121.5 ELT proposal would not affect availability of units

January 12, 2012

An FAA proposal published Jan. 11 would stop approvals of new 121.5 MHz emergency locator transmitter (ELT) models, but would not affect availability of units already on the market.

By cancelling the technical standard order (TSO) for 121.5 MHz units, the proposal would establish the TSO for more accurate and reliable 406 MHz ELTs as the standard for bringing new models to market. All existing units that were approved under the 121.5 MHz TSO could continue to be manufactured, sold, installed, and used—an assurance AOPA maintains is critical for pilots who cannot afford or choose not to invest in the newer, more expensive ELTs.

“Advanced ELTs offer many advantages, but individual aircraft owners must be allowed to weigh the costs and benefits and decide on their own whether it makes sense to equip for the way they fly,” said AOPA Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Rob Hackman. “121.5 MHz ELTs still meet the regulatory requirement for ELT equipage.”

The association went to bat for this freedom in 2010 when the Federal Communications Commission released notice of a rule that would have prohibited the “certification, manufacture, importation, sale, or continued use of 121.5 MHz ELTs.” After an outcry from the aviation community, FAA, and Congress, the FCC agreed to stay the proposal, but a similar proposal could resurface.