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207WF

Which 406 ELT?

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OK, some folks seem to have 406 ELTs, and I am thinking of upgrading, but it would be nice to have some discussion of the various choices, difficulties in installation, compatabilities, etc. Can someone who has experience with this fill us in? WF

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I upgraded to the AK451 a while back and it was a snap. If my memory serves me, there are at least two different models. One has input for GPS data from YOUR gps, and the other one doesn't use GPS info at all. I have the one without GPS input. Both make it much easier to locate you (vs. the old 121.5 ELTs), but the GPS model gives a (more or less) exact location, while the non-GPS unit narrows the search area down to a 3 Kilometer circle. The old 121.5 ELTs had a 20 Kilometer circle.

 

The antenna does NOT need to go on the top.... it just needs to be vertical. Of course, this is for optimal propagation of radio waves. Who knows what angle you'll end up after a crash?? The GPS input is fed via a separate wire (rs232), coming from your GPS unit - the ELT does not have its own GPS. I also have a SPOT, and felt I was covered pretty well as far as GPS location goes. I always use the tracking feature on any significant flights.

 

The kit came with all items to be able to install in about two hours.... including reading a lot of stuff and doing the tests afterward. The antenna swap took just a few minutes. The existing hole worked fine and has the needed metal tape strips used to assure good radio waves. You need to open the panel and add a horn, but it's a simple telephone-like snap-in connector. Otherwise the existing wiring is used. The antenna wire is replaced, but since it's just a foot between the ELT and the antenna mount, your biggest problem is coiling up the extra cable.

 

I replaced mine about 18 months ago, because of the Mexico/Canada/Caribbean requirements... side benefits were better safety, and a much better battery life.

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Hey Wayne, hope you are well... I haven't forgotten dinner. My snow bird parents have one more weekend in Palm Springs then head out for the season which frees up my weekends! Thought I'd mention that FD USA has a fleet approval letter 090123 (you can download in Roger's section on FDUSA Approval Letters) that gives fleet approval to upgrade to the AmeriKing Ak-451 as a direct replacement. This of course means you would not require any additional approvals to pick another brand or model. As a side note, did you ever get anything back from FDUSA from when Roger did our Matco upgrades? I never did, but assume the fleet approval letter suffices along with Rogers entry into our log books. Take Care, Adam.

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Just to clarify... I meant to say that if you do go with the Ameriking Ak-451 you don't need any other approvals because the fleet letter authorizes the change whereas if you decided to go another direction you would need FDUSA to approve...

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There seem to be less expensive 406s out there, such as the ACK E-04. As a pure novice on 406s, is there a consensus on the best one or is there a discussion of which features are offered by various models?

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Hi Jim. I was going to buy the ACK E-04 a while ago but the company was still trying to get FAA approval for this unit. Is it now approved by the FAA? When I priced out the ACK, it was quite a bit cheaper than the Ameriking and it also used the Ameriking remote that is currently installed in our CT as I recall. Also, the ACK had a nice aerodynamic antenna too. You will need FD LOA for this and FD now charges to issue the LOA's. Side note: The altitude encoder which provides altitude input for our Garmin transponder is a ACK and this is a very dependable unit. I had to replace my Ameriking 121.5 ELT and the avionics repair guy who helped me said that Ameriking wasn't his first choice for electronic equipment and it wasn't the first Ameriking 121.5 ELT he's replaced.

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My current CTsw needs a 406ELT, too.  I'm inclined to use the AK451 (non-gps version) again, just because I know it worked before and install was easy.   But, I have seen a few reviews where the units failed in some way.  The ACK looks nice, but I know the AK451 has an LOA, and am not inclined to chase down, or pay for, an LOA for the ACK.

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I'm trying to decide if my best safety investment is in a 406MHz ELT or a handheld 406MHz+GPS PLB.  Both have advantages and disadvantages.  The PLB has to be manually activated, but is less expensive, has GPS, and has an antenna that won't be sheared off in a crash.  The ELT is built-in and auto-magic in a crash, and the weight is already in the airplane.

 

From what I read, the Ameri-King ELT does not have an awesome reputation, which makes me lean toward a PLB, but I'm still on the fence.

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Check out Emerging Lifesaving Technologies web site to get a sense of what their product offers.   http://www.elt406.net/     I don't want to get into one of those wringing out discourses as to which product or solution is better -- for me it's a personal decision. I do like the option of activating from the panel a406 device specifying my gps position "prior" to the impact of an emergency touchdown. 

 

Roger Kuhn

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Depends on whether the Gov't makes a 406 ELT mandatory... if so, we'll need the ELT.  I also use a SPOT on almost every flight.

 

As far as the reputation of the AK451 goes... I don't see a trend.  A couple of negative reviews, but that may be out of thousands sold.  And one review the guy is all indignant even though they replaced his unit immediately.  Two that I personally know about are still working fine, and probably due for new battery packs.

 

tim

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Does the 406MHz AmeriKing plug right into existing brackets, RJ11 for the remote panel (can you use the existing panel?), etc?  How about the antenna, can you just screw the new antenna into the old antenna mount?

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The Ameriking AK451 can be installed in the same tray as the current 121.5 unit and as I recall, it looks just about the same externally as the older unit. The antennas are different but one should be able to install the new antenna in the old antenna's location.  As for the Ameriking with GPS option or the others with GPS, I'm not sure what is needed to accommodate this feature in regards to antenna.

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GPS capable AK451 uses input from your main gps.  Antenna doesn't come into play.  The Emerging Lifesaving Technologies unit has it's own built-in gps and may have some sort of combo antenna.  

 

When I installed the AK451, I just took the nut holding the old antenna off, pulled the old antenna out, and replaced with the new antenna.  A similar nut just gets tightened, and it's done.

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The Emerging Lifesaving Technology unit has separate gps and ELT output cables that connect to a single combo antenna. 

Since the gps is self contained, the unit is not dependent on the main airframe gps or battery, which may not be operational after an emergency landing.  

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The Emerging Lifesaving Technology unit has separate gps and ELT output cables that connect to a single combo antenna. 

Since the gps is self contained, the unit is not dependent on the main airframe gps or battery, which may not be operational after an emergency landing.  

FYI, My plane came with the Emerging Lifesaving Technology and the installer put the unit too close to the antenna and fried the unit.  No way of knowing unless you perform the self tests, which I did several months ago and discovered the problem.  If you are installing this, I suggest you speak with the ELT folks as they were extremely helpful on the placement of the unit and the antenna.  We had to make a ground plane for the antenna, because my plane is also composite. 

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So, Gentlemen,

 

If I understand this (questionable...) I can choose the AK451 at $795 and it does not connect to an installed GPS for greater location accuracy but doesn't need a LOA from Flight Design.  OR, I can choose the ACK E04 at $595 which does connect to an installed GPS but needs a LOA from Flight Design at an additional cost. 

 

Is this correct?  I'm going to do one or the other.

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There are at least 2 models of the AK451.  One has GPS input, and the other one doesn't.  The LOA I have does not specify which model, so I assume it can be used for either.

You should check and see if there has been a LOA issued for ACK by FD.

Tim

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Thanks, Tim for the advice.  I contacted Dave Armando on this and he e-mailed me the following:

 

 

"FD GmbH is currently producing a Fleet wide blanket approval for this.  Expect it by years end.

In the int-rum a simple log entry " MRA on file at FD GmbH"  will do."
 

Sincerely,
Dave Armando
Director of Maintenance
Flight Design USA

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