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Part 87 Third FNPRM Concerning Aviation Radio Service

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Released: January 8, 2013

Federal Communications Commission

FCC 13-2

Before the

Federal Communications Commission

Washington, D.C. 20554

In the Matter of
)
)

Review of Part 87 of the Commission’s Rules
)
WT Docket No. 01-289
Concerning the Aviation Radio Service
)

THIRD FURTHER NOTICE OF PROPOSED RULE MAKING

Adopted: January 7, 2013

Released: January 8, 2013

Comment Date: [30 days after date of publication in the Federal Register]
Reply Comment Date: [45 days after date of publication in the Federal Register]

By the Commission:

I.

INTRODUCTION

1.
In this Third Further Notice of Proposed Rule Making (Third FNPRM) in WT Docket
No. 01-289, we seek comment on the appropriate treatment of 121.5 MHz emergency locator transmitters
(ELTs) under Part 87 of the Rules.1 ELTs are radiobeacons that are activated manually or automatically
to alert search and rescue personnel that an aircraft has crashed, and to identify the location of the aircraft
and any survivors.2 In the Third Report and Order in this proceeding, the Commission amended Section
87.195 of its Rules3 to prohibit the certification, manufacture, importation, sale or use of 121.5 MHz
ELTs.4 It adopted this amendment because, among other reasons, the international Cospas-Sarsat satellite
system, which relays distress alerts to search and rescue authorities, stopped monitoring frequency 121.5
MHz on February 1, 2009.5
2.
After the Commission released the Third Report and Order, it received a letter from the
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) asking that the Commission not implement the modification to
Section 87.195.6 The FAA stated that 121.5 MHz ELTs can continue to provide beneficial means of
locating missing aircraft even without satellite monitoring because the frequency is still monitored by the
search and rescue community, including the Civil Air Patrol.7 The FAA also expressed concerns about


1 47 C.F.R. § 87.1 et seq.
2 See 47 C.F.R. §§ 87.5, 87.193.
3 47 C.F.R. § 87.195.
4 See Review of Part 87 of the Commission’s Rules Concerning the Aviation Radio Service, Third Report and
Order
, WT Docket No. 01-289, 25 FCC Rcd 7610, 7620-21 ¶¶ 17-18 (2010) (Third Report and Order). In this
document, the phrase “121.5 MHz ELTs” refers to ELTs that operate only on frequency 121.5 MHz, i.e., that do not
include 406.0-406.1 MHz.
5 See Third Report and Order, 25 FCC Rcd at 7620-21 ¶¶ 17-18.
6 See Review of Part 87 of the Commission’s Rules Concerning the Aviation Radio Service, Order, WT Docket No.
01-289, 26 FCC Rcd 685, 686 ¶ 4 (2011) (Stay Order).
7 See id.
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the costs and availability of replacements for the 121.5 MHz ELTs.8
3.
Following its receipt of the FAA letter, the Commission determined that it would be in
the public interest to stay its amendment to Section 87.195.9 The Stay Order, which was published in the
Federal Register on the same day as the summary of the Third Report and Order,10 stated that no
additional action would be taken regarding 121.5 MHz ELTs until further notice and an additional
opportunity for public comment.11 This Third FNPRM requests such comment.

II.

BACKGROUND

4.
ELT distress alerts are relayed to search and rescue authorities by the international
Cospas-Sarsat satellite system.12 In 2000, Cospas-Sarsat announced that it would terminate satellite
processing of distress signals on frequency 121.5 MHz in February 2009, and urged users to switch to the
more reliable 406.0-406.1 MHz (406 MHz) radiobeacons.13 Cospas-Sarsat now monitors and relays only
406 MHz distress alerts. In addition to transmitting a distress alert to the Cospas-Sarsat satellite, 406
MHz ELTs transmit a lower-power homing signal on frequency 121.5 MHz to more precisely guide
search and rescue personnel to an aircraft once they are in its vicinity.14 Frequency 121.5 MHz will
remain available for homing, and our decisions in the instant proceeding do not affect this use of the
frequency.
5.
In 2006, in the Second Further Notice of Proposed Rule Making (Second FNPRM) in this
proceeding, the Commission requested comment on what actions it should take in light of the planned
termination of satellite monitoring of frequency 121.5 MHz.15 The Commission noted that 406 MHz
ELTs were more expensive than 121.5 MHz ELTs, and that there appeared to be a “difference of opinion
within the search and rescue and aviation communities as to whether 121.5 MHz distress alerting will


8 Id. at 686-87 ¶¶ 4-5.
9 Id. at 686-87 ¶¶ 1-6.
10 See Aviation Communications, 76 Fed. Reg. 17347 (Mar. 29, 2011) (publishing a summary of the Third Report
and Order
); see also Aviation Communications, 76 Fed. Reg. 17353 (Mar. 29, 2011) (publishing a summary of the
Stay Order).
11 See Stay Order, 26 FCC Rcd at 687 ¶ 5.
12 Cospas/Sarsat is a joint international satellite-based search and rescue (SAR) system established by Canada,
France, Russia, and the United States. Cospas is an acronym for a Russian phrase meaning space system for search
and distress vessels. Sarsat stands for Search and Rescue Satellite Aided Tracking.
13 The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), the U.S. Air
Force (USAF), and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration – which administer the Cospas-Sarsat
system in the United States – also advised users to switch to 406 MHz beacons. See, e.g., Termination of 121.5/243
MHz Satellite Alerting, Notice, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Docket No. 010501107-1107-01,
66 Fed. Reg. 34912, 34913 (2001).
14 See 47 C.F.R. § 87.199(b).
15 See Review of Part 87 of the Commission’s Rules Concerning the Aviation Radio Service, Second Report and
Order and Second Further Notice of Proposed Rule Making
, WT Docket No. 01-289, 21 FCC Rcd 11582, 11609
¶ 43 (2006) (Second Report and Order and Second FNPRM). The Wireless Telecommunications Bureau later
reminded aviators that satellite monitoring of frequency 121.5 MHz would soon terminate, and that the Commission
was considering a prohibition on the use of 121.5 MHz ELTs. See Wireless Telecommunications Bureau Reminds
Aviators and Mariners that Satellite Monitoring of 121.5 MHz Alerts Will End February 1, 2009, Public Notice, 24
FCC Rcd 149 (WTB 2009).
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remain a viable search and rescue tool” after February 2009.16 Commenters to the Second FNPRM
generally supported the phase-out of 121.5 MHz ELTs.17 No commenter disputed that 406 MHz ELTs
are more accurate and reliable than 121.5 MHz ELTs, and minimize false alerts.18 The National
Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and FAA stated that they generally
supported the proposals in the Second FNPRM, but did not specifically address the issue of 121.5 MHz
ELTs.19
6.
In 2010, after Cospas-Sarsat had ceased monitoring frequency 121.5 MHz, the
Commission determined in the Third Report and Order that, based on the record before it, the public
interest would be served by amending Section 87.195 to prohibit the further certification, manufacture,
importation, sale, or use of 121.5 MHz ELTs.20 The Commission concluded that requiring a transition to
406 MHz ELTs would promote aviation safety, and that whatever residual safety value 121.5 MHz ELTs
might retain was outweighed by the danger that aviators might mistakenly rely on them for satellite
distress alerting.21 The Commission acknowledged that aircraft owners and pilots still using 121.5 MHz
ELTs would incur an expense, but concluded that the safety benefits outweighed the compliance cost,
especially given that aviators had been on notice since 2000 that Cospas-Sarsat would cease monitoring
the frequency.22
7.
Before the rule amendments adopted in the Third Report and Order were published in the
Federal Register, however, the FAA and the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) asked the
Commission to revisit the rules regarding 121.5 MHz ELTs.23 In response, the Commission stayed the
effective date of the 121.5 MHz ELT rule changes, and stated that it would provide an opportunity for


16 See Second FNPRM, 21 FCC Rcd at 11609 ¶ 43.
17 See NOAA Comments to the Second FNPRM at 1 (noting that 121.5 MHz ELTs have a much higher false alert
rate than 406 MHz ELTs, and that ELT false alerts “degrade SAR services and the SARSAT system, dramatically
increase the cost to taxpayers for these services, and subject SAR personnel to unnecessary risks”); USCG
Comments to the Second FNPRM at 1 (supporting a prohibition on the certification, manufacture, or use of 121.5
MHz ELTS after February 2009, arguing that the “use of such equipment without satellite detection will be
relatively ineffective for lifesaving”); Fred J. Kissel Comments to the Second FNPRM at 1; Alan C. Knox
Comments to the Second FNPRM at 1. Only one commenter opposed a phase-out of 121.5 MHz ELTs, arguing
without elaboration that “alternative ELT surveillance technology will emerge” and stating that 406 MHz ELT
prices were “exorbitant.” See Potomac Technology Aviation Corp. Comments to the Second FNPRM at 1.
18 See Third Report and Order, 25 FCC Rcd at 7620-21 ¶ 17.
19 See NTIA Comments to the Second FNPRM at 1.
20 See Third Report and Order, 25 FCC Rcd at 7620-21 ¶ 17.
21 Id. at 7620-21 ¶ 17 & n.76. The Commission also noted that the safety benefits would accrue not only to pilots,
crew and passengers, but also to search and rescue personnel, while also preserving search and rescue resources.
22 Id. at 7621 n.77.
23 See Letter, dated July 8, 2010, from James T. Eck, Director of Program Operations, FAA, to Karl B. Nebbia,
Associate Administrator, Office of Spectrum Management, NTIA (FAA Request), forwarded to FCC under cover of
Letter, dated July 14, 2010, from Karl T. Nebbia, Associate Administrator, Office of Spectrum Management, NTIA,
to Julius Knapp, Chief, Office of Engineering and Technology, FCC; see also Letter, dated June 24, 2010, from
Robert E. Hackman, Vice President, Regulatory Affairs, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, to Marlene Dortch,
Secretary, FCC (AOPA Request). Other parties filed pleadings opposing the NTIA and AOPA requests in whole or
in part. See, e.g., Letter, dated July 20, 2010, from Richard A. Peri, Vice President, Government & Industry Affairs,
Aircraft Electronics Association to Karl B. Nebbia, Associate Administrator, Office of Spectrum Management,
NTIA, filed with the FCC on Aug. 5, 2010 (AEA Comments).
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interested parties to augment the record.24

III.

DISCUSSION

8.
Based on the record to date, we continue to believe that a phase-out of 121.5 MHz ELTs
is in the public interest. While nothing in the record disputes the conclusion in the Third Report and
Order
that 406 MHz ELTs are superior to 121.5 MHz ELTs, or that a transition to 406 MHz ELTs would
promote aviation safety,25 we seek further comment on these tentative conclusions. We also seek
additional comment to help us more closely consider the timing and implementation of any such
transition. In addition, we propose to further modify the Part 87 Rules to defer for an additional period of
time the date(s) on which prohibitions pertaining to 121.5 MHz ELTs will take effect. The rules adopted
in the Third Report and Order prohibit five discrete actions pertaining to 121.5 MHz ELTs – certification,
manufacture, importation, sale, and use. We tailor our proposals to the particular considerations that
attend each prohibition. We seek comment on these proposals, and also on relevant developments with
respect to ELTs since we released the Stay Order.
9.
At this time, we see no reason to certify new models of 121.5 MHz ELTs. Not only has
Cospas-Sarsat stopped monitoring frequency 121.5 MHz, but the FAA has ceased design or production
approval for new 121.5 MHz ELTs in light of the superiority of 406 MHz ELTs.26 As a result, there will
be no new 121.5 MHz ELT devices for the Commission to certify. Consequently, while the prohibition
on further certification of 121.5 MHz ELTs is currently stayed,27 we propose to prohibit further
certification of 121.5 MHz ELTs immediately upon the effective date of any 121.5 MHz ELT rule
amendments adopted as a consequence of this Third FNPRM.28 This would have the effect of lifting the
stay on the prohibition against further certifications as of that date. Commenters who believe that we
should allow continued certification of new 121.5 MHz ELT models should explain how such an action
would serve the public interest, and why the immediate cessation of further certifications of such devices
would adversely affect any party.
10.
We further propose to prohibit the continued manufacture, importation, and sale of
existing 121.5 MHz ELT models beginning one year after the effective date of any 121.5 MHz ELT rule
amendments adopted as a consequence of this Third FNPRM. This would have the practical effect of
continuing the current stay on Section 87.195’s prohibition on the manufacture, importation, and sale of
121.5 MHz ELT models for one year after that effective date, though the stay itself would be lifted as of
that date. We believe that there are sound reasons to provide a one-year transition period before we
prohibit the manufacture, importation, or sale of 121.5 MHz ELTs, even if we provide no such additional


24 See Stay Order, 25 FCC Rcd at 687 ¶ 5 & n.17.
25 See Third Report and Order, 25 FCC Rcd at 7620-21 ¶ 17.
26 See Notice of cancellation of Technical Standard Order (TSO)-C91a, Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT)
Equipment, 77 Fed. Reg. 28668 (May 15, 2012) (canceling the FAA Technical Service Order that sets forth
minimum standards for 121.5 MHz ELTs, effective December 1, 2012).
27 See Stay Order, 26 FCC Rcd at 686-87 ¶¶ 1-6.
28 We also propose to amend Section 87.147(b) of the Rules, 47 C.F.R. § 87.147(b). Section 87.147(b) cross-
references subpart N of Part 2 of the Rules in describing the procedure for testing ELT output power, but subpart N
of Part 2 has been deleted as obsolete. See Amendment of Parts 2, 15 and 18 of the Commission’s Rules, Order, 26
FCC Rcd 16784 ¶ 2 (OET/OMD 2011). We therefore propose to amend Section 87.147(b) by eliminating the cross-
reference. The rule, as proposed to be amended, is in Appendix A, infra. We invite comment on this proposal and
the costs and benefits associated with it.
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period for the certification of such equipment.29 We tentatively conclude that a one-year grandfathering
period for the manufacture, importation, and sale of 121.5 MHz ELTs will enable manufacturers,
importers, and distributors of 121.5 MHz ELTs to largely avoid any significant economic burden
associated with stranded inventory, particularly since nearly two years have passed since we released the
Stay Order. We seek comment on this tentative conclusion and on whether, and to what extent, a one-
year grandfathering period would avoid or reduce the compliance burden on small businesses and other
small entities compared to an immediate ban on the manufacture, importation, and sale of 121.5 MHz
ELTs. We also seek comment on whether the transition period should be longer or shorter than the one-
year proposal discussed herein, or in the alternative, whether there should be no transition period at all. In
addition, we seek comment on the ramifications of the proposed one-year period (or any other transition)
for aviation safety, as well as any associated costs. Further, we seek comment on whether, if we permit
the continued sale of 121.5 MHz ELTs, we should enact additional requirements (such as labeling or
point-of-sale disclosure) to ensure that purchasers are aware that 121.5 MHz ELTs lack satellite alerting
capability.30 We ask commenters to address the costs and benefits of any additional requirements as well.
11.
We seek comment on whether we also should adopt a specific date to prohibit the
continued use of 121.5 MHz ELTs in service. Information in the record submitted after the Third Report
and Order
was released suggests that permitting the continued use of 121.5 MHz ELTs, at least
temporarily, may mitigate compliance costs, address a possible shortfall in the existing inventory of 406
MHz ELTs, and prevent an unintended grounding of general aviation aircraft.31 We accordingly also
request comment on the extent to which we should grandfather those 121.5 MHz ELTs already in use and
the costs and benefits of doing so. Should they be grandfathered indefinitely so that they would need to
be replaced only at the end of their useful life, or for a specific limited period of time?32 We note that
when the Commission phased out 121.5 MHz emergency position-indicating radiobeacons (EPIRBs), it
grandfathered their use until a specific date.33
12.
We seek information on the costs associated with a mandatory transition to 406 MHz
ELTs and our specific proposals to discontinue the certification, and prohibit the manufacture,
importation, and sale of 121.5 MHz ELTs. Past AOPA and AEA filings in this docket suggest that a
mandatory upgrade from 121.5 MHz ELTs to 406 MHz ELTs would affect approximately two hundred
thousand aircraft,34 at an aggregate cost that FAA and AOPA estimated to be three hundred to five


29 Cf. Implementation of Sections 309(j) and 337 of the Communications Act of 1934 as Amended, Order, WT
Docket No. 99-87, 25 FCC Rcd 8861, 8864 ¶ 9 (2010) (waiving the deadline after which manufacture or importation
of wideband private land mobile radio equipment is prohibited, but not the deadline for certification of new
wideband equipment).
30 We are not proposing any prohibition or restriction on the manufacture, sale, or installation of replacement
components, such as batteries, for 121.5 MHz ELTs in use. We believe that permitting the continued marketing of
replacement components for 121.5 MHz ELTs does not present the same concerns, and would not delay the
transition to 406 MHz ELTs to the same extent, as permitting the continued marketing of stand-alone 121.5 MHz
ELTs. We nonetheless invite comment on whether we should impose any restrictions on the manufacture,
importation, or sale of 121.5 MHz ELT replacement components. Commenters are encouraged to address the costs
and benefits from any such restriction.
31 See, e.g., FAA Request at 1.
32 Commenters favoring grandfathering for a pre-set period of time should suggest a suitable period.
33 See Amendment of Parts 13 and 80 of the Commission’s Rules Concerning Maritime Communications, Report
and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rule Making
, WT Docket No. 00-48, 17 FCC Rcd 6741, 6761-62 ¶ 47
(2002). EPIRBs are radiobeacons designed for use on marine vessels.
34 See AOPA Request at 1; AEA Comments at 1-2.
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hundred million dollars.35 We seek current data on the number of aircraft potentially affected by a
prohibition on continued use of 121.5 MHz ELTs, and the cost per unit of 406 MHz ELTs (including
installation). We also seek additional information regarding the costs to the search and rescue community
of continuing to allow use of 121.5 MHz ELTs, including but not limited to the cost of responding to false
alerts.
13.
FAA and AOPA also state that the inventory of 406 MHz ELTs is insufficient to
accommodate all general aviation aircraft in the short term.36 They are concerned, given that most
general aviation aircraft are required to carry ELTs,37 that immediately prohibiting use of 121.5 MHz
ELTs would effectively ground many such aircraft.38 We invite comment on these concerns, particularly
in light of the amount time that has passed since we issued the Stay Order. We request data on the
existing inventory of 406 MHz ELTs, and the capacity of manufacturers to meet increased demand.
Commenters that contend that the current supply of 406 MHz ELTs is insufficient are asked to estimate
how long a grandfathering period for the continued use of 121.5 MHz ELTs would be sufficient for
manufacturers to meet projected demand for 406 MHz ELTs.
14.
In addition, FAA and AOPA argue that the Third Report and Order undervalued the
continued safety benefits of 121.5 MHz ELTs.39 We therefore request additional comment on the residual
safety benefits of 121.5 MHz ELTs since Cospas-Sarsat terminated satellite monitoring of the frequency
more than three years ago. We also ask interested parties to discuss whether, notwithstanding any such
benefits, allowing continued use of 121.5 MHz ELTs could foster an unwarranted reliance on them, and
whether this can be addressed by educational outreach efforts or other means.
15.
FAA and AOPA also argue that a rapid transition to 406 MHz ELTs is not warranted in
light of other technology. They argue that many aircraft already carry EPIRBs or personal locator
beacons (PLBs)40 that transmit distress signals on frequency 406 MHz, or GPS-equipped mobile phones
which transmit a signal that can be tracked.41 AOPA also argues that the benefits of 406 MHz ELTs may
be superseded by the advent of Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast (ADS-B) service, which
provides superior flight tracking functionality.42 We seek comment on whether the availability of


35 See AOPA Request at 1 (three hundred million dollars); FAA Request at 1 (“approaches $500 million”).
36 See FAA Request at 1; AOPA Request at 1-2.
37 See 49 U.S.C. § 44712; 14 C.F.R. § 91.207.
38 See FAA Request at 1; AOPA Request at 3.
39 See FAA Request at 1 (stating that 121.5 MHz ELT signals continue to be monitored by the search and rescue
community, most notably by the Civil Air Patrol); AOPA Request at 2 (stating that frequency 121.5 MHz is
“continuously monitored by military towers, most civil towers, FSSs [FAA flight service stations], radar facilities
and overflying aircraft,” and that the Airman’s Information Manual encourages pilots to monitor 121.5 MHz to
assist in identifying possible emergency ELT transmissions).
40 PLBs, which are designed for use on land, never were authorized to operate on frequency 121.5 MHz. See
Amendment of Part 95 of the Commission’s Rules to Authorize the Use of 406.025 MHz for Personal Locator
Beacons (PLB), Report and Order, WT Docket No. 99-366, 17 FCC Rcd 19871 (2002).
41 See FAA Request at 1; AOPA Request at 2. FAA says that more than nine thousand EPIRBs are currently carried
by pilots.
42 See AOPA Request at 2. ADS-B Service automatically broadcasts GPS-derived information on the location,
velocity, altitude, heading, etc., of an ADS-B equipped aircraft to other ADS-B equipped aircraft and to ADS-B
ground stations for distribution to air traffic control systems. See Review of Part 87 of the Commission's Rules
Concerning the Aviation Radio Service, Second Report and Order, 21 FCC Rcd at 11587 n.18. AOPA states that
the FAA has mandated the use of ADS-B “with an expected compliance date of 2020.” See AOPA Request at 2.
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alternative equipment reduces the importance of 406 MHz ELT carriage. Commenters should provide
data on the extent to which such devices currently are carried, and describe how such devices can serve as
reasonable substitutes for 406 MHz ELTs. We also seek comment on how the deployment of ADS-B
may affect the need for 406 MHz ELTs. Interested parties may also suggest any additional factors they
believe either support or militate against a rapid transition to 406 MHz ELTs.

IV.

CONCLUSION

16.
For reasons discussed above, we seek additional comment in this proceeding on the
proper timing and implementation of a phase-out of 121.5 MHz ELTs and transition to 406 MHz ELTs.
We ask that commenters address our proposals in this Third FNPRM, and otherwise provide their views
on these matters.

V.

PROCEDURAL MATTERS

A.

Ex Parte Rules – Permit-But-Disclose Proceeding

17.
This proceeding shall be treated as a “permit-but-disclose” proceeding in accordance with
the Commission’s ex parte rules.43 Persons making ex parte presentations must file a copy of any written
presentation or a memorandum summarizing any oral presentation within two business days after the
presentation (unless a different deadline applicable to the Sunshine period applies). Persons making oral
ex parte presentations are reminded that memoranda summarizing the presentation must (1) list all
persons attending or otherwise participating in the meeting at which the ex parte presentation was made,
and (2) summarize all data presented and arguments made during the presentation. If the presentation
consisted in whole or in part of the presentation of data or arguments already reflected in the presenter’s
written comments, memoranda or other filings in the proceeding, the presenter may provide citations to
such data or arguments in his or her prior comments, memoranda, or other filings (specifying the relevant
page and/or paragraph numbers where such data or arguments can be found) in lieu of summarizing them
in the memorandum. Documents shown or given to Commission staff during ex parte meetings are
deemed to be written ex parte presentations and must be filed consistent with rule 1.1206(b). In
proceedings governed by rule 1.49(f) or for which the Commission has made available a method of
electronic filing, written ex parte presentations and memoranda summarizing oral ex parte presentations,
and all attachments thereto, must be filed through the electronic comment filing system available for that
proceeding, and must be filed in their native format (e.g., .doc, .xml, .ppt, searchable .pdf). Participants in
this proceeding should familiarize themselves with the Commission’s ex parte rules.

B.

Congressional Review Act

18.
The Commission will send a copy of this Third FNPRM in a report to be sent to Congress
and the Government Accountability Office pursuant to the Congressional Review Act, see 5 U.S.C.
801(a)(1)(A).

C.

Regulatory Flexibility Act

19.
As required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA),44 the Commission has prepared a
Supplemental Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (Supplemental IRFA) of the rules proposed or
discussed in the Third FNPRM in WT Docket No. 01-289. The Supplemental IRFA for the Third
FNPRM
in WT Docket No. 01-289 is contained in Appendix B. Written public comments are requested
on the Supplemental IRFA. These comments must be filed in accordance with the same filing deadlines
for comments on the Third FNPRM in WT Docket No. 01-289, and they should have a separate and


43 47 C.F.R. § 1.1200 et seq.
44 5 U.S.C. § 603.
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distinct heading designating them as responses to the Supplemental IRFA. The Commission’s Consumer
and Governmental Affairs Bureau, Reference Information Center, will send a copy of the Third FNPRM
in WT Docket No. 01-289, including the Supplemental IRFA, to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the
Small Business Administration, in accordance with the Regulatory Flexibility Act.45

D.

Comment Dates

20.
Pursuant to Sections 1.415 and 1.419 of the Commission’s Rules, 47 CFR §§ 1.415,
1.419, interested parties may file comments and reply comments on or before the dates indicated on the
first page of this document. Comments may be filed using: (1) the Commission’s Electronic Comment
Filing System (ECFS), (2) the Federal Government’s eRulemaking Portal, or (3) by filing paper copies.
See Electronic Filing of Documents in Rulemaking Proceedings, 63 FR 24121 (1998).
§
Electronic Filers: Comments may be filed electronically using the Internet by accessing the
ECFS: http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/ecfs/ or the Federal eRulemaking Portal:
http://www.regulations.gov. Filers should follow the instructions provided on the website for
submitting comments.
§
For ECFS filers, if multiple docket or rulemaking numbers appear in the caption of this
proceeding, filers must transmit one electronic copy of the comments for each docket or
rulemaking number referenced in the caption. In completing the transmittal screen, filers
should include their full name, U.S. Postal Service mailing address, and the applicable
docket or rulemaking number. Parties may also submit an electronic comment by
Internet e-mail. To get filing instructions, filers should send an e-mail to ecfs@fcc.gov,
and include the following words in the body of the message, “get form.” A sample form
and directions will be sent in response.
§
Paper Filers: Parties who choose to file by paper must file an original and two copies of each
filing. If more than one docket or rulemaking number appears in the caption of this proceeding,
filers must submit two additional copies for each additional docket or rulemaking number.
Filings can be sent by hand or messenger delivery, by commercial overnight courier, or by first-
class or overnight U.S. Postal Service mail (although we continue to experience delays in
receiving U.S. Postal Service mail). All filings must be addressed to the Commission’s Secretary,
Office of the Secretary, Federal Communications Commission.
§
All hand-delivered or messenger-delivered paper filings for the Commission’s Secretary
must be delivered to FCC Headquarters at 445 12th St., SW, Room TW-A325,
Washington, DC 20554. All hand deliveries must be held together with rubber bands or
fasteners. Any envelopes must be disposed of before entering the building. The filing
hours at this location are 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

PLEASE NOTE:

This is the only
location where hand-delivered or messenger-delivered paper filings for the Commission’s
Secretary will be accepted. The Commission’s former filing location at 236
Massachusetts Ave., NE, is permanently closed.
§
Commercial overnight mail (other than U.S. Postal Service Express Mail and Priority
Mail) must be sent to 9300 East Hampton Drive, Capitol Heights, MD 20743.


45 5 U.S.C. § 603(a).
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§
U.S. Postal Service first-class, Express, and Priority mail should be addressed to 445 12th
Street, SW, Washington DC 20554.
People with Disabilities: To request materials in accessible formats for people with disabilities
(braille, large print, electronic files, audio format), send an e-mail to fcc504@fcc.gov or call the
Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau at 202-418-0530 (voice), 202-418-0432 (tty).

E.

Paperwork Reduction Act

21.
This Third FNPRM does not contain any new or modified information collection subject
to the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA), Public Law 104-13. In addition, therefore, it does not
contain any new or modified information collection burden for small business concerns with fewer than
25 employees, pursuant to the Small Business Paperwork Relief Act of 2002, Public Law 107-198, see 44
U.S.C. 3506(c)(4).

F.

Ordering Clauses

22.
Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED that, pursuant to Sections 4(i), 303(r), and 403 of the
Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. §§ 154(i), 303(r), and 403, this Third FNPRM IS
HEREBY ADOPTED, and NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN of the proposed regulatory changes described
in the Third FNPRM and contained in Appendix A.
23.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Commission’s Consumer & Governmental Affairs
Bureau, Reference Information Center, SHALL SEND a copy of this Third FNPRM, including the
Supplemental Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis, to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small
Business Administration.

G.

Further Information

24.
For further information, contact Jeffrey Tobias, Mobility Division, Wireless
Telecommunications Bureau, 202-418-0680, or TTY 202-418-7233, or via electronic mail at
jeff.tobias@fcc.gov.
25.
To request materials in accessible formats for people with disabilities (Braille, large print,
electronic files, audio format), send an e-mail to fcc504@fcc.gov or call the Consumer and Governmental
Affairs Bureau at 202-418-0530 (voice), 202-418-0432 (tty). This Third Further Notice of Proposed Rule
Making
can also be downloaded at: http://www.fcc.gov/.
FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
Marlene H. Dortch
Secretary
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APPENDIX A

Proposed Rules

Chapter I of Title 47 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Part 87, is proposed to be amended as
follows:
1. The authority citation for Part 87 continues to read as follows:

AUTHORITY: 48 Stat. 1066, 1082, as amended; 47 U.S.C. 154, 303, 307(e) unless otherwise noted.
Interpret or apply 48 Stat. 1064-1068, 1081-1105, as amended; 47 U.S.C. 151-156, 301-609.

2. Section 87.147 is amended by revising paragraph (b) to read as follows:
§ 87.147 Authorization of Equipment
* * * * *
(b) ELTs manufactured after October 1, 1988, must meet the output power characteristics
contained in §87.141(i). A report of the measurements must be submitted with each application for
certification. ELTs that meet the output power characteristics of the section must have a permanent label
prominently displayed on the outer casing state, “Meets FCC Rule for improved satellite detection.” This
label, however, must not be placed on the equipment without authorization to do so by the Commission.
Application for such authorization may be made either by submission of a new application for
certification accompanied by the required fee and all information and test data required by parts 2 and 87
of this chapter or, for ELTs approved prior to October 1, 1988, a letter requesting such authorization,
including appropriate test data and a showing that all units produced under the original equipment
authorization comply with the requirements of this paragraph without change to the original circuitry.
* * * * *
3. Section 87.195 is amended to read as follows:
§ 87.195 121.5 MHz ELTs
ELTs that operate only on frequency 121.5 MHz will no longer be certified. The manufacture,
importation, and sale of ELTs that operate only on frequency 121.5 MHz is prohibited beginning [ONE
YEAR AFTER EFFECTIVE DATE]
. Existing ELTs that operate only on frequency 121.5 MHz must
be operated as certified.
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APPENDIX B

Supplemental Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis

(Third Further Notice of Proposed Rule Making in WT Docket No. 01-289)
As required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA),1 the Commission has prepared this
Supplemental Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (Supplemental IRFA) of the possible significant
economic impact on small entities of the policies and rules proposed in the Third Further Notice of
Proposed Rule Making
in WT Docket No. 01-289 (Third FNPRM). Written public comments are requested
on this Supplemental IRFA. Comments must be identified as responses to the Supplemental IRFA and must
be filed by the deadlines for comments on the Third FNPRM as provided in paragraph 17 of the item, supra.
The Commission will send a copy of the Third FNPRM, including this Supplemental IRFA, to the Chief
Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration.2 In addition, the Third FNPRM and
Supplemental IRFA (or summaries thereof) will be published in the Federal Register.3

A.

Need for, and Objectives of, the Proposed Rules


The proposed rules in the Third FNPRM are intended to address the appropriate regulatory
treatment of 121.5 MHz emergency locator transmitters (ELTs) now that they are no longer monitored by
the Cospas-Sarsat satellite system.

B.

Legal Basis


Authority for issuance of this item is contained in Sections 4(i), 303(r) and 403 of the
Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. §§ 154(i), 303(r) and 403.

C.

Description and Estimate of the Number of Small Entities to Which the Proposed Rules Will
Apply

The RFA directs agencies to provide a description of, and, where feasible, an estimate of the
number of small entities that may be affected by the rules adopted herein.4 The RFA defines the term
“small entity” as having the same meaning as the terms “small business,” “small organization,” and
“small governmental jurisdiction.”5 In addition, the term “small business” has the same meaning as the
term “small business concern” under the Small Business Act..6 A small business concern is one which:
(1) is independently owned and operated; (2) is not dominant in its field of operation; and (3) satisfies any
additional criteria established by the Small Business Administration (SBA).7


1 See 5 U.S.C. § 603. The RFA, see 5 U.S.C. §§ 601-612, has been amended by the Small Business Regulatory
Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 (SBREFA), Pub. L. No. 104-121, Title II, 110 Stat. 857 (1996).
2 See 5 U.S.C. § 603(a).
3 Id.
4 5 U.S.C. § 604(a)(4).
5 Id. § 601(6).
6 Id. § 601(3) (incorporating by reference the definition of “small business concern” in 15 U.S.C. § 632). Pursuant to
the RFA, the statutory definition of a small business applies “unless an agency, after consultation with the Office of
Advocacy of the Small Business Administration and after opportunity for public comment, establishes one or more
definitions of such term which are appropriate to the activities of the agency and publishes such definition(s) in the
Federal Register.” 5 U.S.C. § 601(3).
7 Small Business Act, 15 U.S.C. § 632 (1996).
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Small businesses in the aviation and marine radio services use a marine very high frequency
(VHF), medium frequency (MF), or high frequency (HF) radio, any type of emergency position indicating
radio beacon (EPIRB) and/or radar, an aircraft radio, and/or any type of emergency locator transmitter
(ELT). The Commission has not developed a definition of small entities specifically applicable to these
small businesses. For purposes of this analysis, the Commission uses the SBA small business size
standard for the category Wireless Telecommunications Carriers (except satellite),” which is 1,500 or
fewer employees.8 Census data for 2007 shows that there were 1,383 firms that operated that year.9 Of
those 1,383, 1,368 had fewer than 100 employees, and 15 firms had more than 100 employees. Thus
under this category and the associated small business size standard, the majority of firms can be
considered small.
Some of the rules adopted herein may also affect small businesses that manufacture aviation radio
equipment. The Census Bureau does not have a category specific to aviation radio equipment
manufacturers. The appropriate category is that for wireless communications equipment manufacturers.
The Census Bureau defines this category as follows: “This industry comprises establishments primarily
engaged in manufacturing radio and television broadcast and wireless communications equipment.
Examples of products made by these establishments are: transmitting and receiving antennas, cable
television equipment, GPS equipment, pagers, cellular phones, mobile communications equipment, and
radio and television studio and broadcasting equipment.” The SBA has developed a small business size
standard for Radio and Television Broadcasting and Wireless Communications Equipment
Manufacturing, which is: all such firms having 750 or fewer employees.10 According to Census bureau
data for 2007, there were a total of 919 firms in this category that operated for the entire year. Of this
total, 771 had fewer than 100 employees and 148 had more than 100 employees.11 Thus, under this size
standard, the majority of firms can be considered small.

D.

Description of Projected Reporting, Recordkeeping, and Other Compliance Requirements for
Small Entities

We are considering in the Third FNPRM whether to prohibit the certification, manufacture,
importation, sale or use of 121.5 MHz ELTs, and, if so, under what timetable. We request comment on
whether the manufacturers, importers, sellers, and, in particular, users of 121.5 MHz ELTs are small entities,
and the extent to which a total or partial prohibition of 121.5 MHz ELTs might impose burdens on them.
We request specific data on the costs of purchasing and installing a 406 MHz ELT to replace a 121.5 MHz
ELT, the availability of 406 MHz ELTs, and the possibility that some general aviation aircraft may be
grounded due to an inability to acquire a 406 MHz ELT.

E.

Steps Taken to Minimize Significant Economic Impact on Small Entities and Significant
Alternatives Considered



8 13 C.F.R. § 121.201, NAICS code 517210.
9 U.S. Census Bureau, 2007 Economic Census, Sector 51, 2007 NAICS code 517210 (rel. Oct. 20, 2009),
http://factfinder.census.gov/servlet/IBQTable?_bm=y&-geo_id=&-fds_name=EC0700A1&-_skip=700&;-
ds_name=EC0751SSSZ5&-_lang=en.
10 13 C.F.R. § 121.201 NAICS code 334220.
11 See http://factfinder.census.gov/servlet/IBQTable?_bm=y&-geo_id=&-fds_name=EC0700A1&-_skip=4500&;-
ds_name=EC0731SG3&-_lang=en
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The RFA requires an agency to describe any significant alternatives that it has considered in
reaching its proposed approach, which may include the following four alternatives: (1) the establishment
of differing compliance or reporting requirements or timetables that take into account the resources
available to small entities; (2) the clarification, consolidation, or simplification of compliance or reporting
requirements under the rule for small entities; (3) the use of performance, rather than design, standards;
and (4) an exemption from coverage of the rule, or any part thereof, for small entities.12
It is not economically or technologically feasible to retrofit 121.5 MHz ELTs to transmit a 406
MHz distress alert. We believe, however, that the safety benefits of 406 MHz ELTs outweigh the cost of
replacing 121.5 MHz ELTs. The Third FNPRM seeks comment on how best to minimize the economic
impact of migrating to 406 MHz ELTs. Specifically, we propose to amend Section 87.195 of the
Commission’s Rules to prohibit further certification of new models of 121.5 MHz ELTs on the effective
date of the rule amendment, and to prohibit any further manufacture, importation, and sale of 121.5 MHz
ELTs beginning one year after the effective date of the rule amendment. We also seek comment on
alternatives to these proposals, including those that may minimize any economic impact on small entities.
Commenters may advocate, for example, for an immediate prohibition of all actions that would enable
additional installations of 121.5 MHz ELTs, for different transition periods, or for taking no action at all,
and leaving Section 87.195 as is. In addition, the Third NPRM invites comment, but makes no specific
proposals, regarding the continued use of 121.5 MHz ELTs. We request comment on whether we should
grandfather the continued use of 121.5 MHz ELTs already installed on aircraft, and, if so, for how long.
Commenters favoring a grandfathering period of limited duration are asked to recommend a specific date,
and commenters may also advocate for indefinite grandfathering of installed 121.5 MHz ELTs, so that the
equipment may continue to be used until the end of its useful life. We also propose to amend Section
87.147(b) of the Commission’s Rules to remove an obsolete cross-reference to subpart N of Part 2 of the
Commission’s Rules.

F.

Federal Rules that May Duplicate, Overlap, or Conflict with the Proposed Rules


None.


12 5 U.S.C. § 603(c)(1)-(4).
13

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