Emergency Locator Beacon Changes in 2009 By: Ray Grimes Assistant Director, Engineering Orange County Sheriff‟s Department Communications Division May, 2008 ELT/EPIRB/PLB Response Today • An ELT/EPIRB/PLB is activated continuously. • The AFRCC receives a position processed report from satellite triangulation (approximate fix) 2 hrs typical) or Beacon GPS reporting (optional) with unit ID (optional) (20 minutes typical). • The AFRCC contacts USCG, USAF Aux. C.A.P., or State OES as a “missing person(s)‟ incident per MOU. • State OES would contact respective local Sheriff Dispatch (or POC) to start SAR activity (2 hours) also asking if federal help requested. Type of Beacon device and position determines primary agency. • SAR launched (2 hours to 24 hours). Emergency Beacon Activation Chain of Events • An ELT, EPIRB or PLB is activated, sending a 406 MHz alert message with unit ID and GPS position (optional), and 121.5/243 MHz. • NOAA Satellites pickup the alert message (LEOSAR for non-GPS units, GEOSAR for GPS units). • LUTS (Local User Terminals) process signal and compute accuracy using Doppler technology. • NOAA U.S. Mission Control receives alert notification and validates, identifying the registered subject, then notifies Rescue Coord. Center (RCC) based on global location fix. • USAFRCC Langley AFB: Land Incidents, USCG: Sea Incidents • After USAFRCC failure to contact registered owner, becomes a „missing person‟ event and reported to local SAR though State OES. • Each State has a different MOU with USAFRCC. California State OES primary contact then local County Sheriff‟s notified (2 hrs). • Foreign PLB alert program handling and responses all different. • Ground search beacon DF performed using 121.5 MHz low power continuous beacon signal. The Emergency Distress Locator Transmitter E.L.T.. Emergency Locator Transmitter 121.5 MHz, 243 MHz, or tri-band including 406 MHz, Manual or Inertial Force (G switch) activated, GPS optional (Aviation) EPIRB Emergency Position Indicating Rescue Beacon 406 MHz, Manual or Motion Activated, GPS option (Marine) Jan 1, 2007 121.5 MHz only EPIRB‟s prohibited PLB Personal Locator Beacon 406 MHz & 121.5 MHz, manually activated only, GPS external option The Workings of the E.L.T. • 121.5 MHz/243.0 MHz simultaneous, 50-150 m/W analog AM transmitter, warbling tone modulated, optional voice capability, solid-state, battery operated. 50 hours typical duration. • Low-cost: Aircraft ELT 121.5 MHz beacons $300.00 • Prior to January 1, 2007 121.5 MHz ELT‟s not required on bizjets and charter aircraft. • Activates from 2 to 20 G‟s dependent on direction of impact relative to ELT axis. • Marine and Personal units are abundant, costing as little as $200 for a PLB. Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) $500 av. price. Marketed to travelers, outdoorsman, boaters. 406 MHz primary beacon. (5 watts pulse power). 121.5 MHz secondary beacon. (50 milliwatts continuous). Integrated GPS receiver. 24 hour duration. External strap antenna must be engaged. Waterproof. Requires 1 second simultaneous two button activation to alert. Manually activated only. SPOT Personal Tracker SPOT Personal Tracker The „Look-Alike‟ Competitor to PLB‟s • Transmits at 1.6 GHz (Globestar LEO Satellite Uplink) • 400 milliwatts peak RF power • Integrated GPS receiver for accurate positioning • Subscription based multi-services. • Global coverage holes due to satellite availability • ALERT 911 is an optional function to a private emergency center • HELP uses text messaging and e-mail (inc. location) to alert (non-emergency) up to four individuals. • $150 unit price, plus $99/yr standard svc + $49/yr 911 and location tracking svc, plus an optional $7.95 rescue global insurance policy PLB Thoughts • Class „B‟ PLB‟s are unlicensed, unregistered 121.5 MHz only, manual operated, low power units (without ID capability) that will no longer be NOAA supported after 02/01/09. • PLB‟s should not be used in locations that are supported by 911. • PLB‟s must not be used for non-life threatening emergencies (car trouble, out of gas, confused, etc.). • PLB‟s are considered ineffective for urban disasters where they will not have open sky visibility, with possibly hundreds or thousands of PLB‟s activated in a city. • PLB‟s require two distinct actions to operate (including breaking a seal). The PLB can be manually turned off at will. • PLB‟s have a self-test feature. • When a PLB is activated, the first SAR response will likely be by aircraft, followed by required ground personnel (U.S.). It is unclear as to who exactly would be the first responder (location determined). • U.S. GOES E & W (Geostationary Operational Environ. Satellite) 121.5 MHz/243 MHz/406 MHz RECOGNITION • U.S. LEO‟S 121.5 MHz/243 MHz/406 MHz LOCATION • Russia COSPAS 121.5 MHz/243 MHz • India INSAT-3A 121.5 MHz/243 MHz • Europe SMG-1 121.5 MHz/243 MHz • 35 participating countries International Regulatory Authority: International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), International Maritime Organization (IMO) 5 Geostationary (GEOSAR) and 5 Earth orbiting (LEOSAR) “fine location position” elements COSPAS • COSPAS is the Russian counterpart of the COSPAS-SARSAT (circa 1982) satellite system dedicated to global vessel distress beacon location. • COSPAS means “Cosmicheskaya Sistyema for the Search of Vessels in Distress”. • Monitored 121.5 MHz and 243.00 MHz only. • COSPAS terminated support of the COSPAS- SARSAT ELT tracking and reporting system partnership in 2006. SARSAT U.S. network of NOAA satellites consisting of both (5) (GEOSAR) geosynchronous (fixed) orbit 22,240 miles high, and (5) Low Earth Orbiting (LEOSAR) 22 miles high polar orbiting satellites). GEOSAR fixed position, synchronized with earth rotation. Recognizes an ELT beacon global activation but must await a position fix from the LEOSAR‟s. LEOSAR 6 hour sun synchronous, circular north-south orbit, gathering data once per pass, per location. Two satellites can provide a position fix over one hour using Doppler techniques of approx. 20 km accuracy. COSPAS-SARSAT FIXED SYSTEM • 43 LEOLUT‟S, 15 GEOLUT‟S. Local User Terminals (LUT) processes received satellite signals • 26 Mission Control Centers receive ELT signal activation • (USAFRCC) or others then receive MCC notification that dispatches SAR team. • USAF Auxiliary Civil Air Patrol and USCG notification based on approx. fix location ELT Program „Saves‟ Global „Saves” (1982-2003) 22,058 lives / 4851 incidents (U.S.) „Saves‟ (1982-2003) 5,760 lives 2008 Global „Saves‟ 12 lives / 6 incidents (To Date, Feb. 1, 2008) Rescues at Sea: 7 lives / 2 incidents Aviation Rescues: 0 lives / 0 incidents PLB Rescues: 5 lives / 4 incidents 2007 Global „Saves‟ 706 lives / 260 incidents (U.S.) 353 lives / 130 incidents Rescues at Sea: 235 lives / 73 incidents Aviation Rescues: 30 lives / 19 incidents PLB Rescues: 88 lives / 38 incidents 2004 Global „Saves‟ 1,748 lives / 466 incidents Rescues at Sea: 1,505 lives / 321 incidents Aviation rescues: 68 lives / 39 incidents PLB Rescues: 175 lives / 106 incidents E..L.T. Program False Activations • 1987 16 aviation incidents where ELT did not function • 1991 61 validated alarms out of 2,037 activations • 2006 95.5% (1,778) of all E.L.T. activations FALSE (Fewer than 2 out of 1000 alerts are ACTUAL) • AFRCC reports since 1986 97% of ELT activations FALSE, or 92,000 FALSE alarms, 5,800 a year or 6 a day globally. • U.S: $3.5 Million and hundreds of hours expended annually by Civil, State, and USAF and C.A.P. to chase false ELT signals. • COSPAS-SARSAT relative to 121.5 MHz beacon tracking and SAR tracking and notification: “WE GIVE UP!” More E.L.T. Stories • Corroded ELT‟s and EPIRB‟s can self-activate. • Hard aircraft landings can activate an ELT. • ELT‟s AND EPIRB‟s can be inadvertently activated by mishandling, without SAR Center notification to disregard transmission. • ELT‟S, EPIRB‟s and PLB‟s are sometimes considered as childrens toys when left without adult supervision or safekeeping, or vessels are improperly stored. • PLB‟S are sometimes activated intentionally, but for non- life threatening emergencies (much like 911 calls). • 406 Mhz ELT‟s were recently activated in OC during a manufacturer‟s test. The FCC levied a $10,000 fine. Enter the 406 MHz Beacon… •Tri-Band: 406 MHz/121.5 MHz/243 MHz •406.025 MHz: 5 watts Peak RF, 440 ms/ each 50 sec. period (16K0G1D emission) for 24 hours. •121.5 MHz/243 MHz 100 m/w continuous carrier, AM warbling tone modulated, 50 hours of continuous operation (A3X emission). •Aircraft or Vessel ID supported. •Aircraft or Vessel GPS position supported by satellite triangulation or external GPS interface. •Requires biennial registration of five (5) points of contact and Aircraft or vessel information. •Costly replacement over $1000 installed in A/C. •NOT MANDATORY for U.S. Aircraft though international requirements vary. NTSB petitioning FAA to adopt 406 MHz ELT. Pilot associations OPPOSE. More 406 MHz ELT • Useful Battery Stored Life: 10 years • -20 C to +55 C temperature operating range • Digital data: A unique 30 character 15 digit hex ID code distress message, identifying country of origin, aircraft or vessel ID, 121.5 MHz homer capability, GPS position. • Basic 406 MHz ELT with basic aircraft antenna approx. $1,000 installed. • Aircraft 406 MHz ELT antenna (biz-jets) approx. $5,000. • GPS interface optional (requires GPS interface unit $1575) • Replacement 406 MHz ELT aircraft Lithium Sulfur Dioxide (LiSO2) battery (upwards of $328) every 5 years. • Inertial switch activation 2 to 20 G‟s (axis critical) , 6 axis helicopter model available. 406 MHz ELT Testing • FAA regulations under Title 14 CFR 91.207 (d)(4) require annual aircraft ELT air testing. • FCC Regulations under U.S. Code Section 301 prohibits unauthorized and non-conformal testing. FCC Regulations under U.S. Code Section 325 prohibits false, fraudulent, or unauthorized transmissions. Severe fines have recently been levied by the FCC for violations of the FCC Rules relative to 406 MHz false activations. • Tri-Band ELT‟s transmit on all three bands simultaneously. • 121.5 MHz „test‟ transmissions that trigger the 406 MHz beacon violate FCC Rules. • The FAA is „suggesting‟ that when testing 406 MHz aircraft ELT‟s that „manufacturer‟s testing recommendations are followed‟. ELT 121.5 MHz ELT testing should not exceed 30 seconds so as to not trigger the 406 MHz ELT component. POSITION ACCURACY & RESPONSE ACCURACY 121.5 MHz/243 MHz ELT • 20 km (12.4 miles), 1260 km search area (783 sq. mi.) or 28 x 28 miles using satellite triangulation. Fine location using ground or air SAR methods. 406 MHz ELT • Basic Mode 3 km. (1.8 miles), 1.9 sq. mi. search area (1.4 x 1.4 miles) • GPS Enhanced mode 10 meters (3.1 sq. ft.), 100 sq. meters search area (11 sq. ft.) RESPONSE 121.5 MHz/243 MHz ELT • 3 satellite hits over 8-10 hrs required to triangulate. 10-24 hrs SAR response. 406 MHz ELT • 20 minutes to acquire position and information, 2 hours SAR response. War Stories! • San Bernardino Forest hiker activates a PLB atop of a mountain, hikes down into darkness and fog, and reappears on a different mountaintop, greatly delaying his rescue by Sheriff‟s SAR. • A PLB activation by a hiker on a commercial sightseeing vessel mid-channel to Catalina? • A motorist involved in a TC on a freeway in a rural area activates his PLB. • An airline passenger panics and activates his PLB upon boarding. Who responds, and how? A „Good Day‟ is NOT Needing an ELT!