Pilots to pilots



For me even today after 54 years, the NORDO is déjà vu all over again. During the winter of 1955/56 I was in the second squadron of the basic training flying school under command of Flt. Lt. Milan Krga, flying an Aero 2, a basic trainer with open cockpit.

In addition to being NORDO the Aero 2 didn’t have front wheel brakes and was a real tail dragger; instead of a tail wheel it had a steel plate. The military base was located near the capital of Montenegro and close to the Albanian border; to get there we travelled on a narrow gauge railway train pulled by a steam locomotive. With that state of affairs the NORDO plane made a perfect match.

Today, 10 years into the 21st century a RAC chapter in the Transport Canada’s Aeronautical Information Manual still includes detailed explanations for NORDO and RONLY Aircraft Arrival and Departure Procedures.

The existence of instructions for RONLY Aircrafts make me think that we VFR flyers don’t get any respect!When was the last time that Transport Canada experts in charge of keeping AIM up-to-date reviewed the RONLY Aircraft Procedures?

In the beginning of radio communication age each radio station included a transmitter and a receiver.Following that came the transceiver which shared transmitter and receivers common circuitry contained in one housing. The transceiver tuning was simpler, it was done just by one dial; it eliminated tricky tuning and retuning (Called frequency beating) of receiver and transmitter to the common frequency. Initially, the trans ceiver was based on vacuum tubes and required high voltage power supply that made the whole thing bulky and heavy.

Today’s transceivers are low weight, compact, transistorised, reliable, running on DC voltage from the aircraft battery and installed into the cockpit panel. So why would anybody want to fly around just with a receiver? Chances are that the RONLY aircrafts were either recycled, refitted with transceivers, or put into museums long time ago.

Most of the VFR flying today is done in uncontrolled air space where aircrafts can be at different altitudes and flying in different directions.There is not a formal ATC, the pilots are their own AT Controllers looking/watching for others and communicating using transceivers.

Considering the above, flying NORDO Aircrafts is just plain silly.The pilots flying NORDO Aircrafts can’t hear others and they can’t inform others about their location, altitude and heading they are flying.They present increased danger of mid-air collision to themselves and others. How many NORDO Aircrafts there are in Canada? Five percent of all VFR aircrafts? Whatever the number, we should get rid of the NORDO anachronism and have all VFR aircrafts equipped with transceivers. After all, we are now in the twenty first century.

MARIO GASPAROVIC, Scarborough, Ontario



It’s always nice to read the various articles in COPA Flight. However, while long ago I stopped believing what I read in the mainstream media, I do get concerned with inaccuracies in the professional magazines or aviation media.

There are two major inaccuracies regarding ELTs in Barry Meek’s August article, “Some aviation (and other) observations.”

1. “…406 ELT is now the law...” as of my email date, it is not! At least not yet! When it will or how it will look is still guesswork; I’m sure something will come out sooner or later, but nobody really knows when. While there have been leaks on the possible contents, the “contents” keeps changing and we really won’t know until it comes out or if “exemptions” will be possible or what AMOC will acceptable.

2. “… the FCC … 121.5 ELTs are being pulled from service....” No, this is beyond the authority of the FCC, ELT use is the perview of the FAA. (I would have liked to have been a “fly on the wall “in Randy Babbit’s office, the FAA administrator when this hit. I understand there was quite a communication between the FAA & FCC).

Having followed the link on this story, including the FCC Report(121. 5 and ELT were only a small part of one section of that report), it was obvious to me that the authors knew very little what constitutes the complete SAR system and even less about ELTs. It was an uncoordinated (with the FAA) proposal from the FCC, not a law. From what I’ve heard from the FAA and from the blogs (not totally reliable!), I doubt that it will even reach the NPRM stage.

Notwithstanding these two inaccuracies, I always enjoy Barry’s articles.




Jim, your eagle eyes and optimistic attitude picked up on my “assumptions” about the law changing on the 406 ELT’s. You’re correct of course... the new law has not been passed on the ELT’s, just ‘announced’.While changes are possible and discussions are on-going, my feeling is we’re not getting out of this with what we would like! And it will cost everyone more money!

I went back to an article written by Kevin Psutka in May 2010 to confirm the ‘announcement’ as opposed to what I stated (that the 406 is now law), and that is correct (see COPA Flight, May 2010). Kevin’s opening line on that article struck me as a big disappointment having followed COPA’s fight against the way TC had been pushing for the change. When I read ... “after 12 years of common sense arguments, consultation and negotiation, Transport Canada has decided to mandate ELT’s that broadcast on 406 mhz ....” my first thoughts were pretty pessimistic. Kevin went on to state: “However, note that at the time of writing this article, the regulation has not yet been released”.

Several news reports and articles elsewhere also discuss the issue, for example this one on a POLAR PILOTS website: www.polarpilots.ca which states in part: The Canadian rules on ELTs are likely to change soon. While use of a 121.5 ELT is still allowed under the law, when the rules change, your plane will likely have to have a 406 ELT.

So the bottom line is this: Jim, you are correct. My thinking is that although technically, we’re not there yet, it’s already been made known that the law is changing.

Regarding the situation in theU. S. between the FCC and the FAA: My article stated that which was “fact” at the time it was written. For deadline purposes, most of what’s in COPA Flight is done up about 6 to 8 weeks (or more) ahead of publication.It was around mid-June when the news hit that the FCC was going to outlaw the use of121. 5 ELT’s.

After searching around the ‘net for confirmation, I actually was able to dig up several sources reporting the same thing. Doubtful as I am, I figured there was a lot of room for second-guessing this item. Rather than waiting for more details (which did eventually surface) I simply stated what the FCC had said, then my pessimistic view of governments and bureaucrats. I think everyone knew there would be changes and clarification, if not a whole lot of back pedaling by the bureaucrats on this one. As you point out, that’s exactly what’s happened.It turns out that once again, one hand of government doesn’t keep track of the other.

We sometimes wonder if anyone reads this stuff that I write.Good to know there are those who do, and who actually read it carefully enough to pull out what’s fact and what’s not. Thanks for your email, Jim.