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Sunday, June 1, 2008

Rotorcraft Report: Canada Proposes Making 406 MHz ELTs Mandatory

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UHF emergency locator transmitters (ELTs) transmitting at 406 MHz have been in use for years.

In 2003, Transport Canada proposed amending its rules to bring operators in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) operating rules on ELTs.

The ICAO policy was that as of January 2005, all ELTs should have the capability to operate at 406 MHz and 121.5 MHz simultaneously.

At the same time, Transport Canada proposed the introduction of a requirement that Canadian aircraft used in international air transport services should be equipped with 406 MHz ELTs.

Transport Canada did not mandate the use of 406 MHz ELTs for domestic operations. But, on Feb. 1, 2009, the Cospas-Sarsat satellite monitoring of the frequency 121.5 MHz is going to be discontinued.

According to the Web site of Cospas-Sarsat, the international satellite system for search and rescue, "With a 121.5/243 MHz beacon, only one alert out of every 50 alerts is a genuine distress situation. This has a significant effect on the resources of search and rescue (SAR) services.

"With 406 MHz beacons," the organization said, "false alerts have been considerably reduced (about one alert in 17 is genuine)."

When these ELTs are properly registered, alerts from them "can normally be resolved with a telephone call to the beacon owner using the encoded beacon identification. Consequently, real alerts can receive the attention they deserve."

Older VHF ELTs will not be acceptable under the new requirements. Transport Canada anticipates the compliance window for changing equipment to be two years from the date of the final rule, but is subject to certain caveats.

Coincidently, Kitchener Aero said it had been appointed as the Eastern Canada service center and distributor for the Artex line of ELTs. Artex is a leader in the manufacture of UHF ELT systems, and its products are in use in all segments of aviation, from light general aviation to heavy air transport.

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