According to regulations and recommendations from the FAA, ICAO or other aviation organisations, what types of aircraft are required to carry Automatic Fixed Emergency Location Transmitters (ELT(AF)) devices? In particular, is it required of commercial transport airliners?

CAA (and I guess other aviation organisations/regulators) group aircraft into several categories:

  • General Aviation (GA) - personal aircraft etc.
  • Business Aviation - executive jets etc
  • Commercial Air Transport / Public Transport - Scheduled passenger airliners etc.

AOPA say

ELTs are emergency transmitters that are carried aboard most general aviation aircraft in the U.S.

(my emphasis) - note GA, not all aircraft.

CAA refer to ICAO Annex 6

Aeroplanes - ICAO Annex 6, Part II
6.12.3 From 1 January 2005, all aeroplanes operated on extended flights over water as described in 6.3.3 b) and when operated on flights over designated land areas as described in 6.4 shall be equipped with one automatic ELT. [i.e. designated KK(ii) in the Air Navigation Order]

6.12.4 Recommendation. - All aeroplanes should carry an automatic ELT.

But I can't find an annex mentioning ELTs at www.icao.int.

So, I'm not sure whether all airliners are required to carry ELT(AF)s and if so, by whom.

  • $\begingroup$ In the quoted text from AOPA I believe the term "general aviation" is being used in the sense of "all regular aircraft" and it was not intended to exclude large commercial aircraft from that category. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 1, 2015 at 15:22
  • $\begingroup$ @Tyler: I wondered about that but an AOPA glossary and another suggests GA excludes airliners. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 1, 2015 at 15:26
  • $\begingroup$ Well, in the context of an airport ramp it kind of does. At large airports they have various "terminals" and then a separate "general aviation" terminal and sometimes a "cargo terminal", the general aviation being whatever is not big body major carrier or cargo. However, even here the meaning is ANYBODY can use this terminal. Re-interpreting this term to mean non-major-carrier has just happened sort of randomly because major carriers do not use the GA terminals at large airports. So, for example charters are "GA" even though they are commercial carriers. It's confusing. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 1, 2015 at 15:37
  • $\begingroup$ @Tyler: It probably doesn't affect answers to this Q so I've asked a separate question $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 1, 2015 at 16:33

1 Answer 1


Everything you need to know (at least in the USA) is here.

Regarding airliners, it appears that they are carved out of the general requirement to have an ELT in 91.207.f.2. I guess that makes some sense. If you're flying a scheduled flight, presumably we should be able to find the plane, since we know the takeoff time and approximate airspeed, and we have radar tracking by ATC/ARTCC. Unscheduled (especially VFR) flights are where things get dicey.


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