Today is the International Search and Rescue Beacon day or “406 Day”, a name derived from the day (April 6th) and the international frequency of the distress beacons, 406MHz.
On this day, the Commission, together with its partners (the EU Agency for the Space Programme (EUSPA), the European Space Agency (ESA) and the CNES amongst others) is proud to celebrate Galileo’s contribution to this international effort.
Initially, the day intended to remind Search and Rescue 406MHz beacon owners to test their beacons, check the batteries and update their registration before the start of the boating and outdoors season.
The Search And Rescue (SAR) transponders installed aboard the Galileo satellites decrease the detection and location time of a distress beacon in a dramatic way[i], speeding up the rescue response and therefore augmenting the chances of survival.
Galileo/SAR is the sole system delivering the Return Link functionality. This feature provides the user in distress with an acknowledgement indication on the beacon that the distress signal was received and its position located.
Today, Galileo provides 80% of the satellite-rescue capacities worldwide thanks to its 24/7 Earth coverage. The 406 Day is also the perfect occasion to remember and pay tribute to all the members and volunteers staffing the Rescue crews around the world.
As announced last year, based on the feedback received from more than 250 operational Search And Rescue units, Galileo is designing new features to answer their operational needs as closely as possible, to help them to save even more lives. The Remote Activation of a beacon (e.g. in the case of disappearance of a plane or a vessel) and the Two Way communication functionality (that allows rescue coordinators to send pre-programmed questions and instructions to the person in distress) are due to enter into preliminary testing this year.
[i] From up to 4 hours down to a couple of minutes
- 6 April 2022