Activating a 406 MHz beacon for even a very short time will generate a Cospas-Sarsat distress alert message that will be relayed to Search and Rescue Services for their immediate action. Therefore, 406 MHz beacons should not be activated except in real distress situations or unless special prior arrangements have been made with the Cospas-Sarsat Mission Control Centre (MCC) that services your region.
Warning!!! Activating a beacon for reasons other than to indicate a distress situation or without the prior authorization from a Cospas-Sarsat MCC is considered an offence in many countries of the world, and could result in prosecution.
How should I test my 406 MHz beacon?
406 MHz beacons are designed with a self-test capability for evaluating key performance characteristics. Initiating the beacon self-test function will not generate a distress alert in the Cospas-Sarsat System. However, it will use some of the beacon's limited battery power, and should only be used in accordance with the beacon manufacturer's guidance. If you have questions regarding your beacon's self-test mode, contact your beacon manufacturer before attempting a self-test.
If you inadvertently activate the beacon in its operational mode, contact the nearest Cospas-Sarsat MCC as soon as possible.
Live beacon testing
In rare circumstances there may be a need to activate a 406 MHz beacon in its operational mode for test purposes. Regardless of the beacon's location or the duration of activation, a 406 MHz beacon will be detected by at least one GEOLUT and it might also be detected by every LEOLUT in the System. The resulting distress alert message willbe routed to every MCC in the Cospas-Sarsat System. Consequently, a great deal of coordination is required to ensure that all MCCs throughout the world are aware of test transmissions from beacons in their operational mode and that they have programmed their equipment to respond accordingly.
Requests to conduct a live beacon test should be directed to the Cospas-Sarsat MCC that services the location in which the test is planned.
There are over 1 million Cospas-Sarsat 406 MHz distress beacons in operation. In view of the number of beacons in service, coupled with the effort and resources required to coordinate a live beacon test, beacon owners should be aware that authorization to activate a beacon for testing will only be granted in exceptional circumstances.