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Transponders and GA

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Transponders and GA

Old 5th Nov 2019, 12:02
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Join Date: Nov 2019
Location: UK Class G
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Transponders and GA

Hi everyone, I'm currently looking at getting a share in an RF4d, but it doesn't have a transponder. I'm a fairly new power pilot but have about 75 hours in gliders, so have been flying without a transponder for a while but was wondering if powered pilots feel that not having a transponder restricts you in terms of Class D airspace transitions? I think part of the reason it doesn't have one is because of concerns on the amount of power required by a transponder, as the aircraft is battery powered.

If anyone had any ideas of the costs of purchasing and fitting a transponder on a LAA permit aircraft I'd be grateful, as well as any titbits about RF4s!
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Old 5th Nov 2019, 13:04
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All depends where you are going to fly. If you are in the south east with loads of controlled airspace, LARS and listening squawks you definitely need one with Mode C …. If you are in the wilds of Wales with only a grass strip and no controlled airspace .. fill yer boots.
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Old 5th Nov 2019, 13:11
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Oxfordshire based aircraft, so a fair bit around. This would be my first syndicate - I don't know how likely I'd be able to convince them to buy a transponder would be, especially as I can't really say how much it would cost.
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Old 5th Nov 2019, 16:05
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Expect to pay about £1700 list price for a transponder plus fitting. You say its a permit aircraft so you may be able to do this yourselves. A modern transponder will not be too much of a drain on the battery although its possible your existing radio may be, unless its been replaced recemtly. If it hasn't then perhaps look for a 'package deal' from the same supplier/manufacturer at about £2800.

How receptive your syndicate partners are likely to be rather depends on the sort of flying they prefer to do.

Last edited by ASRAAMTOO; 7th Nov 2019 at 16:35.
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Old 5th Nov 2019, 16:49
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If it is a new installation, it must be Mode S.
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Old 5th Nov 2019, 22:22
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Originally Posted by ASRAAMTOO View Post
Expect to pay about £1700 list price for a transponder plus fitting. You say its a permit aircraft so you may be able to do this yourselves. A modern transponder will not be too much of a drain on the battery although its possible your existing radio may be, unless its been replaced recemtly.
Radio is an 8.33 so I believe it's been replaced recently, though can't remember what brand. Do you know how much roughly it would cost? It's an LAA permit to fly.
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Old 6th Nov 2019, 06:29
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IMO join the syndicate and see how you get on without a transponder. I rather expect you may enjoy the RF4 enough on its own to not worry much over the absence of SSR.
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Old 6th Nov 2019, 15:33
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Originally Posted by Dave Gittins View Post
All depends where you are going to fly. If you are in the south east with loads of controlled airspace, LARS and listening squawks you definitely need one with Mode C Ö. If you are in the wilds of Wales with only a grass strip and no controlled airspace .. fill yer boots.
It's nice to have but not essential if you're operating in Class G, you only really 'need' one to enter a TMZ or Class D airspace.
I fly microlights in class G with no transponder and used to own a powered glider similar to the Fournier which also didn't have one.

Last edited by chevvron; 6th Nov 2019 at 15:46.
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Old 6th Nov 2019, 22:01
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You don't need a transponder for Class D - pop in and out of Glasgow's every week and Edinburgh's once a month.
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Old 7th Nov 2019, 14:08
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Smile

I fly in and out of Norwich zone without a transponder and sometimes even without a wireless
Not flown an RF4 but the RF5 is lovely, do you now have to get one of those retract rating thingy`s?
Join the group and enjoy.
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Old 8th Nov 2019, 01:19
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Originally Posted by xrayalpha View Post
You don't need a transponder for Class D - pop in and out of Glasgow's every week and Edinburgh's once a month.
I was referring to the south of England; to enter the Heathrow CTR you must have a transponder, but then again you must also have a dual ignition engine which I know the Fournier doesn't have.
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Old 16th Nov 2019, 20:50
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Originally Posted by chevvron View Post
to enter the Heathrow CTR you ... must also have a dual ignition engine.
I've never heard of a rule that differentiates between GA ops in CAS and Class G based on the engine. What rule is that?
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Old 26th Nov 2019, 00:49
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In any case, I thought the RF4 had a VW engine and they are normally converted to dual ignition for aviation use - edit, I see the RF4 was at least initially a CofA aircraft with a single mag and might still be?

I have a Turbulent which is a lovely aircraft to fly. It is just very different from anything I had flown previously, Pipers, Cessnas, similar beasts. At first I missed all the dials, levers and flashing lights in the bigger aircraft. Now I have grown to enjoy its simplicity. I am in the wilds of Wales and don't miss having a transponder at all. A few years back I used to hire a C152 from Blackbushe which didn't have one either. After a year or two of flying the Turbulent, when I had to sit in an IFR equipped 172 to revalidate it felt like sitting in a mini airliner. I was quite overwhelmed for the first few minutes. I often think that private pilots fall into two categories: retired airline pilots who like to fly cubs and off duty IT consultants who like to fly mini airliners. I started in the latter category (though not an IT consultant), but have found my tastes change.

There are two reasons to have a transponder. One is to help you. The other is to help other people.

The two problems I've had due to being transponderless were being made to fly complex patterns in a RMZ, and in the 152 having a radio failure. It would have been nice to be able to set 7600 on a transponder. The ATC in the RMZ sounded thoroughly stressed as she had one of the Airbus guppy thingies arriving not far away and I'm guessing I didn't give a good radar return as IIRC I had to do some climbs/descents as well. I found the experience quite interesting but I think it would be unfair on ATC if you were in a busy airspace and took up that much of their attention on a regular basis. There are doubtless some safety benefits to transponders in busy airspace. In Wales I very rarely see another aircraft on a flight, let alone come close to one. Flying spamcans round Scotland and Wales I also often found that my radio/transponder signal disappeared behind high terrain so I end up getting stressed making blind calls and worrying that people will be worrying about me disappearing from their screens, or hearing people tell me that I have disappeared from their screens and can't hear my reply. I have a satellite Personal Locator Beacon.

Personally if I were in your situation with some glider experience I could really see the appeal of a decent RF4. There's lots of fun to be had well clear of airspace. The questions I would be asking would be more to do with the other group members and maintenance. Who does it? Are they competent? My own experience is that there's often something to be fixed on an aircraft of this vintage and if you do need any new parts they will have to be fabricated which will be expensive if someone has to do it professionally.

Last edited by abgd; 26th Nov 2019 at 01:01.
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Old 1st Dec 2019, 22:09
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I don't think you are really looking at this the right way.

If all you are really concerned about is whether in not having one will restrict airspace in which you can fly then you will probably never buy one and perhaps aircraft ownership is not for you. The question should be "how much safer is it in having a transponder", to which the answer is considerable.
Our aircraft have TCAS which is a great safety tool. The number of aircraft I see on TCAS but cannot physically see is probably 20%. If I didn't have TCAS and they didn't have a transponder then quite a few contacts would go unnoticed. One day that might not happen. Mid air crashes are not impossible.

I know people will say a good scan is all you need and all TCAS does is draw you in to forget that, but I guarantee those people have never used it.
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Old 2nd Dec 2019, 12:31
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After a few "where did he come from" situations, and one was really scary, I'd prefer to have as many instruments helping as possible, transponders, radars, whatnot...

Scanning still surprises you, no matter you're trying your best.
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Old 2nd Dec 2019, 22:32
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Originally Posted by hoodie View Post
I've never heard of a rule that differentiates between GA ops in CAS and Class G based on the engine. What rule is that?
Well there certainly was a rule banning single ignition aircraft flying through the Heathrow CTR but maybe it was dropped when it became Class D airspace.
When it was the equivalent of Class A years ago, we had an OC Flying at Farnborough who was (and I believe still is) a bigwig in the BGA; knowing my experience of gliding we often had little chats about it and he admitted to me one day he'd flown an RF4 through the Heathrow CTR on a Special VFR clearance 'even though he shouldn't as it only had single ignition'.
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Old 3rd Dec 2019, 07:06
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I would echo the comments above about the utility of a transponder. IMO it does make a difference when getting clearances through CAS and, more importantly, it allows a significant set of other aircraft to become aware of your presence. ATC can also see you and advise conflicting traffic of your whereabouts, even if you are not talking to them.

Yes, itís a significant investment but like a parachute, there are situations where itís priceless.

Doesnít cost much more to add something like PilotAware Rosetta and a tablet/phone running a nav app, which gives you nearly all the possible functionality.
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Old 3rd Dec 2019, 14:15
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I am firmly in the school of if its available use it. So I have a transponder and get (whenever possible) a traffic service. If you don't want to talk to anybody, fine, squawk "listening" and at least the radar controller looking out for me can see you and the Gatwick Controllers won't be on the edge of their seats watching to see what you do next, because using that squawk implies you have an idea what you are up to and where you are.
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Old 3rd Dec 2019, 18:58
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the radar controller looking out for me can see you
This makes for funny reading, even if it is not impossible to make a kind of sense out of the total posting. Just depends on who is "me" and who is "you"
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Old 3rd Dec 2019, 19:23
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Makes sense: The radar controller looking out for me - the controller providing me with the Traffic Service; can see you - the conflicting traffic with its transponder switched on.
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