Washington, DC - The National Transportation Safety Board today issued two safety recommendations to the Federal Aviation Administration requiring a detailed inspection of all emergency locator transmitters (ELT) installed on general aviation aircraft to ensure that their mountings maintain their retention capabilities during an accident sequence.
An ELT is designed to broadcast a signal through an externally mounted antenna that contains the aircraft's registration information and the global positioning system coordinates of the original signal. Also, the "homing signal" can be detected locally by other aircraft, air traffic control facilities, or rescue personnel who use a compatible receiver. "In this case, the airplane was equipped with a functioning 406 megahertz ELT, which can be a tremendous aid to search and rescue operations," said NTSB Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman. "But this vital life-saving technology won't do anyone any good if it doesn't stay connected to the antenna."
On August 9, 2010, a de Havilland turbine Otter airplane crashed in mountainous tree-covered terrain approximately 10 miles from Aleknagik, Alaska. Nearly five hours after the crash, volunteer airborne search personnel located the aircraft approximately 19 miles from where the flight originated. The pilot and four passengers, including former U.S. Senator Ted Stevens, sustained fatal injuries. The other four passengers were seriously injured.
Aircraft involved in the search and rescue efforts and satellites did not detect any ELT signals. Following the discovery of the airplane, a pararescuer found the ELT loose on the floor of the airplane. The ELT had activated but had separated from its mounting bracket and antenna.
To view the recommendation letters, click on: http://www.ntsb.gov/Recs/letters/2010/A-10-169-170.pdf.
Every now and then, a mechanic drops me a letter. Many of these letters make great safety suggestions and others rag on me about the FAA in general, or a particular ugly regulation, or both.
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