France Bleu: Gricas consortium and ECA Group work on new distress beacons for aircraft

Monday, March 26 2018
Within three years, the new aircrafts will be equipped with distress beacons capable of activating in flight and via satellites, ground stations will be able to detect signals much more quickly and accurately than what is done today. A device that will save lives.

Published in France Bleu, March 2018.

Read the PDF file (French)

Written by Vanessa Marguet

Photo courtesy by Les Echos

From 2021, all passenger aircraft coming out of the assembly lines will be equipped with new distress beacons, which will be triggered autonomously in flight as soon as an abnormality is detected. This is very different from what is happening today, since the current distress beacons are triggered at the time of a crash. These new generation beacons will emit a signal that will be detected almost in real time by satellites like Galileo. And the information will be sent back to ground stations, like those developed by Thales Alenia Space in Toulouse.

Today, satellites are already involved in the detection of distress beacons, "but there is still a significant delay between the alert and the return of data," explains Dany St-Pierre, of the intergovernmental organization Cospas-Sarsat coordinating the rescue systems for planes, boats and people around the world and has already saved 43,000 lives since 1982. The new system that is being set up will rely on many more satellites within the framework of the Meosar program and will rely on more advanced technologies.

The advantage of this device is that it will allow to detect problems very early and gain speed to intervene in the event of an accident. In addition, the new beacons and the new detection system will make it possible to be more precise in the location of aircraft, for Michel Monnerat, in charge of this project at Thales Alenia Space.

     As soon as the distress signal is transmitted, this signal is located with an accuracy of 100 m, whereas the current beacons, which are triggered only at the moment of the crash, allow a location with a few hours of latency, and with precision at best. from 5 km.

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