AEA Clarifies FCC Rule That Would Ban 121.5-MHz ELTs

 - June 24, 2010, 12:11 PM

The Aircraft Electronics Association (AEA) yesterday clarified the FCC’s recent announcement that it plans to ban 121.5-MHz ELTs in airplanes. According to the AEA, August is the “absolute earliest” the FCC rule could become effective since the agency has not submitted a final rule to the Federal Register for publication, which would then start a 60-day clock for implementation. However, the rule is strongly opposed by the AEA and other aviation groups, so a final rule might never materialize. The FCC said the rule would affect legacy TSO C91a-type ELTs, which operate primarily on 121.5 MHz, not the general use of this frequency by pilots during emergencies. It also noted that the ruling would not affect TSO C126 ELTs, which transmit distress signals on both the 406-MHz and 121.5-MHz frequencies. Meanwhile, the AEA is encouraging members not to sell C91a ELTs to customers, but adds, “There is no immediate regulatory need for operators to upgrade their legacy C91a ELTs to…C126 ELTs.” However, the AEA encourages operators to upgrade to C126 ELTs, since distress signals on 406 MHz are monitored by satellites; 121.5-MHz signal monitoring by satellites was discontinued in February last year.