AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - 95

PILOTPRODUCTS

BY IAN J. TWOMBLY

A range of rescue devices
Comparing PLBs, ELTs, and more

OFF T

HE

BEATEN TH PA

The key to surviving the ordeal of a crash or off-airport landing is making sure someone knows you are missing—and where to start looking for you. Numerous devices are available on the market to help. They range from expensive and installed on the airplane to cheap and handheld. Although the range of options can sometimes be confusing, they are easily divided into three distinct categories: emergency locator transmitters (ELT), personal locator beacons (PLBs), and personal tracking devices.

ELT

Thanks to a congressional mandate, the FAA requires ELTs on most aircraft for one simple reason—they help save lives. ELTs are the most expensive option when it comes to alerting others to your position, but they are also usually the best. Made to withstand high collision forces, the units are also designed to automatically activate under a certain G-load. This one feature sets them apart as an indispensable tool. The biggest question surrounding ELTs today is whether to upgrade to a 406 MHz model. Sure, the FAA doesn’t require you to scrap the 121.5 MHz model you may have in your airplane, but the fact remains that these older ELTs have become outdated technology—not to mention they aren’t allowed in many countries around the world. They are between 10 and 300 percent less likely to go off in a collision (and more likely to go off at other times) than a 406 MHz model, and the signal is no longer officially being monitored by search and rescue satellites. New 406 MHz models are sold with and without GPS integration. Signals sent to the satellites are considerably more accurate if the unit transmits GPS locations, but even nonintegrated models give a position fix that’s much more accurate than an old 121.5 MHz unit. Prices range from around $620 for an ACK E-04 with GPS positioning to more than $2,000 for models that include a blade antenna, mounting harness, and other features. Specifications to check include warranty, battery life, frequencies used (many transmit on multiple frequencies), and included features.

Consider: • ACK E-04 • Ameri-king Ak-451 • Artex ME406 • Emerging Lifesaving Technologies 406 • Emergency Beacon Corporation ELT • Kannad 406AF

PLB

Personal locator beacons are similar to ELTs in that they transmit on the 406 MHz frequency, meaning that the signal is monitored by U.S. government agencies and the national satellite network. Where they differ is in two important features—PLBs are portable, and they do not automatically activate in the event of an emergency. Some marine units (EPIRB) will activate in water, but not all. PLBs don’t have subscription charges, so the initial purchase price is the only investment required. They can be taken boating, hiking, snowmobiling, or anywhere else you may need assistance. And they are all small enough to easily fit into a flight bag or a backpack. Think the cell phone of 15 years ago and you’re close.

Many of the features are similar, although the ability to send an “I’m OK” message, the ability to float, and a strobe light aren’t common across all models. GPS integration is common, which can provide position to within 100 meters. Prices range from $249 for the McMurdo Fastfind to around $567 for the Kannad XS-ER. The leader in terms of offerings is ACR, with more than six different units available. Consider: • ACR • GME Accusat • Kannad XS-ER and XS-4 • McMurdo Fastfind

AOPA PILOT • 95 • APRIL 2012



AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012

AOPA Turbine Pilot Magazine - April 2012
Contents
President’s Position
Hangar Talk
AOPA Media
AOPA Action
Letters
Waypoints
Proficient Pilot
Foundation Focus
License to Learn
Pilot Counsel
Fly Well
Pilot Briefing
L–39: Cool Flying. ’Nuff Said.
Flying a ‘Real’ Jet
For Pax Sake
Mentoring Matters: FARs for Jets
Trouble for Throttle Jockeys
Turbine Market Shows Mixed Signals
Glass Cockpits: Moving Targets
LSA: Big Foot Kitfox
Survival Mode
Aerial Amazement
Safety Pilot Landmark Accident: Calm in Chaos
Rebirth of the Pioneer RV
Revisiting a Tragedy
Bouncing Back
Technique: Mountain Majesties
Tougher Than a Tornado Sweepstakes: Setting the Hook
Products: A Range of Rescue Devices
Wx Watch: Radar Revolution
Dogfight: Time On Their Hands
Never Again
Fly-Outs
Fly by Wire
Pilots
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - AOPA Turbine Pilot Magazine - April 2012
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - Cover2
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - 1
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - Contents
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - 3
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - President’s Position
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - 5
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - Hangar Talk
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - 7
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - 8
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - 9
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - AOPA Media
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - 11
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - AOPA Action
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - 13
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - 14
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - 15
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - 16
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - 17
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - 18
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - 19
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - 20
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - 21
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - 22
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - 23
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - Letters
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - 25
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - 26
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - 27
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - Waypoints
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - 29
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - Proficient Pilot
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - 31
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - 32
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - 33
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - Foundation Focus
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - 35
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - License to Learn
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - 37
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - Pilot Counsel
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - 39
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - Fly Well
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - 41
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - Pilot Briefing
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - 43
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - 44
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - 45
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - 46
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - 47
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - 48
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - I1
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - I2
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - 49
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - LSA: Big Foot Kitfox
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - 51
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - 52
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - 53
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - 54
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - 55
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - 56
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - 57
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - Survival Mode
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - 59
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - 60
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - 61
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - 62
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - 63
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - 64
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - 65
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - Aerial Amazement
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - 67
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - 68
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - 69
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - 70
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - 71
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - 72
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - 73
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - Safety Pilot Landmark Accident: Calm in Chaos
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - 75
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - 76
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - 77
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - 78
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - Rebirth of the Pioneer RV
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - 80
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - 81
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - 82
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - Revisiting a Tragedy
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - 84
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - 85
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - 86
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - Bouncing Back
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - 88
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - 88a
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - 88b
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - 89
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - 90
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - Technique: Mountain Majesties
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - 92
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - Tougher Than a Tornado Sweepstakes: Setting the Hook
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - 94
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - Products: A Range of Rescue Devices
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - 96
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - Wx Watch: Radar Revolution
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - 98
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - 99
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - Dogfight: Time On Their Hands
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - 101
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - Never Again
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - 103
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - 104
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - 105
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - Fly-Outs
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - Fly by Wire
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - 108
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - 109
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - 110
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - 111
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - Pilots
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - Cover3
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2012 - Cover4
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