Discarded ELTs could prompt massive search

February 26, 2009

Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT)The Civil Air Patrol and AOPA are teaming up to remind pilots to properly dispose of their old emergency locator transmitters (ELTs). Because many pilots are upgrading to newer, more capable 406 MHz ELTs—even though 121.5 MHz ELTs still meet the FAA’s regulatory requirement—the possibility exists that the old 121.5 MHz ELT will be set off and prompt a search if not discarded properly.

As part of the program, each CAP squadron is being given access to a poster that reminds pilots, mechanics, and FBOs to disconnect the ELT battery and send the ELT and battery to the local electronics waste facility.

Unfortunately, the campaign became necessary after CAP headquarters received multiple reports of its volunteers spending time and money searching for a beacon that turned out to be in the trash. In California, one squadron searched through trash for six hours at a local recycling facility to locate an ELT and disconnect its battery.

“Emergency beacons were not meant to be discarded like common trash,” the CAP said.

Rob Hackman, AOPA senior director of regulatory affairs, said that while pilots may not be discarding their old beacons personally, it’s a good idea to remind their mechanic to do so. “Pilots can help save vital search and rescue resources,“ he said. “Make sure to remind your mechanic to dispose of your ELT properly.”