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Everything You Wanted to knowand MORE


1998 Scott E. Lanis

By the end of this course, you should:
Know what an ELT is, and how it can be activated Understand why an ELT signal is an emergency Describe how CAP is called out on an electronic search Be familiar with these fundamentals:
Plotting a SARSAT hit on a map (latitude/longitude) Direction finding - Little L-Per Operation Triangulation Body shielding Aircraft coordination/LORAN/GPS operations Ground Vehicle Operations

1998 Scott E. Lanis

Is An Aircraft Missing?
How would we know?
Radio distress call Monitored aircraft drops from RADAR Overdue Flight Plan Report from friends/relatives ELT Signal (maybe!)

1998 Scott E. Lanis

Purely Visual Searches

How does CAP Search for Missing Aircraft?

Very Difficult: often few clues

Air - most effective to cover ground Ground

Electronic Searches - Quick (24 hrs)

Air - best reception and range Ground - autonomous search is slower and more difficult

Advanced Technology
Few of these resources available directly to CAP
Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), Thermal/Infrared Imagery, Other Remote Sensing (satellites/reconnaissance aircraft)
1998 Scott E. Lanis

What Will A Crashed Airplane Look Like?

1998 Scott E. Lanis

Air To Ground Coordination

The most effective way to search The only way CAP stays in the SAR business The plan:
CAP aircraft locates crash (visual / electronic) Coordinates to bring ground team on scene
Radio (transmit the Lat-Longs from LORAN/GPS!) Radio Out Lat-Long (LORAN/GPS)

Ground Team effects rescue

1998 Scott E. Lanis

Aircraft Limitations
Weather Cant pinpoint signal
Row of hangers

1998 Scott E. Lanis

Ground Search Types for Missing Aircraft

Ramp Search
Ensure the missing aircraft has not landed safely Can be conducted by both air and ground crews

Bastard Search
Ensure the missing person isnt in a favorite hangout You bastard!

1998 Scott E. Lanis

How does a search start?

There is the possibility of a missing aircraft
Radio distress call, aircraft drops from RADAR, overdue flight plan, report from friends/relatives, ELT Signal

AFRCC performs a telephone search

Airport managers, towers, etc.

Missing Aircraft Confirmed!

AFRCC activates the appropriate CAP wing

1998 Scott E. Lanis

What if only an ELT signal is Received?

AFRCC Telephone Search
Airports: Do you hear it too?
Likely false alarm at this point; signal silenced by crews on airport

CAP called sooner if after hours

No one else answers the phone!

Is there another indicator of a missing aircraft?

If not, AFRCC will wait to see if the signal terminates
Tests Inadvertent actuations terminated
1998 Scott E. Lanis

Huh? What is an ELT anyway?

Emergency Locator Transmitter
Its an automatic radio beacon!

3 Frequencies of Operation
121.5 MHz (VHF) AND 243 MHz (UHF) (Military Guard) 406.025 MHz (new)

Most aircraft have ELTs installed

1998 Scott E. Lanis

General Types of ELTs

Aircraft (General Aviation) Military (beepers or beacons) Personal (PELTs or PLBs) Marine EPIRBs Advanced (406/GPS)

1998 Scott E. Lanis

Typical Aircraft ELT Operation

3 Switch positions--on, arm/standby, and off G-switch activated (Generally 9G) Activates ELT upon impact when armed May be manually operated by placing the switch in in the ON position

1998 Scott E. Lanis

Can you test an ELT?

Yes, with restrictions:
First 5 minutes of the hour, no more than 3 sweeps

Battery must be replaced after:

One cumulative hour of use or 50% of useful life has expired FAR 91.207(c)

Does not apply to our Practice Beacons

Call nearest FSS in advance: 1 (800) WX-BRIEF Give a contact phone-interference happens on 121.775!
1998 Scott E. Lanis

Inadvertent Activation of an ELT May Occur From:

Excessively hard landing Inadvertent change of switch position Removal of the unit
activating the switch or G-switch

switch short battery leakage

1998 Scott E. Lanis

Who is listening?
FSS, Centers, Towers

Only if pilot chooses

Military Aircraft
243 MHz Required

General Aviation Aircraft

Thats us! Help the system work: monitor 121.5 MHz

Signal report is relayed to AFRCC

1998 Scott E. Lanis


1998 Scott E. Lanis

How SARSAT Works

Receive 121.5, 243, 406 MHz Signals Orbiting and Geostationary Satellites
High Inclination (polar) orbits

Geostationary: GOES Weather Satellites

SAR payloads for 406 only

Operated by Canada, France, Russia, USA They give us digital lat-long coordinates
CAP Mission Coordinator plots these and assigns assets Ground teams must interpret for land navigation
1998 Scott E. Lanis

System Operation Details

SARSAT/COSPAS in polar orbit Calculates location of signal by measuring Doppler shift This yields a latitude and a distance

1998 Scott E. Lanis

Narrowing The Search

First pass

1998 Scott E. Lanis

Second Pass

Where Is It?

average 30-45 minute wait Ambiguity resolved 5-12 Nautical Mile Average Error

1998 Scott E. Lanis

How Do Different ELTs Stack Up?

121.5 MHz ELT
12 NM Radius, 452 Sq Mi Ave. 6 Hour Notification 60 Milliwatt Transmitter

406 MHz ELT

2 NM Radius, 12.5 Sq Mi Ave. 1 Hour Notification 25 Milliwatt 121.5 Beacon

406 ELT with GPS

.05 NM Radius, .008 Sq Mi Ave. 5 minute Notification 25 Milliwatt 121.5 Beacon

1998 Scott E. Lanis

System Review
ELT, PLB, EPIRB Signal Received AFRCC gets coordinates from SARSAT Appropriate CAP Wing is activated

1998 Scott E. Lanis

False Alarms
97% of received ELTs are false alarms
121.5 MHz: 1 in 1000 is an actual emergency (0.1%) 406 MHz: 1 in 8 is an actual emergency (12.5%)

Why is a False Alarm a big deal?

SARSAT can only monitor 10 ELTs at once (within footprint)
bent-pipe repeater

VERY easy to overload the system Blocks emergency communications

Blocks the real emergency!

1998 Scott E. Lanis

How Should We Treat An ELT?

You cant know which ones are Distress ELTs

And even the false ones are good training!

1998 Scott E. Lanis

Transportation to Target
Ground Teams generally will use vehicles for transportation to and from mission base Aircraft Coordination will get the Ground Team to the target the fastest If no aircraft is available:
Vehicles provide enough speed and range to triangulate Close range may be required for signal acquisition
1998 Scott E. Lanis

Direction Finding
DF unit Measures equal strengths of signal
not wholly accurate, but good enough!

Therefore, when needle is centered, ELT could be either direction Needle always POINTS to the ELT (DF=Direct to the Flipping target) Use a TURN to TELL if the ELT is in front or behind you

1998 Scott E. Lanis

DFing with the Little L-Per

6 Steps: use the full procedure every time!
Turn the unit to Receive, check proper frequency and volume Turn the Sensitivity Knob to HALF SCALE
This will prevent oversense and a good starting point

Turn the unit to DF (Direct to the Flipping target) Turn at least one FULL circle, stopping and calling, Center! Check: Use Turn to Tell: the needle will point Direct to the Flipping target Use your compass, shoot an azimuth to get a bearing to the ELT
1998 Scott E. Lanis

Direct to the Flipping, Turn to Tell

1998 Scott E. Lanis

REC 1/2 DF Center Turn Shoot

1998 Scott E. Lanis

Little L-Per Receive Mode

Measures Signal Strength only
From a direction of the arrows on the antenna (to your left)

Use it with multiple centers (more than 2) to verify strongest path

Due Reflections Thats most likely the true direction to the ELT

1998 Scott E. Lanis

Caused by flat surfaces
Hangars are notorious Rock wall, cliff, or mountains

To beat reflections
Check sensitivity half scale often Use RECeive mode Rubber ducky antenna Off-frequency tuning Usually strongest DF center is not a reflection
1998 Scott E. Lanis

Best method for ground troops to get an accurate fix when search aircraft support is unavailable You must be able to receive the signal
Center up DF unit on the signal Take the magnetic bearing (shoot an azimuth) Correct for magnetic variation
East is least, West is best


Plot your bearings (draw a line) on map The ELT should be where the lines cross!

1998 Scott E. Lanis

Lets See That

1998 Scott E. Lanis

Body Shielding
Can use L-Per Radio Shack JETSTREAM radio is better and CHEAP! At extremely close range, a 2m VHF radio unsquelched may work
This works ok when trying to figure out a particular aircraft on a flight line, it will probably not identify a particular hangar

The BEST method of beating reflections at close range

Body blocks out the signal

Called a NULL Null should be at your BACK
1998 Scott E. Lanis

Off-Frequency Tuning
Decrease sensitivity when:
Sensitivity (L-Per) is at the minimum and signal is still too strong (full scale on receive) You dont get a null during body shielding You dont have a sensitivity knob (Jetstream) Shortening (Jetstream) or removing (Little L-Per) the antenna will also decrease sensitivity

Off-Frequency tuning may be used any time you have too much signal, but this technique is especially effective during body shielding
1998 Scott E. Lanis

Hey, I Cant Hear the Signal!

ELTs are limited to Line of Sight propagation You dont always need to hear the ELT
Carrier wave may be broadcasting with no audible sweep

Especially true in low batteries, or odd transmissions You can tell by DEFLECTION Good needle deflection generally indicates a signal that is strong enough to DF

1998 Scott E. Lanis

What Else Can Affect An ELT Signal?

Power lines
EM Radiation
If you get an actual ELT during a practice search, shut down all practice beacons. The signal on 121.5 may be frequency shifted from your practice beacon! (often due to powerlines)

Fence Line (signal can follow) Coffee Can/Stovepipe effect Hangars Moving Target
1998 Scott E. Lanis

How Does An Aircraft Perform An Electronic Search?

Aircraft use the same type of methods as used on the ground
DF mode (most common) Wing Null Method (body shielding with the wing!) Signal Strength Aural Search (rare)

1998 Scott E. Lanis

Before Going Home, Silence The Signal!

Sometimes thats the only goal! Methods of disabling an ELT:
Switch off (not always effective!) Foil tent Grounding wire Remove battery Remove antenna The Sheriff is required for forcible entry
Most folks will be very cooperative

Ensure the aircraft operator is notified you disabled the ELT!

1998 Scott E. Lanis

You Should Now:
Know what an ELT is and how it can be activated Understand why an ELT signal is an emergency Describe how CAP is called out on an electronic search Be familiar with these fundamentals:
Plotting a SARSAT hit on a map (latitude/longitude) Direction finding - Little L-Per Operation Triangulation Body shielding Aircraft coordination/LORAN/GPS operations Ground Vehicle Operations

1998 Scott E. Lanis


1998 Scott E. Lanis