Installation and Registration of an Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT)

FOCA SAND-2012-001 Rev. version of 30.05.2012


Accidents from gliders have repeatedly shown that unairworthy or switched off emergency transmitters, can considerably hinder and unnecessary delay the timeliness of the search and rescue operations after an accident.
In case of an accident, the Search and Rescue Service  (SAR) can determine the exact accident location and fix the position of the concerned aircraft, using the data provided from a built in emergency transmitter sent through "Cospas-Sarsat"- satellites. A prompt localization of the accident location can save lives.


In accordance with FOCAs Technical Communication TM 20.140-012 (available in German or French) all "ICAO Annex 8"- compliant aircraft have to be equipped with a 406 MHz ELT. The corresponding code must be reported to the Registration Authority in writing, so that the ELT details can be registered in the "Search and Rescue (SAR)" database and be to the disposal of the Rescue Units in case of need.

Based on aircraft continuous airworthiness monitoring and regular surveillance activities, the FOCA has found that installed ELTs were often unairworthy which could be due to the following reasons:

  • The wrong antenna or the wrong antenna cable is installed on the ELT
  • The maintenance was not carried out in accordance to the manufacturer's instructions
  • The ELT is not operational (for e.g. old, flat batteries)

Presently, ELT details of many Swiss aircraft are outstanding. Furthermore, the existing ELT database entries are incomplete or incorrect. This is often due to the following reasons:

  • The aircraft is not equipped with an ELT1
  • The ELT was not reported to the FOCA accordingly (whereby it was not registered in the SAR database)
  • Changes in details (for e.g. emergency address, change of ownership of the aircraft) were not reported to the FOCA

Although the Technical Communication only concerns "ICAO Annex 8"- compliant aircraft, the FOCA urgently recommends all owners to install a 406 MHz ELT.

The FOCA stresses, the responsibility lies with the owner of the aircraft to ensure the operational reliability of the ELT. This in regards to the correct installation and maintenance through a certified provider, as well as the accuracy of the data in the ELT database.

Furthermore, the aircraft owner holds the responsibility that ELT- code details are reported by using the form "Application for 406 MHz - SWISS ELT Registration" and that any changes to the registered data are promptly reported to the FOCA. 


1 If the aircraft is operated under the provisions of TM 20.140-01, a written application for an exemption to the equipment requirements should be submitted to the following address:

Federal Office of Civil Aviation (FOCA)
Safety Division Aircraft
Standardization, Enforcement and Registry
3003 Bern

This FOCA publication will not guarantee any revisions and new publications on this topic.

Further information


Federal Office of Civil Aviation

Safety Division Infrastructure
Search and Rescue SAR
3003 Bern

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