AEA Says 121.5 ELT Manufacturing Should Stop

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The FAA has asked the FCC to cancel proposed rules that would ban the use and manufacture of 121.5 MHz emergency locator transmitters. As we reported in June, the FCC has said it plans to ban 121.5 ELTs because search and rescue satellites don't monitor that signal anymore. However, the FAA points out that the Coast Guard and Civil Air Patrol do monitor the frequency and that more than 38,000 (of 200,000) aircraft owners have voluntarily equipped with the replacement 406 MHz units. It also noted that manufacturers wouldn't be able to suddenly equip more than 160,000 aircraft. "The ability of the aviation industry to continue the manufacture, importation, sale and use of 121.5 MHz emergency locator transmitters is of utmost importance to the aviation community," the FAA wrote to the FCC. However, the Aircraft Electronics Association disagrees with a key point of the FAA's argument, saying manufacture of the old-style ELTs should be stopped.

"The AEA supports the FAA's proposal for operators to continue the 'use of existing' 121.5 MHz ELTs," the AEA said in a news release. "However, because satellite monitoring has ceased for 121.5 MHz, the AEA does not support the FAA's position of allowing the continued manufacture, importation or sale of new 121.5 MHz ELTs." The AEA calls the FAA argument "illogical" and says the discontinuation of satellite monitoring means the old ELTs no longer work the way they were intended. It says it doesn't understand how the agency could argue that stopping the manufacture of outdated equipment would be detrimental to aviation safety.