What exactly are aircraft transponders, and how do they work?

Aircraft transponders are radio transmitters that are located in the aircraft’s cockpit, and it works hand in hand with the ground radar. When the aircraft transponders get a “secondary” ground radar, it will return a squawk code that communicated the position of the aircraft, the altitude of the aircraft, and the call sign of the aircraft. It makes it possible for air traffic controllers to constantly monitor the aircraft, and to determine the speed, and the direction of the aircraft, making it easier to control and determine air traffic.

aircraft transponders 2 - FamephThere are also various codes in the transponders that can also be used in case of whatever emergency that may happen on the aircraft. The code for hijacking is 7500, the code for communication failure is 7600, while the code for emergencies is 7700.

Although aircraft transponders are also highly crucial in flights and air traffic control, these may also be turned off during flights. Some of the reasons why the aircraft transponders may be turned off are:

  • When there are aircrafts that are too close to each other
  • When an aircraft is about to land in the airport
  • When the aircraft transponders are sending faulty or misleading information

Despite having the transponders turned off, the aircraft can still be visible in the primary radars, until the aircraft exceed the coverage ability of the primary radars. Although the primary radars can also detect the position of the aircraft, the secondary radars and the aircraft transponders provide air traffic controllers with more vital information.

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