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No More NOAA POR Decal for PLBs and ELTs

NOAA proof of registration decalFor a long time I and others have been suggesting that NOAA could save money by eliminating the NOAA proof of registration decal for PLBs and ELTs. This was originally designed for use on EPIRBs where there are regulatory requirements for commercial vessels that the Coast Guard check that the EPIRB is registered. When the regulatory standards for 406 MHz ELTs and then PLBs were developed from those original EPIRB standards, the requirement for the decal was left in, even though it served no real purpose.

This has become a more serious issue as PLBs became smaller and smaller. The real estate on the beacon taken up by the decal has become an ever increasing portion of what little space is available. It could be put to far better use. Meanwhile, most owners who registered their 406 MHz ELTs couldn’t access them to apply the decal anyway. That ELT is buried in the tail where they cannot easily reach it or would have to have a mechanic do the deed. All for no good reason. Bottom line is that virtually nobody applied the decal to either PLBs or ELTs, but every two years NOAA sent out a new decal with updated registration.

NOAA has finally seen the light and announced at the 2007 Beacon Manufacturers Workshop last week that they would be eliminating the decal for PLBs and ELTs. They will still require a notice that the beacon has to be registered, but that will be far less onerous and simple and costs the government nothing.

NOAA spokesperson Lt. Jeff Shoup said it would take about two months for the change to go into effect. It still needs to be published in the Federal Register before then and they are still working out changes to their process to cope with the elimination.

Let me emphasize that the proof of registration decal is still required for EPIRBs and that this does not eliminate the need to register your 406 MHz ELT and PLB. Registration is critical to gain all the benefits from the COSPAS-SARSAT system.

It’s a small victory for common sense, but we’ll celebrate any we can get. Thanks NOAA!