FAA Moves Against FCC's Proposal to Ban 121.5 MHz ELTs

An FAA letter to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, the aviation agency has asked the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) to withdraw a proposal that raised a ruckus with aircraft operators. The FCC had issued an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) that would have prohibited the "certification, manufacture, importation, sale, or continued use of 121.5 MHz ELTs [Emergency Locator Transmitters]." The FAA has taken steps to ensure the ANPRM never gets as far as the National Register, ensuring it cannot become law. The FCC move would have required that aircraft be re-equipped with updated 406 MHz ELTs, which are said to be more reliable and are tracked by satellites (satellites no longer track 121.5 MHz signals from older ELTs). The FAA estimates the cost to equip the GA fleet of some 200,000 aircraft with new ELTs would be close to $500 million. To date, some 38,000 aircraft operators have installed the new ELTs on a voluntary basis. The FAA move to rescind the FCC order is supported by the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, which writes that it recognizes the advantages of the new technology, but urges that the economic impact be balanced against the benefits.