August 2012 Issue
Personal 406 Beacons: ACR ResQLink+ is Tops
Even with a 406 MHz ELT, theres a place for a PLB. If all you have is a legacy 121.5 MHz ELT, then something that gets the satellites attention is a must.
When we last looked at Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs) in 2008, the global satellites were still listening on 121.5 and the cost of a fancy 406 MHz ELT could hit $4000. Today the only people who might hear your cry for help on 121.5 are CAP patrols or a passing airliner, and 406 MHz ELTs can be had for $600-$1400. (See the June 2010 Aviation Consumer for the most recent review of these units.) Is there still a place for PLBs the cockpit? We think so. Not everyone has or wants to upgrade to a 406 MHz ELT. Even if the hardware cost isnt off-putting, the bill for the required rewiring might be. If you end up in the water, the PLB can stay with you even if the plane sinks. If youre in remote territory, you can let the ELT activate on its own and have your own PLB to activate after the ELT battery runs out. Its almost always best to stay with your downed aircraft, but you can easily take the PLB with you if need be. And you can take it on a hike even if you didnt crash.
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