June 2010 Issue

406 MHz ELTs: ACK and Kannad Lead

Prices on 406-MHz ELT beacons are dropping but the surprise cost is running new wires. We like the designs that make installation simpler.

From our perch, we see high-priced 406-MHz ELT interest bottoming out. Maybe itís because Transport Canada has backed off on an initial threat of mandating 406 MHz beacons for any aircraft operating in Canadian airspaceóat least for now. This mandate was a driving, if shallow, motivation for U.S. operators to drop a couple of grand on new ELT technology. But even without the Canadian mandate, going 406 is something we all should plan for at some point. Many owners are in denial that distress signals from old 121.50 MHz beacons arenít satellite-monitored anymore, canít be tied with on-board GPS for transmitting wreckage coordinates or even that the device in the tail might be over 40 years old. There are a handful of good reasons to invest in a 406 ELT and some well-worn excuses not to. Maybe you always fly IFR, or never in the sticks, or always in earshot of a listening control tower. But given the improvements in 406 technology, we think the investment is worthy.

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