Rescue Transmitters

The COSPAS-SARSAT rescue transmitters or beacons, transmit manually or automatically the position to activate the rescue.

Their use

The COSPAS-SARSAT rescue transmitters, or more briefly the beacons, use the system maintained by the International Organization COSPAS-SARSAT to transmit the position in case of real emergency.

The transmitted signal is captured by the COSPAS/SARSAT satellites, which locate the position of the transmitter and send the programmed data inside the rescue coordination centre.

They transmit on the 406 MHz frequency and digitally send the identification data stored inside. Many of them also transmit in analogue on the 121.5 MHz frequency which, being radiogoniometric, helps in the approach of rescuers.

The maximum error in the localization is 5 km, while for models equipped with GPS this is reduced to 100 m., which is why many recommend the purchase of the latest generation models equipped with GPS.

Types of rescue transmitter

Trasmettitori di Soccorso n.1

There are 3 different types of rescue transmitters, which differ in their mode of use:

  • EPIRB, are used in the marine environment and identify the vessel.
  • PLB, are portable devices and identify the person.
  • ELT, are used in aviation and identify the aircraft.

There are two categories:

  • The Categories can be activated automatically or manually.
  • II Category, they are activated only manually.


Each rescue transmitter, before purchase, must be programmed with identification data, which are reported in the programming report and are summarized in a hexadecimal code of 15 characters, called UIN or hex ID.

Before using the transmitter you must register it, if it is intended for an Italian unit you can proceed to the center COSPAS-SARSAT Bari.

The registration can be done by sending a special form, or through the online service of COSPAS-SARSAT Bari.

In the registration card, in addition to the UIN, you must enter all the identification data of the user, such as address, phone numbers, those of relatives, etc.. It is advisable not to skimp on the information entered, as any data is useful for a better success of a rescue operation.