Jump to content


Recommended Posts

To All

A reminder for May clubnight which will be in Blinis Bar at the Royal York Hotel, Sidmouth 8.00pm on Wednesday 7th May. Mark Turner (FSC airspace officer) will talk to us about the latest proposals from the CAA for Mode S transponders, bearing in mind that the deadline for response to the CAA is 31st May.

For those of you who are new to the club and are not aware of this issue, the Civil Aviation Authority are trying to make it compulsory at a point in the future for us to carry some type of radar recognition equipment and the BHPA and other organisations are trying to fight this.

This is an important issue which could affect all of us and we owe it to our sport to be as well informed and up to date as possible, so please try and make it to the meeting.

This meeting is open to all, so please can any Wessex and South Devon members forward it to their lists for circulation.

David Govier


It doesn't matter if you aren't a member of the Devon & Somerset Condors. If you are flying , or thinking of flying , the meeting will be very interesting to you. Mark Turner flys Boeing airliners and knows his stuff. If you dont want to be carrying another 2 kilos of unwanted radiowave emitting equipment you will need to know how to stand with everyone else and fight. If we dont we will have to carry it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Not wishing to be a pedant but...

Mark actually works with me on the A340. Most of us ex-Boeing-now-Airbus types actually prefer it that way (with apologies to Norm!).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Flying the Airbus is a bit like w*****g really, you might enjoy it but it disgusts your (Boeing) friends. :lol::lol::lol:

Seriously though, I am not convinced of the case against transponders. Yes, I realize that they may cost a bit, they will have a weight addition and they emit. But given the right package they may considerably enhance safety. Please don't misunderstand me here, I am not saying that I am for them, just that I am not convinced in the case against them.

Interesting subject for discussion? Perhaps someone who has done the research and has answers to some of the questions doubtless tabled could offer us enlightenment?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well I'm glad you farted in church first Norman! I have wondered for a while now about the pressure we all (seem ) to be under to agree that transponders are a BAD THING, but in my simple mind they seem like good one , at least in principle.

The objections I have heard seem to fall into two categories.:

1. the equipment available is too heavy/expensive/needs licensing/needs annual re-validation/is dangerous to health

2. The CAA have ulterior motives that are to do with opening up G class airspace to pilotless drones and/or charging for use of airspace.

1 is answered by the removal of the requirement to fly with one until a "suitable low cost portable unit is developed"

and 2, whilst it may be true, is not part of the current proposal and can be swept aside as irrational by the proponents of the proposals.

I dont know what the technical requirements are but surely a radio emitter that transmits height and position with an identifier cannot be so very different in components to a mobile phone?

A paraglider pilot does not need to know of the position or height of an approaching craft as we cannot take any avoiding action; we are too slow. We appear to be stationary to most other craft. It is the other pilots that need to be alerted to our presence and a simple squawker will do that (certainly a lot better than a strobe!). Also ATC will be able to monitor our presence and filter us in or out as required, our identifiers will tell them we are PPG and likely to still be roughly in the same place for a while!

I am thinking that to argue positively for a minimum requirement like this would be more effective than to argue negativerly against something that seems virtually inevitable?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree that if the correct solution can be produced / provided for the PPG (more so than PG) community then it would be a great safety feature.

I think of it a bit like a storbe....

Happy to pay for a £50 strobe to be seen more?

Happy to pay £200 to be seen by ALL!!

Get yourself on the next RAF / Paramotor Club Safety visit if in doubt.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

I thought that the mode S and enhanced S transponders are intended to transmit their squawks for monitoring by ATC systems - I am presumably missing something if this is not in fact the case.

Or is it that businessman Joe pootling along in his Cessna will have kit that detects the squawk? Presumably yes for 'Ace' Rimmer with a Tornado strapped to his back? Ditto for PC Prune in the force's helo?

Can someone please clarify this for bears of small brain such as me, so although I will be none the wiser, I may at least be better informed...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The great thing about farting in church is the quality of the acoustics and the high ceilings which take away the pong. The echo produced ricocheted around the cloisters and makes it tough to identify the source. Topical eh?

Transponding systems came first for the Military enabling our aircraft to identify themselves as 'friend' rather than 'foe'. This system developed into the earlier form of what we have now which was 'SSR' Secondary Surveillance Radar. The emitter at the aircraft end when 'painted' pushes back a signal which is received by a suitably equipped radar head to produce a synthetic mark on the controllers screen that is of higher quality/receivable at significantly increased ranges above standard radar returns.

The next development came when the techies learned how to encode the 'responders' pulses. When this happened, altitude and other information could be returned revealing much more about the identity and status of the 'target'. Mode 'S' is the most recent development of this direction of technological travel as the make of the captains underpants can be passed back to the radar controller should that be required by the 'system'. This mode also enables TCAS (traffic collision avoidance system) systems to process the data collected and transmitted by the transponder to resolve conflicts between aircraft. Not being suggested for PG/PPG ops.

What are NATS asking for from the PG/PPG community? I am not sure as I have not had my nose into the working documents but it sounds like a basic secondary return with perhaps a discrete code (identifying the aircraft as a PM/PPG) and an altitude readout. This would enable Radar units to steer traffic around us or simply avoid us. No bad thing imho.

Given the power of mobile phones and the ability to miniaturize stuff, I don't think it will either break the bank or load us down too much as Francis says...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thankyou Francis and Norman

I too would be more agreeable to a lightweight system that's affordable and needs no annual license. If it's an improvement on a strobe, say giving faster craft 10-15 miles of warning instead of 1 or 2, it would no doubt improve safety. This would be a far cry from the stories I was told a year and a half ago when it was generally agreed that mode S would be very "taxing" in everyway conceivable. Then, having gone to the trouble, our signals would merely be "squelched out" most of the time because we're too slow (under 40mph)

I shall go to the meeting with a more open mind.


Link to comment
Share on other sites


I doubt that any kit we would carry would provide any avoid functionality for other aircraft unless all the processing were done at that other aircraft. I think the real value in our carriage of these devices would be in our pushing out a clear position to the radar unit and perhaps some simple altitude encoding. A fixed code would also identify us as a PG/PPG.

I am loose ground here as I have not read what is being proposed by the CAA/NATS.

This kit would need to be cheap and that nearly always means very limited functionality when it comes to avionics.

http://www.caa.co.uk/default.aspx?catid ... ageid=9307

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Collisions do happen, like this one for instance....


Yes, the US is a little different but don't be fooled into thinking it is necessarily busier. The UK has one of the busiest open FIRs in the world with more low level fast jet traffic than anywhere else. Things are fairly quiet at the moment because many of our combat aircraft are deployed overseas - but they are still busy training.


That chunk of metal hanging out just below the windscreen is a gliders main spar.

One comment that sticks... this was writen in 2006 and refers to gliders. You might read 'paramotor' for glider here.

Dan G said:

This happened on the last day of a consultation in the UK by the CAA on making transponders mandatory for gliders in all airspace (even VFR). Personally, I support the proposal, while the national gliding association (the BGA) has been going nuts over it. The BGA says that it's almost impossible to fit transponders to gliders (seemingly not the case if US gliders carry transponders already), that it will cost owners too much money (a silly statement considering the cost of gliders themselves), and that because there's never been a glider/airliner collision in the UK, therefore there never will be!

I think this incident proves that the CAA may have a point. I don't see that just because it happened in another country, the same could not happen here.

Strobes are great, but transponders might mean that you never see or hear the 'save' by a faceless controller talking to a pilot you never see. That save may well happen long before the potential conflict, your conflict becomes an issue.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Create New...