FCC Seeks To Outlaw 121.5-MHz ELTs

 - June 22, 2010, 11:56 AM

Aircraft owners in the U.S. are bristling after the Federal Communications Commission announced plans last week to impose a total ban on the “certification, manufacture, importation, sale or continued use of 121.5-MHz ELTs.” If adopted, the FCC rule could take effect as early as August. FAA regulations require U.S.-registered aircraft to carry fixed emergency locator transmitters, but the rule doesn’t specify whether they should operate on 121.5 or 406 MHz. Although satellites have not listened for 121.5-MHz signals since February 1 last year, the frequency is still monitored by ATC, the military and other pilots. The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association said it is “aggressively pursuing all options” to delay the rule’s adoption, warning of serious economic and operational consequences for more than 220,000 aircraft in the general aviation fleet that still carry 121.5-MHz ELTs. Interestingly, the rule includes an exemption for the Breitling Emergency Watch, which uses the 121.5-MHz frequency to broadcast its distress signal.