ELT Search Simulator

This search simulation emulates the function of a commonly used instrument, the ELT Direction Finder (DF). This direction finder is used to locate the site of plane crash which has an operational Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT). The ELT Search Simulation Software lets you to "fly" around a hypothetical map looking for the source of the ELT using a simulated ELT DF instrument display. Once you think you have found the crash site, you can request the actual location and then find out how far off you were. Below is a sample screen from the program:

In this snapshot, the ELT has been revealed at the end of a search. You can see the red search aircraft just below it. The cross hairs indicate the actual location of the ELT. The instruments along the right side show the heading of the aircraft, how far it has traveled, and the DF unit that shows the direction of the signal. In this case the red DF needle is to the left indicating the ELT is to the left of the aircraft as can be seen on the map. There is also a working VOR station and panel indicator, although not needed for the search, it was added as an additional instructional item.

Only about 1% of all ELT searches are for actual aircraft crashes. The other 99% are due to inadvertent activation of the ELT. The majority of the searches conducted in the U.S. are performed by the Civil Air Patrol at the direction of the United States Air Force Rescue Coordination Center.

Use this link to download a copy of the ELT Search Simulator {397kb zip file}. The program runs on MS-Windows 98/2000/ME/NT/XP computers. Unzip the files and run setup.exe to install.


Many times, locating an ELT is a coordinated effort between air and ground teams. Whether searching on an airport or off, ground crews use ELT DF equipment to guide them to the target. Shown at the left, two members of the Civil Air Patrol use a hand held ELT DF unit to locate a "hidden" ELT training transmitter (the black box with an antenna) at the airport during a training exercise.
The ELT DF Simulator replicates the operation of this actual DF unit.

Want to hear an ELT? ELT Sound {wav file}


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