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Volume 497: debated on Tuesday 13 October 2009

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what consideration the Civil Aviation Authority gave to the approval in operational aircraft carriage terms of the use of wrist watch personal location beacons by passengers on helicopters serving the North Sea oil and gas industry (a) during the initial proof and concept trials carried out by BP and (b) subsequently. (289244)

Wrist watch personal locator beacons, carried by passengers on helicopters flying in support of the exploration and production of oil and gas in the North sea, are non-approved equipment. There is no requirement in aviation legislation that requires the carriage of such equipment. The CAA gave due consideration to the potential safety implications of such carriage but has not approved any such carriage of electronic equipment.

In January 2009 the CAA held a meeting with helicopter operations and other stakeholders to discuss the concerns about the potential effects of inadvertent transmissions. These include radio interference on the emergency frequency, interference with aircraft systems, interference with other beacons, and the generation of false alarms. As a result the CAA established a Working Group to examine the issues in depth, and work by this group continues.