Beacon Type Approval Policy


Type approval of 406 MHz beacons is a national responsibility. However, to assist administrations, Cospas-Sarsat has developed a type approval procedure. A Cospas-Sarsat Type Approval Certificate is delivered by the Cospas-Sarsat Secretariat to manufacturers whose beacons have been successfully tested, according to the Cospas-Sarsat procedure, at Cospas-Sarsat accepted laboratories. The Cospas-Sarsat type approval procedure covers only the transmission characteristics of the beacons.

The purpose of the Cospas-Sarsat type approval is to ensure that:

  • beacons, when activated, will not degrade nominal system performance

  • beacon transmissions will be compatible with satellite on-board equipment

  • the content of coded information transmitted by the beacons will be compatible with LUT processing

Successful completion of Cospas-Sarsat type approval testing does not relieve the manufacturer from the obligation to obtain national type acceptance and/or relevant authorizations from national administrations.

National regulations may include requirements concerning beacon packaging, installation and operation which are not included in the Cospas-Sarsat specification (e.g. homing frequencies, automatic release mechanism).

A list of 406-MHz beacon manufacturers and a list of Cospas-Sarsat type-approved beacon models are available in the Contact Lists and Beacons sections of the Professionals website, respectively.

Reference Documents

Reference documents for the development, manufacturing and testing of 406 MHz distress beacons are:

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

  • ITU-R Recommendation M.633, "Transmission characteristics of a satellite emergency position-indicating radiobeacon (satellite EPIRB) system operating through a low polar-orbiting satellite system in the 406 MHz band"

  • Cospas-Sarsat document C/S T.007 "Cospas-Sarsat 406 MHz Distress Beacons Type Approval Standard"

  • Cospas-Sarsat document C/S T.015 "Cospas-Sarsat Specification and Type Approval Standard for 406 MHz Ship Security Alert (SSAS) Beacons"

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

  • Relevant national specifications and requirements based on IMO performance standards for 406 MHz EPIRBs or ICAO standards for 406 MHz ELTs.

Cospas-Sarsat Type Approval Testing

Cospas-Sarsat type approval testing should be performed at 406-MHz beacon test facilities that have been accepted by the Cospas-Sarsat Council, listed in the Contact Lists section of the Professionals website.

Manufacturers seeking Cospas-Sarsat type approval of 406-MHz beacons should contact the Cospas-Sarsat Secretariat for further details concerning the type approval procedures described in the document C/S T.007.

The cost of type approval testing will be borne by the manufacturers.