15 Mar 2009

Old beacon left to fade away

11:26 am on 15 March 2009

The signals caused a search and rescue callout on Friday.

The beacon, which has been picked up by planes flying into Wellington, caused a search and rescue callout on Friday.

The Wellington rescue helicopter tracked the signal to the Wainuiomata tip, north of the capital.

Dave Wilson, of Search & Rescue, says a team spent five hours in the tip on Saturday trying to locate the beacon, but failed to find it because the signal was too weak.

However he does not expect it to cause further alerts, so it will be left to run out of battery power.

De-activate beacons before discarding

A callout was also sparked in Queenstown on Friday by an old-style emergency beacon buried in a landfill.

Search & Rescue says it is worried there will be a flood of false alarms as people throw away the old 121.5 beacons without de-activating the devices.

Because of a change in international standards in February, Mr Wilson says, many people are replacing their emergency beacons.

But they need to remove the power source from the old one before discarding it; otherwise false alarms could delay rescue helicopters from attending real emergencies.