ACARS : Wacars, Posfix and Acarsd

ACARS :

ACARS is the abbreviation of Aircraft Communications and Reporting System and is a digital communication datalink between airplanes and groundstations. It was developed in the early eighties to reduce the workload of the crew. ACARS can be used to send textmessages that e.g. can be printed in the cockpit . The planes themselves can send automatically their technical status, position and expected time of arrival to the company. The bulletins can be easily read by a VHF receiver capable of receiving frequencies between 118 and 136 MHz. A couple of examples can be found on the internet or you can also log in on special ACARS-Servers.

This is how a signal sounds :

alt : Listen

This is an example of a standard ACARS message :

ACARS mode: 2
Aircraft reg: .G-BUSF
Message label: Q0
Block id: 4
Msg. no: S75A
Flight id: BA0943

Some more examples :

G-BUSF A320-111 18 EQ-DL [Isle of Man]
British Airways BA0943 Düsseldorf Germany-London/Heathrow UK
Using Ground Station 2 to free ground stations/uplink select by aircraft .Message No. S75A
Message Type Q0 LINK TEST(Up/Downlink)

A 'weather' request :

G-VIIU B777-236[ER] 29963/221 IIU GJ-FR [Deftblue Daybreak]
British Airways BA0124 Doha Qatar-Bahrain Bahrain-London Heathrow United Kingdom
Using Ground Station E Amsterdam (AMS) .Message No. M76A
Message Type 10 ESTIMATED TIME OF ARRIVAL REPORT
WEATHER REQUEST 1 FOR London Heathrow Airport UK

A position report :

OO-TAA
TNT Airways Belgium 3V0000
Using Ground Station 2 to free ground stations/uplink select by aircraft .Message No. M75A
Message Type 20 ?????
POSITION N50449E004268,,062339,215, CHIEVRES (VOR) ,000445,,N41,29515,79,324

A report :

N156DL B767-3P6[ER] 25354/406 1506 PQ-DK [A40-GR]
Delta Airlines USA DL0124 Atlanta GA USA-Brussels Belgium
Using Ground Station E Amsterdam (AMS) .Message No. M57A
Message Type 80 POSITION REPORT
IN RANGE TYPE REPORT/23 Atlanta Hartsfield Int. Airport GA USA / Brussels Airport Belgium .N156DL
/DESTINATION STATION: Brussels Airport Belgium /ESTIMATED RAMP TIME 0725/CHAIR /MNR /PASSENGER AGENT REQUIRED TO MEET FLIGHT N/MEDICAL
N/SECURITY ASSISTANCE REQUIRED N/LANGUAGE INTERPRETER REQUIRED N/LAVATORY SERVICING Y/CABIN SERVICING REQUIRED Y

An error report :

JA734J B777-347[ER] 32433/527 JL-BF Japan Airlines JL0405 New Tokyo Int. Japan-Paris CDG France
Using Ground Station G Glasgow (GLA) .Message No. C01A
Message Type H1 CENTRAL FAULT DISPLAY (Up/Downlink)
#COMBINED FAULT INDICATOR-B I FLIGHT DECK EFFECT 1 24JAN07 1420 JLJA734J JAL405 Tokyo Narita Airport Japan / Paris Charles De Gaulle Airport France
HNP59-AL02-1001 L 0207 24JAN07
FLIGHT DECK DEFECT 21700100 A 0245 24JAN07
MESSAGE 2126101 L 0245 24JAN07 ER M PL
DATABASE CABIN IN TEMPERATURE CONTROLLER (L CHAN2)
EQUIPMENT OVERVIEW REPORT

A passenger problem :

9V-SPA B747-412 26550/1040 ER-AF
Singapore Airlines SQ0308 Singapore Singapore-London Heathrow United Kingdom
Using Ground Station X Birmingham (BHX) .Message No. 203A
Message Type H1 CENTRAL FAULT DISPLAY (Up/Downlink)
#T2B/ London Heathrow Airport UK KKSQ London Heathrow Airport UK KDSQ. ENGINEER NEEDED
PASSENGER MR REYNOLDS (14K) HAS DROPPED HIS NEW DIGITAL CAMERA REMOTE CONTROL IN NARROW SLOT NEAR ARMREST.
SUSPECTED TO BE INSIDE AREA UNDER SEAT.

Enquiries for receiving and decoding ACARS signals :

ANAD a product of Airnav is a payware program. You can use the old 1.0 or 1.1 demo version to start with. Unfortunately you need a receiver. This is prohibited in some countries. Screenshot

A free alternative is ACARSD and it's available in a linux and windows version. This program has many possibilties and is able to use data from several ACARS servers, that are active on the net. There is also a direct link with a picture server so you are able to see a picture of the received plane. Screenshot

Wacars is a program to translate the received ACARS messages into a more readable form. The program uses a few external databases with e.g. plane types, companies and routes. There is an existing possibilty to plot a plane, that gives position information, on a map. Screenshot

Because Wacars is in fact an old program most airplanes aren't plotted. By using Posfix in combination with Wacars this can be fixed. However you 'll need a DDE server (e.g. ANAD 1.0) that will send data to Posfix. Posfix on his turn sends this signal back to Wacars. Screenshot

All download links for the previously mentioned programs and updates can be found on the bottom of this page.

My old system in action :

ANAD-POSFIX-WACARS ANAD-POSFIX-WACARS
Download the Belgium map here.

First ACARS contact with Singapore Airlines Airbus A380. You can find 9V-SKA in the 23/04/2008 logfile.

You can download some logfiles on this calendar. The underlined dates contain logfiles.

A good Wacars newsgroup : Wacars Forum

Wacars Analyser :

This is a vb6 program I wrote myself. It is used to convert the Wacars or Acarsd logfiles into a database.

Program specifications :

Would there be enough interest I might consider making ths program available online. For now you can view a few screenshots of the 'analyser' program :

Analyser - Mainview Analyser - Importing busy... Analyser - Tracked planes Analyser - Slideshow Analyser - Reports

How to use Posfix ?

1) Acarsd and Posfix

ACARSD

Acarsd
  • Start the Acarsd "setup.exe" program.
  • Navigate to the "DDE Settings" item in the "Configuration/Installation" menu.
  • Fill in these settings in the "StartDDE Server" inputfield : ACARSD,ACARS
  • Select the Wacars compatible mode.
  • Write the new "acarsd.ini" and close the setup program.
  • Start Acarsd.
  • You should see a DDE pictogram in the Acarsd menu :
Acarsd

Posfix V2.34

  • Start Posfix V2.34
  • Select the "ACARSD" option in the posfix DDE menu.

  • Posfix V2.34

  • Acknowledge the popup.

Posfix V2.43 or SBS

  • Start Posfix V2.43 or SBS
  • Select the "Settings" option in the posfix DDE menu.

  • Posfix V2.43

  • Enter this data :

  • Posfix V2.43

  • Select "Save" and close the popup.
  • Select the "Other" option in the posfix DDE menu.

  • Posfix V2.43

Other Posfix settings

  • Navigate to the "Map Settings" item in the "Maps" menu of Posfix.
  • Search a map, pe. the "Humb03.gif" map and enter the right coordinates. For the Humb03 map : North 60,000 East 004,000 South 53,000 West -011,000. Enter these values as North 060000 East 004000 South 053000 West -011000 => Always use 6 numbers, negative values must be prefixed by "-".
  • Select "Save settings" and close the "map settings" popup.
  • Wait for a plane with postion data (pe. POSITION N50449E004268). You should be able to see this plane on the map if it's flying inside the map coordinates.

2) Acarsd Client NG and Posfix

ACARSD CLIENT NG

  • Start ACARSD CLIENT NG : "clientNG.exe".
  • Go to the "DDE" menu and select "Airmaster Style".
  • Check that the "no DDE" option is not marked.

  • Acarsd Client

  • Select, after you changed the posfix settings, this server : dutchacars.no-ip.org. This server is always online.
  • REMARK : When I restart AcarsdClient NG, after receiving some data, the program won't run. I have to delete the clientNG2.db file. Afterwards I can restart the program. This is probably a bug in AcarsdClient NG.

Posfix V2.34, V2.43 or SBS

  • Start Posfix V2.34, V2.43 or SBS
  • Select the "SkySpy" option in the posfix DDE menu.

  • Posfix V2.34

Other Posfix settings

  • Navigate to the "Map Settings" item in the "Maps" menu of Posfix.
  • Search a map, pe. the "Humb03.gif" map and enter the right coordinates. For the Humb03 map : North 60,000 East 004,000 South 53,000 West -011,000. Enter these values as North 060000 East 004000 South 053000 West -011000 => Always use 6 numbers, negative values must be prefixed by "-".
  • Select "Save settings" and close the "map settings" popup.
  • Wait for a plane with postion data (pe. POSITION N50449E004268). You should be able to see this plane on the map if it's flying inside the map coordinates.

3) Anad together with Posfix and Wacars

ANAD

  • Start the Airnav Acars decoder.
  • No special settings ...

Posfix V2.34, V2.43 or SBS

  • Start Posfix V2.34, V2.43 or SBS
  • Select the "Airnav Acars Decoder" option in the posfix DDE menu.

  • Posfix V2.34

Other Posfix settings

  • Navigate to the "Map Settings" item in the "Maps" menu of Posfix.
  • Search a map, pe. the "Humb03.gif" map and enter the right coordinates. For the Humb03 map : North 60,000 East 004,000 South 53,000 West -011,000. Enter these values as North 060000 East 004000 South 053000 West -011000 => Always use 6 numbers, negative values must be prefixed by "-".
  • Select "Save settings" and close the "map settings" popup.
  • Wait for a plane with postion data (pe. POSITION N50449E004268). You should be able to see this plane on the map if it's flying inside the map coordinates.

Wacars

  • Start Wacars, this could taka a while.
  • Navigate, with windows explorer, to the C:\Windows location.
  • Search the "Wacars.ini" file, open it with notepad and complete with these values. Save the file when done
    • Server=POSFIX
    • Topic=ACARS
    • Item=LiveData
    • DDE=1
    • Expand Messages=1
    • AirMaster Mode=0
    • Register=U4NHFOJFOPLEB
  • Close Wacars
  • Start Wacars
  • Select the "Use Link to DDE server" option in the "file" menu if it is not selected yet.

  • You only have to do the last five steps once...

    Posfix V2.34

Sources :

At the "My favorites" page you can find external links for some more information.

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Content - Airplanes and communication : Acars Wacars Analyser - Stego