Emergency Position Indicating Radiobeacon
Types of EPIRBs
Emergency position indicating radiobeacons (EPIRBs), devices which cost from $200 toabout $1500, are designed to save your life if you get into trouble by alerting rescueauthorities and indicating your location. EPIRB types are described below:
121.5/243 MHZ. Float-free, automatically-activating, detectable by aircraft andsatellite. Coverage is limited. An alert from this device to a rescue coordination center may be delayed 4 - 6 or more hours.
121.5/243 MHZ. Manually activated version of Class A.
VHF ch15/16. Manually activated, operates on maritime channels only. Not detectable by satellite. These devices are being phased out by the FCC and are no longer recommended.
121.5/243 MHZ. Similar to Class B, except it floats, or is an integral part of a survivalcraft.
406/121.5 MHZ. Float-free, automatically activated EPIRB. Detectable by satelliteanywhere in the world.
406/121.5 MHZ. Similar to Category I, except is manually activated. Some models arealso water activated.
1646 MHZ. Float-free, automatically activated EPIRB. Detectable by Inmarsatgeostationary satellite. Recognized by GMDSS. Not sold in the U.S.
121.5/243 MHz EPIRBs
These are the most common and least expensive type of EPIRB, designed to be detected by over flying commercial or military aircraft. Satellites were designed to detect theseEPIRBs, but are limited for the following reasons:Satellite detection range is limited for these EPIRBs (satellites must be within line of sight of both the EPIRB and a ground terminal for detection to occur),Frequency congestion in the band used by these devices cause a high satellite falsealert rate (99.8%); consequently, confirmation is required before search and rescueforces can be deployed,EPIRBs manufactured before October 1989 may have design or construction problems (e.g. some models will leak and cease operating when immersed inwater), or may not be detectable by satellite. Such EPIRBs may no longer be sold,Because of location ambiguities and frequency congestion in this band, two or moresatellite passes are necessary to determine if the signal is from an EPIRB and todetermine the location of the EPIRB, delaying rescue by an average of 4 to 6hours. In some cases, a rescue can be delayed as long as 12 hours.COSPAS-SARSAT is expected to cease detecting alerts on 121.5 MHz, perhaps by2008.