Approved/Accepted Emergency Locator Transmitters (ELT)

This information is intended as guidance only to assist in the determination of applicable ELT requirements. The full text of the applicable regulations and associated standards governs in the event of any inconsistency.

The carriage of ELTs on board aircraft operated in Canada is governed by Part VI, Subpart 5 of the Canadian Aviation Regulations (CAR 605), specifically CAR 605.38. Note that these requirements apply to Canadian and foreign registered aircraft operated by anyone.

In general, and specifically for the benefit of foreign aircraft operating in Canada, the general rule is that the ELT must transmit a signal on 121.5 MHz and be approved to the standards specified below. Transport Canada strongly recommends an ELT that operates on both 121.5 MHz and 406 MHz. Note that most, but not all, 406 MHz ELTs also transmit on 121.5 MHz, which is acceptable. Some transmit exclusively on 406 MHz, and this is only acceptable when used in conjunction with an approved ELT which transmits on 121.5 MHz.

The full requirements for ELTs are provided in CAR 605.38 and subsequent paragraphs and in the referenced standards in Chapter 551 of the Airworthiness Manual (AWM 551.104). These requirements are referenced below, for convenience only. (Refer to the regulations and standards for the latest information.)

Approval/Acceptance of Emergency Locator Transmitters (ELT)

Approval or acceptance by Transport Canada is required for the use of ELTs in Canada.

To receive an approval issued by Transport Canada, an ELT shall comply with the CAN-TSO design standards specified in Chapter 551, paragraph 551.104 of the Airworthiness Manual (AWM). ELTs that have been approved by Transport Canada are identified in the NAPA Issued Certificates Online (NICO) database.

To be accepted for use in Canada without a Transport Canada issued approval, an ELT must be approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) or the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) to suitable TSO or ETSO standards. ELTs that have been certified by the Federal Aviation Administration are identified in the Regulatory and Guidance Library (RGL). ELTs that have been certified by EASA are identified in the List of ETSO Authorisations (PDF Format).

Installation of ELTs

For new or changed ELT installations on Canadian registered aircraft, the owner or operator must obtain an installation approval issued by Transport Canada, as described in Chapter 551, paragraph 551.104 of the Airworthiness Manual (AWM), in addition to the acceptable TSO approval for the ELT itself.

It is the responsibility of the installer of an ELT to ensure that the ELT complies with any applicable Airworthiness Directives (AD), including Transport Canada AD CF-81-29R2 "Emergency Locator Transmitters" in respect of lithium sulfur dioxide (LiSO2) battery types. However, lithium battery technology has significantly improved in the last two decades. TCCA has determined that batteries that meet suitable TSO or ETSO standards would have an acceptable level of safety. As a result Transport Canada has issued Alternate Means of Compliance (AMOC) – AARDG 2008/A13 to AD CF-81-29R2 – Emergency Locator Transmitters (ELT) (PDF Format).

406 MHz ELT Coding Protocols

The ELT coding shall conform to the following protocols:

  1. An ELT that is able to determine its own location, and transmit this location information in the beacon's message shall be coded:
    1. in the case of a Type AF, AP or AD ELT, using the Standard Location Protocol and the 24-bit binary aircraft identification assigned to the aircraft by Transport Canada when registering the aircraft to uniquely identify the ELT;
    2. in the case of a Type S ELT, using the Standard Location Protocol and unique serial number assigned to the ELT by the ELT manufacturer and the Cospas-Sarsat beacon type approval certificate number to uniquely identify the ELT;
  2. an ELT that is not able to determine its own location, shall be coded:
    1. in the case of a Type AF, AP or AD ELT, using the Serial User Protocol with the 24-bit binary aircraft identification assigned to the aircraft by Transport Canada when registering the aircraft to uniquely identify the ELT;
    2. in the case of a Type S ELT, using the Serial User Protocol with a unique Beacon Serial Number;
  3. the country code shall reflect the state in which the aircraft is registered.

Each 406 MHz ELT must be registered with the Canadian Beacon Registry prior to installation on a Canadian-registered aircraft.

The Canadian Beacon Registry for 406 MHz beacons is located in Trenton, Ontario at the Canadian Mission Control Centre and the contact information is as follows:

  • online at www.cbr-rbc.ca
  • by email: cbr@sarnet.dnd.ca
  • by fax: 1-877-406-FAX8 (3298)
  • by telephone: 1-877-406-SOS1 (7671)
  • by mail: Canadian Beacon Registry
    CFB Trenton, P.O. Box 1000 Stn Forces
    Astra, Ontario K0K 3W0

Information note:
In the case of a change of aircraft ownership and/or registration, the onus shall be placed on the purchaser or lessee to ensure that any changes to the 406-MHz ELT coded information is completed, and that the revised information has been brought to the attention of the Canadian Beacon Registry. In the case of aircraft which are already equipped with survival type ELTs (ELT(S)), it is preferred that the country code be changed to reflect the state in which the aircraft is registered, and that the appropriate beacon registry be notified.

Inquiries concerning Transport Canada approval of emergency locator transmitters (ELTs) and related batteries should be directed to the nearest Transport Canada Civil Aviation regional office.

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