The Aircraft Electronics Association issued an update today that clarifies some of the issues surrounding the FAA recent announcement about phasing out 121.5 MHz ELTs in aircraft.
The August date listed in the AEA Regulatory Update dated June 21 is the absolute earliest date the FCC rule could have become effective. Thanks to the efforts of the AOPA, the AEA and other trade associations, the final rule has not been submitted to the Federal Register for publication; therefore, the 60-day clock for implementation of the rule has not begun. There is no way of knowing if or when this rule will become final.
Further, the FCC has clarified that the rule is targeting legacy TSO C91a type ELTs, which operate primarily on 121.5 MHz, not the general use of frequency 121.5 MHz as the rule implies. Current TSO C126 ELTs are not affected by this ruling.
The AEA encourages its membership not to sell C91a ELTs to customers without them knowing the latest ruling of the FCC, but also says there is no immediate regulatory need for operators to upgrade their legacy C91a ELTs to the more modern C126 ELTs. However, for safety reasons, the AEA encourages pilots to upgrade to the C126 ELT. Those operating with legacy C91a ELTs should be aware that the usefulness of the units is very limited, as the justification for the FCC ruling indicates, and they most likely will not provide the search-and-rescue capabilities that might be expected.