November 2015 Issue
Satellite Trackers: 406 ELT KILL
If the Internet killed the MTV video star, then it’s also pulling the plug on new ELT installations. With family and friends glued to flight tracking websites like flightaware.com, plus their smartphones for satellite-delivered texts, emails and tracking maps, it’s no wonder old-school ELT sales are tanking. We actually saw a slowing of ELT installations several years ago when Transport Canada backed off on its initial threat of mandating 406 MHz beacons for flights in Canadian airspace (a threat that sparked a rumor of similar regulations in the works for the U.S.) Coincidentally, that was roughly the time that satellite messengers hit the market and also when NOAA’s SARSAT (Search and Rescue Satellite Aided Tracking) stopped listening for 121.5 MHz ELT pings. But based on our discussions with several busy avionics shops, sales and installations of modern 406 MHz ELT systems aren’t dead—yet—even as flyers snag $150 satellite communicators, including Spot’s GEN3 messenger and more expensive systems like the Spidertracks and DeLorme InReach Iridium-based communicators. There are reasons why ELT technology is hanging on.
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