What is Automated Flight Following (AFF)?

Automated Flight Following (AFF) is a government mandated aircraft tracking system that automatically tracks the position, speed, altitude and heading of specially equipped aircraft and mobile assets. It transmits tracking data in near-real-time via satellite to a ground based flight data monitoring system used by dispatchers, aviation managers, and other authorized users via GPS and/or satellite communication devices. Simply put, Automated Flight Following (AFF) tracks contract aircraft around the globe.

Automated Flight Following (AFF) was first established in 2000 through a steering committee made up of representatives from the US Forest Service, the US Department of Interior – Office of Aviation Services, the US Department of Interior – Bureau of Land Management (Alaska) and the British Columbia Forest Service. The data standards were set by the committee and a working prototype of the AFF application was released in 2003. The US Forest Service solely funds the program.

Automated Flight Following (AFF) System

To be certified as an Automated Flight Following (AFF) compliant participant, an aircraft position report must be sent every 2 minutes. The position reports must then be pushed into a third-party database where they are automatically tracked by dispatchers using a secure login to a map-based interface. Common uses for AFF devices are contractors flying for USDA, USDOI during fire season, emergency medical transportation and contractors flying for utility companies.

Automated Flight Following reduces the requirement to “check in” via radio every 15 minutes and provides the dispatcher with a wide range of information on the flight, airspace, and other data that may be pertinent to the flight. It is important to note, Automated Flight Following (AFF) devices are not Emergency Locator Transmitters (ELT).

Learn more about Automated Flight Following (AFF) here.

Key Benefits of the Automated Flight Following (AFF) Program


  • Enhanced situational awareness data
  • Improved detection and response to emergencies
  • Reduce activity inside the aircraft and in dispatch centers
  • Less radio traffic on the ground and in the air allowing pilots to stay focused
  • Clears congested radio frequencies

Why do you need Automated Flight Following (AFF)?

Automated Flight Following (AFF) is required in most agency and interagency owned and contracted aircraft. If you want a contract with the USFS and/or an EMS or Utility organization, you need a system that complies with AFF government mandated requirements for USDA/USFS, EMS and Utility Operations Contracts.

How Guardian Mobility can assist with your Automated Flight Following (AFF) needs?

For more than a decade, Guardian Mobility Incorporated (GMI) has been a company that offers fleet operators of all sizes with reliable AFF certified tracking and communication solutions, even in locations where traditional cellular and radio technology is unrealistic.

We answer the question – “Where are my aircraft?” GMI technology has evolved from GPS enabled tracking, now meeting the AFF guidelines for aircraft flying on government contracts (aerial fire-fighters, medevac, etc.) during flight and is a regulatory and safety measure. Guardian Mobility has continuously improved and expanded our Automated Flight Following (AFF) solution. We’ve most recently added satellite text messaging capability making for an all-in-one device that does tracking and 2-way messaging from a Bluetooth 4 connection to tablets and smartphones inside the cockpit.

Automated Flight Following (AFF) Certified Guardian Mobility Products

We offer a certified turnkey AFF solution consisting of a tracking device, satellite service and a web based tracking platform providing complete situational awareness showing all tracked assets on a single pane of glass.

Guardian Mobility’s product line of Automated Flight Following (AFF) Certified products:

G3 – Portable Tracking Device Learn More >>

G4 – Portable Tracker and 2-way Messaging Device Learn More >>

G7 – Mounted Flight Data Monitoring and GPS/Satellite Tracker Learn More >>

SilverEyeAviation – Web-based tracking, messaging and analysis solution, for desktop, smartphone and tablets Learn More >>

Satellite Service Plans – Cost effective satellite service plans based on flight hours. Learn More >>

All are fully certified by the USFS, meeting all of their AFF requirements.

Our Experience

With a thorough understanding of the intricacies of government regulations, our extensive experience working with government contractors makes us the go-to provider for companies seeking a turnkey AFF solution to qualify for USFS contracts.

We support all USFS, DOI, USDA-Dept. of Natural Resources, State and Local Law Enforcement Organizations, EMS and Utility organizations.