February 2016 Issue

406 MHz ELT Retrofits: GPS Ups Effort, Cost

We favor the Artex 1000 for its build quality and the Kannad Integra for wise power management. To trim costs, upgrade while the aircraft is disassembled.

The 406 MHz ELT market never quite achieved liftoff, probably because the FAA hasn’t mandated these beacons, even though it still requires an installed ELT of some kind. A lively market of capable, inexpensive personal locaters (PLBs) further muddies the buying decision. But there are good arguments for an installed 406 MHz beacon, not the least of which is that after a crash, you might not be in any condition to activate a PLB. In this report, we’ll examine GPS-enabled third-gen 406 MHz ELTs that substantially improve your odds of being located after a crash. Shops tell us installed costs may hover around $3000, but you can knock the sting off that number by having the work done when the airplane’s pulled apart at annual.

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