VFR SAR Procedures
SAR is a service that seeks missing aircraft and assists those found to be in need of
assistance. This lifesaving service is provided through the cooperative efforts of the
federal agencies signatory to the National SAR Plan and the agencies responsible for
SAR within each state.
By federal interagency agreement, the National SAR Plan provides for the effective use
of all available facilities in all types of SAR missions. These facilities include aircraft,
vessels, pararescue, and ground rescue teams. The services provided include search
for missing aircraft, survival aid, rescue, and emergency medical help for the occupants
after an accident site is located.
The U.S. Coast Guard is responsible for coordinating SAR for the Maritime Region, and
the U.S. Air Force is responsible for SAR for the Inland Region.
As an AC who works in the flight planning branch, you have important responsibilities
regarding SAR procedures. Information pertinent to SAR should be passed through any
ATC facility or be transmitted directly to the rescue coordination center (RCC) by
Responsibility for SAR Action
Flight service stations serve as central points for collecting and disseminating
information on overdue or missing aircraft that are not on IFR flight plans. The departure
station is responsible for SAR action until it receives the destination station s
acknowledgment of the flight notification message. Once this acknowledgment is
received, the destination station assumes responsibility for SAR action.
Upon receiving the acknowledgement, SAR action is initiated for VFR aircraft based on
the time frames shown in Table 7-10.
Consider Aircraft Overdue
Aircraft is on a VFR or DVFR
location cannot be established
Aircraft is not on a Flight Plan At the actual time a reliable source reports the aircraft to
be at least 1 hour late at its destination
Aircraft is receiving a
Contact lost for more than 15 minutes (alert SAR)
"Hazardous Area Reporting
Table 7-10 -- Responsibility for SAR action