Aircraft operators and owners must meet Emergency Locator Transmitters (ELT) requirements. If there are differences in meaning between this page and the regulatory text and standards, the regulatory text and standards prevail.
On this page
- ELT approval and acceptance
- ELT installation
- 406 MHz ELT coding protocols
- Registration information: 406 MHz ELT
- Related links
An ELT is an emergency locator transmitter that helps rescuers find aircraft and people in distress following an aircraft impact with terrain.
You can find the rules for using ELTs on board aircraft operated in Canada in Part VI, Subpart 5 of the Canadian Aviation Regulations (CAR), specifically CAR 605.38. Note: These requirements apply to All Canadian and foreign registered aircraft.
The general rule in Canada is that the ELT must transmit a signal on 121.5 MHz and be approved to the standards specified below. Transport Canada strongly recommends carrying an ELT that operates on both 121.5 MHz and 406 MHz. Transport Canada accepts for operational use under CAR 605.38 only those 406 MHz ELTs that also transmit on 121.5 MHz.
You can find the full requirements for ELTs in:
- CAR 605.38; and
- the incorporated standards in Airworthiness Manual, Chapter 551 of the Airworthiness Manual (AWM 551.104)
Note: We have referenced these requirements below for convenience only. Refer to the regulations and standards for the latest information.
ELT approval and acceptance
Aircraft operated in Canada may use only Transport Canada approved/accepted ELTs.
To receive a Transport Canada approval, an ELT must comply with the equipment design and installation standards specified in section 551.104 of Chapter 551 of the Airworthiness Manual (AWM).
Transport Canada approved ELTs are identified in the NAPA Issued Certificates Online (NICO) database 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) under a Technical Standard Order (TSO), as specified in AWM 551.104, or its equivalent European Technical Standard Order (ETSO) standards. ELTs approved under TSO standards (or equivalent ETSO standards) at later amendments to those specified in AWM 551.104 would be considered as satisfying the minimum requirement set out in AWM 551.104, so long as the ELT broadcasts on 121.5 MHz and, optionally, 406 MHz:
- FAA-certified ELTs are identified in the FAA's Regulatory and Guidance Library (RGL) (RGL)
- EASA-certified ELTs are identified in the List of ETSO Authorisations
An owner or operator wishing to install or change an installation of one or more approved/accepted ELT(s) on a Canadian registered aircraft must do so in accordance with AWM 551.104 and in compliance with the certification basis of the aircraft onto which the ELT is installed. The licensed AME performing this maintenance work will be able to identify whether the particular installation would require specific ELT installation design approval data (i.e. type certificate, including amended or supplemental type certificate) or whether the ELT manufacturer’s installation instructions may be sufficient in the case of simple installations.
The ELT installer is responsible for ensuring the ELT complies with any applicable Airworthiness Directives (AD), including Transport Canada AD CF-81-29R2 "Emergency Locator Transmitters" in respect to lithium sulfur dioxide (LiSO2) battery types. However, since lithium battery technology has greatly improved in the last two decades, Transport Canada Civil Aviation accepts batteries meeting suitable TSO (or equivalent ETSO) standards as having an acceptable level of safety. This is why Transport Canada issued Alternate Means of Compliance (AMOC) – AARDG 2008/A13 to AD CF-81-29R2 – Emergency Locator Transmitters (ELT).
406 MHz ELT coding protocols
The coding to uniquely identify an ELT must follow these protocols:
- ELTs able to determine their location, and transmit this information in the beacon's message:
- ELT types AF, AP or AD ELT must use the Standard Location Protocol and the 24-bit binary aircraft identification Transport Canada assigned to the aircraft when it registered the aircraft
- An S Type ELT must use the Standard Location Protocol and the unique serial number assigned to the ELT by its manufacturer and the Cospas-Sarsat beacon type approval certificate number
- ELTs not able to determine its own location:
- ELT types AF, AP or AD ELT must use the Serial User Protocol with the 24-bit binary aircraft identification Transport Canada assigned to the aircraft when it registered the aircraft to uniquely identify the ELT
- An S type ELT must use the Serial User Protocol with a unique Beacon Serial Number
- Al ELT country codes must reflect the state in which the aircraft is registered
Registration information: 406 MHz ELT
Each 406 MHz ELT must be registered with the Canadian Beacon Registry before it is installed on a Canadian-registered aircraft.
- To register, contact the Canadian Beacon Registry for 406 MHz
In the case of a change of aircraft ownership and/or registration, the buyer or lessee is responsible for ensuring that:
- any changes to the 406 MHz ELT coded information is completed
- the revised information has been brought to the attention of the Canadian Beacon Registry
If an aircraft is already equipped with survival type ELTs (ELT(S)), the buyer or lessee is responsible for ensuring that the:
- country code is changed to reflect the state in which the aircraft is registered
- appropriate beacon registry is notified
Please direct your questions about Transport Canada approval of ELTs and related batteries to the nearest Transport Canada Civil Aviation regional office.