Update on 406 ELTs

By Kevin Psutka


The planned release of the Gazette version of the regulation for public comment has been delayed until sometime this summer. Please check our website often for notice of release of this document and instructions on how you can help stop this costly requirement to equip with a 406 ELT.

Transport Canada has listened to COPA’s strong warning that there must be a transition period to ensure that there is an adequate supply of ELTs and personnel to install them. COPA’s research indicates that at least three years must be provided. However, Transport Canada believes this can be accomplished much sooner and also feels that there must be some incentive to convert earlier rather than have everyone wait until the end of the period and create a bottleneck.

So, they have chosen, against our advice, a two-year transition period and conditions that will require some, if not most owners, to equip much sooner.

The transition period will be released as an exemption to the regulation. Transport Canada has agreed to release the conditions now in order to give owners a heads-up on what to expect but since an exemption is not possible until the regulation is finalized (and this will not occur until the regulation completes the Gazette process sometime this Fall), the conditions are subject to change.

The regulation that effectively mandates 406 ELTs for our sector of aviation (gliders, balloons, ultralights - BULA and AULA - and parachute aircraft operating within 25nm are exempt in the draft regulation) will become effective on Feb. 1, 2009.

The following conditions determine when a particular aircraft is required to be equipped. Any aircraft not equipped as of Feb. 1, 2009 must continue to carry a serviceable 121.5 ELT (C91 or C91a) until a 406 ELT (C126) is installed.

I would like to emphasize that although Transport Canada says that alternatives to 406 ELTs are permitted, the words that Transport Canada has chosen for the regulation effectively makes no alternatives available or affordable for our sector at this time or for the foreseeable future. So, unless something changes as the regulation works its way into law, Canadian and foreign aircraft will be required to equip with 406.

The draft regulation and planned exemption refer to "alternate means," which must meet the following criteria:

An alternate means of notification and location shall be a system:

(a) capable of providing immediate notification of an aircraft occurrence (without activation from the aircraft crew) to:

(i) a rescue coordination centre (RCC); or

(ii) a third party capable of immediately receiving and forwarding such information to a rescue coordination centre (RCC); and

(b) that allows for the location of the involved aircraft within an accuracy of 2.7 nautical miles (5 kilometres).

Note that tracking devices, such as SPOT (www.findmespot.com) that periodically provide accurate reports unfortunately do not meet the requirement. In order to meet the requirement, they would have to report frequently enough so that the distance between reports is less than 2.7 nm. They also must be continuously monitored by a third party in order to qualify.

Although SPOT is continuously monitored for 911 alerts, the crew must activate 911 and this action is not permitted by Transport Canada. SPOT tracking reports can only be continuously monitored if someone is online and watching the flight at all times.

Here are the conditions that determine when an aircraft must be equipped with a 406 ELT:

-New manufactured aircraft will be required to have a 406 ELT or alternate means on Feb. 1, 2009;

-Any aircraft registered (new or used) following a change of ownership after Feb. 1, 2009 will be required to have a 406 ELT or alternate means;

-Aircraft operated in western Canadian airspace bounded on its east side by longitude W 80° (approximately the Quebec/Ontario border) and on its south side by Latitude N 55°, and aircraft operated in eastern Canadian airspace bounded on its west side by longitude W 80° and on its south side by Latitude N 50°, will be required to have a 406 ELT or alternate means on Feb. 1, 2009.

This means that any aircraft operating north of these latitudes, including aircraft transiting to and from Alaska, will be required to be equipped with 406 ELTs as of Feb. 1, 2009, with no transition permitted.

-For remaining aircraft, Transport Canada will permit the installation of the ELT to be done during the first annual inspection or other inspection (for those aircraft subject to an approved maintenance schedule) that occurs after Feb. 1, 2010.

The specific wording is as follows. The exemption would cease to apply in respect of an aircraft, upon completion of the first annual inspection of that aircraft in accordance with CAR 625 Appendix B that occurs after Feb. 1, 2010. In the case of an aircraft that is subject to a maintenance schedule approved in accordance with CAR 625 Appendix D, the exemption would cease to apply upon completion of the first inspection that is required to be performed at an interval of 100 hours or greater, that occurs after Feb.1, 2010. In any case the exemption would expire on Feb. 1, 2011.

An exemption is already in place to permit the basic installation of an ELT (not interfaced to any installed navigation or communication system) by an AME instead of an avionics shop.

COPA continues to work this issue from the political perspective and your help is needed to educate your Members of Parliament. Our website (www.copanational.org) explains how to get involved.