Doing the Annual ELT Inspection
After a lot of searching I can't believe how hard it has been to find an answer to what should be a simple question.  How do you conduct the annual ELT inspection and how do you log it.  According to 91.207, all I have to do is remove an access plate (permitted by Part 43, App A), and to comply with 91.207(d):
  1. verify proper installation
  2.  inspect for battery corrosion (and observe battery label for expiration)
  3. operate the controls and activate crash sensor (set to TX and set to Arm)
  4. verify operation by monitoring 121.5 for a signal (1975 Grumman Cheetah).
And as the Owner/operator, I make the log book entry.  What am I missing here?
8 Replies
1147 Posts
Charles Graham:
How about experimentals? I know I have to get the transponder test done by an A&P, but the ELT also?

Per 91.413, the transponder test must by the holder of a Part 145 repair station with:

(i) A radio rating, Class III;

(ii) A limited radio rating appropriate to the make and model transponder to be tested;

(iii) A limited rating appropriate to the test to be performed;

I don't know any A&P' who holds such a certificate, but I suppose one could.  And it is certainly not preventive maintenance an owner/pilot could do themselves.

As for the ELT test, it must be conducted by someone authorized to perform Part 91 inspections on that aircraft.  That would include someone with a repairman certificate for that aircraft under 65.104.

I do not think it is required to have a mechanic sign-off for this.  The mount is a permanent instillation, covered in the 100 hr/annual inspection, the ELT is not.  If you can access the item, remove the ELT (removable item and to be removed if needed, like your Garmin portable mount with removable GPS unit) then checking the inertial switch is an operator function like all other required operational checks such as the VOR test, installing software updates and checking function.  Operator functions are the responsibility of the owner/operator  and can be signed off by a licensed pilot.  The functional check of a switch is not a maintenance function, it is an operation function if it does not work it takes a mechanic or certified shop to make the repairs and sign it off.  As stated by some of the replies it is not part of an annual because it is an operational function not structural integrity item.  If it does not work it is the responsibility of the Owner/Operator to get it fixed.   Most mechanics do it as a favor to the customer when doing an annual or 100 hr if due just like informing them of the registration expiration and other owner operator required items.   If it was required to have a mechanic check the functionality annually then it should be part of the 100 hr/annual check list.  It is the responsibility of the Owner/Operator to make sure all Emergency equipment is functional prior to every flight not the mechanic
How about experimentals? I know I have to get the transponder test done by an A&P, but the ELT also?
As others stated here; the tests / inspections required by part 91 (91.207d) must be done by a licensed airframe mechanic. and is to be done each 12 calendar months. Should the unit (ELT) not pass test or inspection, it can be removed from the plane for repair or replacement. By the airframe mechanic not the owner operator, unless he is supervisde "in person" by the mechanic. log entry / placarding (if necessary) is done by the licensed airframe mechanic.
Usually this is done at an annual inspection if the 12th month is due or close (same with battery replacement, which is also not preventitive maintenance). Incidentally anything done is signed off indvidually, at least in general. A signed annual dos'nt necessarly  mean the airplane is returened to service if there are excetions to airworthyness it just means it has been inspected. If all is good, then their will be a statement stating the condition is "airworthy".  
I wonder how many other owner/operators are out there that have made that same incorrect assumption.  After watching my A&P perform the required checks, it really looks like something that should be added to Part 43 App A.  There are no structural or control issues involved, and even App A allows changing of batteries.  I've replaced both main landing gear wheels myself, and that's a much more involved procedure.
You are correct in that the ELT inspection is not specifically part of the annual inspection. To most owners, it is a logical time to have it performed as all the airplane inspection panels are open, and the mechanic is already inspecting and performing repairs and maintenance on the airplane.

The mechanic must verify the ELT unit is installed properly and securely, the battery is not corroded or expired, the controls (arm, off, activate) work, and that the unit transmits the emergency tone. Guidance is that this tone check be done during the first five minutes of any hour.

To ensure there is no doubt, a logbook entry specifically detailing the check and regulatory reference is very helpful to owners. And as Ron correctly noted, this is not something an owner can perform under preventive maintenance.