Canada has announced changes to the Canadian Aviation Regulations to mandate the use of digital emergency locator transmitters (ELTs) onboard aircraft flying in Canada.
The new, strengthened requirements are intended to improve passenger safety by increasing the likelihood that the distress signals will be received and enhance the efficiency of search and rescue operations by providing rapid, reliable and accurate position information to search and rescue services.
The new requirements will also reduce false alarms and the unnecessary deployment of search and rescue resources, and harmonize emergency locator transmitter requirements with international standards.
Under the previous regulations, Canadian aircraft were required to be equipped with an analog ELT using the 121.5 MHz frequency. The new regulations will require all Canadian aircraft to be equipped with a digital ELT capable of broadcasting simultaneously on frequencies of 406 MHz and 121.5 MHz, with some exceptions.
Using digital ELTs will reduce risk to human life and health as these devices provide more rapid, reliable and accurate position information to help search and rescue services identify and locate an aircraft in distress in a timely manner. Distress signals are received by a global satellite system that is monitored by search and rescue services, thereby increasing the chances of a successful rescue in the event of a downed aircraft.
The amendments apply to Canadian and foreign-registered aircraft operated in Canada, with the exception of gliders, balloons, airships, ultra-light aeroplanes and gyroplanes.
Commercial air operators, foreign aircraft and private operators have one year after the final publication of the amended regulations in Canada Gazette, Part II on November 25, 2020, to implement the amendments while recreational operators have five years to comply.