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5 Answers

FAR/AIM Reference for Transponder Codes

Asked by: 29773 views
FAA Regulations, General Aviation

Is there a single paragraph in the FARs or the AIM that lists ALL the special transponder codes, such as 7500 for distress, 7600 for comm failure, etc.? I can find various scattered references to one code or another, but not a comprehensive listing. If no such single citation exists in the regs, can someone please reply with such a list?

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5 Answers

  1. Kent Shook on Oct 06, 2010

    It’s not in a nice list anywhere.

    The ones you most need to know are 1200, 7500, 7600, and 7700. 1200, as I’m sure you know, is VFR. 7500, 7600, and 7700 are emergency squawks for hijacking, lost comm, and general emergency. An easy way to remember them is: “Hi Jack! Can’t talk now, having an emergency.” Or, put another way:

    7500 “Hi Jack!” (you’re being hijacked)
    7600 “Can’t talk now,” (you have lost communications)
    7700 “Having an emergency” (you’re having an emergency)

    There are some other codes that are used for special purposes like 1234 for traffic remaining in the pattern in the Washington SFRA, 4000 for military aircraft operating within restricted/warning areas, and 7777 for military intercepts.

    Because of the sensitive nature of the 7500-7777 codes, always be sure you turn the knobs on rotary-knob transponders away from those codes. For example, if you’re squawking 6654 and you’re told to squawk 1200, don’t turn the first knob up through 7 to 0 to 1, turn it down from 6-5-4-3-2-1 to avoid triggering warnings on ATC radar.

    For further reading, see “Discrete Code” in the Pilot/Controller Glossary, and AIM 4-1-20, “Transponder Operation.”

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  2. Brian on Oct 08, 2010


    Visit the Controller Handbook 7110.65T anytime your questions take you into the realm of the air traffic system. This book teaches controllers how to handle aircraft and can be though of as a list of all the possible ATC procedures.

    Searching for the following sections in the 7110.65T will answer this question:

    5-2-6. Function Code Assignments
    5-2-7. Emergency Code Assignment
    5-2-8. Radio Failure
    5-2-9. VFR Code Assignments

    Tip: Pressing the ctrl key and the ‘f’ keys simultaneously, while viewing 7110.65T, will open a search window.


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  3. Jerry on Jul 17, 2012

    Wikipedia.org has all the codes listed in a nice table if you search out “aircraft transponder”

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  4. Pratik Poudyal on Nov 14, 2013

    The best way to remember is ICE

    I = Interference(hijack), 7500

    C = Communication (radio failure), 7600

    E= Emergency, 7700

    Note: transponder code follows ascending pattern 75, 76, 77

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  5. Lacee Law on Nov 21, 2017

    References for following codes (1200, 7500, 7600, 7700) :

    AIM 4-1-20(g)…1200 (VFR)
    AIM 6-3-4… 7500 (hijack)
    AIM 6-4-2… 7600 (lost comm.)
    AIM 6-2-2… 7700 (distress/urgency…basically for any other emergency)

    Hope this helps. Best advice I’ve been given is “trust, but verify.” All goes back to the 91.3 of PIC authority/responsibility. Know your regs, or at least how to find the info!

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