Effective on the first of the year, business jet owners will have to carry an emergency locator transmitter (ELT), just like almost every other general aviation pilot. Bizjets had been exempt from the ELT requirement, but Congress ordered the FAA to remove the exemption in the wake of a turbojet that crashed in New Hampshire on Christmas Eve 1996 and was not found for nearly three years.
Some AOPA members who operate turbojets have contacted the association, asking for help because, as the deadline nears, ELTs are in short supply, and avionics installation shops are booked solid.
AOPA estimates that the backlog could result in hundreds of U.S. business jets being in violation of federal aviation regulations if they fly after January 1, 2004.
While turbojet operators make up only a small fraction of AOPA's membership, the association is working with the FAA to find a solution for those operators who have made a good-faith effort to comply with the regulation but either cannot buy the equipment or cannot get into a shop to have it installed.
AOPA and other aviation organizations will meet with the head of the FAA's Flight Standards Office next week to propose a provisional six-month extension.
"We're proposing that the FAA allow bizjet operators to carry an ELT bill of sale or other purchase agreement as evidence of a good-faith effort to comply with the new regulation," said AOPA Vice President of Regulatory Policy Melissa Bailey. "The prospect of grounding such a large percentage of the U.S. business aviation fleet is not good for anyone—the industry, the FAA, or Congress."