ELT Upgrade..?? ...or Not...??

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ELT Upgrade..?? ...or Not...??

Postby gahorn » Mon Feb 12, 2018 12:40 am

I'm curious about a discussion of ELT views. Do you intend to keep your old 121.5/243.0 ELT indefinitely or until it dies...??? Or do you feel you should (or already have) upgraded to the new 406 units?

I see a newer mfr'r "Emerging Lifesaving Technologies" has introduced a below $1K unit with an integral GPS...but only transmits on 406.... not on 121.5 or 243. What do you think about that? (Kinda makes me consider retaining the working 121.5/243 unit in additon to installing this GPS-equipped unit.... on the other hand, I also think ELTs in general should be optional and not req'd equipt.)

I'm looking at an Ameri-King unit that is subject to a new/controversial AD note that's in the 172 we recently acquired. It works... and the way I read the AD it can remain as long as it works... (which makes me wonder why an AD note was issued... :roll: :roll: )

And to top the whole thing off.... with the ADS-B requirements... I wonder why someone hasn't written an app to accomodate an ADS-B aircraft that suddenly stops moving when not at it's flight-planned destination? You'd think that'd be an alert that something is a bit wrong, heh?

Anyway... whaddayall think?
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Re: ELT Upgrade..?? ...or Not...??

Postby brianm » Mon Feb 12, 2018 2:59 am

I'm planning on keeping my SHARC 7 until it dies or regulations force me to upgrade. Now, I mostly fly in fairly busy Midwestern airspace. I usually have flight following or I'm at least listening in to approach when I go cross country, and for longer XCs I might be the last person who actually files VFR flight plans. If I was regularly flying somewhere more sparsely populated, where radio and radar coverage are limited and a forced landing might put me days away from civilization, then I would seriously consider either a 406 ELT or something like a SPOT locator.
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Re: ELT Upgrade..?? ...or Not...??

Postby mit » Mon Feb 12, 2018 3:21 am

Going with my elt till it dies.....
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Re: ELT Upgrade..?? ...or Not...??

Postby c170b53 » Mon Feb 12, 2018 4:40 am

I'll apologize in advance, George and others as I've told the story so many times I'm now suffering from destination memory on this topic.
I first had a Amer-King ELT because an ELT was required equipment. Didn't have any problems with it (still have it on a shelf). Rumblings came along that 406's were going to be "required", so thinking they were a better thing I went out in 2010 and got a Ameri-King 406 because the mount was identical to the old unit. Meanwhile, lots of bad press that A-K products failed to work properly. The beauty to me, is the 406 AmeriKing has a B.I.T. ( or Bite if you prefer) which works very well. My plane was laid up after I bent it in 2015, started to fly it in 2017. Before I flew it again I took my ELT out to the local shop to give it a full check out. Learned from the shop that my unit was working perfectly like many A-K's. That's not to say that A-K's won't fail but there we a pile of other ELTs types with issues on his bench, so there is a failure rate. That's why we test them and as I mentioned I thought the test was good but didn't realize how good the test was until I reinstalled my unit and did an install bite. Next day I get an email from the Regs that they had received the test signal but because it was 18 months since the last one from my ELT, they requested that I update my ELT registration info. 8O
The one problem I do have with my ELT is the battery pack is due for replacement. The battery pack needs to be replaced every five years by regs but the battery pack is built to last at least 10 years (possibly, physically longer). My pack is now 7 years old works fine but I'd like to replace it. Now the spat between the F.A.A and A-K has finally been semi settled with an AD, to the detriment of 14000 users because the F.A.A. won't let Ameri-King sell replacement batteries.
Me? I'm looking for a non approved battery pack made by an Ameri-king supplier for my next annual.
Oh, now that the 406 mandate seems to have stalled now, I'm thinking of ADSB because it's going to be "required".......Nah, couldn't happen to me ..again!!! :D
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Re: ELT Upgrade..?? ...or Not...??

Postby hilltop170 » Mon Feb 12, 2018 4:57 am

ELTs should be optional equipment if the plane has functioning ADS-B.
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Re: ELT Upgrade..?? ...or Not...??

Postby gahorn » Mon Feb 12, 2018 5:10 pm

JIm.... does Canada have the equivalent of "Owner Produced Parts"? Make your own battery by reverse engineering. Most 406's are merely lithium C-Cells. (and Alkaline are often also approved but life-limited to one-half of lithiums.)

ALL 406s are required to RE-register every 2 years, regardless of "no change in registration". Moore stoopidity.
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Re: ELT Upgrade..?? ...or Not...??

Postby cessna170bdriver » Mon Feb 12, 2018 10:17 pm

If you think that an ELT should be optional equipment, then you might as well keep your 121.5 model, because the chances of it helping someone find you are somewhere between slim and none. My 121.5 ELT got lost in the shuffle after the accident at Creve Coeur, so I opted to go with a 406 replacement. I don’t have a position source for it but at least someone will know I’m down. I went with the ACK brand.
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Re: ELT Upgrade..?? ...or Not...??

Postby ghostflyer » Mon Feb 12, 2018 11:20 pm

My understanding is 121.5 is not going to be monitored after a certain date . The whole aviation world is changing over to the 406 freq. the 121.5 doesn’t have a GPS mode also . Plus the reregistation every 2 years is to catch aircraft owners that sell and buy aircraft and do not bother/forget to renregister their particulars. The push is on also for the 406 freq to have GPS tracking so accurately is greatly enhanced . Plus the 406 freq will have satellite capacity also for detection.

ADS-B is not totally the answer, it’s signal can be interrupted by terrain or other structures and it be be reflected also. Most ADS_B system runs off the aircraft power supply so if in accident power interruption could look like a normal aircraft shutdown . As previously discussed 406 ELT,s have their power supply and normally situated in a aircraft away from the firewall or instrument that often receive damage. My ELT has a built in strobe also that I can activate .
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Re: ELT Upgrade..?? ...or Not...??

Postby IA DPE » Tue Feb 13, 2018 12:39 am

I don’t think 121.5 is being monitored now, except by a few conscientious pilots on Comm 2. Even then they were so prone to false activation that they’re ignored as much as they’re reported.

My airplane came with a 405 already in it and if it hadn’t I would have put one in it. Like many other things, it’s an unnecessary expense until the minute you need it. Then I’d want the best one I could’ve afforded.
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Re: ELT Upgrade..?? ...or Not...??

Postby bagarre » Tue Feb 13, 2018 12:50 am

You don’t need to be flying in the back country for a 406 ELT to be justified.
There are plenty of airports where you can nose it in on takeoff and not be noticed/found for days or weeks.
Having an antiquated piece of safety equipment that transmits on a frequency that no one listens to seems pretty irresponsible when affordable solutions exist.

Flying with a 121,5 ELT is the same as wearing an itty bitty half helmet on a motorcycle. Sure, you might be in compliance but what will that matter when you actually need the thing?
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Re: ELT Upgrade..?? ...or Not...??

Postby lowNslow » Tue Feb 13, 2018 1:32 am

Most airliners monitor 121.5 on COM 2, I can't remember how many ELTs I reported to ATC there were so many.
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Re: ELT Upgrade..?? ...or Not...??

Postby c170b53 » Tue Feb 13, 2018 3:55 am

I'm all for devices which might alert others that I'm in difficulty. I like my 406, the government sent me an email so I know its contacting the satellite and the shop checked the power of the transmission and all is good. Having another device to do the same thing or in addition to an ELT sounds even better. Having 121.5 is still useful as a homing signal, certainly better than nothing I think.
Thanks George for the info on the two year notice to update your contact info. I don't see any regulation up here but according to the Canadian Beacon Registry, they say it must be done every year. I think thats just wishful thinking on their part.
You guys are just plain in good shape when it comes to owner produced part regulations as in Canada, I don"t believe we have that that I'm aware of.
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Re: ELT Upgrade..?? ...or Not...??

Postby ghostflyer » Tue Feb 13, 2018 8:38 am

I have a true story to,tell regarding the 406 ELT. A very close friend had a Texas Taildragger and trying to impress the new girl friend took her on a week end trip out to the opal field s in outback Australia . They are about 350 nm from the coastal cities. Tent, food, WINE, and so forth was thrown in the back of the aircraft The first night out there around 1.00am , finishing off a bottle of red and other things ,, there was a WOP,WOP , noise approaching and the tent was lit up
Like day light . Overhead was a Huey helicopter.it landed and 4 guys got out asking if they were in trouble . What had happened the new girl friend had collected the 406 ELT wrapped up in a fly set not knowing what it was ,put it with the camping gear and had inadvertently activated it.
This search and rescue helicopter had travelled 350miles out and the 350 miles back . Both coped a fine each. Note.. no mobile phones out there and “maybe “ see a light on the horizon at night . Peter could never live that down .
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Re: ELT Upgrade..?? ...or Not...??

Postby gahorn » Tue Feb 13, 2018 6:31 pm

Well...that's just another example of how ELTs do not accomplish the task for which they are intended....and therefore not the correct solution to the problem.

The problem: A US Congressman goes missing on a personal flight and is never found.

The Lousy Solution: US Congress causes regulatory agency FAA to require ELTs on all aircraft... except airliners, certain business/corporate airplanes, and govt/military...IE, small private planes must install and maintain a defective system... but gov't is not required to service that system or maintain a listening-watch. What is wrong with that plan, do you suppose?

The Russians maintain a listening watch with a satellite but not the Western World.... so the Western World requires western small planes to include location-information with their ELT broadcasts so the Russians can let authorities know the whereabouts of the ELT signal... which more often than not... is a FALSE alert.
No matter.... REquire small airplanes to continue this defectively-designed/malfunctioning system under threat of prosecution by the regulatory agency who does not monitor the system.

My own Mother's childhood friend...a Mr. Williams... one of the founders of the C.A.F.... picked up his airplane from annual inspection in Eastern Arkansas and flew it towards his home field in Western Arkansas with a planned fuel stop at Hot Springs, AR. He never arrived but an ELT broadcast a signal for 4 days. Satellites picked it up and SAR was sent out to look... and they could not find it. It was finally decided that the signal was being generated by an airplane on the field at Hot Springs, AR but the particular airplane could not be located because "anomalies" of the signal bouncing around in the airport hangars caused SAR to believe the offending airplane ELT was hangared such that the signal could not be reliably located due to obstructions/metal-hangar-walls/etc. In other words...they KNEW where the ELT was within a very small area ...and were still unable to find it.

After almost a week, landscaping crews trimming the brush found Mr. Williams dead in his C-210 on/in the brushy hillside on short final inside the airport boundary fence.

SAR personnel know that fence-lines can carry the signals along the fenceline and into canyons that defy tracking. The number of "saves" attributed to ELTs are miniscule compared to the false-signals, wasted efforts and money spent on the "system". The AOPA formerly opposed ELTs... and expensive avionics systems imposed on small airplanes ... but now the Aviation Organization Promoting Avioncs-sales is all on-board with whatever unproven, expensive system the regulatory agency FAA implements at their own instigation.

I recently discovered the Ameri-King AD note that drove that company completely out of business. It seems that less than 75 ELTs out of over 14,000 units failed to pass their annual tests (required of all ELTs made.) This number of AmeriKing unit failures is apparently typical of all manufacturers units... but AmeriKing has apparently been singled-out for extinction. (I think I know why... I'll say so later.)
What does the AD note require?
After much bally-hoo it merely requires the testing of existing units using the same tests as ALL mfr's units must undergoe annually per FAR 91.207.... IE., check the battery and dates and test for a broadcast-signal after tripping the G-switch (usually by jarring the unit such as by throwing a football forward and arresting the throw). IF all goes well..return the unit to service for another 12 months.
The AD note repeats this under guise of an official Airworthiness Directive....but because they've been chosen for scrutiny...they are restricted by FAA from making repairs or servicing their units in any way. The AmeriKing lawyer protested by stating that the AD note is 1- repetitive of a test already required by FAR 91.207... 2- returns working units to service, but removes non-complant units from service (same as any other mfr's units that fail), BUT 3- Prohibits AmeriKing from repairing or servicing ELTs of their own manufacture. This is despite the fact that FAA has already approved the AmeriKing product and certified it as meeting design requirements, IE, TSO. Despite FAAs declaration that AmeriKing meets TSO--they are prohibited from doing business. This means they cannot even sell batteries to support their units. This effectively drives them out of business.
WHY did FAA single out ONE mfr'r...AmeriKing? Their ELTs did not fail at any rate higher than any other mfr'r ...but other Mfr's are not mentioned in the AD and are not prohibited from continuing business! Airplane owners who have AmeriKing ELTs can no longer keep them in service because batteries are not available.
Under the rules, this means AmeriKing owners must replace their ELTs and the new ELTs (by FAR) MUST BE 406 UNITS!

A-HA! NOW we know what the real-deal IS! Since most owners are quite happy to keep their old 121.5/243 units in service until they die natural deaths.... FAA must find a way to SPEED UP THE PROCESS by singling out a mfr'r and prevent them from providing batteries!

What I am wondering is.... why can't an owner produced part... an ELT battery mfr'd by reverse engineering... be used to continue the service life of an otherwise operational ELT? AND.... WHY is a regulatory agency singling out a mfr'r for purposeful demise?

Without additonal information or insight... it seems to me to be an illegal intent on the part of FAA and I'm concerned about it.... which is the similar concern I have regarding ADS-B for small aircraft which have NO INTENTION of operating at Class C airports but wish to operate at small airports underlying the Mode-C veil.... airplanes which already have Mode-C transponders which Mode-C air traffic controllers (by definition) have radar that can confirm those small airplanes are not in Class-C airspace. FAA is going to FORCE them to be ADS-B compliant without reason or purpose!

AOPA is all on-board with this system.... something the OLD AOPA would have supported small airplane owners in a protest against regulations which require the purchase and maintenance of expensive and unnecessary equipment. Not the new Avionics Organization Promoting Avionic-sales!

ELTs don't save lives. 406 ELTs fail to save lives at about the same rate as the older units. Why are owners being forced to buy them and whly are small businesses being forced out of their livelihoods by a regulatory agency who does not support the SAR portion of the system they impose on small owners?
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Re: ELT Upgrade..?? ...or Not...??

Postby ghostflyer » Tue Feb 13, 2018 7:40 pm

I think we should continue this conversation at the bar in Cody , oh you are shouting the beers. :lol:
However it is a sad fact that the manufactures and FAA,CASA, ERASA, CAA so forth have failed to communicate to the aviation world the total potential of ADS-B and 406 ELT,s . This one reason why people can not see all the advantages of new technology and see it as only regulating their activities. Murphy,s law also applies here.plus the skies are getting more crowded everywhere and flyers are now pushing more into the unknown areas.
Last edited by ghostflyer on Tue Feb 13, 2018 8:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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