Any telecommunications equipment that is traded, constructed, 
    assembled in and or imported into and or to be used in the 
    territory of the Republic of Indonesia must obey the   
    applicable technical standards and is based on permits
    issued in accordance to the applicable laws.
(2) The technical standards of telecommunications equipment 
    mentioned in para (1) is controlled by a Government 
    Rule/Decree (Peraturan Pemerintah).

Article 33
(1) The use of radio frequency spectrum and satellite orbit must 
    obtain the approval of the Government.
(2) The use of radio frequency and satellite orbit must be in 
    accordance to its purpose and not interfere with each other.
(3) The Government oversees and controls the use of radio 
    frequency spectrum and satellite orbits.
(4) Rules and regulation of the use of radio frequency spectrum 
    and satellite orbits for telecommunications provision is 
    controlled by the Government.

Article 34
(1) Use of the radio frequency spectrum shall incur a frequency 
    use cost, the amount of which is based on the type of use and 
    the frequency band.
(2) A user of a satellite orbit shall pay the Satellite Orbit 
    Right Of Use.
(3) The amounts mentioned in Para (1) and (2) is regulated/ 
    decreed by the Government.

Some exemptions are available to foreign aircraft entering Indonesian territory:

Article 36
(1) Communications equipment used by foreign civil aircraft that 
    enters Indonesian territory are exempt from the technical 
    standards mentioned in Article 32.
(2) A foreign civil aircraft entering Indonesian territory shall 
    not use the radio frequency spectrum for purposes it is not 
    designed for, except:
    a. for the purpose of national security, preservation of 
       human life and assets, natural disasters, impending 
       danger, outbreak, navigation, and air traffic safety; 
    b. when connected to a telecommunications network that is 
       operated by a telecommunications provider; or
    c. when it is part of satellite communications system where 
       the usage of which is made in accordance to the applicable 
       regulations in the provision of aeronautical 
(3) Rules and regulations regarding the use of radio frequency 
    spectrum mentioned in para (2) is controlled by the 

The exemptions for foreign aircraft are only for Article 32 (equipment certification). No exemptions are granted for Article 33 and Article 34. However, discussing the effects of foreign aircraft violating Articles 33 and 34 can be endless. Some have tried thinking it is just a "roaming charge" on top of their normal airtime/usage fees. Unfortunately, it is not, this one will take time to work through to find a workable solution.

Let us focus back on the meaning of the Telecommunications law and how it relates to the Indonesian Civil Aviation Safety Regulation, in particular Part 121. The conclusion the legality of the use of Mobile Satellite Services for Flight Following under both CASR 121 and the Indonesian Telecommunications Law, is that the use of Mobile Satellite Services for Navigation and Air Safety for Indonesian airlines, is NOT EXEMPT, especially the parts where it exceeds the minimum requirement of CASR 121.125 and 121.127.

In accordance to the government regulations that is enforced under the Law No. 36 / 1999 on Telecommunications, service providers (from any country) offering satellite communication services to a companies operating in Indonesia (including airlines) must:
  • Be able to show landing rights for the particular satellite telecommunications service and the frequencies used.
  • Be able to issue Radio Station Permit (ISR - Ijin Stasiun Radio) from the government to the satellite telecommunications service user (eg: an Indonesian airline)
  • Be able to facilitate the payment for the use of the frequency spektrum right of use (BHP - Biaya Hak Pakai) which is based on the ISR, from the user to the Indonesian government (BHP atas ISR)
  • Be able to obtain certification it offers to the user in accordance to Article 32 of the Telecommunications Law.

If one thinks that his law is not enforceable, or will not be enforced, THINK AGAIN!

To be continued...

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