Regulations Amending the Canadian Aviation Regulations (Parts I, V and VI — ELT): SOR/2020-238
Canada Gazette, Part II, Volume 154, Number 24
SOR/2020-238 November 3, 2020
P.C. 2020-847 October 30, 2020
Her Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of Transport, pursuant to section 4.9footnote a and paragraphs 7.6(1)(a)footnote b and (b)footnote c of the Aeronautics Actfootnote d, makes the annexed Regulations Amending the Canadian Aviation Regulations (Parts I, V and VI — ELT).
Regulations Amending the Canadian Aviation Regulations (Parts I, V and VI — ELT)
1 Subpart 5 of Part VI of Schedule II to Subpart 3 of Part I of the Canadian Aviation Regulationsfootnote 1 is amended by adding the following after the reference “Subsection 605.38(1)”:
Maximum Amount of Penalty ($)
2 Subpart 5 of Part VI of Schedule II to Subpart 3 of Part I of the Regulations is amended by adding the following after the reference “Subsection 605.38(4)”:
Maximum Amount of Penalty ($)
3 The reference “Subsection 605.38.1(1)” in column I of Subpart 5 of Part VI of Schedule II to Subpart 3 of Part I of the Regulations and the corresponding amounts in column II are repealed.
4 Paragraph 4(2)(a) of Schedule II to Subpart 71 of Part V of the Regulations is replaced by the following:
- (a) installation of ELT systems conforming to the CAN-TSO as set out in section 551.104 of Chapter 551 — Aircraft Equipment and Installation of the Airworthiness Manual, if the ELT systems are not interfaced with any other systems;
5 (1) Subsection 605.38(1) of the Regulations is replaced by the following:
(1) Subject to subsection (3), no person shall operate an aircraft unless it is equipped with one or more ELTs, in accordance with subsection (2), that transmit simultaneously on the 406 MHz and 121.5 MHz frequencies.
(2) The table to subsection 605.38(2) of the Regulations is replaced by the following:
Area of Operation
|1||All aircraft||Over land||One ELT of type AD, AF or AP, as referred to in section 551.104 of Chapter 551 — Aircraft Equipment and Installation of the Airworthiness Manual|
|2||Large multi-engined turbo-jet aeroplanes engaged in an air transport service carrying passengers||Over water at a distance from land that requires the carriage of life rafts under section 602.63||Two ELTs of Type S, as referred to in section 551.104 of chapter 551 — Aircraft Equipment and Installation of the Airworthiness Manual|
|3||All aircraft that require an ELT other than those set out in item 2||Over water at a distance from land that requires the carriage of life rafts under section 602.63||One ELT of Type S, as referred to in section 551.104 of chapter 551 — Aircraft Equipment and Installation of the Airworthiness Manual|
(3) Subsection 605.38(3) of the Regulations is replaced by the following:
(3) An aircraft may be operated without an ELT on board if the aircraft
- (a) is a glider, balloon, airship, ultra-light aeroplane or gyroplane;
- (b) is registered under the laws of a contracting state or a state that is a party to an agreement entered into with Canada relating to interstate flying, is equipped with a serviceable emergency beacon that transmits on the 406 MHz frequency with a tested life of at least 24 hours and
- (i) has a Class 1 or Class 2 Type Approval Certificate issued by the international search and rescue Cospas-Sarsat Council, and
- (ii) is registered with the appropriate authority of the country identified in the coded message transmitted by the emergency beacon;
- (c) is operated by the holder of a flight training unit operating certificate, engaged in flight training and operated within 25 nautical miles of the aerodrome of departure;
- (d) is engaged in a flight test;
- (e) is a new aircraft engaged in flight operations related to manufacture, preparation or delivery of the aircraft;
- (f) is operated for the purpose of permitting a person to conduct a parachute descent within 25 nautical miles of the aerodrome of departure; or
- (g) is operated in accordance with section 605.39.
(4) Subsection 605.38(4) of the Regulations is replaced by the following:
(4) If an aircraft is equipped with one or more ELTs that transmit on the 406 MHz frequency, the owner shall register each ELT with
- (a) the Canadian Beacon Registry; or
- (b) the appropriate authority of the country identified in the coded message transmitted by the ELT.
6 The Regulations are amended by adding the following after section 605.38:
ELT — Frequencies
605.38.1 (1) No person shall operate an aircraft under a private operator registration document or in a commercial air service unless the aircraft is equipped with one or more ELTs that transmit simultaneously on the 406 MHz and 121.5 MHz frequencies.
(2) A person may operate an aircraft, other than an aircraft referred to in subsection (1), if it is equipped with one or more ELTs that transmit on one or both of the following frequencies:
- (a) 121.5 MHz; and
- (b) 406 MHz.
7 Section 605.38.1 of the Regulations and the heading before it are repealed.
8 Subsections 605.40(2) and (3) of the Regulations are replaced by the following:
(2) A person may activate an ELT, in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions, for the purpose of testing the ELT for a duration of not more than five seconds during the first five minutes of any hour UTC in the case of an ELT that transmits on the 121.5 MHz frequency or an ELT that transmits on both the 406 MHz and the 121.5 MHz frequencies.
(3) If an ELT has been inadvertently activated during flight, the pilot-in-command of the aircraft shall ensure, as soon as feasible, that
- (a) the nearest air traffic control unit, flight service station or community aerodrome radio station is so informed; and
- (b) the ELT is deactivated.
Coming into Force
9 (1) Subject to subsections (2) and (3), these Regulations come into force on the day on which they are published in the Canada Gazette, Part II.
(2) Section 2, subsections 5(2) and (3) and section 6 come into force on the first anniversary of the day on which these Regulations are published in the Canada Gazette, Part II.
(3) Section 3, subsection 5(1) and section 7 come into force on the fifth anniversary of the day on which these Regulations are published in the Canada Gazette, Part II.
REGULATORY IMPACT ANALYSIS STATEMENT
(This statement is not part of the Regulations.)
Issues: Emergency locator transmitters (ELTs) are radio transmitter devices used as distress beacons to initiate search and rescue (SAR) operations to locate an aircraft in distress. The satellite-based, international SAR tracking system (the space system for the search of vessels in distress, and the search and rescue satellite-aided tracking [COSPAS-SARSAT]) continuously monitors for distress signals, including those from ELTs installed on aircraft. Historically, COSPAS-SARSAT monitored the 121.5 and 406 megahertz (MHz) frequencies. However, since 2009, the COSPAS-SARSAT system only tracks the more precise digital 406 MHz frequency. Although many Canadian-registered aircraft are equipped with 406 MHz ELTs, currently the Canadian Aviation Regulations (CARs) only require that aircraft be equipped with 121.5 MHz ELTs.
In October 2017, approximately 55.4% of aircraft currently required to carry an ELT continued to operate with only a 121.5 MHz ELT. The 121.5 MHz ELT is undetectable by COSPAS-SARSAT and does not provide accurate location information. As a result, there are unnecessary risks to human life and health, and unnecessary strain being put on Canada’s SAR resources. In addition, false alarm rates from 121.5 MHz ELTs that prompt an unnecessary launch of SAR operations are higher due to the inability to contact the registered operator to ascertain if the situation is an emergency or a false alarm.
Description: The amendments mandate that Canadian aircraft, with the exception of gliders, balloons, airships, ultra-light aeroplanes and gyroplanes, be equipped with an ELT capable of broadcasting simultaneously on frequencies of 406 MHz and 121.5 MHz. Foreign aircraft operating in Canada will be required to be equipped with a serviceable emergency beacon that transmits on a 406 MHz frequency that is approved by COSPAS-SARSAT and is registered with the appropriate authority of the country identified in the digitally coded information transmitted by the emergency beacon.
Rationale: The current CARs mandate that Canadian aircraft be equipped with ELT technology has become outdated, meaning that many aircraft distress signals cannot be detected by COSPAS-SARSAT, which presents risks to the flying public and often results in the wasteful use of SAR resources. These amendments ensure that all required aircraft have ELTs that transmit on a frequency that is monitored by COSPAS-SARSAT, which allows for efficient and effective SAR operations, therefore increasing public safety, reducing costs to the Canadian government and aligning the Canadian regulatory framework with that of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
Cost-benefit statement: Given that the currently mandated 121.5 MHz ELT is no longer being tracked by COSPAS-SARSAT, the requirement of the Regulations that Canadian aircraft be equipped with a 406 MHz capable ELT on board will increase the likelihood of a successful rescue of passengers and flight crew of a downed aircraft. For the years 2020 to 2034, it is estimated that approximately 186 persons would be rescued in a timely manner, increasing the chances of saving more lives. The amendments are also expected to yield a reduction in the number of false alarms and resulting government SAR response costs, for a savings of $68.05 million over 15 years. Costs of $26.52 million will be carried by aircraft operators, largely due to the procurement and the installation of 406 MHz ELTs. Procurement and installation costs are estimated at $15.35 million and $10.84 million, respectively. Overall, the amendments are expected to lead to a net monetized benefit of approximately $41.53 million with a benefit-cost ratio of 2.57:1.
One-for-one rule and small business lens: The one-for-one rule applies, given the requirement to register each 406 MHz ELT, resulting in annualized administrative burden costs of $401 for all commercial air operators and private operators.footnote 2 Therefore, these amendments are considered to be an “IN” under the one-for-one rule.
The small business lens also applies. Transport Canada has therefore included flexibilities that will reduce compliance costs for small businesses by $59,235 (or $990 per small business) over 10 years.
Domestic and international coordination and cooperation: The amendments align Canada’s ELT requirements with standards set by the ICAO. Although the United States (U.S.) Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) does not mandate the requirement for aircraft to be equipped with a 406 MHz ELT on board, they have amended their industry standard so that all new ELTs designed in the United States since 2012 are 406 MHz frequency capable. Canada is taking a more precautionary approach than the United States, given that Canada has much larger areas that are sparsely populated and without radar coverage, which makes it more challenging for SAR crews to locate downed aircraft.
Since 2009, the COSPAS-SARSAT system has tracked only the more precise digital 406 MHz frequency. Although many Canadian-registered aircraft have been equipped with 406 MHz ELTs, the CARs currently only require that aircraft be equipped with 121.5 MHz ELTs.
In October 2017, approximately 55.4% of aircraft currently required to carry an ELT continued to operate with only a 121.5 MHz ELT. The 121.5 MHz ELT is undetectable by COSPAS-SARSAT and does not provide accurate location information. As a result, there are unnecessary risks to human life and health and unnecessary strain being placed on Canada’s SAR resources. In addition, false alarm rates from 121.5 MHz ELTs, that prompt an unnecessary launch of SAR operations, are higher due to the inability to contact the registered operator to ascertain if the situation is an emergency or a false alarm.
Without any change to the CARs to mandate 406 MHz ELTs, it is projected that by the year 2034, roughlyfootnote 3 44.0% of aircraft that are currently required to carry an ELT will still only be equipped with 121.5 MHz ELTs.
An ELT is a radio transmitter device installed in an aircraft, which, when activated, broadcasts a distinctive primary distress signal in either analogue (121.5 MHz) or digital (406 MHz) frequencies. Unlike 121.5 MHz only ELTs, 406 MHz ELTs transmit digital information which
- provides more accurate location information, improving the chances of saving injured passengers and flight crew members and reducing unnecessary SAR activities; and
- allows rescue agencies to identify the aircraft owner to more quickly establish if an emergency exists or if the signal is a false alarm.
It should be noted that 406 MHz ELTs also include an integrated 121.5 MHz homing signal at a reduced power to help provide ground search teams or search aircraft a signal they can follow for short range location during the final phase of a search. The 121.5 MHz signal, when used in this manner and integrated with a 406 MHz ELT, is a very important requirement, as it provides a level of accuracy when very close to the search objective.
Global monitoring of ELTs by COSPAS-SARSAT
COSPAS-SARSAT is best known as the system that detects and locates emergency beacons activated by aircraft, ships, and backcountry hikers in distress. It continuously monitors for distress signals, including those emitted by ELTs installed on aircraft.
Once a distress signal emitted by an ELT is received by COSPAS-SARSAT satellites, it is communicated to the appropriate State’s SAR authorities who investigate and execute a SAR operation, if appropriate.
SAR system in Canada
In Canada, the SAR system is a shared responsibility among federal, provincial, territorial and municipal organizations, as well as air, ground and maritime volunteer SAR organizations. The Canadian SAR area of responsibility extends over 18 000 000 kmfootnote 2 of land and sea. Due to its vast size and the range of environments, Canada relies on a diverse group of government, military, volunteer, academic and industry partners to provide overall SAR services to the Canadian public.
The Department of National Defence (DND) is the principal SAR asset provider in both personnel and aircraft; however, it does rely on other agencies such as the Civil Air Search and Rescue Association (CASARA), a volunteer-based organization that is funded by DND and provides assistance during aviation SAR operations. When a 406 MHz distress signal originating within a Canadian area of operation is received by COSPAS-SARSAT, the information is sent to a Canadian SAR Coordination Centre at which point an attempt is made to contact the owner or the emergency contacts of the ELT to ascertain if the situation is an emergency or a false alarm. If a false alarm cannot be confirmed, SAR assets are deployed. Between 2011 and 2015, there were on average 992footnote 4 SAR searches each year by the Canadian Armed Forces. Out of these, approximately 66 searches each year were due to false alarms.footnote 5
Canadian Aviation Regulations and ELTs
In March 1999, ICAO adopted new standards that required, after January 1, 2005, all ELTs to operate on 121.5 MHz and 406 MHz simultaneously. Furthermore, ICAO recommended that all aeroplanes for which the individual certificate of airworthiness was first issued after July 1, 2008, be equipped with at least one 406 MHz ELT.
In response to guidance from ICAO, COSPAS-SARSAT decided it would cease to monitor the 121.5 MHz frequency and only monitor the digital 406 MHz frequency; this change came into effect in 2009. As a result, detection of 121.5 MHz distress signals is only possible if the distress signal is detected by a non-satellite receiver, for example, an overflying aircraft. The CARs currently mandate that all Canadian aircraft, with the exception of gliders, balloons, airships, ultra-light aeroplanes and gyroplanes, be equipped with an ELT that transmits on the 121.5 MHz frequency.
Canadian aircraft equipped with 406 MHz ELTs
Under the current CARs, there are approximately 25 807 Canadian-registered aircraft currently required to be equipped with an ELT.footnote 6 Approximately 12 835 (49.7%) are equipped with at least one active 406 MHz ELT registered through the Canadian Beacon Registry. A forecast using historical data of 406 MHz ELTs registered with the Canadian Beacon Registry showed that the rate of growth in the adoption of 406 MHz ELT is expected to decrease.
In recognition of the forecasted lower adoption rate of the 406 MHz ELTs by Canadian-registered aircraft in the future, and the burden the continued use of the 121.5 MHz ELT imposes on SAR resources, the Auditor General, in the spring of 2013, recommended that Transport Canada look at the issue of digital ELTs.
The objectives of these amendments are to
- improve public safety by increasing the likelihood that an aircraft distress signal will be received;
- improve the efficiency of SAR assets, as they will not have to conduct a lengthy search because they will have an accurate position of the downed aircraft; and
- reduce the time and resource costs associated with false alarms.
These amendments mandate that Canadian aircraft, with the exception of gliders, balloons, airships, ultra-light aeroplanes and gyroplanes, be equipped with an ELT capable of broadcasting simultaneously on frequencies of 406 MHz and 121. 5 MHz, including aircraft operated by
- air operators (Subpart 705 — Airline Operations, Subpart 704 — Commuter Operations, Subpart 703 — Air Taxi Operations, Subpart 702 — Aerial Work);
- private operators who are subject to Subpart 604;
- recreational operators (i.e. the person that has possession of an aircraft as the owner, lessee or otherwise, for recreational purposes); and
- foreign aircraft operating in Canada (Subpart 701 —Foreign Air Operators).
The implementation period for the amendments will be
- for air operators, including private operators who are subject to Subpart 604, one year from the date the amendments are published in the Canada Gazette, Part II;
- for recreational operators, five years from the date the amendments are published in the Canada Gazette, Part II; and
- for foreign aircraft operating in Canada, one year after the publication of the amendments in the Canada Gazette, Part II, they will be required to be equipped with a serviceable emergency beacon that is capable of transmitting on a 406 MHz frequency that is approved by COSPAS-SARSAT and registered with the appropriate authority of the country identified in the digitally coded message transmitted by the emergency beacon.
Flexible option for 406 MHz ELT installation
Pursuant to section 571.04 of the CARs, an ELT system (except for an ELT system installed in conformity with CAN-TSO-C91/C91a) is considered avionics equipment that requires specialized maintenance, meaning that only an approved maintenance organization (AMO) could install this equipment, which would typically make the installation costs much higher. In order to ease the burden for aircraft owners and operators, on April 30, 2014, Transport Canada issued a global exemption to this requirement, pursuant to subsection 5.9(2) of the Aeronautics Act, to enable ELT installation to be classified as non-specialized work, which allows the installation of an ELT to be certified by an appropriately rated aircraft maintenance engineer on private aircraft. These amendments address this issue so that the exemption will no longer be necessary.
Administrative monetary penalties
These amendments introduce administrative monetary penalties for aircraft owners who do not register their 406 MHz ELT with the Canadian Beacon Registry, or with the appropriate State authority, and to those who activate their ELTs intentionally in non-emergency situations. These offences were not previously designated due to an oversight when the provisions were introduced in the CARs.
The Canadian Aviation Regulation Advisory Council (CARAC) is the forum by which stakeholders are consulted regarding proposed amendments to the CARs. It is a joint undertaking of members who represent the aviation community, other interested parties and Transport Canada. Industry and labour organizations, representing operators and manufacturers, and professional associations are some of those included.
In June 2015, Transport Canada published a Notice of Proposed Amendment (NPA) to consult stakeholders on the Department’s proposal to mandate the requirement for Canadian aircraft to be equipped with a 406 MHz ELTs on board. The NPA was sent to all CARAC stakeholders for a 90-day consultation period, which yielded a total of 26 comments from stakeholders representing various sectors of the industry (associations, other government departments and crown corporations as well as private citizens). Among the 26 comments received, 9 supported the NPA completely, 14 supported it partially and 3 opposed it.
The comments partially supporting the proposal were in agreement to enhance the safety and reliability of the SAR equipment on board the aircraft though there were differing opinions on the specifics of the policy. These differences included issues related to general aviation, more recent and more comprehensive data on the failure and false alarm rates of 406 MHz ELTs (post-2009), clarification on the implementation and enforcement of proposed penalties, and alternate means of compliance and/or performance-based requirements for post-crash location equipment and other procedure issues such as enforcement periods.
The comments opposing the amendments focused on four elements: effectiveness and reliability, applicability, foreign aircraft, and other means of compliance.
1. Effectiveness and reliability: Some stakeholders called into question the effectiveness and the reliability of the 406 MHz ELTs, arguing that there is no evidence to support the affirmation that this new technology is more reliable than the 121.5 MHz ELTs.
Transport Canada concedes that there is no study or analysis clearly demonstrating the superior reliability (i.e. crash survivability) of the 406 MHz ELTs over the second generation 121.5 MHz ELTs. The design standards establishing the performance minimums for the 406 MHz ELTs are equivalent to the second generation 121.5 MHz ELT design minimums in terms of environmental and robustness design. Therefore, the reliability of 406 MHz ELTs is expected to be maintained at least at a comparable level as a second generation 121.5 MHz ELTs. Nonetheless, the use of the new frequency will make ELTs significantly more effective, as the beacons operate on a frequency that is monitored by COSPAS-SARSAT. Also, independent of the frequency, the installation standard for an ELT has continued to evolve and this is expected to result in improved crash survivability and therefore improved reliability.
2. Applicability: Some opposed the inclusion of specific or all segments of general aviation (e.g. recreational aircraft).
Transport Canada rejected the proposal to exclude recreational aircraft. There are many aerodromes in Canada, even in densely populated areas such as southern Ontario, from which short flights take place over remote areas where SAR operations would be difficult without a 406 MHz ELT. An additional consideration is that smaller planes are often the most difficult to locate, especially given Canada’s rugged terrain and extensive tree coverage.
3. Foreign aircraft: Some U.S. operators, including one association, oppose ELT requirements for foreign aircraft to operate in Canada because they are not currently required by the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
Transport Canada will not require foreign aircraft to be equipped with a 406 MHz ELT, but will require that they be equipped with an emergency beacon capable of transmitting on the 406 MHz frequency. This certified emergency equipment could be portable and handheld, and would not have to be integrated into the avionics equipment of the aircraft, as per the aircraft design standards that apply to Canadian aircraft. This provides a much less expensive option and is a compromise solution to minimize the impact on visiting aircraft. This is similar to the allowance currently found in the CARs that does not require foreign aircraft to be equipped with an ELT as long as they have a radio transmitter that can transmit an emergency signal on the appropriate emergency frequencies. In addition, most of the foreign aircraft currently flying in Canada should already be equipped with such a device; therefore, the impact should be negligible.
4. Allowance of other means of compliance: Some stakeholders requested that alternative means of compliance, such as personal locator beacons (PLBs), SPOT,footnote 7 and automatic dependent surveillance — broadcast (ADS-B) be allowed, claiming they were less expensive and at least as reliable (if not more) than 406 MHz ELTs.
Mobile applications, tracking devices and other emerging technologies (e.g. SPOT) do not yet have design standards establishing the performance minimums or even published and accepted industry standardization. Standardization is important because it protects passengers and flight crew from unreliable equipment and supports inspection and enforcement. Tracking systems can offer some advantages; however, there is no automatic activation and the systems require someone to be actively tracking the aircraft’s progress. There is also the potential for false alarms, as there are multiple reasons why tracking could cease. That being said, the amendments impose minimum requirements for emergency location capability, and the use of additional safety tools and technologies is always encouraged.
As for the automatic dependent surveillance — broadcast (ADS-B) proposal, this technology is used for air traffic control and while it has a tracking function, it currently works only via line of sight communication. Furthermore, it does not have an alerting function should the aircraft be in distress. Therefore, it is not feasible for the ADS-B system to replace an ELT. Finally, current SAR technology is not compatible with ADS-B, as it broadcasts on 1 090 MHz or 978 MHz frequencies and not the frequency monitored by COSPAS-SARSAT.
The amendments were published in the Canada Gazette, Part I, on June 1, 2019, followed by a 30-day comment period. Nine comments were received. Comments were received from three citizens, three private pilots, one association, one Council, and one organization.
One comment fully supported the amendments but raised concerns about the costs, while four comments objected and three comments did not fully support these amendments and made recommendations.
The following main themes were raised in the comments:
A citizen and a private pilot in their comments raised the concern that these amendments would generate costs especially for recreational pilots. Transport Canada’s response is that mandating the 406 MHz ELT is not just about costs, but also about increasing aviation safety. Additionally, the 406 MHz ELT is a cost-effective option as it requires no service fees for the owner/operator.
Effectiveness and reliability
Canadian Owners and Pilots Association (COPA) stated that there is no evidence that the 406 MHz frequency would make the ELT system significantly more effective. The ELT systems of either frequency do not reliably provide certainty that aircraft that go down could be found quickly.
Transport Canada’s position is that the 406 MHz ELT frequency makes the ELT more effective simply because it can be detected anywhere in the country due to satellite connectivity and it is not reliant on an overflying aircraft that may or may not be monitoring that frequency. Another improvement of the 406 MHz ELT is that it can be activated manually by the pilot before the crash occurs. A Defence Research and Development Canada study (PDF) in 2009 determined a successful activation rate of 74% for ELTs.
COPA made the recommendation that the Government of Canada improve aircraft safety for passengers, commercial and general aviation through the installation of a performance-based technology that is not relying on outdated mechanical technology, the orientation of the distressed aircraft once it comes to rest, or the ability of the ELT system as a whole to survive the crash.
NAV CANADA’s position was that the proposed Regulations are mandating avionics equipment that has not shown any increase in effectiveness and reliability, and that there are other possibly better options using different and newer technology.
NAV CANADA also took the position that the reliability and effectiveness of the 406 MHz ELT has not improved over the second generation of the 121.5 MHz ELT. In its comment, it is also stated that because NAV CANADA is currently assessing the potential use of space-based ADS-B technology for the purpose of enhancing SAR operations in Canada, Transport Canada should not regulate the mandatory equipage of the 406 MHz ELT at this time.
Transport Canada’s response is that technologies are always evolving but this should not prevent the amendments from being updated. Currently, the ELT is the only solution that is proven, enforceable and cost-effective. The regulatory amendments will also address the Transportation Safety Board of Canada recommendation that all Canadian-registered aircraft and foreign aircraft operating in Canada be equipped with a 406 MHz ELT in accordance with the ICAO standards. The capacity of ADS-B for SAR operations was investigated but not considered by Transport Canada due to its infancy of use in Canada.
COPA and the Saskatchewan Aviation Council made a recommendation to exempt all private aircraft engaged in non-commercial, recreational operations from mandatory installation of a 406 MHz ELT.
Transport Canada’s position is that voluntary compliance is not an adequate solution in this case. ELTs transmitting on a 406 MHz frequency have been operational for 10 years now. Permitting aircraft to fly with only a 121.5 MHz frequency ELT is allowing them to take unnecessary and avoidable risk.
Clarity and conciseness
One comment supported the regulatory initiative but made the recommendation to clarify that ELTs on board aircraft shall be capable of transmitting simultaneously on frequencies of 406 MHz and 121.5 MHz.
Transport Canada considered every comment received after the publication of these amendments in the Canada Gazette, Part I, and took the following action:
- amendments were made to subsection 605.38(1), 605.38.1(1) and 605.40(2) of the Regulations, as published in the Canada Gazette, Part I, to clarify that all 406 MHz ELTs on board aircraft shall be capable of broadcasting simultaneously on a 121.5 MHz frequency.
Although, this requirement is already in Standard 551 (Airworthiness Manual, Chapter 551 — Aircraft Equipment and Installation), it has been elevated into the CARs to add clarity and to ensure compliance.
Modern treaty obligations and Indigenous engagement and consultation
In accordance with the Cabinet Directive on the Federal Approach to Modern Treaty Implementation, an analysis was undertaken to determine whether the amendments are likely to give rise to modern treaty obligations. This assessment examined the geographic scope and subject matter of the proposal in relation to modern treaties in effect, and after examination, no implications or impacts on modern treaties were identified.
Regulatory and non-regulatory options considered
In 2009, an amendment to the CARs was proposed that would have made it mandatory for Canadian aircraft to be equipped with a 406 MHz ELT on board. Ultimately, amending regulations were not made due to several factors, including the higher purchase and installation costs of 406 MHz ELTs at that time. With the lower costs and the greater international use of 406 MHz ELTs, Transport Canada considered the three options below in order to address the public policy issue pertaining to the continuing use of 121.5 MHz ELTs in Canada.
OPTION 1: Status quo approach
If the CARs are not amended, there would be no mandate for Canadian aircraft to be equipped with a 406 MHz ELT. Although some aircraft have been voluntarily outfitted with 406 MHz ELTs, as of October 2017, only 44.6% of all registered aircraft in Canada required to carry an ELT were equipped with a 406 MHz ELT. This means that 55.4% of applicable aircraft in Canada were operating without an ELT that could be detected by COSPAS-SARSAT. In the absence of these amendments, it is projected that in 2034, roughly 44.0% of applicable Canadian-registered aircraft would still be operating without a 406 MHz ELT, including a significant number of aircraft operating in remote regions of Canada with the legacy 121.5 MHz ELTs that cannot be detected by satellite. The possibility of not being found, or found in a timely manner, would continue to be a significant risk to those involved in an aircraft crash. There is also an additional cost in search time when accurate positional information is not available. In addition, it is expected that a number of SAR operations would be unnecessarily launched for a false alarm, when there was no emergency.
In conclusion, a status quo approach was deemed to be an unacceptable option for two reasons
- (1) since COSPAS-SARSAT ceased to monitor the 121.5 MHz frequency in 2009, the risk of detecting downed aircraft carrying only a 121.5 MHz ELT on board would not be addressed; and
- (2) the aviation industry is not voluntarily moving toward full use of 406 MHz ELTs, which, if mandated, would reduce the time required for SAR operations to locate downed aircraft and the number of false alarms, which in turn would reduce the number of unnecessary deployments of SAR resources.
OPTION 2: Regulatory approach — Same implementation period for all
This regulatory approach was given consideration to ensure that all aircraft have ELTs that can be detected by COSPAS-SARSAT, allowing for efficient and effective SAR operations, while also increasing public safety. However, this approach does not provide any flexibility to those cost-sensitive operators such as the small recreational aircraft operator/owner. This regulatory approach was not considered an acceptable option for that reason.
OPTION 3: Regulatory approach — Two different implementation periods
Given the international community’s move to 406 MHz ELTs, which led to a lack of satellite monitoring for 121.5 MHz systems, Transport Canada is mandating the requirement for Canadian aircraft to be equipped with a 406 MHz ELT on board, which has also become more affordable. In order to provide flexibility for cost-sensitive operators, the amendments include a one-year implementation period for commercial aircraft and for private aircraft operated pursuant to Subpart 604 of the CARs. A five-year implementation period is provided for aircraft engaged in recreational operations.
Benefits and costs
Having Canadian aircraft equipped with an ELT capable of broadcasting simultaneously on frequencies of 406 MHz and 121.5 MHz will improve the chances of saving lives, and reduce the time required to locate downed aircraft and the number of false alarms resulting in the deployment of SAR resources. It is expected that the amendments will impose costs on operators, who will be required to acquire, register and install 406 MHz ELTs. Further details on the cost-benefit analysis are available upon request.
The approach to cost-benefit analysis (CBA) identifies, assesses, quantifies and monetizes, where possible, the incremental costs and benefits of these amendments.
For the purpose of this analysis, benefits and costs have been assessed for the 2020–2034 period. Since the amendments will only directly affect existing aircraft, the time frame for the analysis will depend on the Canadian aircraft residual fleet age, even if an ELT can last for an unlimited period of time. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has estimated the average aircraft retirement age in Canada to be 27.6 years. As Air Canada’s fleet represents a significant portion of Canadian aircraft, its average fleet age of 14.3 years is used as a proxy for the analysis. Therefore, the average age of the Canadian aircraft residual fleet is approximately 13.3 years. The time frame considered for the analysis of this proposal is 15 years.
Dollar figures are presented in 2019 Canadian dollars and are discounted using a discount rate of 7%.
Baseline and regulatory scenarios
The modelling of the benefits as well as the costs requires the estimation and projection of different variables, including the future existing and new populations of Canadian aircraft equipped with an ELT capable of broadcasting simultaneously on frequencies of 406 MHz and 121.5 MHz, the number of persons rescued and lives saved in case of aircraft accidents, the search time for downed aircraft, as well as the flying time associated with false alarms.
Since the CBA evaluates the incremental change due to the proposal, the variables have been examined in both the baseline and regulatory scenarios. The baseline scenario represents the status quo, while the regulatory scenario assumes that the amendments are implemented.
As indicated above, the expected benefits include improving the chances of saving passengers and flight crew members, reducing SAR services, and decreasing the number of false alarms, which will reduce the number of unnecessary deployments of SAR resources.
Future population of Canadian aircraft equipped with 406 MHz ELTs
The estimation of the current and the projected population of Canadian aircraft equipped with 406 MHz ELTs was calculated using data collected from the following two sources: the Canadian Beacon Registry and the Canadian Civil Aircraft Register.
Annual data collected from the Canadian Beacon Registry shows that since 2010, the population of Canadian aircraft equipped with 406 MHz ELTs has increased over time. The analysis of this data revealed that the number of Canadian aircraft equipped with 406 MHZ ELTs, although growing, has a decreasing growth rate.
New aircraft (manufactured after 2008)
Since 2009, the COSPAS-SARSAT system has only tracked the 406 MHz frequency. Therefore, it is assumed that all new designed aircraft or aircraft manufactured after the cessation of 121.5 MHz monitoring have or will have a 406 MHz ELT included or installed. For the purpose of this analysis, new aircraft manufactured in or after 2009 will not directly be affected by these amendments.footnote 8
Existing aircraft (manufactured up to the end of 2008)
Of all existing aircraft manufactured up to the end of 2008, there are 24 033 aircraft currently required to carry an ELT. Table 1 below sets out the population of aircraft that will be equipped with 406 MHz ELTs under the baseline and the regulatory scenarios.
|Year||Baseline Scenario table b1 note *||Regulatory Scenario|
|Annual Increase||Cumulative||Annual Increase||Cumulative|
|2020||299||10 938||299||10 938|
|2021||189||11 127||365||11 303|
|2022||77||11 204||22||11 325|
|2023||N/A||11 204||N/A||11 325|
|2024||N/A||11 204||N/A||11 325|
|2025||N/A||11 204||12 708||24 033|
Table b1 note
The baseline scenario uses the adoption rate for both commercial/private and recreational aircraft, increasing the equipped fleet by 299 in 2020, 189 in 2021, and 77 in 2022. If these amendments were not published, it is estimated that there would be approximately 11 127 aircraft equipped with a 406 MHz ELT in 2021.
Conversely, in the regulatory scenario, after the 2021 implementation date for commercial/private aircraft, only the recreational aircraft continue to adopt the technology voluntarily (22 more in 2022).
In the year 2025, approximately 11 204 aircraft would be equipped with 406 MHz ELTs in the baseline scenario. In the regulatory scenario, all recreational aircraft would be required to comply with the proposal in 2025, bringing the number of existing aircraft equipped with 406 MHz ELTs to 24 033.
The amendments are expected to increase public safety by substantially increasing the likelihood that distress signals are received and processed by COSPAS-SARSAT and that relevant information is shared with a Canadian SAR operator, therefore increasing the chances of a successful rescue in the case of a downed aircraft.
Expected persons rescued
Using 2015 international data from COSPAS-SARSAT, there were 2 185 persons rescued with a population of 1 513 000 registered 406 MHz ELTs, which translates to 1.44 persons rescued per 1 000 registered 406 MHz ELTs.
Using the projected population of Canadian aircraft equipped with 406 MHz ELTs mentioned above and the rescue rate per 1 000 406 MHz ELTs, the number of persons expected to be rescued in a timely manner under the baseline scenario and the regulatory scenario would be 11.75 and 197.80 respectively, over a 15-year period. The amendments are expected to result in a timelier rescue of 186 individuals.
Expected lives saved
Although the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has reported that 406 MHz ELTs decrease the time required to reach distressed persons and result in a higher accident survivability success rate, no studies were found that would have estimated the incremental probability of survival for distressed persons due to 406 MHz ELTs as compared to 121.5 MHz ELTs. Due to this uncertainty, the monetized safety value was not included in the total monetized benefits.
Savings from avoided search time
Between 2011 and 2015, there were on average 992 SAR searches for aircraft each year. Out of these, an average of 66 per year were false alarms. Using the proportion of aircraft subject to the rules, it is estimated that about 644 searches were related to aircraft in scope of the amendments.
Annual search time
When examining the impact of emergency distress beacons on Canadian SAR flying times, a study led by DND found that the average flying time per airplane accident, required by SAR to search for and rescue injured persons, is 8.1 hours.footnote 9 Assuming that approximately the same amount of travel time is spent to reach and return from the accident, the average flying time required to conduct the search is 4.05 hours.
The annual search time, which is the number of searches per year multiplied by the average flying time, is roughly 2 608 hours (4.05 hours × 644).
Annual avoided search time
A study from Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC)footnote 10 revealed that the initial search area is about 13 kmfootnote 9 for 406 MHz ELTs, and 1 260 kmfootnote 9 for 121.5 MHz ELTs. Assuming the area searched until an aircraft is found follows a uniform distribution, the search area for a SAR mission, when the downed aircraft is equipped with a 406 MHz ELT, is expected to be reduced by 92.71%.
Annual avoided search time is calculated by multiplying the annual search time by 92.71%. Depending on the weight of the population of 406 MHz ELTs to be installed in the baseline and regulatory scenarios, the incremental avoided search time due to the amendments is projected over the course of 2020 to 2034.
Cost per hour
Based on a study led by DND, an aircraft SAR weighted average hourly flying cost is roughly estimated at $3,259 in Canadian dollars for the year 2000, which translates to $4,646 in 2019 Canadian dollars.
The savings from avoided search time are determined by multiplying the annual avoided search time by the hourly flying cost. Thus, over the analysis time frame, the incremental savings from avoided searching amount to approximately $47.98 million in present value.
Savings from avoided false alarms
Unlike 121.5 MHz ELTs, 406 MHz ELTs are known to have a higher false alarm indication rate; however, 406 MHz ELTs also have a significantly lower rate where an actual SAR response is required. This is due to the near-perfect satellite detection performance of the 406 MHz ELTs. Almost every time a 406 MHz ELT transmits, even momentarily, it will be detected by COSPAS-SARSAT. This means that every single non-intentional transmission will be automatically reported as such. Typical reasons for such transmissions include flight crew preflight testing the equipment, accidental activation during maintenance, passenger interference, or a switch being bumped by aircraft unloading. Despite the higher false alarm indication rate, these causes are easily determined; therefore, they very rarely result in a SAR response.
By comparison, the legacy 121.5 MHz ELTs cause fewer false alarm indications because, although they are exposed to the same rate of accidental activation, these are usually not detected or reported.
With the average population of 17 566 121.5 MHz ELTs, SAR received on average 103.17 false alarm distress signals per year between 2010 and 2015. During the same period, SAR authorities received on average 472.17 false alarm distress signals from 7 350footnote 11 406 MHz ELTs per year. It should be noted that most false alarms are resolved and identified as such before SAR resources need to be launched, so not all of these false alarms resulted in searches. Using past data on false alarms in Canada, it is estimated that the average false alarm rates per 1 000 aircraft with 121.5 MHz ELTs and per 1 000 aircraft with 406 MHz ELTs are 5.87 and 64.24, respectively. Table 2 below sets out the false alarm rate for each type of ELT.
|121.5 MHz ELTs||406 MHz ELTs|
|Population of aircraft using
|17 566||7 350|
|False alarms received (#)||103.17||472.17|
|Rate of false alarm
(per 1 000 aircraft)
|False alarms with SAR resources launched (#)||50.5||15.67|
|SAR false alarm launch rate
(per 1 000 aircraft)
Annual false alarms with SAR resources launched
Although they have a higher false alarm rate, 406 MHz ELTs are more efficient than 121.5 MHz ELTs, as most of the false alarms are resolved prior to SAR resources being launched. From the average 103.17 false alarm distress signals from 121.5 MHz ELTs received each year, SAR authorities had to deploy resources to investigate on average 50.5 of them (49%). Conversely, SAR authorities only had to launch resources for on average 15.67 of the 472.17 406 MHz ELTs false alarms received (3.3%), due to being able to contact the registered operator to confirm the false alarm.
The launch rate of false alarms (requiring a deployment of SAR resources) is calculated by dividing the number of false alarms by the total number of aircraft with at least one ELT installed. The launch rate was calculated for both types of ELTs. Annually, it corresponds to 2.87 per 1 000 aircraft with 121.5 MHz ELTs and 2.13 per 1 000 aircraft with 406 MHz ELTs.
The expected annual number of false alarms with SAR resources launched is determined by multiplying the launch rate of false alarms by the corresponding population of aircraft with each type of ELT each year.
Cost per false alarm with SAR resources launched
Based on the data received from DND, the cost per false alarm where SAR resources are launched is approximately $90,482 for those with 121.5 MHz ELTs and $36,666 for those with 406 MHz ELTs. This difference is due in large part to the precision of the 406 MHz ELT location transmission versus that of the 121.5 MHz ELT.
By multiplying the expected annual number of false alarms with SAR resources launched with the cost per false alarm where SAR resources are launched, Transport Canada estimates the false alarm costs. Beyond 2025, once the amendments come into effect for recreational operators, it is expected that the cost for false alarms, where resources are launched, will be reduced by approximately 76% annually. The incremental total savings from avoided false alarms are estimated at $20.07 million in present value over 15 years, using a 7% discount rate.
The incremental costs are mainly due to the procurement, registration and installation of 406 MHz ELTs by commercial air operators and private operators, as well as recreational operators. The Government of Canada is not expected to incur any additional costs due to the amendments. The values are discounted to present value using a 7% discount rate.
There is a large selection of 406 MHz ELTs available for purchase, ranging in complexity and price from $761 to $4,039. For the purpose of this analysis, an average purchase price of $1,673 per unit was used to estimate the procurement costs.footnote 12 It should be noted the amendments do not require that any air operator acquire the most complex, expensive unit.
The price forecast was then applied to the projected quantities of 406 MHz ELTs to be installed every year. The incremental procurement costs is $15.35 million in present value over the time frame of the analysis and using a 7% discount rate.
The amendments require that each 406 MHz ELT be registered with the Canadian Beacon Registry, which maintains a database containing essential information such as owner contact information, emergency contact information, and aircraft identifying characteristics.
To determine the one-time registration costs, Transport Canada assumes that a maximum of 60 minutes is needed to perform this task. This results in a total incremental registration cost of $0.32 million for all the stakeholders over the 15-year period, at a 7% discount rate.footnote 13
To determine the average length of time for installation, the information received from air operators in June 2016 shows that the number of hours required to install a 406 MHz ELT varies greatly depending on the type of aircraft and the complexity of the ELT. For less complex aircraft, the time needed for ELT installation is valued at 11 hours on average, while for more complex aircraft, the time required for a 406 MHz ELT installation is estimated at 46 hours. For the purpose of this analysis, Transport Canada assumes that the individual installation time for commercial and private aircraft is 46 hours, and 11 hours for recreational aircraft.
Based on the same June 2016 data, Transport Canada established an hourly wage rate of $103.30 to perform the installation by an AMO. For cost calculation purposes, this rate was applied consistently across the industry, whether the work would be performed on commercial, private or recreational aircraft, despite the fact that there are instances where the installation would be offered at a lower hourly wage rate. In the cases where the ELT system is not interfaced with any other system, the installation of the 406 MHz ELT will not be deemed to be specialized maintenance. Therefore, in these cases, an AMO will not have to do the work. This will offer more options and reduced costs to operators.
Using the estimated time per ELT installation, the estimated hourly wage, and the projected installed quantities of 406 MHz ELTs, the amendments will cost industry approximately $10.84 million in present value over the period from 2020 to 2034, at a 7% discount rate.
Other costs: downtime costs
Transport Canada assumes that air operators would aim to save time and reduce costs by installing an ELT while the aircraft is already grounded for other scheduled maintenance, such as annual maintenance. Coupled with the fact that air operators have been granted at least a one-year implementation period, the incremental downtime cost due to these amendments is expected to be negligible.
Net benefits, sensitivity and distributional analyses
The amendments are expected to result in benefits to Canadians and to the Government of Canada, while increasing costs to industry and to Canadians. Overall, over the analysis time frame, the amendments are expected to lead to a net monetized benefit of approximately $41.53 million in present value, with a monetized benefit-cost ratio of 2.57:1.
Canadians (and recreational operators)
By increasing the chances of the successful rescue of downed aircraft, the amendments are expected to improve public safety. The analysis shows that the amendments are expected to result in 186 persons rescued in a timely manner during the 2020 to 2034 time frame, which may result in additional lives saved.
Government of Canada
Over the period from 2020 to 2034, adopting 406 MHz ELTs will benefit DND by reducing time and resource costs associated with SAR services and false alarms. The total benefits resulting from the changes to the CARs to the Government of Canada are estimated at $68.05 million in present value, including $47.98 million in savings from avoided searching and $20.07 million in savings from avoided false alarms.
Industry (commercial air operators and private operators)
While benefiting Canadians and the Government of Canada, the amendments, in addition to the compliance cost to recreational operators, impose costs on commercial air operators and private operators. The present value of the total costs to commercial air operators and private operators associated with these amendments is approximately $0.75 million over 15 years. Estimated monetized and non-monetized benefits and costs are summarized below.
Administrative monetary penalties
The designation of offences that could be enforced via an administrative monetary penalty has no impact on law-abiding regulated parties, promotes compliance, and reduces the burden on the judicial system.
- Number of years: 15 (2020–2034)
- Dollar year: 2019
- Base year: 2020
- Discount rate: 7%
|Impacted stakeholder||Description of Cost||2020||2021||2025||2034||Total (Present Value)||Annualized Value|
|Industry table b3 note *||ELT procurement||0||275,269||0||0||194,172||21,319|
|All stakeholders||Total costs||0||1,062,644||25,766,675||0||26,516,253||2,911,342|
Table b3 note
|Impacted stakeholder||Description of Benefit||2020||2021||2025||2034||Total (Present Value)||Annualized Value|
|Government||Avoided SAR time||N/A||744,191||6,144,724||3,342,323||47,977,216||5,267,640|
|Avoided false alarm costs||N/A||514,260||2,424,342||1,318,682||20,068,371||2,203,399|
|All stakeholders||Total benefits||N/A||1,258,451||8,569,066||4,661,004||68,045,587||7,471,040|
|Impacts||2020||2021||2025||2034||Total (Present Value)||Annualized Value|
|Total monetized costs||0||1,062,644||25,766,675||0||26,516,253||2,911,342|
|Total monetized benefits||0||1,258,451||8,569,066||4,661,004||68,045,587||7,471,040|
|NET MONETIZED IMPACT||0||195,806||–17,197,609||4,661,004||41,529,334||4,559,698|
- Timely rescue of an estimated 186 persons;
- Possible lives saved; and
- Improved enforceability and compliance via availability of administrative monetary penalties as an enforcement tool.
- For Government, there would be increased calls associated with false alarms received from 406 MHz ELTs; however, less time would be spent on the phone to respond to each call. Transport Canada anticipates that to some degree these impacts would be offsetting, but the overall net result is unclear.
Several parameters used in this CBA are subject to uncertainty. A sensitivity analysis was performed to measure the impact of any change in these parameters on the CBA results, assuming all other variables remained constant.
ELT purchase price
A range of 406 MHz ELTs are available, with a range of complexities and suitable aircraft and operations. There is a corresponding range in ELT prices, from $761 to $4,039.
Initial search area covered
When the downed aircraft is equipped with a 406 MHz ELT, the size of the area required to be searched is smaller to that for a 121.5 MHz ELT. According to DRDC, as indicated in section 2.2.4 of their study from 2009, the initial search area is approximately 13 kmfootnote 9 for 406 MHz ELTs, and 1 260 kmfootnote 9 for 121.5 MHz ELTs. By contrast, a comparison made by the NOAA indicates that the initial search area is roughly 65 kmfootnote 9 for 406 MHz ELTs, while the search area is approximately 800 kmfootnote 9 on average for 121.5 MHz ELTs.
Given the potential that these amendments would result in significant social benefits for Canadians, Transport Canada conducted a sensitivity analysis using a 3% discount rate.
|Parameter changes||Net Benefit||Benefit-Cost Ratio|
|Lowest price: $719||$49,893,081||3.75|
|Highest price: $3,813||$19,818,778||1.41|
|Initial Search Area Covered|
|NOAA-SARSAT (wider 406 MHz search area and smaller 121.5 MHz search area than assumed in main CBA scenario) table b6 note *||$23,058,918||1.87|
Table b6 note
It is anticipated that the amendments will cost $2.91 million annually, while resulting in $7.47 million in annualized benefits. The costs as well as the benefits will vary by operator. It appears that 97.17% of the costs will be borne by the recreational operators compared to 2.83% for the commercial air operators and private operators. The benefits from the recreational air operators represent 86.97% of the total benefits. The proportion of the costs imposed to each operator group and their contribution to the total benefits are reported in Table 7.
|Operators||Proportion of the Costs Borne (%)||Contribution to the Benefits (%)|
Small business lens
In the absence of data for the numbers of small businesses impacted by these amendments, it is assumed that each impacted aircraft is operated by a separate business entity.footnote 14 Therefore, the amendments will affect an estimated 176 businesses, which include Subpart 705/704 air operators (34), Subparts 703 and 702 air operators (60), and Subpart 604 private operators (82).footnote 15 As it is estimated that most of the 703 and 702 air operators have fewer than 100 employees, they are considered to meet the definition of small business. Therefore, the amendments trigger the small business lens.
In order to reduce the costs of the amendments for all air operators, including small businesses, Transport Canada will provide commercial air operators and private operators one year from the date the amendments are published in the Canada Gazette, Part II, to implement the requirements. During the consultation, some of the small business operators recommended there be no requirement to install the most complex and expensive units of 406 MHz ELTs. Transport Canada took this recommendation into consideration and instead proposed that any unit that meets the international standard would be acceptable. This flexibility will enable access to more affordable 406 MHz ELTs. Tables 8.1 and 8.2 compare the flexible and the initial options.
|Flexible Option||Initial Option|
Implementation date: one year after the coming into force
406 MHz ELT
Implementation date: coming-into-force date
406 MHz ELT
|Number of small businesses impacted||60||60|
|Flexible Option||Initial Option|
|Annualized Average (2012 Can$)|| Present Value
| Annualized Value
|Average cost per small business||$480||$3,368||$620||$4,358|
In comparison to the initial option, the flexible option recommended by Transport Canada will be roughly 22.81% less costly for air operators subject to Subparts 702 and 703 of the CARs. Overall, the flexible option will result in costs for Canadian small businesses that are approximately $59,235 (or $990 per small business) less than the initial option, in present value over 10 years using a 7% discount rate.
The one-for-one rule applies to these amendments, as there is an increase in administrative burden on businesses, including both commercial air operators and private operators (recreational operators are not considered businesses). Therefore, the amendments are considered to be an “IN” under the one-for-one rule.
The increased administrative burden results from the requirement to register each 406 MHz ELT. The number of 406 MHz ELTsfootnote 16 registered by the commercial air operators and private operators that will be subject to the amendments is estimated to be 176. About an hour is needed to register any newly installed 406 MHz ELT, with annualized administrative costs of $401 or $2 per business.footnote 17 These values are calculated using a 10-year time frame, discounted at 7% in 2012 Canadian dollars.
Regulatory cooperation and alignment
Some foreign authorities, such as the U.S. FAA, have evaluated the needs of their SAR system, as well as operations within their airspace, and have decided against a mandatory requirement that all aircraft carry 406 MHz ELTs. However, IATA and ICAO both require that commercial airlines operating transnationally use 406 MHz ELTs, and most commercial airplanes flying between Canada and the United States (or any other country) will therefore be equipped with a 406 MHz ELT. Small commercial operators in the United States are not IATA members and may not carry 406 MHz ELTs; however, they will be required to meet the foreign operator requirements under the CARs when flying into Canada (the use of personal locator beacons or other certified 406 MHz ELTs). Although their Canadian counterparts will be required to carry 406 MHz ELTs, the impact on competitiveness is expected to be negligible, and the competitiveness impact on large transnational operators would be nil. For U.S. recreational aircraft, the impact is expected to be negligible, given the foreign operator requirements.
The Canadian SAR area of responsibility consists of vast expanses of unpopulated wilderness where air traffic control radar services are not available to low-flying aircraft. In these areas, it cannot be assumed that an aircraft in distress will be identified on radar, or that a transmitting ELT will be detected by an overflying aircraft. This is not the case in the contiguous United States, where there are far greater radar services and volume of overflying air traffic. The majority of the continental United States is also within low-flying radar coverage.
Regardless, the FAA is still going in the same direction; however, they are letting industry lead the switch to the 406 MHz ELT. The FAA cancelled Technical Standard Order TSO-91a in 2012 and is no longer issuing approvals for 121.5 ELTs. Industry Canada followed suit in 2014 and updated Radio Standards Specification RSS-287 to provide that ELT equipment without 406 MHz frequency is no longer allowed to be certified.
Transport Canada is using a stronger, precautionary regulatory approach as Canada’s unique geography, climate, and remote regions make it a higher priority for aircraft flying in Canada. These amendments introduce specific Canadian requirements that differ from the FAA; however, they align Canada with ICAO requirements, and will not result in any impact on the competitiveness of Canadian operators.
Strategic environmental assessment
In accordance with the Cabinet Directive on the Environmental Assessment of Policy, Plan and Program Proposals, a preliminary scan concluded that a strategic environmental assessment is not required.
Gender-based analysis plus (GBA+)
As the proposal deals only with requirements for equipment on aircraft motivated by aviation safety and SAR resource concerns, no differential impacts on the basis of identity factors such as gender, race, ethnicity, or sexuality are anticipated.
The current CARs mandate that Canadian aircraft be equipped with ELT technology that has become outdated, meaning that many aircraft distress signals cannot be detected by COSPAS-SARSAT, which presents risks to the flying public and often results in the wasteful use of SAR resources. These amendments ensure that all required aircraft have ELTs that transmit on a frequency that is monitored by COSPAS-SARSAT, which allows for efficient and effective SAR operations, therefore increasing public safety, reducing costs to the Canadian government and aligning the Canadian regulatory framework with that of ICAO.
Although general aviation aircraft in the United States are not mandated to carry a 406 MHz ELT at this time, there are some significant differences in geography, population density and radar services between Canada and the United States. In Canada, there are many airports, even in southern Canada, where a short flight can have an aircraft in a remote area where a SAR response would be difficult without knowing a precise location. The risk is increased for smaller private planes that are often the most difficult to locate.
The current mandate of the Canadian Armed Forces, on behalf of the Government of Canada, is to provide aeronautical SAR services for all downed aircraft in Canada. All Canadian aircraft owners and operators enjoy the benefits of a highly professional SAR organization, ready to respond on their behalf anywhere in Canada, and at no direct cost to them. Mandating the 406 MHz ELT enables efficient use of this valuable resource. It is also important to note that efficient SAR operations do not just save money, they reduce the risk that SAR crews and specialists are exposed to by limiting the number of deployments of resources in response to false alarms. This increases public safety, as the 406 MHz frequency is monitored by COSPAS-SARSAT, thus enhancing the probability of a distress signal being received and expediently processed, resulting in increased likelihood of flight crew members and passengers being rescued and their lives saved.
Implementation, compliance and enforcement, and service standards
The amendments have a staggered implementation plan. The expansion of personnel authorized to install ELTs comes into force on the day the amendments are published in the Canada Gazette, Part II. The regulatory changes applying to commercial air operators, private operators operating pursuant to Subpart 604 of the CARs, and foreign operators come into force on the first anniversary of the day on which the amendments are published in the Canada Gazette, Part II. The regulatory changes applying to recreational operators come into force on the fifth anniversary of the day on which the amendments are published in the Canada Gazette, Part II.
Compliance and enforcement
The amendments will be enforced through the assessment of monetary penalties imposed by designated sections 605.38 and 605.40 of the CARs set out in Subpart 5 of Part VI of Schedule II to Subpart 3 of Part I of the CARs. The CARs prescribe a maximum fine of $3,000 for individuals and $15,000 for corporations. Aircraft owners or operators may also face administrative action through the suspension or cancellation of their Canadian aviation documents.
Regulatory Affairs (AARKA)
Safety and Security Group
Place de Ville, Tower C
Telephone: 613‑993‑7284 or 1‑800‑305‑2059