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A Question About Upcoming Changes in ELT Services

September 4, 2008 — This Q&A, which appeared in the February 28, 2008 edition of e-Hotline, provides further information regarding upcoming changes in emergency locator transmitter (ELT) services.

Question: I'm really unclear about which emergency locator transmitter (ELT) I need or should have in the future. It sounds like all ELTs will need to be of the 406 MHz type as of January 31, 2009, making all current non-406 models illegal and obsolete after that date. Do I understand this properly? It's a matter of about $1000.

Answer: Here's the situation: On February 1, 2009, the Search and Rescue (SAR) satellite system will discontinue monitoring the frequencies broadcast by current TSO C91 and C91A ELTs (121.5 MHz and 243 MHz). The satellites will only receive the new 406 MHz signal after that date. However, the FAA is NOT planning at the present time to make any changes to FAR 91.207 (the regulation requiring ELTs in most airplanes).

This means that your TSO C91 or C91A ELT will continue to meet the requirements of the FARs, even after February 1, 2009. However, these ELTs will not be monitored by the SAR satellite system, so they will be much less effective in alerting anyone should you have an accident.

Read the story from AirVenture Today featuring Lieut. Jeff Shoup, NOAA SARSAT Operations Support Officer, who gives an in-depth review of the 121.5 to 406 MHz ELT conversion.

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