Glider in Midair with Hawker Didn’t Turn on Tx

 - November 13, 2006, 6:20 AM

The Schleicher sailplane that collided with a NetJets Hawker 800XP near Smith, Nev., on August 28 was equipped with a transponder, but it was not turned on. Transponder activation is not required for glider operations below 18,000 feet msl and outside controlled airspace. According to the glider pilot, he did not turn on the transponder because he intended to remain only in the local glider area and because he wanted to preserve his battery power for radio use. Since the glider’s transponder was not operating, the Hawker’s TCAS would have received no threat alert and the glider would probably have been invisible to ATC radar (unless it happened to paint the aircraft itself as a primary target). The pilot of the sailplane and the two pilots in the Hawker sustained minor injuries when the aircraft collided at about 16,000 feet. After the collision, the glider pilot bailed out of his severely damaged aircraft. The pilots of the Hawker–with serious damage to its nose, cockpit and right engine (which failed after the impact)–could not lower the landing gear and made an emergency gear-up landing at Carson City Airport.