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AOPA seeks to have glider pilots squawk 1202 for all VFR ops

AOPA submitted a proposal to the FAA on March 24, requesting that beacon code 1202 become the standard for pilots flying gliders VFR to use regardless of whether they are in contact with air traffic control.

A U.S. Air Force glider pilot prepares to compete in the U.S. National Aerobatic Championships. Photo by Jim Moore.

Currently, the 1202 code is assigned to VFR glider operations that are not in contact with ATC to differentiate them from VFR traffic squawking 1200 because of the different nature of the operations.

While powered “VFR aircraft typically fly in straight, predictable path[s], gliders often make abrupt changes in direction and/or altitude,” AOPA explained. “This makes it very important for ATC to be able to differentiate gliders from other aircraft.”

The FAA published an order in 2015 for VFR aircraft to squawk 1200 regardless of whether they were talking to ATC (previously, it was just for aircraft not in contact with ATC), and AOPA said the same should be extended to VFR glider flights using the 1202 code.

This change would help ATC better identify gliders flying near busy airspace and landing at towered airports, increasing safety in the airspace system. It would also allow glider pilots to operate using one code rather than having to change codes in flight, which can be difficult to do on a compact transponder and in a cramped cockpit.

Alyssa J. Miller

Alyssa J. Cobb

The former senior director of digital media, Alyssa J. Cobb was on the AOPA staff from 2004 until 2023. She is a flight instructor, and loves flying her Cessna 170B with her husband and two children. Alyssa also hosts the weekly Fly with AOPA show on the AOPA Pilot Video YouTube channel.
Topics: Advocacy, Aircraft Regulation, Glider

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