The FAA has changed the VFR transponder code for gliders, effective March 7. Use of the new code, 1202, is intended to help air traffic controllers differentiate gliders, with their unique maneuvering capabilities and limitations, from other VFR aircraft.
The FAA has issued a notice providing that as of March 7 gliders not in contact with an air traffic control facility should squawk 1202 in lieu of 1200 or 1201, helping controllers identify participating gliders. Use of the code is encouraged but not required.
“Gliders operate under some flight and maneuvering limitations,” the notice sent to air traffic facilities said. “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.”