2004 Beacon Manufacturers Workshop
by Chantal Pétrin
In May, a Beacon Manufacturers Workshop was held in Florida, hosted by
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. This workshop was
a forum to discuss issues that affect beacon users and officials who operate
The question of the cost for re-coding a beacon frequently arises. There
is, in fact, no charge for re-coding a new beacon, just the cost of shipping
and handling. For a used beacon, the charge is approximately $75 US, plus
shipping and handling and this could be done in as little as three business
days. On the other hand, during busy seasons, it could take up to 10 to
14 business days.
As of February 2009, the signal for 121.5 MHz beacons will
no longer be received by COSPAS-SARSAT; therefore, these beacons will
Remember, the most important thing to do is to register your beacon.
It can save your life! For more information, call 1-800-727-9414,
or log on.
The National Search and Rescue Secretariat (NSS) often receives inquiries
about test activations of 406 MHz beacons. Previously, owners of 121.5
MHz beacons were able to test their beacons without having to worry about
being fined. This was done by pushing a test button at specific times
in the day. Now, however, a test is not necessary because each 406 MHz
beacon, more advanced than the 121.5 MHz, is built to specifications outlined
Should a 406 MHz beacon be activated by the owner for a test, it is considered
to be a false activation and heavy fines could be applied. For more information
about false activation and related fines, visit http://laws.justice.gc.ca/en/R-2/index.html
under "Offences and Punishment."
Life span of a beacon
The life span of beacons varies, but the normal life span for a Personal
Locator Beacon (PLB) and an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon
(EPIRB) is 10 years. An Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT), on the other
hand, should last the life of the aircraft.
Beacon manufacturers are indeed difficult to find, but for an up-to-date
list, visit the COSPAS-SARSAT
website for information. If you still require help, please contact
the NSS at 1-800-727-9414.
Disposal of beacon batteries
All beacons come with a manual which explains when to replace your battery
and the importance of proper disposal. Batteries can be taken to a battery
recycling site or a beacon service centre. For more information about
responsible battery disposal, contact the beacon manufacturer.
Maritime Mobile Service Identities
There is some confusion about who provides the nine digit maritime mobile
service identity (MMSI). A unique, internationally standardized number,
the MMSI is provided by Industry Canada. For more information, visit the
to find your regional office.
Chantal Pétrin is the Beacon Registrar at the National Search
and Rescue Secretariat in Ottawa.
*COSPAS-SARSAT is the international satellite system launched by Canada,
France, the United States and the former USSR in 1982 that will receive
the signal of an emergency beacon and relay the beacon position to rescue
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