406-MHz ELTs not required for flights to Canada, for now

May 7, 2009

For the time being, pilots who fly to Canada don’t need to worry about being forced to upgrade to a 406-MHz emergency locator transmitter in order to continue flying in that country. Canadian Minister of Transport John Baird suspended the controversial rule which would have required all aircraft flying in Canada to be equipped with the 406-MHz ELT starting this year.

Canadian Owners and Pilots Association President Kevin Psutka has confirmed for AOPA that the minister refused to sign the rule because it did not include any viable alternatives to equipping with the 406-MHz ELTs. A new rule is to be drafted that includes alternatives and gives the acceptance of the new 406-MHz ELTs a shot.

Right now, the switch to the 406-MHz ELT is cost prohibitive for many pilots. Installation of the new equipment starts at $1,000 but can increase dramatically.

AOPA has been opposed to any proposal that would require the switch to a 406-MHz ELT, believing that such a decision should be left to the pilot’s discretion based on the type of flight operations and areas in which he or she frequently flies.

In October 2008, AOPA filed formal comments on the Canadian proposal, suggesting an alternative that would allow 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.

“We’re pleased that Canada’s Minister of Transport recognized the detrimental impact the mandate would have had on general aviation aircraft flying into the country,” said Rob Hackman, AOPA senior director of regulatory affairs. “The FAA does not require a 406-MHz ELT, so consistency in regulations between the United States and Canada make it easier for pilots to fly in both countries.”