Update - McMurdo finds EPIRBs ‘faultless’
British electronics manufacturer McMurdo Ltd. says its FastFind Plus personal locator beacon and Precision GPS EPIRBs have passed independent testing commissioned by the company with flying colors.
McMurdo ordered the new tests after the Equipped to Survive Foundation of Chandler, Ariz., said in April that some of the company’s GPS-enabled beacons failed in field testing under real-world conditions. McMurdo says the new testing was performed by Sartech Engineering Ltd. under conditions “designed to replicate the earlier Equipped to Survive testing as closely as possible.”
Soon after the results of the original testing were announced, Portsmouth, England-based McMurdo began offering upgrades to the affected units. It now says both the original and upgraded units performed well in the new testing. McMurdo says the upgraded equipment proved flawless, and the original models delivered “significantly superior product performance compared to that reported by Equipped to Survive.”
“All the updated beacons performed faultlessly, acquiring and transmitting an accurate GPS location within a few minutes, even under adverse conditions,” said Peter Forey, Sartech managing director, in a statement distributed by McMurdo.
ETS executive director Doug Ritter said in a statement that the foundation would conduct its own independent evaluations of the upgraded beacons. “Consumers recognize the value of having truly independent testing conducted, as the Equipped to Survive foundation did originally and which brought the issues with the GPS-equipped McMurdo beacons to the forefront,” Ritter said. He added that it was “somewhat of a reach” to call the new testing independent, no matter who witnessed them. “Moreover,” Ritter continued, “the upgraded beacons tested were not ‘off-the-shelf’ units.”
When land-use versions of the equipment were tested in California, an executive of retailer West Marine was on hand. West Marine had helped underwrite the Equipped to Survive testing and subsequently offered a full refund or exchange on the devices.
“The performance of the upgraded FastFind Plus products improved dramatically [in the new tests],” said Chuck Hawley, West Marine vice president of product development, in the statement distributed by McMurdo.
Gary Mullins, McMurdo managing director, said an analysis of data is being finalized, and a full report on the results will be made available.
He said the company is contacting all FastFind Plus customers to make them aware of the free upgrade. The upgrade for the Precision and G4 EPIRBs was to be available in August, and customers will be contacted, he said.