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I am new to this community. I have been reading a lot about ECAM. I just got stuck and didn't quite understand what a DISPATCH MESSAGE is.

What is the difference between DISPATCH MESSAGE and MEL? Thank you.

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    $\begingroup$ Could you include a link where you read about this message, for context? $\endgroup$
    – Jan Hudec
    Commented Sep 26, 2022 at 10:44

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Few definitions to get on the right track:

ECAM (Electronic Centralized Aircraft Monitor) is an onboard system on Airbuses that monitors status of aircraft systems. The most famous(?) feature of ECAM are the checklists it displays in case of a system failure, but the system has also other features that help crew to build their situation awareness and to review aircraft's current technical status and capabilities.

MEL (Minimum Equipment List) is a part of the aircraft's Operations Manual. It defines the conditions for the commencement of the flight in case of a system failure.

The A350 introduced a new feature in the ECAM system called "Dispatch Messages". Dispatch messages are a list of system failures that affect the departure of the aircraft (aka "dispatch"). They are displayed on a dedicated DISPATCH page of the ECAM system.

The purpose of the feature is to let the flight crew quickly and correctly identify any failed equipment that may affect the departure of the aircraft. The crew can then find the correct procedure from the MEL. Indeed, it is not always easy to define what actually has failed as failure in any of the components in a subsystem may render the entire system useless. The dispatch messages help flight crew to identify the failed component while the associated ECAM alert and procedure guide the crew on how to secure the failed system. Depending on the actual failed component, the aircraft may be able to be fly again or it may require some maintenance before the next flight.

The MEL of A350 has an index of dispatch messages so flight crew can quickly find correct procedures. Moreover, the Onboard Information System (OIS) detects any dispatch messages providing a direct link to the correct page in operation manuals, including MEL.

If the failure itself requires immediate crew action, the Dispatch messages may be accompanied by an ECAM alert and an associated checklist but they may also appear on their own. In such case, a "DISPATCH PAGE UPDATE" ECAM alert is displayed guiding the flight crew's attention to the DISPATCH PAGE.

Besides serving as a tool to determine aircraft's airworthiness before departure, The DISPATCH PAGE can also be viewed in flight so that the crew can assess the technical status of the aircraft to support their decision making considering the upcoming flights. For example it may be required to return to the base for maintenance if the destination does not have maintenance crew or spare parts available, even if the actual failure does not have direct effect on the current flight.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the explanation. Very informative. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 3, 2022 at 7:54

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