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Canada’s ELT mandate sparks concern among U.S. pilots

Oct. 27, 2008, Frederick, MD - As of Feb. 1, 2009, satellites will stop monitoring 121.5 MHz, one of the emergency frequencies for ELTs.


October 27, 2008
By Corrie


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Oct. 27, 2008, Frederick, MD – As of Feb. 1, 2009, satellites will stop monitoring 121.5 MHz, one
of the emergency frequencies for ELTs. This has sparked concern among
some in the aviation industry and has caused Transport Canada to move
forward with a rule that will require aircraft flying in Canada to be
equipped with a 406-MHz ELT.
So far, the FAA has not given AOPA any indication that it will mandate a switch to the 406-MHz ELT.


“The FAA has the right approach—let pilots equip their aircraft with
the ELT that best meets their flying needs,” said Rob Hackman, AOPA
senior director of regulatory affairs, noting that air traffic control,
the military, and pilots will still monitor the frequency. “AOPA is
going to propose options to Transport Canada to allow U.S.-registered
aircraft flying in Canada to be exempt from the rule.”


Meanwhile, the Canadian Owners and Pilots Association (COPA)
recently filed a letter of dissent regarding the proposed rule,
claiming that Transport Canada reneged on its commitment that it would
not mandate 406-MHz ELTs. COPA’s position emphasizes the need to
harmonize Canadian regulations with those in the United States so that
travel between the two countries will not be impeded. COPA has been
working with Transport Canada on this issue for 10 years.


AOPA and COPA believe that the benefits of advanced ELTs must be
balanced against the cost and needs of the individual aircraft owner.
AOPA will alert members when the proposed Canadian rule opens for
public comment. Those who fly into Canada will be encouraged to submit
comments and explain how a requirement for a 406-MHz ELT could curtail
their flights into the country.


“Pilots should understand that 121.5-MHz ELTs will still meet the FAA’s regulations
for emergency locator transmitters after February 2009,” said Hackman.
“However, pilots should study the differences between the two types of
ELTs and factor in the cost and other options, such as personal locater
beacons, to determine which will best meet their needs and the FAA’s
regulatory requirements.


“It’s just like comparing old radios to new—you compare the cost of
the units and the benefits they provide, consider the type and location
of flying you do, and think about how it will work with other equipment
you have in the aircraft.”


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