|Equipped To Survive Foundation|
2006 Year End Recap
To Friends and Supporters of the Equipped To Survive Foundation,
Once again we have had a busy year with some significant accomplishments to record. This is how your generous contributions have helped us make a difference:
Building on the ground breaking testing and evaluations the ETS Foundation has conducted in prior years that revealed deficiencies in some emergency beacons and the standards that govern them, I continued work to improve the standards to which 406 Mhz emergency distress beacons are built and tested. During the past year I have attended six RTCM (Radio Technical Committee for Maritime) Special Committee 110 meetings at the RTCM office in Arlington, Virginia, outside Washington, D.C., and at the annual RTCM conference held in Newport Beach, California.
The RTCM SC110 committee continues work to revise their standards that are the basis for U.S. regulations, and a de facto world standard. While the committee did not complete work on the new standards as I had hoped, we did make good progress. I drafted the new labeling requirements that should ensure that adequate and effective instructions for use are provided on new beacons, included testing for comprehension. The best beacon in the world will do not good if the user, who may well not have read an instruction manual or even be the owner of the beacon, cannot turn it on or set it up for optimal effectiveness. The new packaging labeling requirements should also ensure that purchasers will know exactly what capabilities they are getting in their PLB.
The biggest remaining areas of concern are the testing requirements to ensure that GPS-equipped beacons meet a minimum performance standard. This involves defining reasonably challenging testing scenarios for GPS simulators and how the testing is to be conducted and what results are acceptable.
|Water Survival at AOPA Expo 2006|
I also attended the COSPAS-SARSAT Joint Committee meeting in June, at the new COSPAS-SARSAT headquarters in Montreal, Canada. Besides changes to T.001 and T.007 standards, a splinter group meeting was held under the auspices of ICAO to address the use of PLBs in aircraft and their possible replacement of existing 121.5 MHz ELTs required by regulation since some nations, the U.S. included, are not mandating replacement with 406 MHz ELTs when 121q.5 MHz satellite locating is ended in February 2009. By and large, most present supported the idea. While a PLB will not work automatically in a crash, neither do ELTs many times and overall the feeling was that more lives would be saved having a 406 MHz PLB than a 121.5 MHz ELT. I have hopes that the future will see more efforts to bring change to this area of the regulations, though it will take time and effort to accomplish that will inevitably cost lives while the bureaucrats and regulators dally.
I also continue to participate on the SAE S-9 Cabin Safety Provisions Committee and SAE S-9A Safety Equipment and Survival Systems Sub-committee developing enhanced safety and survival standards for transport category aircraft, airlines and general aviation. We are hopefully approaching the final stages of a significantly improved standard for Aviation Life Vests and for Aviation Life Rafts. These revisions are based on the life raft tests and research performed by myself and ETS Foundation over the past decade that revealed serious deficiencies in many aviation life rafts. While I hope we'll be able to push through these standards this year, they have proven difficult and frustrating because certain segments of the aviation industry are very resistant to any change that might have even a modest financial impact, regardless of the safety issues involved.
I am the only consumer advocate, the only person representing you, who participates on any of these standards committees, which typically involve only industry and government representatives. It is rare for anyone to speak up for the end user whose safety and life is at stake. Attending these meetings and working on these standards takes time and money. I am dependent upon contributions from supporters like you to enable me to continue these efforts. As you can see, your investment is producing excellent returns and I beg you to continue to support ETS Foundation with a significant financial contribution so that I can continue this work. You can make a donation here.
|Doug Ritter's New Equipped.org Blog|
We also added the Equipped.org Blog this year that enables me to quickly and easily present survival related news and commentary, as well as brief product reviews. It allows for a quick response to current events and has been picked up by most of the blogging sites, driving considerable traffic to Equipped To Survive. It is probably the most popular new addtion to the ETS site in years.
The ETS Survival Forum experienced a huge surge in membership and participation late this year with the media coverage of the Kim family survival story and tragic loss of James Kim and then the deaths of three climbers on Mt. Hood shortly thereafter. Volunteer Chris Cavanaugh continues his excellent performance as administrator of the forum, keeping peace when matters get too hot and helping newcomers.
Our annual April Fools Edition of ETS Survival News was huge this year. I received hundreds of emails about it, many assuming it was all true. If you missed it or previous editions, you can find them all here on ETS.
This past year I provided survival education presentations at a number of national aviation conferences, including the annual Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association convention in Palm Springs. Taking advantage of the unique facilities at Palm Springs Convention Center, we held an in-water demonstration of water survival equipment in the pool on top of my usual standing-room-only seminars on survival gear and ditching. This event required a huge effort and the sponsorship of a number of companies to bring it all off. Special thanks go to my wife Sue and ETS volunteer Alan Romania for helping make it a reality. Also, thanks are due to the Palm Springs Civil Air Patrol Cadets for their able and enthusiastic assistance.
|COPA CPPP Survival Module|
I continue to provide free advice and information on survival equipment to troops embarking to the Middle East and to many life support personnel in the U.S. military.
Threats to our right to own, carry and use the knives we choose led me to the conclusion that if we don't work to protect our rights, these essential survival tools will be regulated out of existence by the Anti's. With no viable organization to mobilize knife owners, these crazies see knives and edged tools as easy pickings compared to firearms. A knife is your second most essential survival tool after your brain and I cannot stand by and just let this happen. In response, I have spent considerable time and effort to form a new advocacy organization, Knife Rights, and we'll be launching that soon. For more information and to get on the mailing list to be notified when we launch this in the next few weeks, please go to www.USKTA.org.
This work is only possible because of generous support from the public, including many of you. Thanks again to all our contributors who recognize the value of the work we do and the tremendous value we provide for each dollar donated. Please give generously to help us continue our work. You can make a donation here.
Equipped To Survive Foundation's Form 990 for fiscal year 2005/2006 and prior year end recaps can be found on the ETS Foundation Home page.
Equipped To Survive Foundation
Executive Director: Doug Ritter
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