Wednesday, January 20, 2021


406 MHz distress beacons operate on the Cospas-Sarsat System.

Cospas-Sarsat is an intergovernmental  organisation originally established by four member countries, Canada, France, USA and the former USSR.  Cospas-Sarsat now has 41 member states that contribute to the system. 

The Cospas-Sarsat System comprises of:

  • All 406 MHz distress beacons (PLBs, EPIRBs & ELTs)
  • Search and Rescue payloads on satellites in low earth orbit and in geostationary orbit that detect the active distress beacons.
  • Land based receiving stations spread around the world (including one in New Zealand) to receive the messages related from the satellites.
  • A network of Mission Control Centres (MCCs) to distribute the distress alerts and location information to the appropriate search and rescue agencies around the world. 

The mission of the Cospas-Sarsat programme

To provide accurate, timely and reliable distress alert and location data to help Search and Rescue (SAR) authorities assist persons in distress.

Advantages of the Cospas-Sarsat system:

  • It is an international non commercial system 
  • Multiple fail safes and redundancy are built into the system 
  • Your 406 MHz distress beacon will work anywhere in the world, the Cospas-Sarsat system will work out the best rescue authority to send the distress call to.

For more technical detail on the Cospas-Sarsat system visit

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