When Pan-Pan Becomes Mayday

Search and Rescue in the 21st Century

Photo of a crashed airplane.

Simplest Solution

Photo of radar tower.

Signaling Satellites

This diagram shows the sequence of events from the time a 406 beacon is activated (1) anywhere in the world, to the launch of search and rescue (6) assets to the location of the distress. (Illustration courtesy of Cospas-Sarsat)
Photo of distress beacons.
There are many types of distress beacons.

Beyond Beacons

After a small plane dropped off radar about 500 feet above ground level, the iPad location was the critical clue that led rescuers to the crash site in heavy woods in northeastern Pennsylvania. (Illustration courtesy of Civil Air Patrol)

It’s All in the Data

This article was originally published in the March/April 2023 issue of FAA Safety Briefing magazine.



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Official FAA safety policy voice for general aviation. Part of the national FAA Safety Team (FAASTeam).