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Watch out for AMSA advice – you could die!

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Watch out for AMSA advice – you could die!

Old 14th Apr 2016, 02:19
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Watch out for AMSA advice – you could die!

On the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) website under the heading “Most important things to improve you chance of survival, and to help search and rescuers are……..”
Point 3 states:

“In the event of an emergency, get out a MAYDAY or PAN call. If not operating on an ATS frequency, always have the area or overlying airspace frequency set for immediate use. This is the most responsive method to alert the search and rescue system”.
There is a very serious problem here, as in many cases, by following this instruction no one will hear your Mayday or Pan call.

As I’ve mentioned previously on this site, even calling on the “correct” area frequency of 124.8, 90 miles south east of Charleville at 8500ft, will result in no communication to Brisbane centre – or in many cases to another aircraft. However, by calling on the frequency of the nearest VHF outlet – that is St George on 118.95 - an immediate response will come from the Brisbane centre. If you are flying at a lower level, which is typical for VFR aircraft, the problem is even greater.

At typical helicopter flight levels of 1000ft or 2000ft in remote areas of Australia, I would estimate that over 80% of the time, there is no communication to a ground transmitter on the area frequency. This means you have to rely on another aircraft in the sector monitoring that frequency. In remote areas this is very often unlikely.

Of course, for those who want the maximum chance of getting a mayday call through to the nearest VHF outlet, they can use the “nearest” feature on most GPS units, and they will come up with the location of the closest VHF ground station. This will give the most likely result of getting a line of sight VHF signal. See photo attached.

In the United States the recommended frequency for radio equipped VFR aircraft in E and G airspace is 121.5.

From my experience in Australia, this is also the best frequency for a Pan or Mayday, as in 9 out of 10 occasions you will receive an immediate response from a high flying airline aircraft.


Last edited by Dick Smith; 14th Apr 2016 at 04:36.
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Old 14th Apr 2016, 02:39
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I agree. Had to do a Pan call one day, no response on ctr, got a reply and relay right away on 121.5
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Old 14th Apr 2016, 02:45
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Re "In typical helicopter flight levels of 1000ft or 2000ft in remote areas of Australia, I would estimate that over 80% of the time, there is no communication to a ground transmitter on the area frequency. This means you have to rely on another aircraft in the sector monitoring that frequency. In remote areas this is very often unlikely."

It would be a 'poor' - ill prepared - chopper, or any other aircraft for that matter, that went out to these areas without the support of its parent company, or HF radio at least.....

Or maybe a 'Sat Phone' would do the trick. I dunno, I've never used one, but I have used HF a lot....

A VHF 'relay' may not be available 24/7 depending on where you are in relation to other aircraft routes.....would you really want to have to RELY on a relay in an emergency..??

Cheers
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Old 14th Apr 2016, 04:33
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So cruising at 1000' agl I have an engine failure. Do I get out my sat phone and start dialling AMSA?

I have tested 121.5 over the last three decades and even in remote ocean areas you get an immediate answer 9 out of 10 times.

AMSA are clearly taking advice from CASA on this. In this case the advice is wrong and will more likely result in an unheard mayday call
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Old 14th Apr 2016, 04:43
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If that's ALL you've got, or is your 'last resort'...or after ALL other methods have proved 'unsucessful'...or, IF you think that would be the most efficient...then CERTAINLY mate!

On the other hand, you could employ your EPIRB, but you won't be able to actually talk to anyone on that, but you will get assistance eventually....

This of course is predicated that no-one happens to be in 'your area' at this time...Like I suggested, do you want to have to RELY on this in an emergency?

Can happen quite often, in my experience....just depends on 'where U is' in relation to other aircraft routes / times...

Cheers...
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Old 14th Apr 2016, 05:38
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My personal view on yet another one of Dick's threads, about AMSA's guidance is as follows;

If a transmission on 121.5 is going to save me because someone's monitoring that frequency, I'm going to activate my 406MHz ELT or PLB. It will transmit on 121.5.

It just so happens that my 406 beacon will also transmit my GPS position to the satellites and on to all the rescue coordination centres in the world. If high flying RPT hear it, they'll be reporting it to ATC.

Having used the 121.5 frequency to my best advantage, I can also transmit on the Area frequency. It may be that nobody will hear me. But chances are that someone will. In that case I will be utilising three potential channels of Comms (beacon transmission on 121.5 plus beacon transmission on 406 plus voice transmission on Area) rather than just one: voice transmission on 121.5 YMMV

Last edited by Jabawocky; 14th Apr 2016 at 06:01. Reason: typo
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Old 14th Apr 2016, 06:39
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Jaba. So in remote areas what frequency would you leave your second radio on for urgent emergency calls in case of engine failure? What frequency is more likely to be heard?
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Old 14th Apr 2016, 06:45
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121.5 and 243.0 are the international distress frequencies aka Guard and monitored [121.5] by airliners. The military use UHF of course.
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Old 14th Apr 2016, 07:11
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Dick,

I'm going to transmit on all three of 121.5, 406 and Area. My ELT or PLB will do the first two jobs, and my VHF will do the third. Meanwhile my transponder is squawking 7700.

You don't seem to be able to understand or acknowledge that if someone out there is going hear me on 121.5, they are going to hear my ELT or PLB. Might as well transmit on Area as well.

Why would I transmit on just 121.5 rather than 121.5 and Area?

Thats the theory, here is the practical, based on a low level flight with no or minimal centre coverage, while my ELT or PLB is chirping away doing its things, I will broadcast on CEN but only as time and mental capacity is spare, I am looking for the best place to put down. PERIOD.

If on the other hand, as I usually do, I am flying at 8000' to 16,000' I will take a bit more time to look into the problem first, maybe I ran a tank dry, and once established that this is not being fixed and setting up for a best glide, I would broadcast on CEN, which I have on COM1 with the next CEN frequency on the stand by. If either of them failed, I would go to COM2 which has 121.5 selected in the cruise and either the CTAF or AWIS at destination awaiting use, and broadcast on 121.5, prior to setting off the ELT/PLB.

The reason is I have plenty of time to have a chat, fault find and then prepare for the worst while turning on the beacon.

At low level, I need all the time I can get, so beacon on, talk on the others. If I find I have enough time to get on 121.5 because area was no good, simply with off the beacon for a few seconds and try that. But before I get into the landing phase that beacon is going back on.

Does that make sense?
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Old 14th Apr 2016, 07:49
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For those struggling to locate this subject on the AMSA site;
Home > Search and rescue > Training and education > Aviation search and rescue education

https://www.amsa.gov.au/search-and-r...sar-education/

Last edited by truthinbeer; 14th Apr 2016 at 08:53.
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Old 14th Apr 2016, 08:22
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Jaba. I have spent a lot of time asking advice on this.

Best answer I received was to leave at least one radio on 121.5 and the MIC selector on this radio.

Then give a quick mayday or pan call and then concentrate on flying the aircraft.

Put on the beacon when on the surface.

If wanting to communicate to ATC use the nearest function on the GPS and use that frequency.
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Old 14th Apr 2016, 08:23
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Your ELT is not telling vital information on 121.5 but you as a person can give a location and say in trouble. Your reliance on the ELT on 121.5 and 406 will create a delay in search until confirmed a problem exists (they will call all contact numbers first to confirm a problem may exist if registered)

Most choppers I know belting out remote are R22 no HF, but a sat phone under the seat and not accessible in flight as other stuff on seat.


I would be asking help on 121.5 first even if it only saves 20 mins on a search.
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Old 14th Apr 2016, 08:43
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While a call on guard/area to give a location is better than nothing I wouldn't make it a priority. Only a beacon will get help reliably overhead. We've spent days searching for aircraft that were seen to disappear in the circuit.
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Old 14th Apr 2016, 09:30
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"Only a beacon will get help reliably overhead. We've spent days searching for aircraft that were seen to disappear in the circuit."


About a year back the Police turned up to the Flying Club asking if a beacon may have been set off here. We all said no and he said it seems to be from this area but the GPS point was 20+ miles away out in the water in a bay.

I suggested to go to work and put the base station radio on 121.5 (he said it was 406 but that is another story most us know). Anyway they agreed and nothing was picked up, I said I know that on the ground this due to aerial has a x range in these directions.

Basically we only knew all information they had and they showed me 406 map location, was not where the registered owner was (a WA politician in a hire car on holiday).

Forget reliable and no never did find the location of the device.
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Old 14th Apr 2016, 11:35
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Put on the beacon when on the surface.
Dick that is what we are taught.

If I am ditching into water or less than golf course conditions I want the beacon on well before I am at the surface. I may get knocked out………..but live if I get rescued.

Just me….
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Old 14th Apr 2016, 12:02
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I don't know a lot about this ELB stuff, so I'll defer to Jaba.
So cruising at 1000' agl I have an engine failure.
You're going to hop onto 121.5 and give your position (assuming your position device is still working) with only a few seconds to impact? Activate your ELB.

BTW, you did you put in a flight plan so that the services would know here to look regardless of what warning you get out, didn't you?
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Old 14th Apr 2016, 12:05
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Why not just have 121.5 on standby if you have Garmin equipped radios?

Put out a call on the local and then put out another on 121.5 if no response?

A lot of newer radios have a 121.5 quick select built in in them anyway.
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Old 14th Apr 2016, 12:23
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If you regularly travel in remote areas get a HF. Personally at 1000 feet I'm not got to stuff about on the radio. Activate ELB and worry about flying the plane. Aviate, Navigate, Communicate.
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Old 15th Apr 2016, 12:21
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Of the 70+ rego aircraft I have looked after since 406 came mandatory, I think 5-7 have a fixed ELT. That is GA and Charter aircraft, so who at 1,000 ft is finding, opening the protect bag, pulling ariel. setting it off and AVIATING at the same time?

Nick 123 HF has a few issues being size, weight and cost (if USA used them it would be better).

Last edited by Band a Lot; 16th Apr 2016 at 01:10. Reason: H in HF
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Old 15th Apr 2016, 15:14
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Nick. So you are in your Robbie at 1000' agl about 100 miles south of Charleville .

You hit a bird and a massive vibration follows.

But rather than give a Pan or Mayday call on 121.5 (that you previously had set ) , you are going grab your elt and start putting up the antennae and turning it on !

Wow , with all the experts who I asked for advice not one made this suggestion.
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