Beacon Coding Guide & Tutorial

NOTE: The information provided in the Beacon Coding Guide & Tutorial is intended to amplify the information provided in the following Cospas-Sarsat "System Documents", available on the Professionals website (Pro/Documents):

  • C/S G.005 "Cospas-Sarsat Guidelines on 406 MHz Beacon Coding, Registration, and Type Approval", and

  • C/S T.001 "Specification for Cospas-Sarsat 406 MHz Distress Beacons".

If the information provided in the Beacon Coding Guide & Tutorial conflicts with that provided in documents C/S G.005 and C/S T.001, the official documents shall take precedence.  Individual administrations may have additional national beacon technical and coding requirements that are not addressed in the above documents.

The tutorial below provides assistance in selecting a 406-MHz beacon message protocol suitable for your needs. The tutorial provides an interactive flow chart which identifies the key issues that affect the selection decision. Clicking on portions of this flow chart will provide additional information and guidance on that particular issue.  The menus on the right provide detailed beacon coding information.

Selecting the appropriate 406-MHz beacon and coding protocol(s):


 Table version:

Step 1 Contact Your Administration
Step 2 Choose a Beacon Type
  ELT - Use Exclusively on Aircraft EPIRB - Use Exclusively on Maritime Vessel PLB - Carry on Person
Step 3 Choose an ELT Coding Protocol Type Choose an EPIRB Coding Protocol Type Choose a PLB Coding Protocol Type
Step 4 ELT Location Protocol ELT Non-Location Protocol EPIRB Location Protocol EPIRB Non-Location Protocol PLB Location Protocol PLB Non-Location Protocol
Step 5 Register Your Beacon


Flowchart version (for logged-in pro users):