View Full Version : 406 ELTs to be Required in Canada

02-04-2008, 09:15 AM
From today's issue of AvWeb:

406 ELT's Mandated In Canada?

The Canadian Owners and Pilots Association (COPA) is warning pilots they should be concerned that revisions to a regulation's wording could mean mandatory installation of 406 ELTs in all Canadian aircraft -- and transient aircraft, too. In a letter from Kevin Psutka, president and CEO, Canadian Owners and Pilots Association, Psutka states that "low-cost alternatives to ELTs have all but been ruled out for our sector of aviation." Because the U.S. does not mandate 406 ELTs, "thousands of U.S. aircraft will be banned from Canada," posing a particular problem for aircraft transiting to and from Alaska. COPA is advising its members that the next opportunity for comment will be when the draft regulation is publicly announced. While COPA seeks alternatives, it is also advising members in the market for an ELT to equip with a 406 ELT. "The battery must not be LiSO2 and, for a 406 ELT, it must be coded for Canada and registered with the National Search and Rescue Secretariat."


02-04-2008, 11:04 AM
That's real nice. The only real (automatically activated) ELT I can find that even uses GPS is this hyperexpensive Artex....


Don't even know if it's approved by Canuckia....

02-04-2008, 11:16 AM
fobjob- artex ME-406 - about $900. The US will no longer support detection of the 121.5 signals beginning Jan 1 2009? I believe. So it's not just our friends to the north. I don't believe the US has required that 406 be installed. Just said 121.5 will no longer work in a year and you'll be on your own with a 121.5 - the satellites won't search for that signal any more. It seems the Canadians have decided to mandate the 406 when they switch off detection for the 121.5.

02-04-2008, 11:50 AM
Well if you do come up/down.. you won't be the only aircraft without a 406 so I wouldn't get to worried. I can tell you quite frankly... none of the 27,000 or so registered aircraft owners here are in any hurry to fork out the money for the change over.

This 406 requirement date has already been pushed back at least once and will get pushed back again I'm sure.. just like the Loran system shutdown got pushed.. and pushed.. and pushed.

Best price I've seen so far for two artex models in Canada is $2195 to $2895.. down from their intro at over $4000 !

02-04-2008, 12:18 PM
superchamp....the ME406 is NOT equipped with a GPS....the point is, that if the 406 unit you buy for a lot of $$$ is not, as most of them are not, are you going to have to buy another one to get GPS capability? Even Artex does not list the units that are compatible with their GPS-navigation interface (for another 1000 bucks!), they just IMPLY that you can interface with their units....so, WHO is going to buy a 406 ELT, when they don't know for sure that there is an easy, inexpensive upgrade path??? Not me, thanks....

02-04-2008, 12:23 PM

You should understand that, while having the 406 beacon transmitting a GPS location is certainly the ideal, even a "dumb" 406 beacon will get you help a LOT quicker than any 121.5 beacon could. That is because of the coded signal, so they know who they're looking for (and don't suppress the signal, waiting to verify it's REALLY a distress call) and also, the 406 beacons themselves provide much better and more accurate triangulation of your location.

So, a 406 beacon, without GPS interconnect, will still get you help a couple to several hours sooner than a 121.5 unit.


Rob Murray
02-04-2008, 12:24 PM
I wrote to Phil Boyer at AOPA and asked him to add their support to COPA's efforts to stop or seriously amend the proposed ruling. We should encourage all US and Cdn avaition associations to do likewise, including SuperCub.Org.

02-04-2008, 12:47 PM
Is Canada requiring the GPS enabled 406, or just the 406 signal? There is some interesting information on how much better the 406 signal is as far as strength of signal, ease and time of detection, and pinpoint of location as compared to 121.5 signal. Google 406 MHz elt and read all about it.

02-04-2008, 12:55 PM
Mike, I understand that, but my cost argument holds. I WILL have a PLB on me that has GPS , especially if I go North.....

Just to elaborate a bit on what Mike said: The LEO satellites receive the various frequencies(121.5, 243, 406.025Mhz) and simply convert them up to a 1.5 Ghz or thereabouts downlink frequency, which is picked up by various ground monitoring stations. They are fed into a computer, which performs a real-time Fourier analysis on the carrier wave, which allows them to tell when they pass by the ELT location, and approximately how far from the ground track of the satellite it is. A second pass is necessary to resolve the left of track or right of track ambiguity. A dozen passes or so (remember, there are only four of them up there)are required to reduce the footprint of the ELT location to EXCLUDE ANY AIRPORTS....tough luck if you crash near an airport....THEN they will notify SAR organizations in the area. Had a terse argument with AFRCC one day over this. Typical scenario in Utah (actual case that I worked): crash at 10AM (15 miles from city), AFRCC notifies Utah Wing, CAP at 6PM (Sunset!) ELT located by aircraft at about 9PM, survivor (one dead) reached by Sheriff at 4 AM.... The higher carrier frequency would enable this process to happen faster, and with better accuracy. But, obviously, the new method is MUCH better, and can allow the LEO satellites to be phased out in favor of having 'fixed' higher altitude (5000 mile) satellites just standing by to hear the burst transmission with tail number and location instantly.
Kind of a "No Sparrow shall Fall" approach....but, we need to get the cost down...the parts cost of the Artex 1000 dollar converter is about 15 bucks....the rest is development cost recovery.

Rob Murray
02-04-2008, 01:05 PM
From what I've read the 406 ELTs are an improvement over existing 121.5 models. And I'm not against having an ELT on board - I used to carry one long before they were required, when almost no one was listening to the signal However it is the abrupt change over to new, high priced equipment that the CDNs are proposing that I am objecting to.

And since my last post I've heard from Phil Boyer, Pres. AOPA. They are working on this issue with COPA, but expectations for success are not good.

Christina Young
02-04-2008, 01:58 PM
When is this new ELT going to be a requirement for flying through Canada?

I am flying up again this summer, and would like to know if I have to fork out a lot of $$$$.$$ now. I'd rather wait until something cheaper comes out on the market before I switch.

02-04-2008, 04:16 PM
NOAA's website says that Russian satellites detection of 121.5 mhz terminated in 2006, and the US satellite detection will terminate on Feb 1, 2009. Less than 1 year if they stick to their guns. Meaning if you want satellite detection of your ELT signal, you will need the 406 mhz beginning next February. Gonna be a lot of planes without a really useful ELT one year from now if an extension of service isn't granted. It will be interesting to see how it plays out. I purchased my ME406 already figuring they will be next to impossible to buy in a year. Hopefully I'm wrong.

02-04-2008, 04:28 PM

Apparently, according to the news release, this is just in the proposal phase now, so unless the Canadian government bureaucrats are a LOT quicker on their feet than their US counterparts, I'd be really surprised if anything happens on this before summer of 2008.

Just something to be aware of at the moment.


Clyde and Susan
02-04-2008, 08:30 PM
My solution to the problem, at least for the time being, was to buy Susan a personal locater beacon, 406mc with a built-in GPS. It was about $650.00 or so. We still have the mandated 121.5 ELTs in all three airplanes and the PLB to actually get us found if it ever comes to that. I have told Susan that if she ever loses engine power anywhere except over an airport or an obviously safe place to land, to activate the PLB while still in the air just in case she is incapacitated on landing. That's the plan until the automatic 406mc ELT is mandated. ...Clyde

02-04-2008, 11:22 PM
Part of the reason for the update and the code it transmits is so they can call you at home and ask you to go out to the hangar to shut your ELT off... to avoid the costs of a false SAR ! All our aircraft registered in Canada have already been assigned a specific code on the aircraft registry...so they are ready at their end to mandate us.

02-04-2008, 11:36 PM
In the case I described earlier, if it was a 406 ELT, AFRCC could have called the owner, gotten no reply, called the other contact numbers and maybe determined that he had left on a cross country flight, and notified CAP before sunset. That would have gotten paramedics to him at least eight hours earlier. Also, the increased carrier frequency would have allowed them to narrow down their footprint in half the time....With the GPS, one of these days someone is going to crash, and while their eyeballs are still spinning, their cell phone will ring. "Hello, this is the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center; did you just crash?"


Believe it. :o

Rob Murray
02-05-2008, 12:50 PM
I like Clyde ane Susan's solution. An ARC406 Locator Beacon with GPS,can be had for just over $500., about double the price of many 121.5 ELTs and an expsense more in line with the operating costs of a light aircraft. But will it be a legal alternative, even if it were bolted to the airframe? I suspect much of the cost of the high priced, fixed units is the battery, only some of which are approved by the Cdns. Can't help wondering what the real differences in the transmitters are and what the replacement cost of an approved battery will be?

02-05-2008, 01:04 PM
I don't think the PLB's will be a legal alternative. They must be manually activiated. They don't have a G switch. You have to flip up an antenna, and hold a button down for a couple of seconds, and put it in an area with a clear view of the sky. If something happens on take-off or landing you'll never get it opened up and turned on in time. I have one, takes 2 hands and about 10 seconds to get it up and running.