121.5 MHz ELTs still legal for aviation use

August 4, 2010

You’re still perfectly legal to fly with that 121.5 MHz ELT in your aircraft. Rumors that the Federal Communications Commission was going to ban the use of 121.5 MHz ELTs by Aug. 1 have sparked concern in the general aviation community.

While the FCC has proposed to ban the “certification, manufacture, importation, sale, or continued use of 121.5 MHz ELTs,” the FAA and general aviation groups have taken steps to prevent such a ban from happening. So far, the FCC has not published its proposal in the Federal Register and has not given any indication that it intends to do so, which means there can be no effective date on the prohibition.

If the FAA and AOPA get their way, the FCC’s proposal will not ban 121.5 MHz ELTs. In July, the FAA started the formal process to ask that the FCC withdraws its proposal.

“The ability of the aviation industry to continue the manufacture, importation, sale, and use of 121.5 MHz emergency locator transmitters is of utmost importance to the aviation community,” the FAA wrote in its letter requesting that the FCC’s proposal be rescinded.

AOPA has been working with the FAA and FCC, clearly stating the concerns associated with any ban on 121.5 MHz ELTs. The association also has provided briefing to congressional staffers who have inquired about the issue.

“The bottom line is that pilots can continue using the 121.5 MHz ELT installed on their aircraft,” said Rob Hackman, AOPA vice president of regulatory affairs. “AOPA believes that the move to equip with a 121.5 MHz or 406 MHz ELT should be left to the aircraft owner to decide based upon the type of operations and over what terrain the aircraft performs, and we are working to ensure it stays that way.”