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Take These Steps to Prevent False Emergency Locator Transmitter Alerts

February 2024

Approximately 98% of all beacon activations in the United States are false alerts. In 2021, ELTs (emergency locator transmitters) accounted for 57%, despite comprising only 17% of the total registered beacons listed on the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) website.

False activations of ELTs can pose challenges for SAR (search and rescue) teams, as limited resources are diverted to respond to non-existent emergencies.

You can help prevent false ELT alerts by doing the following:

  1. Register Your Beacon. It is your responsibility to notify NOAA in writing about any changes in the aircraft’s or ELT ownership or any other change in the registration information, including the hex ID. Registering or updating a 406 MHz ELT is free, easy, and required. It can be done online at https://beaconregistration.noaa.gov/RGDB/index. When NOAA has the latest ELT information, it is the fastest way for SAR authorities to respond to a distress or confirm a false alert.
  2. Follow the Manufacturer’s Manual Instructions. The majority of the 406 MHz ELT false alerts occur during testing, handling, repair, and installation. Know how your ELT operates and always follow the manufacturer’s manual instructions.
  3. Use Proper Disposal Methods. Remove and recycle the battery when decommissioning your ELT to prevent accidental activation.

If the ELT is accidentally activated, cancel the false alert by calling the U. S. Air Force Rescue Coordination Center at 1.800.851.3051 or the nearest Federal Aviation Administration Air Traffic facility and provide the beacon’s hex ID.