Harmonising Air and Sea SAR


CSCAP India and CSCAP Malaysia

Introduction and significance of the study

International Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue (IAMSAR) manuals call for a Global SAR system. However, ICAO Convention of Civil Aviation 1944 Annex 12 (SAR) and IMO SAR Convention 1978 has created distinct approaches on SAR. In light of that, the ICAO-IMO Joint Working Group (JWG) was established in 1993, with the objective of assisting ICAO and IMO in developing provisions regarding new search and rescue techniques and procedures where both aeronautical and maritime interests were involved. The JWG is currently working on a new version of IAMSAR to be published in 2016. The Asia Pacific has as well created the Asia Pacific SAR (APSAR) Task Force where APSAR TF has met three times on issues relating to Aeronautical and Maritime SAR.  Separately, ASEAN concluded a meeting within the ASEAN Transport Ministers Working Group in March 2014 to draft a regional aeronautical and maritime SAR agreement. In spite of international, extra regional and regional efforts, many States in the region are yet to harmonise aeronautical and maritime SAR architectures as there are no policy recommendations to do so. CSCAP has the opportunity to conduct studies into the benefits and the way forward to harmonising SAR.

Objectives of the study

·         To identify definite benefits on combining SAR, including aligning of SAR regions (where feasible).

·         To evaluate existing technical approaches on SAR that can be effective as a combined utility.

·         To articulate and promote consensus on SAR services that can be harmonised so that they complement each other's capabilities and skills towards timely response.

·         To provide policy recommendations on SAR harmonisation for Asia Pacific States.

Anticipated output

A broader approach is needed which builds on the efforts of existing protagonists for harmonisation and subject matter experts. This approach will be useful to provide guidelines for an Asia Pacific effort in strengthening the case for harmonisation and thereafter contributing towards a GlobalSAR System in accordance with the needs stipulated in the IAMSAR manuals.

How does this proposed study group differ from previous studies undertaken by CSCAP in the past?

In as far as SAR is concerned, there has been no studies undertaken by CSCAP.

How does this study group relate to the on-going concerns of ARF ISMs? (for extension of completed mandate only)

In accordance with the ARF Maritime Security Work Plan, the ARF ISM –MS has three Priority Areas with respective Co-Chairs, namely:

information / intelligence exchange and sharing of best practices, including on naval operations;

(2) confidence building measures based on international and regional legal frameworks, arrangements and cooperation, and

(3) capacity building of maritime law enforcement agencies in the region. This Study Group may contribute towards the Priority Area (2).


Start: February 2015   End: 2015

A Memorandum by this Study Group on Harmonisation of Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue (SAR) was approved. Download Memorandum No.29

2nd Meeting: 8-9 April 2016, New Delhi, India
Download the co-chairs' report.

1st Meeting: 19-20 June 2015, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Download the co-chairs' report.