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Commentary - Flight plans
    [p.1273] Annex I, Article 12 -- Flight plans


    4262 The main advantage of medical helicopters is that they enable the wounded to be evacuated promptly to medical centres which may be situated some distance away. If that advantage is not to be forfeited, the time required for the notification, prior agreement or flight authorization procedure for medical aircraft must be reduced to a minimum. Article 29 ' (Notifications and agreements concerning medical aircraft), ' paragraph 4, of the Protocol stipulates that the necessary measures shall be taken to ensure that such notifications and agreements can be made rapidly.

    4263 The flight plan is in itself a flight notification, acknowledgement of which is tantamount to agreement that the flight may take place. This article proposes that existing international procedures should be followed with a view to ensuring that [p.1274] flight plans submitted by medical aircraft in time of armed conflict are notified and accepted as promptly as possible.

    4264 The flight plans of medical aircraft referred to in paragraph 1 of Article 29 ' (Notifications and agreements concerning medical aircraft) ' of the Protocol contain detailed information enabling the course, time and, in general, operation of flights by medical aircraft to be monitored in accordance with Article 28 ' (Restrictions on operations of medical aircraft) ' of the Protocol. It was for this reason that Article 4 (Flight plan) was included in Chapter I (Documents) of the ICRC's draft Annex I. (1)

    4265 It is because the members of the Technical Sub-Committee considered that, for the purposes of Annex I, the article relating to flight plans should be part of the chapter on communications that Article 4 of the draft text became the present Article 12 .

    4266 The term "flight plan" as it relates to international civil aviation is defined in ICAO Annex 2 (Rules of the Air), Chapter I (Definitions), as follows: "' Flight plan. ' Specified information provided to air traffic services units, relative to an intended flight or portion of a flight of an aircraft". Sub-section 3.3.1, "Flight plans", of Chapter III (General Rules) of the same Annex contains the following note:

    "The term ' flight plan ' is used to mean variously, full information on all items comprised in the flight plan description, covering the whole route of a flight, or limited information required when the purpose is to obtain a clearance for a minor portion of a flight such as to cross an airway, to take off from, or to land at a controlled aerodrome." (2)

    4267 The contents of the flight plan are set out in sub-section 3.3.1.2 with the following note: "Note 3. -- The term ' aerodrome ' where used in the flight plan is intended to cover also sites other than aerodromes which may be used by certain types of aircraft, e.g. helicopters or balloons."

    4268 With regards to the aerodrome of departure, Note 1 reads as follows: "For flight plans submitted during flight, the information provided in respect of this item will be an indication of thelocation from which supplementary information concerning the flight may be obtained, if required."

    4269 Many of the provisions in ICAO Annex 2 and ICAO document 4444-RAC/501/ 12 concerning flight information and flight plan procedures for civil aircraft also meet the requirements of medical aircraft in time of armed conflict. In order to comply with the notification and prior agreement provisions of the above-mentioned Article 29 ' (Notifications and agreements concerning medical aircraft) ' of the Protocol, (3) the authorities responsible for military air traffic control should, as far as possible, make use of these international flight information procedures. [p.1275] Thus flight plan and prior agreement instructions and forms could be drawn up in peacetime for use by medical aircraft operating in time of armed conflict.

    4270 The contents of the radio signal referred to in Article 7 ' (Radio Signal), ' paragraph 2, of Annex I correspond to the information contained in a simplified international flight plan for use by medical aircraft. The use of Q code groups could be contemplated for some of the items.

    4271 ICRC aircraft carrying out medical missions in areas of armed conflict have used the ICAO flight plan to notify their flights to Parties to the conflict. In some cases, the acknowledgement received at the aerodrome of departure has laid down a time and a course, called the "cease fire channel" and valid for 15 minutes at certain points of the route. This channel could be maintained or modified every 15 minutes by the control tower in communication with the aircraft. The simplified flight plan for medical helicopters based on hospital ships should be submitted by the latter unless other arrangements have been made by the competent naval authorities.

    4272 A specimen simplified flight plan is given below for information (cf. infra, p. 1276).

    4273 All means of radiocommunication referred to above under Articles 7 to 11 may be used to transmit flight plans to the adverse Party's medical units and transports or to a station designated by the Parties to the conflict. Satellite links may also be used for radiocommunication with hospital ships or other vessels equipped with earth stations.

    4274 The INMARSAT and COSPAS/SARSAT satellite systems offer reliable and fast long-distance radio links, not only for search and rescue operations which might involve medical aircraft but also for the transmission of other data relating to flights by medical aircraft. Both these international organizations will be affected by the outcome of the work under way in IMO, the ITU and ICAO concerning the future global maritime distress and safety system (FGMDSS), (4) which will provide enhanced opportunities for search and rescue as well as for the provision of more effective assistance to the shipwrecked.

    ' Ph. E. '


    [p.1276] Document annexed (cf. supra, p. 1275)

    Model of simplified flight plan form for mission of medical aircraft in armed conflict

    Modèle de plan de vol simplifié pour mission d'aéronef sanitaire en période de conflit armé

    ...

    FLIGHT PLAN AND NOTIFICATION OF FLIGHT FOR MEDICAL AIRCRAFT (5)

    PLAN DE VOL ET NOTIFICATION DE VOL POUR LES AERONEFS SANITAIRES (5)

    1. Notification sent from:
    Notification émise par:
    a) Hospital ship Navire-hôpital ...
    b) Other Autre ...

    2. Notification addressed to:
    Notification destinée à:
    a) Hospital ship Navire-hôpital ...
    b) General call (CQ) Appel à tous (CQ) ...
    c) Other(s) Autre(s) ...

    3. Type of mission:
    Genre de mission:
    a) Evacuation(s) Evacuation(s) ...
    b) Rescue operation(s)Opération(s) de sauvetage ...
    c) Other(s) Autre(s) ...

    4. Estimated duration of operation(s): Durée estimée d'opération(s) ... (h, min)

    5. Number and type of aircraft:
    Nombre et type d'aéronef(s):
    a) Airplane Avion ...
    b) Helicopter Hélicoptère ...

    6. Departure point:
    Point de départ:
    a) Hospital ship ... at ... (h, min) Navire hôpital ... à ... (h, min)
    b) Other ... at ... (h, min) Autre ... à ... (h, min)

    7. Area of flight/altitude/intended route/destination:
    Région survolée/altitude/route prévue/destination: ...

    8. Alternate point of arrival:
    Point de dégagement: ...

    9. Means of visual identification:
    Moyens d'identification visuelle: ...
    a) Red cross/ Red crescent Croix rouge/ Croissant rouge ...
    b) Flashing blue light(s) Feu(x) bleu(s) à éclats ...
    c) Navigation lights Feux de navigation ...
    d) Landing light(s) Phare(s) d'atterrissage ...
    e) Other(s) Autre(s) ...

    10. Continuous radio watch and language used on:
    Veille radio permanente, langue utilisée sur:
    a) 121.5 MHz in 121,5 MHz en ...
    b) 243.0 MHz in 243,0 MHz en ...
    c) ..... MHz in MHz en ...

    11. Radar identification (SSR mode and code); mode A/3,
    code: Identification radar (mode et code SSR); mode A/3, code: ...

    12. Aircrew and medical staff (number):
    Equipage navigant et personnel sanitaire (nombre): ...

    13. Acknowledgement: Accusé de réception:
    Flight authorized by
    Vol autorisé par ...

    14. Date: ... Time: ... h, min)
    Date: ... Heure: ... h, min)


    NOTES (1) [(1) p.1274] ' Commentary Drafts ', p. 116 (Art. 4);

    (2) [(2) p.1274] ICAO, Annex 2, "Rules of the Air", Seventh Edition, Amendments Nos. 1-26 (No. 26 effective 21 November 1985), ICAO, Montreal; ICAO Doc. 9110, Vol. II II - ICAO Lexicon, p. 46, F.23; Doc. 4444-RAC/501/12, Rules of the Air and Air Traffic Services, pp. 2-6 to 2-16, Appendix 2 and Attachment B;

    (3) [(3) p.1274] Cf. commentary Arts. 25-30 and 31, supra, p. 283 and p. 325;

    (4) [(4) p.1275] Cf. ITU Regulations, Res. No. 203 (Mob-83);

    (5) [(*) p.1276] "Medical aircraft" means any medical transports by air, whether based on land or on hospital ship. "Aéronef sanitaire" s'entend de tout moyen de transport sanitaire par air, basé à terre ou sur un navire-hôpital;