Ice incounter of the worst kind

There was an artical on AOL today, A car dealer pilot and his family went down and 3 boys survived but the parents and one child was lost. Looks like ice was the big issue. The boys were out there 18 hours not even gloves. When will some pilots learn at least carry a servival kit and acouple of sleeping bags in the winter. Im sure you will all read about it today. I just wanted to let you know. From Don

Maybe someone more familiar with search and rescue techniques can help me, but if you’re on an IFR flightplan, have an ELT, and there are no weather restrictions to a search, how long should it take for you to be found? Does the ELT do any good in speeding this up? It seems to me there are quite a few crashes that take rescuers quite a long time to find the plane…

My condolences to the pilot and family.

In reply to:


A car dealer pilot and his family went down and 3 boys survived but the parents and one child was lost.


I heard an interview with one of the rescuers on CBS New York radio today. He said a few interesting things – among them, that they searched by air for “many hours” before locating the airplane. Makes me wonder whether the ELT worked at all. He also said that the 2-year old child was found some distance away, waist-deep in water; air temps were frigid. It’s truly amazing that three children survived. Actually, the father/pilot apparently survived the crash, too, but died later in hospital, of a heart-attack.

The radio report cited three points that struck me – first, that four have died so far, and three are in critical condition; second, that the airplane was a Cherokee Six; and third, that they were returning home from a trip to Lakeland, FL.

I have not been able to confirm much, but I have found http://www.wnbc.com/news/2014221/detail.html?treets=ny&tml=ny_break&ts=T&tmi=ny_break_22564_06510103032003>this. A news video is available [here.

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Maybe someone more familiar with search and rescue techniques can help me, but if you’re on an IFR flightplan, have an ELT, and there are no weather restrictions to a search, how long should it take for you to be found? Does the ELT do any good in speeding this up? It seems to me there are quite a few crashes that take rescuers quite a long time to find the plane…


ELT’s are next to worthless. Poor specificity, tons of false alarms. Why not have the emergency signal itself broadcast your exact position to the global satellite rescue signal monitoring system for you automatically?
I have a GPIRBCOPAS-SARSAT search and rescue system using its built-in GPS to locate you within about 30 feet. The GPIRB is about $1,000.
I like the GPIRB because
o Time-to-rescue is unbeatable, and that’s numero uno.
o It floats.
o It uniquely identifies you to COPAS-SARSAT.
o I can activate it on the way down in a heartbeat and it will still do its job even if I’m rendered unconscious upon landing.
COPAS-SARSATditch bag” along with my survival kit. The one I have is the http://www.nat-inc.com/gpirb2/gpirb2.htmNAT GPIRB II model S-1525. You want the manual model 1525, NOT the automatic model 1520. Here is a source that has it for $1,073. I contend that it is the best bang for the buck you can spend on safety equipment.
More SARSAT stuff:
COSPAS/SARSAT are satellite systems that work as one. SARSAT - operated by Canada, France and the United States - stands for Search And Rescue Satellite-Aided Tracking. COSPAS, operated by Russia, performs the equivalent function.
COSPAS/SARSAT satellites are always listening for distress calls from Earth. It’s their job to receive signals from emergency radio beacons and return them to Earth so help can be sent. That’s why it is so important for beacons to be carried on an aircraft, boats, on land and on your person particularly in isolated areas. That way, the system can do its job if you get into trouble.
COSPAS/SARSAT satellites circle the Earth in polar orbit about every 100 minutes, thus ensuring that signals can be received frequently. They are able to receive signals from EPIRBs and relay them to ground stations known as Local User Terminals (LUTs). The LUTS relay this information to search and rescue authorities where the location of the beacon is determined.
The EPIRB’s position can generally be calculated to within 20 kms. [NOTE: With a GPIRB, this is about 30 feet!] From there, rescue vessels or aircraft are despatched with tracking equipment to quickly home in on the beacons signal.

Local User terminals (LUTs) are now located strategically throughout most of the world. In Oceania, LUTs are operational in Bundaberg (Queensland), Albany (Western Australia), Wellington (New Zealand), Indonesia and Singapore.

I read the article and it seems to me the plane crashed in very bad weather in mountanious terrain. It can take a very long time and that is if the ELT actually works, which is not always the case.
I don’t know how long it should take, but I recall seeing an article on the subject about how long it actually takes. I know my times are off, but It went something like this:

VFR: 20 hours
VFR Flight following: 12 hours
IFR: 4-6 hours

I think the new 406 mhz EPIRB lowers that time significantly. Overall, the old ELTs are not that precise, and I believe it takes at least two satalite pases to confirm a location. Since the vast majority of ELT alerts are false alarms, I doubt the SAR folks get hopping right away.

Gordon: Great info. If anyone is interested in more info, try http://www.equipped.org>Equipped’s web page [on the subject. They now sell very small portable devices that float, are waterproof and best of all cost around $500.

Marty ](http://www.equipped.org/plb_legal.htm)

Thanks for the info Gordon.

Since this isn’t automatically activated, wouldn’t a satellite phone and a handheld
GPS be both cheaper (unless you get a 196 :)) and more useful?

Michael

Gordon,

I agree with the advantages of the GPIRB but as good as it may be, the limiting factor still is the equipment the search and rescue team has to locate you with.

I am a member of the Civil Air Patrol in South Carolina. In this state, and most others, CAP does not have search equipment for 406 systems yet. So if you buy a 406 system I would make sure it also transmits on 121.5 as well.

FWIW

Mason

Thanks for all the input. Never considered a GPIRB before, but you gave me something to look at.

It still seems strange to me that it should take so long if on an IFR flight plan and in radar contact. Obviously it depends on where you are and the type of terrain, but ELT signals can be found with other than satellites, and if they don’t fail, just seems like it should be a quicker find.

During my trip to PDK yesterday, somebody’s ELT (the 121.5 version) was going off. I queried ATC (Atlanta Center) about it and got the reply “Yes, the guard folks are pretty upset because they can’t talk over it. But as far as we know no one is doing a search to locate it. We’ve been told to treat it as a false alarm if asked, because they know its somewhere in northern Georgia or southwestern South Carolina and they’re pretty sure no one has gone down because no one has been reported missing or called in a mayday - yet.” So, for over an hour, I heard that bleeping noise out of comm 2 in the background. Although I turned down the volume significantly, I didn’t want to run the risk of missing a call.

Makes you feel REAL GOOD =NOT! [:(] that no one is going to track that 121.5 signal until they have some other reason to go looking for you!

I’m taking the hint and getting a 406 EPIRB, and I’m seriously considering getting a GPIRB as well.

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It still seems strange to me that it should take so long if on an IFR flight plan and in radar contact.


Do you remember the learjet that crashed on an approach into Lebanon, NH in 1996? It was found three years later. Click here for the story.

All this points out the silliness of the Bermuda Triangle “mystery,” whose advocates cite as evidence many planes “missing and never found,” when many (probably more) are lost over the US and not found.

In reply to:


I agree with the advantages of the GPIRB but as good as it may be, the limiting factor still is the equipment the search and rescue team has to locate you with. I am a member of the Civil Air Patrol in South Carolina. In this state, and most others, CAP does not have search equipment for 406 systems yet. So if you buy a 406 system I would make sure it also transmits on 121.5 as well.


No equipment is required at all by search aircraft. The GPIRB sends your exact Lat and Long, within about 30 feet, to COPAS/SARSAT, and they jingle you guys with that information. Given an exact Lat and Long, can you find someone? Sure hope so!!
That’s another big advantage of the GPIRB over the EPIRB.

They must be having a lot of people crying wolf on 121.5 to take that attitude. I am always amazed at the number of NTSB reports that state something like the 'owner was operating the airplane under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 91. The personal cross-country flight departed XXX about 0630 en route to YYY. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed."

I know we, as pilots, enjoy our sense of personal freedom, but why don’t more VFR pilots (or flights), especially on longer trips or over unfriendly terrain, file flight plans or make use of flight following? Maybe it comes back to that nebulous topic of ‘judgement’. Its nice to know you have someone at ATC to talk to immediately in case something goes wrong.

BTW, before anyone jumps down my throat about making conclusions without all the evidence, I am in no way referring to the crash which started this post or the pilots decision making.

One thing to be aware of is since GPIRB’s are intended for nautical use, activiation information is sent to the Coast Guard. So if you are making a precautionary/emergency landing with a nautical unit, it would be worthwhile to tell someone to check with the Coast Guard for help in locating you.

-Curt

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One thing to be aware of is since GPIRB’s are intended for nautical use, activiation information is sent to the Coast Guard.


I’m not sure that’s the case. When your GPIRB goes off, they look up the record for that GPIRB (unique ID) in their database and they see instantly it is an airplane. I think they notify the appropriate authority based on the location of the GPIRB and type of craft involved.

Gordon: As you know, I have been a fan of those devices for some time, but the technology, well product anyway, is new. Historically, they have been relatively big, heavy, expensive and not ideally suited for GA purposes.

I’ve been searching and still find slim pickings (Mike - this is too easy, go ahead and post an appropriate picture [:)]). The ACR manual model seems to be the most reasonable in terms of size, weight and overall convenience, but it costs well over $1,500. Given a wish list, I would like one smaller than a carton of cigarettes, waterproof and buoyant, and under $500. (Yes, I am cheap if nothing else.)

Which model do you use and do you have any recommendations?

Marty

Dear Marty,

You didn’t ask me, but the Pains Wessex - McMurdo does look good on paper. I foud prices of $ 999 excl VAT.

Jaap

Built-in GPS receiver
Global alert via Cospas Sarsat satellites
406 transmitter and 121.5 homing frequency
Alert time to rescue services 3 minutes
Positional accuracy to within typically 30 metres
Positional updates every 20 minutes
When activated will operate for 24 hours
User replaceable battery packs (-20°and -40°)
Easy to operate, compact and stylish
Complete with designer carry case and clever fixing device for attaching PLB to clothing or lifejacket

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I’ve been searching and still find slim pickings (Mike - this is too easy, go ahead and post an appropriate picture [:)]).


Marty,

Hmmm… would you buy that Canada’s Prime Minister, Jean Chrétien, is nicknamed “Slim”?

  • Mike.

___ [Pic below added afterwards, at Marty’s request] _______

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The ACR manual model seems to be the most reasonable in terms of size, weight and overall convenience, but it costs well over $1,500.


Marty - if you click the link in my original post (or click here), you’ll see where you can get it for $1076. That’s the one I have (the photo on that page is actually incorrect - the correct photo is shown below). It really isn’t too big at all. Fits in my survival kit bag just fine.
You have spent ~ $10,000 for a parachute in the airplane. The ~ $1,000 for a GPIRB is probably more important as a safety device in terms of its potential for saving your life. The 'chute is useless if it just brings you to a place where you die of exposure while waiting to get rescued. While this is more of a concern out here in the rugged West, that Lebanon NH lost Lear points out the fact that the East has the potential for this type of tragedy as well.