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ELT / PLB (merged)

I'm looking for a good PLB to purchase. It should include a GPS so it transmits its position with the standard 406MHz signal. Size, weight, battery life and cost are the main factors.

So far the most attractive offer (and the best price) I have found is the Kannad Safelink Solo.

I was going to suggest the one beow, only because I have one, but the one you found by the same company is smaller and cheaper, and more in line with your requirements.

http://www.transair.co.uk/sp+PLB-Personal-Locator-Beacons-McMurdo-EPIRB-Kannad-XS-4-PLB-406MHz-With-GPS+3181

However, not long after we got our PLB, the airfield where my N-reg plane is based had a visit by the FAA who took one look at the fixed ELT we are required to carry on board and instructed us to upgrade to the 406MHz type, so now we have two.

I have a fixed Kannad 406 MHz ELT (required in Germany) and am now looking at a PLB to help in case of a forced landing on water.

For 200 quid you get a device that at the push of a button orders a helicopter shuttle with a 180° business class seat and it works worldwide. Not bad

At Friedrichshafen this year I asked Kannad what is the difference between their new "little" ones and the bigger older ones. The man said that apart from battery life the small ones don't float.

However I don't think any of these are meant to transmit while floating in water - unlike the old style units (called EPIRBs) like this one which I have, since 2003 (121.5+406, no GPS).

In 2007 I bought this one which is 121.5+406, GPS.

In the aircraft I have the Kannad AF Compact which replaced the old Artex 121.5+243 unit - writeup here.

Administrator
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

I have an ELT fitted that works on the "old" frequency. I have now been told that it must be replaced with the current version which will transmit my name/reg no./location etc. I do not object of course to the new system BUT I have been told it is now mandatory. Can anyone shed any light on this please as I am sure there are lots of aircraft flying without any such device? Thanks

UK, United Kingdom

Mandatory? Is this an EASA/Permit a/c? UK-based? N-reg? G-reg? Flying out of the UK to Europe?

Or does this apply?

Swanborough Farm (UK), Shoreham EGKA, Soysambu (Kenya), Kenya

That PDF is dated 2005.

It may be current and if so is interesting because it gives the option of a fixed beacon (normally called "ELT") or a portable beacon (normally called "EPIRB" or "PLB").

In both cases it needs to be 121.5+406MHz which is the only sensible option today.

But that CAA doc is only for a G-reg so is an airframe rather than an airspace regulation.

I really have no idea what the current EASA regs are for private flight in EU airspace. Does anybody know?

A fixed 121.5-only ELT is probably not legal anymore but more to the point is not much good because 121.5 is used for close-range VDF only. They have to be within a few miles of you.

A funny note: my plane, 2002, new, built for a US customer and N-reg, came with a 121.5+243 ELT. I was going G-reg so the UK CAA deemed this illegal and Air Touring has to rip it out. No ELTs were allowed on G-regs. In 2005 I went N-reg and the FAA demanded 121.5 at least so I bought the same ELT which was removed (the original had by that time vanished at AT who had "no record" of removing it) and installed it. I considered a tri-band (121.5+243+406) unit which would have been a lot better but that wasn't on the Type Certificate and the firm doing the work was running the usual "DER 8110" £xxxx (instead of "IAW AC43-13") scam for mounting it, so to expedite things I dropped that idea. More recently I put in a 121.5+406 ELT - notes here. But I also carry an old EPIRB and a newer GPS version, both being 121.5+406.

Administrator
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

We had the FAA 'men' take a random visit to our airfield a few months ago and they inspected the N reg's, and ours was amongst others that was required to upgrade to 121 + 406 Mhz frequency. We thought we could around the issue by having a hand help PLB on the new frequency, but that wasnt acceptable, at least not on the N reg.

A fixed ELT has always been mandatory on an N-reg.

If you fly without one, your CofA is invalid and therefore so is the insurance - if anybody notices

Also no aircraft could be placed on the N-reg without an ELT. No way any FAA DAR would have signed the CofA/CofR.

It thus sounds like you did have a 121.5 ELT but not 121.5+406?

The FAA requirement was just 121.5MHz. The FAA moved to force 406MHz (i.e. 121.5+406) to align with ICAO, and sadly I don't know how far that got. I have a vague recollection that they scrapped the 406 bit for Part 91 flights. There was certainly a big hoohaa in the USA over it. But if your FAA man demanded 406 then it sounds like 406 is indeed current.

I suggest you look at my writeup. That unit was carefully chosen to utilise existing wiring and mounting points.

Administrator
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

It thus sounds like you did have a 121.5 ELT but not 121.5+406?

Thats correct. I dont get too involved in the maintenance management of our aircraft but I recall the battery was serviceable, and the handheld PLB was bought to address the new frequency issue. We now have a new one, with a remote switch under the instrument panel, which is better than relying on it to auto-trigger. I will have a look at your writeup.

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