2.3.1 The RCC is an operational facility responsible for promoting efficient organization of SAR services and for coordinating the conduct of SAR operations within an SRR. An RCC co-ordinates, but does not necessarily provide, SAR facilities throughout the internationally recognized SRR described in either the Regional Air Navigation Plans (RANPs) of ICA0 or the Global SAR Plan of IMO. Aeronautical SAR responsibility may be met by means of an aeronautical RCC (ARCC). Coastal States with the added responsibility for maritime SAR incidents can meet this with a maritime RCC (MRCC). When practicable, States should consider combining their SAR resources into a joint RCC (JRCC), responsible for both aeronautical and maritime SAR incidents or co-locating their maritime an aeronautical RCCs.

Note: The term RCC will be used within this Manual to apply to either aeronautical or maritime centres; ARCC or MRCC will be used as the context warrants.

2.3.2 SAR managers should ensure that the RCC is familiar with the capabilities of all of the facilities available for SAR in its SRR. Collectively, these facilities are the means by which the RCC conducts its operations. Some of these facilities will be immediately suitable for use; others may have to be enhanced by changing organizational relationships or supplying extra equipment and training. If the facilities available in certain parts of an SRR cannot provide adequate assistance, arrangements should be made to provide additional facilities.

2.3.3 Cooperative arrangements among States could make it unnecessary for some States to have an RCC. RSCs (discussed later in this chapter) may be established under an RCC of the State concerned, under an RCC operated by another State or under an RCC operated by more than one State.

2.3.4 JRCCs can be established at minimal cost by combining aeronautical and maritime RCCs. Staffing would be determined by the responsible agencies and could include joint staffing by more than one agency. This cooperation could help in developing better capabilities and plans to assist both aircraft and ships in distress. Benefits include:

  • fewer facilities to establish or maintain;
  • reduced cost;
  • less comlexity for alerting in forwarding distress alerts; and
  • better co-ordination and sharing of SAR expertise

A costal State may have a MRCC but not be able to be provided with an ARCC, in such a case, the SAR manager should arrange a suitable organizational relationship to provide the MRCC with aeronautical advice. Advice may be available from aeronautical facilities close to hand, such as an aerodrome tower, an ARCC, a flight information center (FIC), or an area control center (ACC).

2.3.5 Properly established, the JRCC may improve SAR service performance in most areas. The RCC chief operates the JRCC so that neither the aeronautical nor maritime community receives special attention at the expense of the other.

Purpose and requirements

2.3.6 ICAO’s Annex 12 and the International Convention on Maritime Search and Rescue require that SAR providers establish an RCC for each SRR. The following sections detail some minimum requirements for these centres. More information on specific RCC and RSC requirements is provided in the International Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue Manual for Mission Co-ordination.

2.3.7 The RCC must have certain basic capabilities before it is recognized as having responsibility for an SRR by listing in the ICA0 RANP or the IMO Global SAR Plan. Additional or improved capabilities may be added as ability and resources permit. A fully capable RCC may be viewed as having two sets of capabilities, “required” and “desired.” Figure 2-2 outlines these capabilities.

Capabilities of a fully capable RCC


  • 24-hour availibility
  • Trained persons
  • Persons with a working knowledge of the English language
  • Charts which apply to the SRR (aeronautical, nautical, topographic and hydrographic)
  • Means of plotting
  • Ability to receive distress alerts, e.g from MCCs, CESs, etc.
  • Immediate communications with:
    • associated ATS units
    • associated RSCs
    • DF and position-fixing stations
    • associated CRSs
  • Rapid and reliable communications with:
    • parent agencies of SRUs
    • adjacent RCCs
    • designated meteorological offices
    • employed SRUs
    • alerting posts
  • Plans of operation


  • Wall chart depicting SRR, SRSs, and neighboring SRRs, SAR resources
  • Computer resources
  • Databases


2.3.8 An RCC should be located where it can effectively perform its functions within its SRR. The RCC may use accommodations at an existing suitable facility. Often agencies responsible for communications, defense, law enforcement, air and marine services or other primary missions have an operations centre which can be readily adapted for use also as an RCC. These centers, while not dedicated only to SAR, may act as RCCs in addition to their other functions as long as the centres and their staff meet the SAR requirements. Coordination skills used for other purposes are similar to those used to manage a SAR mission. This arrangement makes use of existing equipment and trained experienced staff. However, additional personnel or space may be needed depending on the expected number and complexity of SAR operations. Also, the RCC may be located close to a well-equipped centre such as a flight information centre (FIC) or area control centre (ACC) so that additional communications facilities can be kept to a minimum. In addition to communications facilities and general office equipment, a desk, plotting space, charts showing the RCC’s area of responsibility and adjacent areas and filing space are needed. Use of various technologies may improve the RCC performance and affect the staffing and training requirements.