406-MHz ELT Requirement Starts Next Month

 - January 22, 2009, 10:30 AM

The FAA Safety Team yesterday issued a notice to remind aircraft operators that satellite monitoring of 121.5-MHz emergency locator transmitters (ELTs) will end as of February 1. On that date, the International Cospas-Sarsat Organization will monitor only 406-MHz ELTs, which “transmit a much stronger signal, are more accurate, verifiable and traceable to the registered beacon owner.” According to the FAA, only about 15 percent of the registered aircraft in the U.S. are currently flying with 406-MHz ELTs. Those flying aircraft equipped with 121.5-MHz ELTs after February 1 will have to depend on pilots of overflying aircraft or ground stations monitoring this frequency to hear and report distress alert signals transmitted from a possible crash site, the FAA warned. “When you fly, look out for your fellow pilots and when possible monitor 121.5 MHz. If a 121.5-MHz ELT is heard on guard, report to the nearest air traffic control tower,” the agency added. As a reminder, the FAA noted that owners must register their 406-MHz ELTs. The search-and-rescue community is encouraging aircraft owners to install 406-MHz ELTs or, at minimum, carry a handheld 406-MHz personal locator beacon.