AOPA asks Canada to reconsider new ELT requirement

October 23, 2008

Thousands of U.S. pilots could stop flying to Canada if transport officials go ahead with plans to require all foreign-registered aircraft traveling in Canadian airspace to carry a 406 MHz emergency locator transmitter (ELT), AOPA warned Canadian aviation officials.

In formal comments filed Oct. 23 with Transport Canada, AOPA proposed an alternative—allowing foreign-registered aircraft to carry a 406 MHz personal locator beacon in addition to the 121.5 MHz ELT already installed in most U.S. general aviation aircraft.

Canada has said that it will require all aircraft flying in Canadian airspace to carry an installed ELT that can transmit on both 121.5 MHz and 406 MHz beginning Feb. 1, 2009. But general aviation aircraft in the United States are not required to replace their existing 121.5 MHz ELTs. And a survey of AOPA members who currently fly to Canada revealed that 51 percent would stop flying over the border rather than re-equip with 406 MHz ELTs—a change that could represent a significant loss of revenue for some Canadian towns and airports.

“The current cost of a 406 MHz ELT is five times that of the 121.5 MHz ELTs already installed in most general aviation airplanes,” said Randy Kenagy, AOPA acting vice president of regulatory affairs. “It makes no sense to force small aircraft owners to purchase expensive new equipment when the benefits are minimal and there are more affordable alternatives.”

In addition to asking Canadian officials to reconsider their 2009 mandate and offering an alternative, AOPA’s comments pointed out that the FAA’s planned move to ADS-B technology by 2020 will significantly reduce any benefits provided by a 406 MHz ELT by broadcasting the aircraft’s registration number and position every second.