A 406 ELT will be required equipment for pilots flying in the Bahamas beginning February 1st of next year. The devices will be required in Mexico beginning June 1st.
Caribbean Flying Adventures (CFA) had successfully collaborated with Civil Aviation authorities in the Dominican Republic and The Caymans Islands to obtain a waiver from the 406 ELT requirement. The Dominican Republic waiver is indefinite, and the Cayman Islands waiver is valid through December 1, 2013 but will almost certainly be extended. CFA says it will work to insure that this happens.
However, the waiver for an installed 406 ELT for the Bahamas will expire February 1, 2013 and for Mexico June 1, 2013. In order to be legal, pilots who want to fly to the Bahamas or Mexico will must install a 406 ELT.
CFA researched this issue and found that the U.S. Coast Guard continues to utilize the 121.5 frequency in their search and rescue operations. Thus, mandating the installation of the 406 ELT makes little sense for island flying. Additionally, ICAO experts have concluded than an installed ELT is useless once the aircraft sinks after the passengers have safely exited the aircraft. A hand held personal locator beacon then becomes the optimal search and rescue tool.
CFA says the bottom line is that pilots do not need to spend thousands of dollars installing a 406 ELT in order to fly to the Dominican Republic, The Cayman Islands or Puerto Rico. But beginning Feb 1, 2013, they do need to spend the money in order to fly to the Bahamas.