Episode #118 "Splash"

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Episode #118 "Splash"

Postby Scofreyjet » Fri Feb 06, 2009 10:51 am

I also added this to the shownotes, but here's the link to Jeb's AvWeb interview with Bob Wood, chairman of the 2009 U. S. Sport Aviation Expo at Sebring.
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Re: Episode #118 "Splash"

Postby Laminar » Fri Feb 06, 2009 3:48 pm

I think that the listeners got the impression that sailplanes routinely wander above FL180 in the USA without transponders or clearances. This isn't true. Sailplanes do go above FL180, under two circumstances:

1. With a properly equipped aircraft, a properly certificated pilot, and an IFR clearance, just like everyone else.

2. With a waiver that temporarily extends Class E airspace above FL180. Getting a waiver requires a letter of agreement between ATC and the glider club, FBO, or similar entity. The letter spells out the geographical limits of an area, and the rules for activating, using, and deactivating the Class E airspace above FL180. Visual Flight Rules pertain. Gliders operating under the waiver do not need transponders, but are required to maintain two-way communications with ATC until they descend below FL180. ATC promises to keep all IFR traffic out of the waiver airspace when it is active.

I have been party to one of these letters of agreement. Negotiations took about a month, which is pretty quick work for our favorite federal agency. I would guess that about a dozen such letters exist in the USA today.

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Re: Episode #118 "Splash" - Transponder requirements

Postby thelaker » Sat Feb 07, 2009 4:37 pm

I took my checkride last year, but I still do remember enough from my studying to spot an error made in this podcast. Both Jeb and Dave said that transponders are required for powered airplanes above 18,000 feet MSL. Actually, the FARs say that transponders are required at and above 10,000 feet MSL. The specific regulation is FAR 91.215(b)(5), which states that the transponder requirement applies to:

"All aircraft except any aircraft which is not originally certificated with an engine-driven electrical system....(i) In all airspace of the 48 contiguous states and the District of Columbia at and above 10,000 feet MSL, excluding the airspace at and below 2,500 feet above the surface"

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Re: Episode #118 "Splash"

Postby Dave Higdon » Sat Feb 07, 2009 5:03 pm


Haven't listened to myself say what you reference -- and don't doubt your word by a long shot...but you just noted the two exceptions which played into our comment -- aircraft originally built without an electrical system and when the "above" 10,000 altitude flown is also within 2,500 of the surface...

Admittedly, the country is largely lacking in many areas for that latter exception and not many pilots of older non-electrical aircraft are prone to flying above FL100...still, those outs are there for using a transponder...and minus a special waiver from our Friendly Aviating Agency, which can and is done, as another listener pointed out elsewhere, no similar exceptions exist above FL180;

Good catch, overall, though...


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Re: Episode #118 "Splash"

Postby lucaberta » Thu Feb 12, 2009 9:07 am

Ah, so I wasn't the only one who noticed the "transponder above FL180" mention that Jeb made, to which Dave replied with a not-so-convincing "yes"... :D

Agree with the points raised by Dave in the episode, transponder technology has gone long ways and relatively cheap and light transponders exist on the market today. This is not an issue with technology nor weight (sailplanes are not "that" light after all, LSAs are much lighter than sailplanes typically), it's just a matter of, guess what... money!

Why would a sailplane pilot spend money to install a system in his plane, when he does not get anything useful out of it?

In Europe, if you soar around the Alps, using FLARM is mandatory on the north side (Switzerland and Germany). FLARM is a proprietary system that provides an ADS-B-like system whereby each sailplane emits its position in broadcast, and other planes nearby can track and display on a small screen their whereabouts. More info on:


In the case of FLARM, people see the clear advantage of having this technology on board, and decide to buy it. In the case of the transponder, this advantage is not perceived and thus people will not want to spend money on it. Simple as that.

Interesting discussion, collision avoidance is always a hot topic, and accidents like the one that happened yesterday in the UK always remind us on how tragic things can turn when planes collide in the sky:


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Re: Episode #118 "Splash"

Postby champguy » Thu Feb 12, 2009 12:09 pm

Just when you start to have fun. That is not meant to be flipent or disrespectful, this is heartwrenching for the familys and the RAF. But it reminds us yet again just how fast things can go horribly wrong if you let your guard down even for a moment. "Hey watch this" fun but sometimes we pay dearly.
Remember, not all who wander, are lost.

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