New Canadian ELT rule to be mandatory for all

Transport Canada has confirmed that Canadian airspace will be closed to all aircraft not equipped with 406-mHz emergency locator transmitters within the next two years.

Transport Canada has affirmed its decision to make 406-MHz emergency locator transmitters mandatory on everything but gliders, balloons, ultralights and a few special-use aircraft. The requirement extends to foreign-registered aircraft and includes those on flights that begin and end in the U.S. but fly over Canadian territory.

Transport Canada and the Canadian military, which handles most search and rescue operations in Canada, say the switch is necessary because search and rescue satellites will stop monitoring the 121.5 MHz frequency used most by existing ELTs on Feb. 1. They point out the reliability and precision of the 406-mHz system, which is proven to make rescues faster and less complicated.

Canadian Owners and Pilots Association President Kevin Psutka has sent a letter to his organization’s members focusing on the expense and inconvenience of equipping thousands of Canadian GA aircraft with the $1,000-plus devices, and on the effect it will have on the thousands of U.S. aircraft owners who visit Canada each year. Psutka wrote that some 63,000 foreign-registered light aircraft, 90% of them U.S.-registered, flew into Canada between May of 2007 and May of 2008.

The FAA has no plans to mandate 406-mHz ELTs and few U.S. owners seem likely to spend the money voluntarily, Psutka stated. Transport Canada plans to phase in the requirement, to allow manufacturers and maintenance facilities time to handle the large number of installations. As the phase-in is proposed, any affected aircraft must be equipped with an approved 406-mHz ELT by Feb. 1, 2011, or it will be illegal to fly in Canadian airspace.

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