Top Letters And Comments, August 28, 2020


AI Beats Human In Mock Dogfights

Some interesting things about this one. 1. the pilot didn’t have much time in a simulator of this type, 2. the simulation didn’t have to simulate the full physics of a gunshot, it just had to get the opposing aircraft in a cone in front of its aircraft and 3. since the simulator didn’t have the ability to simulate sensors radar, cameras etc. the AI was provided with the exact xyz position and velocity information of the opposing aircraft at all times, allowing it to calculate exact positions for a gunshot. This is why it always tended to go for head-on shots. The AI is getting better but it is still not there yet. If I was that pilot, I wouldn’t worry about my job yet.

Brian W.

FAA Looks At Anti-Drone Systems

This problem will be a case of settling for achieving sufficient mitigation rather than finding a “solution”. Mandated geo-fencing will help with the random consumer yahoos who fly an out of the box drone. Likewise, if a control link is being used, jamming & spoofing – plus DF-ing the controlling transmitter – are useful lines of attack. Ditto detecting the presence of the drone itself via its RF emissions, if any.

Various forms of physical attack can certainly work but as a practical matter are limited in scope for the civilian airport environment. If a technically savvy bad actor is intent on doing something with a drone, it would seem there’s no practical solution that offers a truly high level of protection.

John W.

Poll: Would You Have an ELT if it Wasn’t Required?

As Paul Bertorelli found in his research, the ability of an ELT to survive a crash and successfully transmit a signal is less than 50%, regardless of whether you mean 121.5 units or the “new and improved” 406 devices. Both still rely on the same G-meter and antenna system. Ironically, developments in crash survivability such as air bag seat belts and progressive collapsing seats mean that the occupants may actually survive better than an ELT. Unfortunatly Super Cubs and most legacy aircraft do not lend themselves well to the modern safety devices.

There are a number of technologies that would do better in sensing an accident based on changing position or velocity. ADS-B may be a good start, but the FAA’s ground based system has many holes in remote areas where no towers are within range – usually the areas where reliable locators are needed the most. Just wait until the FAA decides we all need “diversity” instead of the ground system. At least it might provide for a better ELT.

John M.

I had a 406 MHz beacon installed when my old 121.5MHz beacon failed inspection and was replaced. While some say it is ineffective, I fly over remote terrain and it could be useful. As evidence I offer this. Shortly after the system was installed, I received a call after a RON in western PA from SAR. It seems that the new ELT had a bad connection which triggered (yes, it was a false alarm). Within 8 minutes of the time it triggered, the precise location to within a meter on the field where the aircraft was parked.

The defective component was replaced, the unit has worked and passed each annual inspection since then. Although I do not plan to crash in the remote mountains, it could happen, and if SAR knows where I am to within a meter, the device is worth it. It is an insurance policy that is cheap.

Art. W.

One of my friends has been missing for 20 years in the Portland area. His Super Cub had an ELT and he was never found… it doesn’t seem like they work as well when there is actually an accident compared to when some trainer is doing pattern work. ADS-B seems to have made an old tech unit redundant. I remember my parents installing our first one in our family Staggerwing Beech 50 years ago… 1970 is a long time ago.

Chris M.

  • There are more effective technologies available, EPRB, PLBs…, that have better accuracy and are portable. I want them to find me, not the plane.
  • 406MHz, yes. 121.5/243 MHz, no.
  • Yep, why not take advantage of every opportunity to get rescued?
  • No. I wouldn’t have one. In fact, I think they are actually preventing better technology from being developed. As long as ELTs are required, there is not much incentive for someone to develop a better system to replace them. Getting the FAA to do away with old systems is nearly impossible.
  • Probably not. If I’m honest, I feel like it gives me a false sense of security. If I didn’t have one, I would likely invest in a PLB.
  • No, but I would use something along the lines of a personal EPIRP.
  • Definitely yes … at very least it may save my family much grief.
  • With ADS-B, it’s an unnecessary, redundant, technology.
  • Mode S with top antenna and Aeron coverage is more effective.
  • Plane’s trackable, phone’s findable, plane has 12″ letters. A hard landing will make ELTs go off. I’d rather remove it in favor of more accurate mechanisms.
  • ADS-B Out, PLB, APRS. No need for ELT.
  • Probably not. They only work less than 50% of the time.
  • I might hang on to my 121.5 just for luck until it stops working but I have a lot more confidence in ADS-B.
  • Only until my current one dies.
  • I need to learn what is on the market to determine all of my options about being able to locate me when forced to park the airplane other than an airport. While educating myself, I will keep my 121.5 ELT. Most likely, I will keep my 121.5 ELT in addition to whatever I purchase.
  • Not a 121.5 but 406, yes. ADS-B position technology is now the safety feature, albeit a breadcrumb trail after the fact.
  • I’d have a GPS-equipped 406. Can’t hurt (though I trust my 406 PLB more). But an old 121.5 only ELT is basically only good as a noisemaker for hangar parties
  • If I didn’t already have one, no I would not!
  • Yes, because as a flying club we have to assume that not all members will carry a PLB.
  • A PLB that’s with you in a life raft is likely to be more useful than an ELT that’s at the bottom of the ocean.
  • I wouldn’t remove an existing installation but I certainly wouldn’t step up for one either.
  • Not in my LSA, used locally only; but, yes, in my cross-country aircraft.
  • With ADS-B required, why do we need it? We are tracked with ADS-B.
  • I have three sport airplanes and one PLB that works quite well on all three.
  • Keep it until it dies, and carry an EPB.
  • I prefer a PLB. I want them to find me, not the airplane. So NO.
  • Yes, but only if there was a reason I could not use ADS-B and PLB.
  • I would remove the ELT and finally hang a PLB on the panel. And show my pax how to activate as part of preflight briefing.
  • Definitely. Don’t care that it’s required.
  • Probably, but I wish the activation technology worked better.
  • Yes, with a longer battery life or rechargeable battery.
  • It depends on where I am flying.
  • ResQLink PLB and call it good
  • Not necessary as I’m a “local only” flyer.
  • Wouldn’t install new, would maintain existing.
  • I’d bet you could make non-TSO versions with a fraction of the false-alarm rate and much more affordable to boot.
  • PLB instead.
  • Not likely. I use Spot 3 plus flight plans with Find Me Spot link highlighted on the flight plan. Believe these are all more reliable than ELTs.
  • Probably not. Not worth the effort and cost.
  • I’d replace it with an EPIRB. I have no idea if mine really works, although I assume it must get checked at annual.
  • No. Expensive and redundant in my airplane.
  • Yep, I would rather the rescue team have all the tools they need to find me.
  • GA, no. ADS-B and cellphones can provide location.
  • Only if flying in very remote areas with no ADS-B.
  • Probably, if cost effective. Like most things in aviation the price is 10x what it should be.
  • Yes, if the technology could be improved.
  • I fly Part 91 in a helicopter, so no ELT required or installed, and no plans to install 406 MHz.
  • Would replace with a PLB.
  • No, I would opt for a PLB or something more reliable and portable for XC.
  • An aircraft down alert should be built into ADS-B.
  • I carry a PLB. So my ELT is not needed. ELT is like a boat anchor. Totally useless in an airplane.
  • No. I carry a PLB.
  • Probably, but also carry a personal locator beacon.
  • Yes and it should be upgraded.
  • NO! Complete waste of $120 for non-user replaceable, wholly unused battery. Mandatory ADS-B & mode C equipped.
  • Depends on where I fly.
  • There are better alternatives.
  • No, due mostly to not effective and unnecessary nudge cost.
  • Yes… because I already own one.
  • Single seat – not req’d.
  • What the heck is an ELT?

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