Transport Canada is proposing an amendment to the Canadian Aviation Regulations (CARs) that will make 406 MHz ELTs mandatory in all aircraft that are currently required to be equipped with ELTs.

Notice of the change was published in the June 1 edition of Canada Gazette, the publication where the federal government gives notice of changes in laws.

The notice cites a statistic indicating that in 2017, around 55.4 percent of aircraft currently required to be equipped with an ELT continue to operate with a 121.5 MHz model. Aircraft exempt from the requirement include balloons, airships, gliders, ultra-light airplanes and gyroplanes. Foreign aircraft would not be exempt.

Since 2009, the COSPAS-SARSAT satellite-based tracking system is only capable of picking up 406 MHz signals.

Implementation dates for the new rule are as follows:

  • For air operators, including private operators subject to Part 604, one year from the date of publication of the proposed rule;
  • For recreational operators, five years from the date of publication of the proposed rule;
  • For foreign aircraft operating in Canada, one year from the date of publication of the proposed rule.

“We know [406 MHz ELTs] are not the best,” commented Bernard Gervais, COPA’s president and CEO.

“Numbers have shown they do what they should be doing only 62 percent  of the time. But still, that’s better than the older 121.5 MHz [ELTs] which only work when someone reports you missing and Search and Rescue are in the air looking for you, or someone flew overhead your downed aircraft,” Gervais added.

When asked about the five-year implementation period for recreational aircraft, Gervais responded, “[Five years] will allow for better technology to come forward for SAR capabilities, such as space-based ADS-B that could possibly bring the reliability close to 100 percent. That is why we have supported a Private Member’s Bill in Parliament pushing for this.”

The system allows for a 30-day comment period from the date of publication in the Gazette, meaning the deadline is July 1. Click here for contact details.