AOPA “vigorously opposes” the U.S. Federal Communication Commission’s plan to prohibit the future use of emergency locator transmitters (ELTs) that use a 121.5-MHz signal. The proposal will have a negative effect on aviation safety, according to AOPA, and the association told the FCC it should immediately abandon its proposed rule changes and defer to the FAA on matters of aviation safety. According to AOPA, there are more than 200,000 general aviation aircraft still carrying 121.5-MHz ELTs.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is said to be close to responding to an FAA request that it withdraw a June notice that seeks to impose a total ban on the “certification, manufacture, importation, sale or continued use” of 121.5-MHz emergency locator transmitters.
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.
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.
In an effort to cut down on the more than 2,000 false distress signals it receives each year from emergency locator transmitters (ELT) and emergency position indicating radio beacons, the Civil Air Patrol has launched its “Don’t Trash the Beacon” public awareness campaign. “The false-alarm rate is between 90- and 95-percent now,” said John Demarais, CAP’s deputy director for operations.
As of February 1, search-and-rescue satellites will stop monitoring 121.5 MHz, one of the frequencies used by emergency locator transmitters. Although there is no FAA mandate requiring a switch to 406-MHz ELTs, operators should be aware that the international Cospas-Sarsat satellite system will cease to process 121.5-MHz signals on that date.
A voice-capable, three-frequency ELT made by the UK’s HT Smith Group is now being marketed in North America by Winslow Life Raft of Lake Suzy, Fla. The 1.3-lb ELT has two-way voice transmission capability on 121 MHz and 243 MHz. The $2,975 unit also sends distress signals on 406 MHz.
“If you haven’t flown a search-and-rescue (SAR) mission, it is difficult to appreciate just how hard it is to find an aircraft on the ground,” John Desmarais, emergency services plans officer at the national headquarters of the Civil Air Patrol, told AIN.
For the second time in three years the international requirements for ELT equipage are changing, but this time the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) promises that while the new rules will ensnare more airplanes than previous requirements, implementing them will be easier than before.
Most pilots by now have heard about the plan to end satellite monitoring of emergency locator transmitter (ELT) distress signals broadcast over 121.5- and 243-MHz frequencies after Feb. 1, 2009. But many might not realize there is no specific regulation in the U.S. requiring ELT upgrades to the new 406-MHz standard being adopted in much of the rest of the world.
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