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NASA Invites Media to Emergency Locator Transmitters Crash Test

Langley crash test
A Cessna 172, outfitted with several Emergency Locator Transmitters, impacts the ground at NASA Langley Research Facility’s Landing and Impact Research Facility on July 1, 2015. Credits: NASA/David Bowman

Engineers at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, will crash test a small plane Wednesday, July 29, to test the performance of five emergency locator transmitters (ELTs) installed onboard.

This is the second of three crash tests of three different Cessna 172 aircraft this summer equipped with ELTs, crash test dummies, cameras and data-collecting sensors.

Media who are interested in covering the crash test should contact Sasha Congiu at 757-864-5473 or no later than 5 p.m. EDT Tuesday, July 28. Media need to arrive for the test on Wednesday at the Langley gate located at 2 Langley Blvd. by 12:15 p.m.

Emergency locator transmitters are installed on aircraft to transmit a distress signal in the event of an airplane crash. Current models send the signal to orbiting satellites, which is then repeated to the nearest search and rescue ground station. The received signal is used to determine the identity and location of the ELT, which is sent to rescue personnel.

“The ELT has to work in the extreme circumstances involved in an airplane crash,” said Chad Stimson, Emergency Locator Transmitter Survivability and Reliability (ELTSAR) project manager at Langley. ”Therefore we are investigating ways to improve the specifications in several areas, including vibration, fire survivability, automatic activation, crash safety and system installation.”

The research, funded by the NASA Search and Rescue Mission Office at the agency’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, is designed to improve ELT performance by demonstrating practical ways to improve the robustness of the entire system.

For more information about NASA’s aeronautics research, visit:


J.D. Harrington
Headquarters, Washington
Sasha Congiu
Langley Research Center, Hampton, Va.