Triggered by the loss of an Air France Airbus A330 in June 2009 in the Atlantic and compounded by the loss of a Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777 in the Indian Ocean in March, representatives of ICAO member states and of the aviation industry agreed on a set of near-term priority actions and a framework for medium- and long-term objectives, at a special meeting on global aircraft tracking at ICAO in Montreal on May 14.
Law of the sea
The U.S. Federal Communications Commission issued a new Notice of Proposed Rulemaking addressing the manufacture, sale and use of emergency locator transmitters that broadcast solely on 121.5 MHz. Comments on the NPRM are due 30 days from publication in the Federal Register, according to the National Air Transportation Association. Publication is expected next week.
Becker Avionics has announced its new airborne BD46 beacon decoder, which it describes as “the most modern, lightweight, competitively priced 406 MHz beacon decoder on the market.”
According to the German manufacturer, the BD406 provides a unique tool for search and rescue (SAR) organizations on land, on water or in the air. It is a fixed installation or portable receiver developed specifically to decode and navigate to 406 MHz Cospas-Sarsat capable beacons (PLBs, SPLBs ELTs or EPIRBs) transmitting the 406 MHz signal with GPS information.
In an effort to cut down on the more than 2,000 false distress signals it receives each year from emergency locator transmitters (ELT) and emergency position indicating radio beacons, the Civil Air Patrol has launched its “Don’t Trash the Beacon” public awareness campaign. “The false-alarm rate is between 90- and 95-percent now,” said John Demarais, CAP’s deputy director for operations.
Weather satellites equipped to detect emergency locator transmitters helped rescue an estimated 1,500 sailors, hikers, downed pilots and others around the world last year, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Its satellites, along with Russia’s Cospas satellites, form an international search-and-rescue system. NOAA said the 171 U.S.
The royal air force of Oman has signed a $1.5 million contract with SARBE for new generation beacons to replace SARBE 6 beacons by the end of this year. The previous generation beacons will become obsolete on February 1, 2009, as analog transmissions will no longer be monitored by the COSPAS-SARSAT network. Beyond that date only 406MHz signals will be detected.
A new and easier way to test emergency locator transmitters (ELT) has been developed by Artex (Booth No. 548) from an earlier palm-held programmer, of which some 500 or so have been sold to date. Previously, in order to test an ELT, it was necessary to use a PC, but a handheld device is clearly preferable.
Sarbe is synonymous with search and rescue and personal locator beacons (PLBs) and the Signature Industries’ company is launching a new emergency locator transmitter (ELT) approved to Cospas-Sarsat standards. The new product was initially developed to support the requirements of a major export customer who had concerns about the crash survivability of existing ELTs carried in military rotary-wing aircraft.
Venezuela’s National Institute of Civil Aviation has taken delivery of three Russian Mil Mi-172s to improve national search-and-rescue capabilities. The helicopters, provided by IAI of Israel and Kazan of Russia, are fitted with night infrared search cameras and digital cockpits, with cabin space for 14 stretchers.