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Hook-and-Loop Fasteners for ELTs

By Ian Brown, EAA 657159, Editor and Canadian Council Board Member

February 2017 - The aviation safety letters from Transport Canada (TC) always make interesting reading. There was a mention of guidance about the ill-advised use of hook-and-loop (Velcro) fasteners for emergency locator transmitters (ELTs) in the most recent ASL) January 2017. Maybe it would be a good idea to verify how your ELT is attached on or before your next annual.

Here is part of the article sent out recently:

As a result, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada, echoing their American counterparts, determined that hook-and-loop fasteners were insufficient to withstand real-world crash scenarios. The TSB recommended that TC prohibit the use of hook-and-loop fasteners as a means of securing an ELT to an airframe.

What does this mean for the future of hook-and-loop installations on aircraft?

First and foremost, TC recommends that hook-and-loop fasteners not be used to secure ELTs to airframes.

While they can be shown to meet the initial certification requirements for ELT installation, degradation of the strap over time does not ensure the ELT will remain secure during and after a crash. In addition, maintenance activities need to be current and performed correctly, as they will help ensure that the ELT remains secure after an impact (as discussed in issue February 2013 of the ASL).

Finally, TC is revisiting the installation requirements included in Airworthiness Manual (AWM) 551.104. The history of hook-and-loop fasteners is being kept very much in mind as the new requirements are being developed. These requirements will be available, and the updated regulations will be published in the Canada Gazette, Part I in the very near future. For more information about the upcoming changes, readers may consult the following notices of proposed amendment: 2015-013 and 2015-014. 

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