406 ELT Aircraft Requirements

By Peter Neeves
The FAA, most aircraft, an Emergency Locator Transmitter
small aircraft image by MAXFX from Fotolia.com

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) establishes the requirements for Emergency Locator Transmitters (ELTs) in aircraft registered in the United States. ELTs transmit on frequencies of either 121.5 MHz or 406.0 MHz. The purpose of the transmitters is to aid in the location of downed aircraft. Transmitters begin broadcasting upon impact.

FAA Requirements

The FAA requirements for ELTs are detailed in Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs) Part 91, sub-part 207. An ELT is required for any aircraft having more than one seat, with minor exception. Regulatory requirements for an ELT can be met with either a 121.5 MHz or 406.0 MHz transmitter.

Satellite Monitoring

Most aircraft in the United States are equipped with an ELT which broadcasts on a frequency of 121.5 MHz. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has adopted an ELT standard of 406.0 MHz. Satellite monitoring of 121.5 MHz has ceased, so satellite location of downed aircraft is only possible for aircraft equipped with a 406.0 MHz ELT.

International Operations

Pilots operating United States aircraft on international flights need to be aware of ELT requirements for the country they are flying into. Mexico and Canada, for example, both require aircraft operating in their airspace to be equipped with a 406.0 MHz ELT.

ELT Replacement Considerations

Aircraft owners should consider the type of flying they do to determine if the expense of upgrading to a 406.0 MHz ELT is warranted. Those operating in remote areas or planning international travel should consider upgrading to a 406.0 MHz ELT. Additionally, should an aircraft's ELT need replacement it would be wise to replace with a 406.0 MHz ELT for the additional safety and operational flexibility provided by the 406.0 MHz ELTs.

About the Author

Based in upstate New York, Peter Neeves began writing for Demand Studios in 2009, and has a background writing corporate training materials. Neeves attained his Master of Business Administration from IONA College, where he received the Joseph G. McKenna award for academic excellence. He is currently pursuing a Ph.D. at Walden University.