Mexico grants extension to 406-MHz ELT requirement

October 1, 2009

The Mexican equivalent of the FAA, Direccion General De Aeronautica Civil (DGAC), has granted a six-month extension to the Oct. 1 deadline that would have required all aircraft flying in Mexico to be equipped with 406-MHz ELTs. Pilots now have until April 2, 2010, to equip their aircraft with the device, with a few exceptions.

Pilots who will be installing a new ELT in their aircraft after Oct. 2 and plan to fly into Mexico, will need to equip with the 406-MHz ELT. The country is requiring any new installation of ELTs after that date be the 406-MHz device in order to fly in Mexican airspace. Pilots flying with 121.5-MHz ELTs installed before Oct. 2 can continue to do so until the batteries expire or need replaced, or by April 2, 2010, whichever occurs first. After that date, or once the batteries need to be replaced, a 406-MHz ELT must be installed.

The DGAC’s actions are part of an effort to adopt recommendations from the International Civil Aviation Organization.

AOPA’s representative for Mexico, Rick Gardner of Caribbean Sky Tours, worked closely with the DGAC to get the extension. The DGAC has granted multiple compliance extensions, allowing U.S. pilots to continue flying into the country in aircraft with 121.5-MHz ELTs.

AOPA had told the DGAC that the 406-MHz ELT mandate would have a “significant negative impact on general aviation traffic to Mexico with a corresponding negative impact on tourism revenue.”

The move to mandate aircraft to be equipped with 406-MHz ELTs was sparked by the end of satellite monitoring of 121.5 MHz on Feb. 1. The 406-MHz ELTs are monitored by satellites and also transmit on 121.5 MHz. AOPA maintains that the decision to continue flying with 121.5-MHz ELTs or to upgrade to the 406-MHz ELT should be based upon a number of factors, including the type of flying they do, the equipment they carry, and the type of terrain they overfly. The FAA has made no indication that it will require aircraft flying in the United States to be equipped with 406-MHz ELTs.

For more information about the differences between the two ELTs, read the AOPA Pilot article, “Blind to satellites.”