September 27, 2018

Ineffective ELTs Draw Parliament’s Attention


Update – 2018/09/28 – the article previously misidentified the aircraft accident that brought MP Harder’s attention to this issue. The article has been amended below. Furthermore, the information supplied by the TSB contained an error and the article has been updated accordingly.

The debate around the effectiveness of currently-required ELT technology in our GA aircraft took a new form this week as a motion was introduced in the House of Commons. M-200, titled “An Instruction to the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities (Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast) was brought forward by MP Rachael Harder (Lethbridge, Alta.). If adopted, M-200 would direct the Standing Committee to conduct a study on the benefits and capabilities of new technologies, such as ADS-B, to meet the performance requirements for aircraft locating and Search and Rescue (SAR) alerting equipment and the resulting benefits to both pilot and passenger safety.

“COPA worked closely with MP Harder in the development of this motion, which is why we are pleased to lend our support and we call on the members of the House of Commons to adopt this motion, so the Standing Committee can begin examining this important issue,” said President and CEO Bernard Gervais. “At a time when the world is looking to new technology to help solve major issues in aviation, Canada cannot afford to be the outlier by continuing to rely on ineffective and antiquated ELT technology to locate missing aircraft. This motion follows similar requests our organization has made both to the regulator and to Nav Canada to find new, cost-effective ways of locating downed aircraft.”

COPA has long maintained that ELTs do not provide acceptable reliability in GA aircraft accidents. Data taken from a Department of National Defense study indicates that in almost 40 percent of crashes where the aircraft was equipped with an ELT, it did not activate, often requiring time-consuming and resource-intensive physical searches by SAR personnel, delaying closure for friends and family, and potentially reducing chances of post-crash survival.

MP Harder’s interest in the file was brought about at the urging of several constituents – parents of the pilot of a Piper PA-28 that departed Cranbrook, B.C. for Kamloops, B.C. in 2017. In addition to the PA-28, two GA aircraft remain missing in Canada: a Cessna 172 that departed Revelstoke, B.C. for Qualicum, B.C. in 2007 and a Vans RV-6 that departed Edmonton, Alta. for Chilliwack, B.C. earlier this month. A Mooney that went missing between Penticton, B.C. and Edmonton, Alta. in November 2017 was located earlier this month, coincidentally, within metres of the Trans-Canada Highway in Glacier National Park.

See the actual text of Notice of Motion (M-200) on the House of Common’s website.