Sailplanes Not In Contact With ATC Should Squawk 1202
In a notice issued on March 7, 2012, the FAA will now offer transponder code 1202 for glider pilots to use when not in contact with ATC. The new code will help ATC differentiate gliders, which have unique flight and maneuvering limitations, from other VFR traffic.
An accident, many incidents, and a n NTSB recommendation highlight the need for a national beacon code for gliders that are operating VFR and not in contact with ATC. ATC personnel will be informed of the code, what it represents, and under what limitations the users are typically operating (e.g., unable to hold a requested altitude). Several codes considered in the past have conflicted with other operations.
In its notice published in February, the FAA said that gliders operate under some flight and maneuvering limitations. They may go from essentially stationary targets while climbing and thermaling to moving targets very quickly. They can be expected to make radical changes in flight direction to find lift and cannot hold altitude in a response to an ATC request. Gliders may congregate together for short periods of time to climb together in thermals and may cruise together in loose formations while traveling between thermals.