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Emergency Locator Transmitters (ELTs)
Satellite based ELT monitoring was discontinued February 1, 2009. As of that date, the lower frequency of the old 121.5/243-MHz system will only be detected by ground-based receivers such as local airport facilities and air traffic control facilities or by overflying aircraft. Although these ELTs are still legal from the FAA's perspective, they will provide extremely limited assistance if an aircraft crashes, especially in a remote location.

The new digital 406-MHz ELTs allow search and rescue personnel to have vital information specific to you and your aircraft. This newest model activates 81-83% of the time and transmits a more accurate and near-instantaneous emergency signal by utilizing digital technology. The 5-watt digital signal transmitted by 406 MHz equipment is stronger and more accurate than 121.5 and must be registered to a specific owner. Registration means that, once alerted by a 406 MHz signal, rescuers can call the owner first, before launching a search to find an ELT that was accidently activated.

A note to those flying outside the U.S.: Canada or Mexico have not yet required that aircraft flying in its airspace be equipped with 406 MHz ELTs. These countries are planning a two-year conversion period and have yet to set rules for the transition, according to AOPA. Flying to the Bahamas will not require 406 MHz equipment. The Cospas-Sarsat System has been and will continue monitoring signals transmitted on 406 MHz.

Please contact Direct Avionics to discuss the options available for upgrading your ELT system. There are basic systems available and the more complex systems transmit GPS derived positional information and this increases the location accuracy to 100 yards! The good news is that the prices on the new ELT systems have come down since their release.

Although the new ELT is not mandated by the FAA, is it a piece of safety equipment you want to be without?