Note: DUKANE 120/90
If you belong to the aviation industry, you don’t need us to tell you the importance of an Underwater Locator Beacon also known as ULB. For the uninitiated, however, an Aircraft Underwater Locator Beacon can be defined as a device that aviation flight recorders such as a cockpit voice recorder (CVR), the flight data recorder (FDR) as well as to the aircraft fuselage are equipped with.
The primary purpose of the Underwater Locator Beacon (ULB)
The primary purpose of an Underwater Locator Beacon also referred to as an Underwater Locating Device (ULD) or an Underwater Acoustic Beacon device, is to guide the search and rescue teams to a submerged aircraft, through the emission of a repeated electronic pulse.
A ULB is designed to get activated by immersion in water. As soon as the aircraft gets immersed, the ULB starts emitting an ultrasonic pulse at 37.5 kHz every single second. It is programmed to sustain beacon operation for as long as 30 days, and as per the new regulations, for up to 90 days!
For what they are worth, Underwater Locator Beacons are specifically designed to survive accidents, and function flawlessly even after major impacts.
Did You Know?
As per a study conducted by the Bureau d’Enquêtes et d’Analyses (BEA) back in the year 2011, as many as 90% ULBs survived, in 27 air accidents that occurred over the sea.
It is due to these high survival rates that ULBs are almost always in demand.
Low-Frequency Underwater Locator Beacon
In case a ULB is attached to the airframe transmit, it emits an ultrasonic pulse at 8.8kHz. Such ULBs are known as low-frequency ULBs. Low Frequency ULBs are characterized by some distinct features which are as follows
• Low-frequency ULBs have far longer detection range as compared to standard beacons, ranging anywhere between 13 – 22 km as much as four times as compared to standard ULBs.
• The low frequency as well as increased detection range ensures that both the time-taken as well as the cost incurred to locate the wreck is significantly reduced.
• The maximum operational depth for low-frequency ULBs is 6,000 meters.
• Low-frequency underwater locator gets activated upon immersion in both – freshwater as well as salt water.
• The most commonly used battery in Low-frequency underwater locator is a single-cell type lithium battery, which has a lifespan of up to 6 years.
• Most modern-day models of ULB come complete with the Beacon, the Mounting Kit as well as the Adapter Plate.
As is the case with all significant aircraft parts, even underwater locator beacons require a well-defined aircraft maintenance program which should include but not be limited to –
• The periodic checking of the device
• The cleaning of the switch contacts
• Installation of the ULB on the flight recorder while making sure that the switch contacts are placed vertically or facing downwards, and not in any other orientation
• Upkeep of the device as per the manufacturer’s instructions
• Periodic cleaning of the device to eliminate the possibility of debris build-up
• Functionality testing of the device upon replacement of the old battery
If all of the aforementioned steps are taken care of, one can rest assured that, if need be, the ULB will not only survive the impact but also function flawlessly, until the location of the aircraft has been located underwater.
A great way to ensure timely and proper maintenance of your underwater locator beacon is to hire the services of a trusted provider such as Seattle Aviation Services.
Seattle Aviation Services – Your One-Stop Shop for All Underwater Beacon Needs
We are one of the leading providers of ULBs in the aviation segment.
What makes us the choices supplier for the aviation industry are the following aspects –
• SAS ULBs are built as per industry regulations
• SAS ULBs are ideally designed to be used on commercial regional as well as business aviation aircrafts
• SAS ULBs are ideally suited to be used on military fixed wing, rotary wing aircraft flying voice, as well as data recorders
Regardless of the type of Underwater Locator Beacon, or a select part or accessory that you are on the lookout for, you can find it all at Seattle Aviation Services.
Frequently Asked Questions About Underwater Locator Beacons
What is the frequency of an underwater beacon have?
High-frequency Underwater Locator Beacons are designed to emit periodic ultrasonic acoustic signals at a frequency of 37.5 kHz, while low-frequency underwater beacons emit acoustic output at 8.8kHz when immersed in water.
What is the expected lifespan of an underwater beacon?
Underwater Locator Beacons with lithium batteries can easily function for up to 6 years.
What purpose does the black box-mounted underwater locator device serve?
Underwater Locator Beacons mounted on the black box are essentially meant to provide relocation of marine voyage data recorders. They are designed to ensure the recovery of the memory module, for depths of up to 6,000 meters under sea level.
What is the new regulation regarding the underwater locator beacon transmission period?
All underwater locator beacons manufactured after Jan 1st, 2018 are required to transit period ultrasonic signals for a minimum period of 90 days. The regulatory requirement for the same unto 2017 was only up to 30 days.