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1202 Transponder codes

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Jim Lee

FAA expands gliders' use of transponder code 1202 - AOPA


October 6, 2021By Dan Namowitz

The FAA says glider pilots flying under visual flight rules should squawk transponder code 1202 regardless of whether the flight is in communication with air traffic control in a procedural change that will take effect November 1.

AOPA welcomed the FAA decision to direct glider pilots to squawk 1202 regardless of whether they are communicating with air traffic control, starting in November.

The use of transponder code 1202 for VFR glider flights not in contact with ATC was instituted in 2012 to differentiate gliders from powered aircraft flying VFR and squawking 1200.

The expanded use of code 1202 to include gliders in contact with ATC was authorized in an internal FAA order updating elements of the National Beacon Code Allocation Plan.

“Due to the transponder equipment used by many gliders, changing beacon codes in flight can be a cumbersome process that diverts the pilot’s attention away from scanning for traffic,” it says. “In addition, because gliders often have very unique flight profiles, allowing VFR gliders to remain on code 1202 when in contact with ATC preserves the intent of that beacon code in alerting other aircraft as well as ATC to the presence of the glider.”

AOPA welcomes the update, said Jim McClay, AOPA director of airspace, air traffic, and security.

“Gliders can make radical changes in flight direction to find lift, but they are unable to hold altitude if ATC were to issue instructions to do so,” he said.

Given those characteristics, it is crucial for ATC to be immediately aware from the transponder code being squawked that an aircraft in a traffic-separation scenario is a glider, he said.

In 2015 the FAA instituted a similar expansion of VFR transponder code 1200 for powered aircraft, authorizing its use by aircraft “that may or may not be in radio contact with an ATC Facility.”

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  • 2 weeks later...

So should we change our squawk code to 1200 when we are under power and then switch to 1202 when we shut down and are gliding?

I have had experience when flying into a towered airport under power that they instructed me to switch to 1200.  



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I always squawk 1202.  If the tower wants you to change, you can either have fun educating the controller, or just do what he says if you don't feel so inclined.  I like the notoriety of being a glider, it seems to garner more attention from controllers and aircraft, which helps them avoid me, which makes me more comfortable.  When flying these slow aircraft, we are not likely to hit anyone, they are more likely to run us down and hit us.  I also know the usual flight patterns of approaching aircraft (airliners) into Reno and do my best to avoid "their" flight paths to make it easier for everyone.  I usually do not communicate with Oakland Center, but I monitor them.  Now with ADSB they sometimes call me by N number to ask my intentions and I always try to help them out.  I flew just above the Reno Class C 6 times last week going to and from the 2021 High Sierra Fly-In.

We are always a glider, whether engine on or off, long wings or short, says so right on the Airworthiness Certificate.

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