New 406 ELT Rule in Canada Put on Hold
The upcoming transition to requiring 406 MHz
emergency locator transmitters (ELTs) in nearly
all general aviation aircraft operating in Canada
has been put on hold by John Baird, Canada’s Minister
of Transport, according to Kevin Psutka, president of the
Canadian Owners and Pilots Association. Psutka met recently with Transport Canada officials arguing that the
rule as written was not workable.
“The regulation as written was unachievable because the allowed alternatives do not exist,” Psutka told EAA.
“My argument that this rule was immature was apparently accepted, and
the minister sent it back to CARAC
(Canadian Aviation Regulation Advisory Council) for revision.”
CARAC is a joint effort of government and the aviation community
including participation from organizations representing operators, manufacturers, and professional associations.
One of the alternatives Psutka is
pushing for is approval of 406 MHz
personal locator beacons (PLBs) or
tracking devices instead of the significantly more expensive installed ELTs.
Psutka was quick to say that this
development does not eliminate the
new rule. “Where it stands, the CAR-
AC will reconvene, and my understanding is that the earliest this will
happen is the third week of June,” he
said. If everything went as swiftly as
possible, a new final rule addressing
the minister’s concerns would be announced no earlier than the end of
August, he added. Meanwhile, pilots
who have yet to upgrade to the 406
MHz ELTs can continue operating legally with the older 121.5 MHz units,
although Psutka cautioned that search
and rescue satellites no longer monitor the older frequency.
Denis Browne, chairman of the EAA
Canadian Council, was glad to learn
that the public would have more input
on the rule through the CARAC. “We
would like to see the end-users given
more opportunity for feedback on potential alternative compliance, such as
PLBs, and other ways of dealing with
the new technology,” he said. “There
also has not been full consideration of
the effect of this new rule on international traffic and how to accommodate
air tourism. The CARAC usually considers such recommendations.”
Because the FAA does not plan to
adopt the 406 MHz ICAO standard in the United States,
EAA feels most American aircraft owners will likely choose
not to spend the estimated $1,000 (plus installation) to
equip their aircraft, resulting in a sharp decline in tourism
and business flights by U.S.-registered aircraft into Canada.
From May 2007 to May 2008, the Canada Border Services
Agency processed more than 63,000 foreign private aircraft,
roughly 90 percent U.S.-registered.