Your behavior appears to be a little unusual. Please verify that you are not a bot.

Orolia: Distress locator enhances aviation safety

December 28, 2022  - By
Airbus will install Orolia’s Ultima-DT emergency locator transmitter on its aircraft. (Photo: Airbus)

Airbus will install Orolia’s Ultima-DT emergency locator transmitter on its aircraft. (Photo: Airbus)

This fall, Orolia’s Ultima-DT was certified as an emergency locator transmitter with distress tracking (ELT-DT) by Cospas-Sarsat, an international humanitarian search-and-rescue system. Cospas-Sarsat uses space-based technology to detect and locate model 406 emergency beacons carried by ships, aircraft or individuals venturing into remote areas — often inaccessible by GNSS signals. The system consists of a network of satellites, ground stations, mission control centers and rescue coordination centers that work together when a 406 beacon is activated.

I spoke about the certification with Christian Belleux, director, Aviation & Defense Beacons for Orolia.

Matteo Luccio (ML): Has Orolia produced aviation safety products in the past?

Christian Belleux (CB): Orolia has been supplying emergency locator transmitters for aviation since 1995 on a very large number of platforms to OEMs and airlines for use on commercial aircraft — Airbus, Boeing, Embraer and Bombardier aircraft. Orolia is also participating in industry groups creating standards (Eurocae, RTCA, ARINC) or contributing to the progress of the Cospas-Sarsat search-and-rescue satellite system as a member of the Expert Working Group.

ML: What are the key challenges in making an aviation ELT?

CB: With new requirements for lithium batteries and new regulations introducing distress tracking, recent times have been rich in innovation. We were granted the first ETSO certification ever for an ELT-DT and the same product, the Ultima-DT, was also the first ELT to be certified for its lithium battery.

ML: What did Cospas-Sarsat certification of the ELT-DT entail?

CB: The ELT-DT is a new type of beacon with a new communication protocol. The labs performing the certification tests must be approved by Cospas-Sarsat before we can apply. Then the Cospas-Sarsat organization and infrastructure must be updated to receive and consider the new ELT-DT protocol. The Cospas-Sarsat certification of our ELT-DT means that it complies with the performance requirements described in Cospas-Sarsat standards and can communicate with the infrastructure.

ML: What is new about an ELT-DT?

CB: The principle of an ELT-DT is to activate in flight before a crash, as opposed to a legacy ELT that is activated by the shock of a crash. This means that the aircraft and the ELT-DT can analyze the health of the aircraft and its parameters, and activate if a catastrophic event is about to occur. Once activated, the ELT-DT transmits a high-rate distress signal that makes it possible to track the aircraft until it crashes. The ELT-DT contains its own GNSS receiver that is independent the aircraft’s navigation system.

ML: Did you cooperate closely with one or more avionics manufacturers to develop your device?

CB: Orolia was in very close contact with Airbus, which designed the avionics components.

ML: Do you already have contracts with airlines or aircraft manufacturers besides Airbus for the Ultima-DT?

CB: We have several contacts with aircraft manufacturers and airlines interested in the Ultima-DT.

ML: When will the first batch of the ELT-DT / Ultima-DT be operational?

CB: We started flight tests months ago at Airbus and delivered production units. Airbus soon will announce its first delivery of an aircraft equipped with the Ultima-DT.

This article is tagged with , , , and posted in From the Magazine, Space & Earth

About the Author: Matteo Luccio

Matteo Luccio, GPS World’s Editor-in-Chief, possesses more than 20 years of experience as a writer and editor for GNSS and geospatial technology magazines. He began his career in the industry in 2000, serving as managing editor of GPS World and Galileo’s World, then as editor of Earth Observation Magazine and GIS Monitor. His technical articles have been published in more than 20 professional magazines, including Professional Surveyor Magazine, Apogeo Spatial and xyHt. Luccio holds a master’s degree in political science from MIT. He can be reached at or 541-543-0525.