Supporting pilot safety
Managing Search and Rescue times (SARTIME) and cancelling them at the end of a flight is a critical responsibility of pilots in command. It ensures that Airservices and emergency response authorities such as the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre (JRCC) know that you’ve arrived safely. It also prevents unnecessary search and rescue operations – a highly resource intensive, and at times costly, process.
In 2022, around 8000 SARTIMEs expired without being cancelled by pilots. Around 1 in 25 of these were passed on to the Australian Maritime Safety Authority’s Joint Rescue Coordination Centre (JRCC) when pilots could not be contacted by Airservices.
SARTIMEs versus flight notes
Who can hold your SARTIME?
Any person deemed to be a responsible person can hold watch on your safe arrival. This could be a friend, relative, your flying school or company. The person you nominate may need to provide emergency services with accurate information about you and your flight, so ensure they have:
- a description of the aircraft you are flying
- the details of your flight, including the route
- your contact details
- Australia’s search and rescue authority contact details—Joint Rescue Coordination Centre (JRCC) 1800 815 257.
Airservices maintains a centralised SARTIME database known as CENSAR.
Pilots operating VFR flights in Australian airspace may nominate a SARTIME for Airservices to manage. The SARTIME service is currently accessed free of charge by pilots (including military pilots) across Australia.
As an alternative to a SARTIME, it is good practice to use an ICAO Flight Notification whenever possible and ensure a responsible person nominated by you holds watch on your safe arrival.
How to nominate, amend and cancel a SARTIME with Airservices
The best way to lodge, amend and cancel your SARTIME is online. For example, you may nominate a SARTIME using an ICAO Flight Notification. The NAIPS Internet Service provides automatic confirmation of successful flight notification.
You can lodge, amend and cancel your SARTIME by phoning Airservices on 1800 814 931.
When the SARTIME’s operator answers your call, state:
- what you want e.g., ‘cancel SARTIME’
- your callsign
- your location
- your SARTIME in UTC.
If the preferred methods are unavailable, you can lodge, amend and cancel your SARTIME by radio (HF or VHF). Remember that there may be some delays due to operator workload or HF interference.
When nominating or amending a SARTIME by radio:
- include the phrase ‘SARTIME details’ in your initial transmission
- wait for the operator to respond before nominating your new or amended SARTIME.
When cancelling a SARTIME by radio:
- end your transmission with ‘Cancel SARTIME’
- wait for the operator to respond with the phrase ‘SARTIME cancelled’ for confirmation they have received your transmission.
Managing your SARTIME
Only one SARTIME may be current at any time.
If more than one SARTIME is required, simply enter ‘TBA’ in your Flight Plan for subsequent legs. These TBA’s can be changed to the desired SARTIME before the start of the flight by using one the methods mentioned above. Only cancel your SARTIME once. If you cancel it on the phone there is no need to cancel it again online (AIP ENR 1.10–5 2.13).
What happens if I forget to cancel my SARTIME?
If you forget to cancel your nominated SARTIME, communication checks will be made by Airservices. This includes:
- a phone call to the contact numbers provided in NAIPS
- radio calls and making contact with our ATC towers to see if you have arrived safely.
These checks increase the workload for the SARTIME operator, HF operators and our air traffic controllers. If we cannot contact you within 30 minutes, the flight details are provided to the JRCC or military SAR authority, Headquarters Joint Operations Command (HQJOC) and a uncertainty phase is declared. Any SARTIME not cancelled by the nominated SARTIME is immediately subject to communications checks.
Remembering to cancel your SARTIME
Remembering to cancel your SARTIME along with your other responsibilities at the end of a flight can be a challenge.
A number of ways you can remember to do this is as follows:
- Set the alarm on your smart watch or mobile phone for your SARTIME minus 5 minutes, reminding you to cancel your SARTIME online or by phone.
- Add cancelling your SARTIME to your post flight checklist.
- Use the inbuilt alarm on your electronic flight bag if available.
You can cancel your SARTIME through NIS or by calling CENSAR on 1800 814 931.
For more information, visit
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Download and print the
To obtain a copy of the poster, email email@example.com.
For more detailed information on SARTIME operations, email SARTIME@airservicesaustralia.com.