Aviation safety issues and actions

Emergency Locator Transmitter re-programming risk

Issue number: AO-2011-055-SI-01
Issue owner: Civil Aviation Safety Authority
Transport function: Aviation: Maintenance
Background: Investigation Report AO-2011-055
Issue release date: 08 August 2011
Current issue status: Adequately addressed

Safety issue description

There were only subtle cues to the fitment of programming dongles and no requirement to test Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT) programming after installation, increasing the risk of inadvertent and undetected ELT re-programming and a less effective search and rescue response.

Proactive Action

Action number: AO-2011-055-NSA-002
Action organisation: Civil Aviation Safety Authority
Date: 08 August 2011
Action status: Closed
On 6 June 2011, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) published an Airworthiness Bulletin to alert maintenance organisations to the risk of programming dongles transferring potentially invalid details to the memory of ELTs. In addition, an article was planned for inclusion in CASA's Flight Safety Australia magazine to highlight this issue.

ATSB comment:

The ATSB is satisfied that the action proposed by CASA will, when complete, adequately address the safety issue.

Proactive Action

Action number: AO-2011-055-NSA-003
Action organisation: Robinson Helicopter Co
Date: 08 August 2011
Action status: Closed
The helicopter manufacturer advised that they were undertaking a design revision to add a decal to the ELT mounting bracket to warn that the dongle must be programmed, rather than the ELT. Where applicable, instructions regarding the need to program the dongle rather than the ELT were being added to the paperwork package for a new helicopter.

ATSB comment:

The ATSB is satisfied that the action proposed by the helicopter manufacturer will adequately address the safety issue.
Last update 08 January 2014