Minimum safe altitude warning

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Minimum safe altitude warning (MSAW) is an automated warning system for air traffic controllers (ATCO). It is a ground-based safety net intended to warn the controller about increased risk of controlled flight into terrain accidents by generating, in a timely manner, an alert of aircraft proximity to terrain or obstacles.[1]


ICAO Doc 4444 requires that radar systems should provide for the display of safety-related alerts including the presentation of minimum safe altitude warning.[2] It is worth mentioning that ICAO Doc 4444 does not provide a definition of the term MSAW. Instead the term MSAW is ambiguously used in ATC community to identify such warnings as well as for data processing systems providing the alert function.


  1. ^ "EUROCONTROL Specification for Minimum Safe Altitude Warning" (PDF). 0.9. Eurocontrol. 19 May 2009. Retrieved 2010-05-24.
  2. ^ Rules of the Air and Air Traffic Services. ICAO. Doc 4444-RAC/501.

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