The U.S. Federal Communications Commission issued a new Notice of Proposed Rulemaking addressing the manufacture, sale and use of emergency locator transmitters that broadcast solely on 121.5 MHz. Comments on the NPRM are due 30 days from publication in the Federal Register, according to the National Air Transportation Association. Publication is expected next week.
The Cospas-Sarsat satellite network that monitors ELT signals eliminated monitoring of 121.5 MHz in early 2009 and now monitors 406-MHz ELTs, although these still transmit lower-power 121.5-MHz homing signals close to the ELT.
The FCC had earlier recommended prohibiting 121.5-MHz ELTs. “The Commission concluded that requiring a transition to 406-MHz ELTs would promote aviation safety, and that whatever residual safety value 121.5-MHz ELTs might retain was outweighed by the danger that aviators might mistakenly rely on them for satellite distress alerting.”
Now the FCC believes that phasing out 121.5-MHz ELTs “is in the public interest.”
The FCC is seeking comments about the timing of the transition to 406-MHz ELTs and also whether alternatives such as personal beacons or ADS-B might render ELTs unnecessary.