[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 20 (Wednesday, January 30, 2013)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 6276-6278]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-01871]



[[Page 6276]]

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FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION

47 CFR Part 87

[WT Docket No. 01-289; FCC 13-2]


Aviation Communications

AGENCY: Federal Communications Commission.

ACTION: Proposed rules.

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SUMMARY: In this document, the Federal Communications Commission 
(Commission) invites comment on issues regarding 121.5 MHz emergency 
locator transmitters (ELTs), in effort to ensure that it's rules 
pertaining to Aviation Communications remain up-to-date and continues 
to further the Commission's goals of accommodating new technologies, 
facilitating the efficient and effective use of the aeronautical 
spectrum, avoiding unnecessary regulation, and, above all, enhancing 
the safety of flight.

DATES: Submit comments on or before March 1, 2013, and reply comments 
are due on or before March 18, 2013.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, identified by WT Docket No. 01-289, 
FCC 13-2, by any of the following methods:
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. 
Follow the instructions for submitting comments.
     Federal Communications Commission's Web Site: http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/ecfs/. Follow the instructions for submitting comments.
     People With Disabilities: Contact the FCC to request 
reasonable accommodations (accessible format documents, sign language 
interpreters, CART, etc.) by email: FCC504@fcc.gov or phone 202-418-
0530 or TTY: 202-418-0432.
    For detailed instructions for submitting comments and additional 
information on the rulemaking process, see the SUPPLEMENTARY 
INFORMATION section of this document.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jeffrey Tobias, Jeff.Tobias@FCC.gov, 
Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, (202) 418-1617, or TTY (202) 418-
7233.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This is a summary of the Commission's Third 
Further Notice of Proposed Rule Making (``Third FNPRM'') in WT Docket 
No. 01-289, FCC 13-2, adopted on January 7, 2013, and released on 
January 8, 2013. The full text of this document is available for 
inspection and copying during normal business hours in the FCC 
Reference Center, 445 12th Street SW., Washington, DC 20554. The 
complete text may be purchased from the Commission's copy contractor, 
Best Copy and Printing, Inc., 445 12th Street SW., Room CY-B402, 
Washington, DC 20554. The full text may also be downloaded at: 
www.fcc.gov. Alternative formats are available to persons with 
disabilities by sending an email to fcc504@fcc.gov or by calling the 
Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau at 202-418-0530 (voice), 202-
418-0432 (tty).
    1. The WT Docket No. 01-289 rulemaking proceeding was established 
to ensure that part 87 of the Commission's rules remains up-to-date and 
continues to further the Commission's goals of accommodating new 
technologies, facilitating the efficient and effective use of the 
aeronautical spectrum, avoiding unnecessary regulation, and, above all, 
enhancing the safety of flight. In the Third FNPRM, the Commission 
invites further comment on the appropriate treatment of 121.5 MHz ELTs 
under part 87 of the rules. 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. In the Third Report and Order, at 76 FR 17347, March 29, 
2011, in this proceeding, the Commission amended Sec.  87.195 of its 
rules to prohibit the certification, manufacture, importation, sale or 
use of 121.5 MHz ELTs. 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.
    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 Sec.  87.195. 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. The FAA also expressed concerns about 
the costs and availability of replacements for the 121.5 MHz ELTs.
    3. Following its receipt of the FAA letter, the Commission 
determined that it would be in the public interest to stay its 
amendment to Sec.  87.195. In the Stay Order, at 76 FR 17353, March 29, 
2011, which was published in the Federal Register on the same day as 
the summary of the Third Report and Order, the Commission stated that 
no additional action would be taken regarding 121.5 MHz ELTs until 
further notice and an additional opportunity for public comment. This 
Third FNPRM requests such comment.

I. Procedural Matters

A. Ex Parte Rules--Permit-But-Disclose Proceeding

    4. This is a permit-but-disclose notice and comment rulemaking 
proceeding. Ex parte presentations are permitted, except during the 
Sunshine Agenda period, provided they are disclosed as provided in the 
Commission's rules.

B. Comment Dates

    5. Pursuant to Sec. Sec.  1.415 and 1.419 of the Commission's 
rules, 47 CFR 1.415, 1.419, interested parties may file comments on or 
before March 1, 2013 and reply comments on or before March 18, 2013. 
All filings related to this Third FNPRM should refer to WT Docket No. 
01-289.
    6. Comments may be filed using the Commission's Electronic Comment 
Filing System (ECFS), the Federal Government's eRulemaking Portal, or 
by filing paper copies. See Electronic Filing of Documents in 
Rulemaking Proceedings, 63 FR 24121 (1998).
    7. 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 Web site for submitting comments.
    8. 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 email. To get filing instructions, 
filers should send an email 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.
    9. Parties who choose to file by paper must file an original and 
four 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.
    10. Filings can be sent by hand or messenger delivery, by 
commercial overnight courier, or by first-class or

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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.
    11. The Commission's contractor will receive hand-delivered or 
messenger-delivered paper filings for the Commission's Secretary at 236 
Massachusetts Avenue NE, Suite 110, Washington DC 20002. The filing 
hours at this location are 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. All hand deliveries 
must be held together with rubber bands or fasteners. Any envelopes 
must be disposed of before entering the building.
    12. 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.
    13. U.S. Postal Service first-class, Express, and Priority mail 
should be addressed to 445 12th Street SW., Washington, DC 20554.
    14. All filings must be addressed to the Commission's Secretary, 
Marlene H. Dortch, Office of the Secretary, Federal Communications 
Commission, 445 12th Street SW., Washington, DC 20554. Parties shall 
also serve one copy with the Commission's copy contractor, Best Copy 
and Printing, Inc. (BCPI), Portals II, 445 12th Street SW., Room CY-
B402, Washington, DC 20554, (202) 488-5300, or via email to 
fcc@bcpiweb.com.
    15. Availability of documents. The public may view the documents 
filed in this proceeding during regular business hours in the FCC 
Reference Information Center, Federal Communications Commission, 445 
12th Street SW., Room CY-A257, Washington, DC 20554, and on the 
Commission's Internet Home Page: http://www.fcc.gov. Copies of comments 
and reply comments are also available through the Commission's 
duplicating contractor: Best Copy and Printing, Inc. (BCPI), Portals 
II, 445 12th Street SW., Room CY-B402, Washington, DC 20554, telephone 
1-800-378-3160, may be reached by email at fcc@bcpiweb.com or via 
BCPI's Web site at www.bcpiweb.com. To request materials in accessible 
formats for people with disabilities (braille, large print, electronic 
files, audio format), send an email to fcc504@fcc.gov or call the 
Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau at 202-418-0530 (voice), 202-
418-0432 (tty).

C. Paperwork Reduction Act

    16. This document does not contain proposed information 
collection(s) 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).

II. Supplemental Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis

    17. As required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA), 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 FNPRM in WT Docket No. 01-289. 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 5 above. 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. In addition, the Third FNPRM and Supplemental 
IRFA (or summaries thereof) will be published in the Federal Register.

Need for, and Objectives of, the Proposed Rules

    18. 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.

Legal Basis for Proposed Rules

    19. 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.

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

    20. 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 proposed rules, if adopted. The RFA generally defines 
the term ``small entity'' as having the same meaning as the terms 
``small business,'' ``small organization,'' and ``small governmental 
jurisdiction.'' In addition, the term ``small business'' has the same 
meaning as the term ``small business concern'' under the Small Business 
Act. A small business concern is one that: (1) Is independently owned 
and operated; (2) is not dominant in its field of operation; and (3) 
satisfies any additional criteria established by the SBA. Pursuant to 5 
U.S.C. 601(3), the statutory definition of a small business applies 
``unless an agency after consultation with the Office of Advocacy of 
the SBA, 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.''
    21. 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. Census data for 2007 shows that there were 1,383 firms 
that operated that year. 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.
    22. 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. According to Census bureau data for 2007, there 
were a total of 919 firms in this category that operated for the entire

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year. Of this total, 771 had fewer than 100 employees and 148 had more 
than 100 employees. Thus, under this size standard, the majority of 
firms can be considered small.

Description of Projected Reporting, Recordkeeping, and Other Compliance 
Requirements

    23. 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.

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

    24. 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.
    25. 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 Sec.  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 Sec.  
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 Sec.  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.

Federal Rules That May Duplicate, Overlap, or Conflict With the 
Proposed Rules

    26. None.

III. Ordering Clauses

    27. 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 adopted.
    28. Pursuant to the applicable procedures set forth in Sec. Sec.  
1.415 and 1.419 of the Commission's rules, 47 CFR 1.415, and 1.419, 
interested parties may file comments on this Third FNPRM on or before 
30 days after publication in the Federal Register, and reply comments 
on or before 45 days after publication in the Federal Register.
    29. The Commission's Consumer Information 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.

Federal Communications Commission.
Marlene H. Dortch,
Secretary.

Proposed Rules

    For the reasons discussed in the preamble, the Federal 
Communications Commission proposes to amend 47 CFR part 87 as follows:

0
1. The authority citation for part 87 continues to read as follows:

PART 87--AVIATION SERVICES

    Authority:  47 U.S.C. 154, 303 and 307(e), unless otherwise 
noted.

0
2. Section 87.147 is amended by revising paragraph (b) to read as 
follows:


Sec.  87.147  Authorization of equipment.

* * * * *
    (b) ELTs manufactured after October 1, 1988, must meet the output 
power characteristics contained in Sec.  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.
* * * * *
0
3. Section 87.195 is revised to read as follows:


Sec.  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.

[FR Doc. 2013-01871 Filed 1-29-13; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 6712-01-P