Epirbs & SPOTs
Basically: a real EPIRB / ELT will self-activate in case of an emergency (triggered by impact / contact with water). They are required for commercial operations.
A lot of people switched to something like this when the 121.5 systems became obsolete. They do not self-activate – you have to be conscious and be able access the beacon to activate it. These PLB’s send a signal on the 406Mhz and the 1600Mhz GPS satellite frequency. They operate without direct view to the sky because of the 406Mhz – that’s why they are the recommended for aviation (they work whilst inside the cabin).
SPOT operates on the GPS frequency entirely. They are useful for outdoor activities inc. aviation – unless you are intending to do deep cave diving at night.
However – they allow you to send out a distress signal. And as stated by Russell: they allow others to monitor your track. I’ve seen SPOT in action first hand during the last Burketown trip and now again in the State comps – and at an affordable cost, I am getting one myself.
SPOT’s are a recognised and reliable PLB, they’ve been out for a while now and seem to do what they were intended to do very well. They are no replacement for a real EPIRB in commercial situations.
The reason why I don’t mind paying for an annual subscription for a SPOT is because of the usefulness of its tracking feature. Great to have your retrieve crew know what you are up to when you go x-country. And also useful for showing that one didn’t get near the airfield that had an active NOTAM in regards to a gliding comp or one didn’t wander into controlled airspace or didn’t clip that Ferris Wheel at
causing havoc. EPIRB’s don’t allow for these extras.
On Wed, Oct 5, 2011 at 15:30, Norman Sanders wrote:
Once you buy an EPIRB or PLB, that’s all the money you have to spend (until you have to replace the batteries.) SPOT requires paying a regular subscription. Of course, the SPOT unit is cheaper to begin with, so maybe it balances out…..