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Register and Test Your Emergency Location Devices

March 29, 2018 - The Search and Rescue Satellite Aided Tracking (SARSAT) division of NOAA, in partnership with the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Air Force, the Civil Air Patrol, and commercial manufacturers, are urging pilots to register and test their 406 MHz ELTs. The groups are promoting Friday, April 6, as #406DAY18.

SARSAT operates satellites, ground systems, and mission control centers to locate and distribute PLB (personal locator beacon), EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon), and ELT (emergency locator transmitter) activations. The division distributes the alerts to its partners at the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center (AFRCC) and U.S. Coast Guard, depending on the location of the distress alert. In 2017, SARSAT dealt with more than 8,500 false alerts, each one treated as a bona fide distress call until proven otherwise. The primary goals of #406DAY18 are to ensure that 406MHz beacon registrations are kept up-to-date, that people know how to properly test and use their ELT, and that people know how to cancel a false alert if they ever accidentally hit the activate button. 

Beacon registration is free, easy, and required by law. Federal law requires that all PLBs, EPIRBs, and ELTs be registered in the NOAA SARSAT Beacon Registration Database. This system is free to all owners of PLBs, EPIRBs, and ELTs. When the beacon user/vessel or aircraft owner information changes, it should be updated online or by contacting the NOAA SARSAT Beacon Registration Database at 1-888-212-SAVE (7283). This information is protected and only shared with authorized rescue personnel if a distress activation occurs.

If your PLB, EPIRB, or ELT is accidentally activated, you can contact the U.S. Air Force Rescue Coordination Center at 1-800-851-3051 and provide them with the beacon’s ID to cancel the false alert. Otherwise, search and rescue personnel will begin responding immediately. Every false alert has the potential to put rescuers in harm’s way and waste valuable resources.

For more information, you can review the FAQ at the NOAA SARSAT website.

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