Emergency locating devices | ACMA

Emergency locating devices

Emergency locating devices help in finding survivors in search and rescue operations.

These devices include satellite distress beacons, EPIRB-AIS, and locating aids (maritime survivor locating systems (MSLS), AIS-SART, and Radar-SART).

Satellite distress beacons and EPIRB-AIS

In the case of a life threatening emergency, where standard two-way communication devices such as mobile telephones or radios have failed, satellite distress beacons and EPIRB-AIS provide an effective means to locate people who are lost at sea or in remote land areas. Satellite distress beacons and EPIRB-AIS alert search and rescue authorities of the location of persons in distress through the COSPAS-SARSAT network of satellites. COSPAS-SARSAT is a satellite-based search and rescue distress alert detection and information distribution system, best known for detecting and locating emergency beacons activated by aircraft, ships and hikers in distress.

Satellite distress beacons for use on aircraft are authorised by the Radiocommunications (Aircraft and Aeronautical Mobile Stations) Class Licence 2016. Satellite distress beacons and EPIRB-AIS for use on land or sea are authorised by the Radiocommunications (Emergency Locating Devices) Class Licence 2016

Locating aids

Locating aids (MSLS, AIS-SART and Radar-SART) are short range devices that require a receiver to be within receiving range of an associated transmitter.

Maritime survivor locating systems (MSLS) are designed to signal a need for assistance when a person has fallen into the water from a vessel, on shore, or while engaged in other marine activities.

Automatic Identification System (AIS) is a ship and shore based, short range, broadcast system. AIS is used to send and receive data about a ship (including its position, course and speed). AIS is used between ships, suitably equipped aircraft and shores. AIS-SARTs are transmitters that use AIS to assist in determining the location of a vessel in distress.

Radar-SARTs are self-contained, waterproof, search and rescue transponders intended for emergency use at sea, that transmit a radar locating signal on the 9 GHz band.

The use of MSLS, AIS-SARTs and Radar-SARTs are authorised by the Radiocommunications (Emergency Locating Devices) Class Licence 2016.

More information

More information on emergency locating devices can be found on the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) website. More information about radiocommunications devices used on aircraft can be found in the Aircraft and Aeronautical Mobile Stations Class Licence information paper.

More information about class licensing can be found on the Class Licences webpage. 

Last updated: 29 November 2016