Avionics News September 2019 - 55

a person in trouble at the other end
of that distress beacon activation.
In 2018, there were 16,984 distress
alerts in the United States. Of
that number, only 331 were actual
distress events that led to a life
being saved.
While a vast majority of these
non-distress events is harmless in
intent, they all place responders
lives and equipment at risk. The
primary platform for false alert/
non-distress events in the SARSAT
system are 406 MHz ELTs (NOAA
SARSAT no longer monitors or
supports 121.5 MHz). This is,
in part, due to the extraordinary
diligence in adherence to
maintenance schedules and
preventative maintenance checks
carried out by both pilots and
aircraft maintenance technicians.
ELTs are required by the Federal
Aviation Administration to be
aboard every aircraft registered in
the United States. Due to this, ELT
beacons are regularly scheduled
for maintenance and checks. It
is the recurring nature of this
maintenance and the inaccurate
execution of this maintenance that
inadvertently causes false alerts/
non-distress beacon activations.
The numbers are stark in
this regard. In 2018, there were
3,049 instances of ELT beacons
mishandling false alerts compared
to 559 for EPIRBs and 466
for personal locator beacons.
Resolving that statistic alone
would represent an 18% decrease
in false activations. Decreasing
this number, as well as the
numbers for all beacon types,
begins with proper understanding
of the system and knowledge of
the manufacturer's testing and
handling procedures.

Testing
Prior to 2009, the SARSAT
system operated for most of its 29
years using 121.5 MHz beacons,
and toward the end of that time

period, the 406 MHz frequency was
integrated into beacon technology.
After 2009, SARSAT monitoring of
Continued on following page

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september

2019

55


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Avionics News September 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Avionics News September 2019

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Avionics News September 2019 - No label
Avionics News September 2019 - Cover1
Avionics News September 2019 - Cover2
Avionics News September 2019 - 1
Avionics News September 2019 - 2
Avionics News September 2019 - 3
Avionics News September 2019 - 4
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Avionics News September 2019 - Cover3
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