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Squawk emergency

"Squawk". Airplanes are required nowadays to carry a small radio transmitter which transmits a small amount of airplane information to control towers and such so that they can identify those strange blips on their radar screens. When they "squawk", they send this information out. I guess "Squawk emergency" means to send this information on a special emergency band.

(This spurred a comment.) This is basically correct, with the following data: The "transmitter" is a RADAR transponder. This is a device that only transmits when it receives a request to do so (it "Transmits a Response", hence "TranSponder").

The Controller on the ground identifies an aircraft by observing specific codes that are displayed along with the RADAR image. Now, it's computerised, but when I was familliar with this system, we used to have to decode little lines next to the RADAR image!

An aircraft will have four dials, 0 to 7 on each dial. The controller tells the plane what code to "squawk" so that they can be identified. This is dialed into the transponder by means of the wheels, usually something like "1212". When the RADAR sweeps the aircraft, the transponder sends out the dialed-in code and the RADAR computer identifies the aircraft on the controller's screen.

7700 is the EMERGENCY code number! This lights up RADAR screens all over! When an aircraft sets this code, people pay attention!

Created: 2 December, 2005 - Last changed: 2 December, 2005 - Comments (0)