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4 Answers

To ident, or not ident…. that is the question!

Asked by: 511 views FAA Regulations, General Aviation

As I wrap up my training, I have just completed my 5 hours of XC, and had a question about proper transponder use.  Way back when, some 28 years ago, whenever I was given a squawk code, I was always told to ident.  Now, when contacting the local class C approach, or the center for flight following, I am given a squawk, but I've never been asked to ident.  Sometimes they say "radar contact", sometimes they do not.  If I don't hear "radar contact" within 30-45 seconds, I push the ident button, and invariably they come back right away with the magic words.  Am I doing something improper?  They have never complained when I ident.  If they don't say "radar contact", and I don't ident, how would I know they have me?

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4 Answers



  1. laminar on Jul 29, 2017

    AIM 4−1−20: “The transponder must be operated only as
    specified by ATC. Activate the “IDENT” feature only
    upon request of the ATC controller.”

    Technically improper per the AIM. Whether controllers will care (or possibly appreciate the reminder) is another question I can’t help with. You could always just say “confirm we’re radar contact?” if you don’t hear from them when you expect to.

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  2. Russ Roslewski on Jul 30, 2017

    Only ident when they ask you to ident. There’s no need to do it otherwise. If they don’t come back and say “radar contact” then you can always ask them to “confirm radar contact”. But no need to ident unnecessarily.

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  3. Koehn on Jul 30, 2017

    According to AIM 4-1-19 (d) 1: “The transponder shall be operated only as specified by ATC. Activate the “IDENT” feature only upon request of the ATC controller.”

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  4. RickS on Jul 30, 2017

    Thank you all! I’ll follow the AIM procedure going forward.

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