U.S. Pilots Will Avoid Canada Under New ELT Rules: AOPA

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AOPA has told the Canadian government that American pilots will stop crossing the border in droves if it means spending thousands of dollars on a new 406-megaHertz ELT. Transport Canada is considering making the installation of the devices mandatory in all aircraft flying in Canadian airspace as of Feb. 1, 2009. AOPA says a survey of members who routinely fly north indicates 51 percent will find somewhere else to go rather than spend the money on equipment that's not required in the U.S. On Feb. 1, the search-and-rescue satellites will stop monitoring the 121.5 MHz frequency emitted by the majority of small aircraft ELTs and will only look for 406 signals. American authorities have essentially left it up to aircraft owners to decide whether to equip with the satellite-friendly ELTs. AOPA has suggested Transport Canada allow American aircraft to carry handheld 406 beacons as a compromise to the new regulation, but AOPA's Canadian counterpart, the Canadian Owners and Pilots Association, wants the whole notion of mandatory 406 equipage scrapped because there are better technologies available.

COPA President Kevin Psutka has been fighting the proposal vigorously and says ELTs, no matter the frequency, fail to activate in many crashes because of damage to antennas, damage to the transmitters or masking of the signal by wreckage or terrain. He said the rule will cost the Canadian industry up to $120 million for no tangible benefit. AOPA agrees with COPA on the technology involved, noting that the forthcoming adoption of ADS-B will make ELTs redundant, since all aircraft will be constantly monitored.

The comment period for the proposed regulation ended Thursday.