Spirent improves search and rescue operations

GPS and other global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) testing solutions provider Spirent Communications plc (LSE: SPT) test solutions have been used to improve maritime safety, the company said.

Working with the Radio Technical Committee for Maritime Services (RTCM), Spirent has created test scenarios that simulate realistic satellite reception conditions at sea so that GPS distress beacon performance can be improved, allowing users to be rescued faster by search and rescue organizations.

The United States, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has now mandated that in future, any new products in the related categories must be tested using a GNSS simulator and the scenarios in the RTCM standards, which were developed by Spirent.

The RCTM discovered that Cospas-Sarsat 406MHz beacons with integral GPS receivers suffered from poor cold start performance, causing delays in providing accurate location information to Search and Rescue (SAR) authorities. It later discovered that this was because beacons tended to be tested on land in benign conditions, rather than in real-world oceanic conditions.

It has addressed the issue by specifying a set of performance standards for Emergency Position Indicating Beacons (EPIRBs), Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs), Hand-held VHF Radios with integral GPS Receivers, Manoverboard (MOB) devices and Satellite Emergency Notification Devices (SENDs).

Spirent was asked to develop a set of custom test scenarios that enable manufacturers to simulate realistic satellite reception conditions at sea in laboratory environments. Use of these scenarios enables manufacturers to better assess the performance of their products in the real world.

Spirent Communications provides verification, assessment, analytics, and device intelligence solutions.