The National Transportation Safety Board issued two safety recommendations Jan. 5 to the FAA requiring a detailed inspection of all emergency locator transmitters (ELT) installed on general aviation aircraft to ensure that their mountings maintain their retention capabilities during an accident. The recommendations stem from the investigation into an Alaska accident that killed five people, including Sen. Ted Stevens.
“In this case, the airplane was equipped with a functioning 406 megahertz ELT, which can be a tremendous aid to search and rescue operations,” said NTSB Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman. “But this vital life-saving technology won’t do anyone any good if it doesn’t stay connected to the antenna.”
On Aug. 9, 2010, a de Havilland turbine Otter airplane crashed in mountainous tree-covered terrain approximately 10 miles from Aleknagik, Alaska. Nearly five hours after the crash, volunteer airborne search personnel located the aircraft approximately 19 miles from where the flight originated. The pilot and four passengers, including former U.S. Senator Ted Stevens, sustained fatal injuries. The other four passengers were seriously injured.
Aircraft involved in the search and rescue efforts and satellites did not detect any ELT signals. Following the discovery of the airplane, a pararescuer found the ELT loose on the floor of the airplane. The ELT had activated but had separated from its mounting bracket and antenna.
The NTSB recommendations:
- Require a detailed inspection, during annual inspections, of all emergency locator transmitters installed in general aviation aircraft to ensure that the emergency locator transmitters are mounted and retained in accordance with the manufacturer’s specifications.
- Determine if the emergency locator transmitter (ELT) mounting requirements and retention tests specified by Technical Standard Order (TSO) C91a and TSO C126 are adequate to assess retention capabilities in ELT designs. Based on the results of this determination, revise, as necessary, TSO requirements to ensure proper retention of ELTs during airplane accidents.
To view the recommendation letters, click here