Mexico grants another extension to 406-MHz ELT requirement

March 24, 2010

Mexico’s Dirección General De Aeronáutica Civil (DGAC), has granted another extension to the April 2, 2010, deadline that would have required all aircraft flying in Mexico to be equipped with 406-MHz ELTs.

With the new extension, the DGAC is differentiating between commercial and private aircraft operations. Pilots with aircraft used exclusively for private flights now have until Dec. 31, 2011, to replace their 121.5-MHz ELT with a 406-MHz model or until their existing 121.5-MHz ELT needs to be replaced, whichever comes first. Commercial aircraft have until Dec. 31, 2010, to equip their aircraft with the device or until their ELT battery or existing 121.5-MHz ELT have to be replaced, whichever comes first.

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

AOPA’s Authorized Representative for the Caribbean, Mexico, and Central America, Rick Gardner of Caribbean Sky Tours has been involved in negotiations with the DGAC for the past two years to obtain extensions to the new rule. AOPA worked closely with the DGAC and other Mexican aviation associations to present technical and economic data related to these devices along with other alternatives that can be used by private pilots to improve search-and-rescue capabilities.

“AOPA has been working with Mexican Civil Authorities for two years in an effort to extend the compliance deadline for the ELT requirement for private aircraft. We are very pleased to see that the DGAC has taken the information presented into consideration and delivered their decision to extend the deadline,” said Woody Cahall, AOPA vice president of the Pilot Information Center.

“Pilots now have more time to consider options and alternatives better suited to their individual flying needs, and the extension removes the immediate possibility of a negative impact on aviation tourism to Mexico that the earlier deadline may have caused,” he added. “AOPA appreciates the interest, support, and efforts of the DGAC in working with us through our authorized representative to address this issue.”

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, 2009. The 406-MHz ELTs are monitored by satellites and also transmit on 121.5 MHz.

Currently, 406-MHz ELTs are not mandated by the FAA for flights in the United States. 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 done, the equipment needed, and the type of terrain overflown.