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Thread: 406 ELT testing

  1. #1

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    406 ELT testing

    A couple of years ago I had a 406 ELT put in my plane. I'd like to know if it works properly. How do I test it and not get helicopters out looking for me and also how do I know that it tells the searchers that it is me with my home phone and other personal data etc.?

  2. #2
    wireweinie's Avatar
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    What model?

    The test specs from Part 91.207 have not changed since the move from 121.5 mhz ELTs to 406 mhz ELTs. Every 12 months it needs to be tested for proper operation, corrosion, operation of the controls AND crash sensor, and for output power.

    To do this on a 406 you need a test box. The one I use measures power out on 121.5, 243 (if used), and 406 mhz. It shows when I trigger the accelerometers to trip the ELT 'on'. And, it decodes a bunch of data that shows serial numbers, programming codes, country codes, etc. Most ELTs will also show some I.D. info like N number. A nice perk is that they will also show total time on the battery, so if someone leaves it on for a couple of hours and tries to cover it up, the tester will still show that you need a new battery.

    The test box is the only way to actually verify the specs required by 91.207.

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  3. #3
    stewartb's Avatar
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    For owners? Your panel switch should have a self-test mode. Mine (two different brands) require occasional self-diagnostic tests. If the system finds a problem it flashes a code. Read your installation and operating instructions. Different models have different requirements.

    My instructions say to do a short activation and monitor for the simultaneous 121.5 beacon. I never have done that. I have inadvertently activated my beacons and got the calls from RCC, so I know they work.
    Last edited by stewartb; 09-24-2022 at 10:56 AM.

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    I think it's an ACK

  5. #5
    wireweinie's Avatar
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    If it's an E0-4 it will need to be tested on a box. Have anybody local with the tester? It needs to be done at each annual. Web
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  6. #6
    AZinAK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wireweinie View Post
    If it's an E0-4 it will need to be tested on a box. Have anybody local with the tester? It needs to be done at each annual. Web
    What's the tester you have or suggest?

  7. #7
    wireweinie's Avatar
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    Mine was about $3500 back when I bought it. It's a shop tool for me so I wouldn't expect everyone to want one.

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    Quote Originally Posted by wireweinie View Post
    If it's an E0-4 it will need to be tested on a box. Have anybody local with the tester? It needs to be done at each annual. Web
    The manual for the E-04 only calls out a tester for Canadian test requirements. In the US just test pretty much like any other ELT, but you have 3 batteries to keep track of, not just 1.

    Since 91.207 only requires a TSO C91 (for new installation C91A or better)or better ELT you only need to test the 121.5 section of the ELT to comply with 14 CFR 91.207(d). A 406 mhz ELT is not a requirement in the US, but it is illegal to sell ne 121.5 only units under FCC regulations (go figure). That said, if you want to see if the 406 section works, you need the test box.


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  9. #9
    wireweinie's Avatar
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    Not correct. TSO C91 ELTs are only legal (but pointless) if already installed. Any new installs have required newer style ELTs. Read 91.207, (a), (1).

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  10. #10
    flybynite's Avatar
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    Has anyone used this outfit?

    https://www.acrartex.com/406test/

  11. #11
    wireweinie's Avatar
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    That's the Artex guys. I haven't used the subscription but I'd trust them to do it right.

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  12. #12
    windy's Avatar
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    406 ELT testing

    I found out the hard way to never ever press the red button on the self-test panel in the cockpit, only press the black button, unless you want the air force out looking for you.

    windy

  13. #13
    wireweinie's Avatar
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    I tried to point out above: the required specs on the ELT itself may have changed, but the testing requirements are unchanged. Some 406 ELT manuals actually cite the requirements of 91.207, (d). Think about it. Why would the testing change just because of a frequency change? The general operation of the unit has remained unchanged as it actuates upon impact, it transmits a signal, and is controlled manually or automatically.

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  14. #14
    frequent_flyer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wireweinie View Post
    The general operation of the unit has remained unchanged as it actuates upon impact, it transmits a signal, and is controlled manually or automatically.
    I would consider the ability of some, perhaps most, 406 ELT to transmit the GPS coordinates of the crash site to be a significant operational change. Unfortunately the self test of my ELT does not, and cannot, confirm the internal GPS receiver is actually providing a position. That would require a suitable commercial test set or a home brew signal decoder.

  15. #15
    wireweinie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by frequent_flyer View Post
    or a home brew signal decoder.
    I wouldn't go to court with that.

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  16. #16
    frequent_flyer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wireweinie View Post
    I wouldn't go to court with that.
    I have no idea what that means. There is no requirement for an ELT to transmit GPS position. There is no requirement to test that it does. If I use an SDR and, for example, multipsk to decode my ELT signal what is the involvement of any court?

  17. #17
    wireweinie's Avatar
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    After an investigation, the question will be 'was the ELT inspected IAW regulations" not 'did anyone check the GPS coordinates'. I can look the judge in the eye and state that I inspected the ELT both in accordance with the FARs and to the best of my ability. I do this stuff for a living, for private and commercial customers. I don't have any control over what you do or do not do on your aircraft.
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by wireweinie View Post
    After an investigation, the question will be 'was the ELT inspected IAW regulations" not 'did anyone check the GPS coordinates'. I can look the judge in the eye and state that I inspected the ELT both in accordance with the FARs and to the best of my ability. I do this stuff for a living, for private and commercial customers. I don't have any control over what you do or do not do on your aircraft.
    My wishing to check that my ELT transmits valid GPS coordinates has absolutely nothing to do with, and is not intended to be a substitute for, any test required by regulation. My interest is simply because CubCrafters has chosen to mount a 406 ELT with internal GPS receiver and antenna in a location that I have shown to have degraded GPS reception. The ELT manufacturer has told me that the ELT self test does not confirm that the internal GPS has acquired a valid position nor that a GPS position is being transmitted.

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by wireweinie View Post
    Not correct. TSO C91 ELTs are only legal (but pointless) if already installed. Any new installs have required newer style ELTs. Read 91.207, (a), (1).

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    I didn’t say you can’t still legally use a TSO-C91 ELT, just that you can’t legally install one. It is still legal to install a TSO-C91a ELT, just not legal to sell them.


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  20. #20
    frequent_flyer's Avatar
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    https://www.federalregister.gov/docu...nsmitters-elts

    "The FAA clarifies that repair and overhaul of TSO-C91a articles will continue to be permissible. Cobham's third question involved permissibility of continued installation of TSO-C91a ELTs. The FAA reiterates that articles with previous TSO-C91a authorizations may still be produced, sold, and installed. Cobham also inquired if the FAA will update 14 CFR § 91.207 to exclude TSO-C91a equipment if the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) changes the rules governing the 121.5 MHz frequency. The FAA can not comment on future FCC actions, however at this time the FAA has no plans to revise 14 CFR 91.207."

    All a bit of meander from the original post though.

    To answer the OP question - A 406 ELT does not transmit any of your personal information. It transmits the ELT identification code and that is linked to your personal information via the information you provided when you registered the ELT. You will be required to renew that registration, and to confirm you personal information is correct, every 2 years.

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