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Say Goodbye to 121.5


Goldy
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So I posted this about a year ago, but many still have not heard the word. Here is the official statement:

 

The International Cospas-Sarsat Program, a program that uses a satellite constellation to relay distress alerts to search and rescue authorities, announced at its 25th Council Session that it plans to terminate satellite processing of distress signals from 121.5/243 MHz emergency beacons on Feb. 1, 2009

 

What this means is simple. If you crash and have a 121.5 ELT no one is going to hear you, no satellite is searching for you....you are on your own. Maybe you'll get lucky and crash under a VOR airway, and some passing commercial flight might hear you as they fly over head at 500 MPH. Gee, at 40,000 feet that narrows the search area to just a few thousand square miles, maybe 1 or 2 states!

 

Now this is the really stupid part. The FAA has known that the International Committee was dropping the satellite monitoring for the last 10 years. Boaters had to convert over to the newer 406 units 3 years ago.....but the good ol FAA has not mandated ANY changes for my aircraft.

 

So, you can fly your aircraft around now with that nice warm feeling knowing that if something happens, we'll all come out looking for you...NOT !

 

Mexico and Canada required all their aircraft to upgrade, just not the U.S.

 

BTW, just last Thursday night we had a plane crash on Catalina Island, off So. Cal. No satellite, so no assistance as to where the plane might have gone down. Good ol Air Force radar tapes came in the next day, and the plane was located Friday morning.

 

My advice? At your next inspection, spend the $900 bucks and upgrade to the new 406MHZ system. Go on line and fill in all the registration info so we all know what to look for and who to call.

 

Your tax dollars at work.

 

Fly safe, Goldy

Edited by Goldy
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I hear ya Goldy and Photoflyer!

 

Our boat had to convert to 406 3 years ago and it was a royal pain spending that $1k. But...had to do it.

 

Now I only I couod start a business monitoring 121.5 for those who didn't upgrade...and charge a fee to let the authorities know when something happens...

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Now I only I couod start a business monitoring 121.5 for those who didn't upgrade...and charge a fee to let the authorities know when something happens...

 

I would rather stay home, warm and snuggle in my covers than pay you to tell me to get up and get out in the rain !

 

BTW- I see you are in Sierra Madre, hows the mud flows doing ?

 

Goldy

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Yeah I got the email from FAAST last month. Since then I've put 121.5 in on my solo flights, and will switch over when I'm in between airspaces and listen in for a few mins.

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So much for the spontaneous joy ride, now we will have to tell someone where we are going and when we will return.

 

Encourage everyone who flies to monitor 121.5 as much as they can.

 

I wonder how much different this post would be if the change was required instead of voluntary. I am sure we all know that it won’t be voluntary forever. Plan ahead and fly safe!

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I am looking at the Personal Emergency beacons. They seem to make more sense for helicopters than the full 406 ELT's. Mount it in the cabin with Velcro and drive.

 

 

Plus side- you can take it with you hiking, boating, whatever.

 

Downside- If the FAA finally mandates 406 in aircraft, that unit wont meet the req's.

 

Remember, not all helicopters require ELT's...Nice to have, but not all have to have it.

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Plus side- you can take it with you hiking, boating, whatever.

 

Downside- If the FAA finally mandates 406 in aircraft, that unit wont meet the req's.

 

Remember, not all helicopters require ELT's...Nice to have, but not all have to have it.

 

Besides, even the 406 doesn't work real well underwater. It will depend on how the reg is written for the 406 when it is done. Maybe the FAA will get it right this time. RIGHT!

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Get a new ELT, EPIRB, ASAP.

But, don't count "VHF Guard" (121.5) out so quickly. I think the airlines, military will still monitor it, as well as lots of civilian types. Consider this- CAAP can home on it, too, but not necessarily other ELTs. All we're losing is satellite location, not all that quick or accurate to begin with.

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All true Wally- but without the satellite ears listening, your chances of being heard diminish. In fact, even the new 406 MHZ units actually still transmit a 121.5 beacon for the ground guys to home in on.

I've been involved in a couple aircraft down calls, the satellite co-ords (on the second or third pass) would get you within a 2-3 mile square or so..

 

I dont disagree with upgrading to better technology, just the FAA's refusal to act in a timely fashion. Then again, they let SFAR 71 expire (for a few months) and they are the ones that wrote it...not like they didnt know it was coming up !

 

I agree though- time to spend some money of our own without being forced to by the "rules".

 

Goldy

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yeah, as much as it 'hurts' to upgrade...it will be something you will never regret if that 'something' actually happens.

 

yes Goldy, Sierra Madre got mud up to knees over the last couple of days - in our canyon area. I'm told about every 40 years or so there are big fires...then big mud. We had huge fires so we are having huge mud. But luckily houses haven't moved with the mud yet, so we're ok.

 

thanks

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Spot's are pretty neat. I have several friends that use them hiking. You can set them up to send an email every 10 minutes with a Google Map link. Click on the link and it shows friends your location/path.

 

However, I have hiked in many canyons locally where I cant get a GPS location at all..Just too steep, too narrow a window to the sky.

 

Certainly better than nothing, definitely multi purpose, also wont activate in an impact.

 

Goldy

Edited by Goldy
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... also wont activate in an impact.

 

Forgive me Goldy but if I'm not alive to turn it on I'm not really in a rush am I? you can sleep in for all of me, wait for those Air Force tapes.

 

http://www.backcountry.com/store/ACR0004/A...PS-I-O-PLB.html

 

before anyone gets snipy I am aware that there are situations when someone might be alive and unable to activate the beacon.

Edited by beckwith
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Hi Goldy.

If there is no cover nothing will work.

Are you saying that the Spots specification is poor against a normal epirb? some small units we deal with for asset tracking have phenomenal acquisition figures, we are hiding them under dashes in the boot and other places and they are real efective.

I would think it is the return signal to the satalite that is the problem. have never looked at stand alone units all ours report back through our own radio systems, not to satalite & are fixed in vehicles.

Are most epirbs standard Tx power, Must have a look at some specifications.

:ph34r:PS hows the reading \500 hours

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Forgive me Goldy but if I'm not alive to turn it on I'm not really in a rush am I? you can sleep in for all of me, wait for those Air Force tapes.

 

http://www.backcountry.com/store/ACR0004/A...PS-I-O-PLB.html

 

before anyone gets snipy I am aware that there are situations when someone might be alive and unable to activate the beacon.

 

If your dead you wouldn't be in a rush. What if you are unconscious, with a broken leg. If your out for several hours then your odds of surviving without help are really small. If you have an aircraft mounted unit that activates on impact (especially a 406 unit) your odds of survival have gone up immensely.

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If your dead you wouldn't be in a rush. What if you are unconscious, with a broken leg. If your out for several hours then your odds of surviving without help are really small. If you have an aircraft mounted unit that activates on impact (especially a 406 unit) your odds of survival have gone up immensely.

 

sigh... you didn't really finish reading my post before you responded did you?

 

Just so we are clear I have been involved with Search and Rescue and wilderness medicine in the past. The first part of my post was partially in jest. Perhaps you didn't get the humor?

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Beck- I caught it, I was just going to mention that if I knew it was you, I'd crawl out of bed and go get ya!

 

This has turned into a pretty interesting list of alternatives. Even if you had a 406 unit on the ship, it sure wouldnt hurt to have another EPIRB of some kind under the seat..

 

500- The problem with some of these units, like SPOT is they require GPS to figure out where they are. And in some of our canyons, its just too steep to even get a GPS signal, let alone a signal back out to the low orbit birds. Certainly better than nothing, but you might have to move around in a real emergency to get a signal out. Remember the spot does NOT have a 121.5 or 406 mhz transmitter, it relies on communicating with the old AT&T network of low orbiting satellites...2 of which are currently out of service on the west coast.

 

Goldy

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Actually what I find amusing is the number of people who seem to think a beacon on 121.5 would have done you any good satellite or no. The reason they've gotten rid of them is because of the high signal to noise ratio. Unless someone is reported as overdue I wouldn't expect any SAR effort to be undertaken. More likely they'll call the maintenance facilities and have them check for inadvertent activations. If you want to be rescued your best bet lies in making sure someone knows where you're going, by which route and when you expect to be there (or back.)

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I knew you would get it Goldy. My parents and girlfriend will be glad to know that at least one person out there is willing to go find me.

 

I don't know anything about the spot system, but the ACR Terrafix, like the one I linked to earlier all transmit on 406 and some also have 121.5. in addition to that they have GPS capability so they don't just transmit a distress call they send your location so you have less of the problem mentioned before about large search areas. the coolest thing about them though is that the signals are unique to the individual units which means that you can go online and build a profile for yourself including medical history and likely activities. Good information for the Search team to have.

 

On a side note. How many of you have sar insurance? Is that commonly included in the policy on the helicopter?

Edited by beckwith
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Not at all that I know of from Pathfinder.....in fact you have to go get the ship yourself and arrange and pay to transport it in for repairs....

 

There is a reason(s) Pathfinder is 40% less than the other guys !

 

Goldy

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