Let’s Talk About Emergency Squawk Codes

Emergency Squawk Codes

It’s embarrassing, but recently my study buddy (and friend) and I had a lapse in memory when it came to emergency squawk codes in aviation.

Yes, I know it sounds crazy but for the love of airplanes we couldn’t remember which code was for which emergency scenario in flight.

Today, I’m going to make it stupid simple for you to remember these codes so you don’t look like a newb anymore. Or at least I’ll do my best.

Let’s hope that you never have to use the emergency squawk codes in your flying life, but if you do have an emergency when it comes to communicating with ATC this is typically your first step.

For the newb newbs, a squawk code is a series of 4 numbers that air traffic control typically assign you when you are flying in their airspace or on instrument flight plans (IFR). You enter the squawk code into what is called a transponder and it communicates with ATC’s radar screen to make you visible to them. It’s actually quite nifty.

Even though we use transponders and squawk codes in every day flying, emergency squawk codes are rarely ever used. This is why it can be easy to mix the three important emergency squawks up in your day to day flying life.

The three emergency codes you should remember and never forget are as follows:

Squawk 7500

The first and most awkward of all squawk codes is 7500. 7500 must be entered into your airplane if your aircraft is being hijacked! Yes that’s right, if your airplane is being taken over by hijackers this is the best way to let ATC know what’s up without causing to much alarm to the bandits.

Now let’s get real, in a small airplane like a Cessna 172 you’re likely never going to need to worry about this. But hey, you never know.

The way I remember 7500 is by thinking of the “5” as a person looking thing. Since the 5 looks like a person to me, I know that 7500 deals with people… ie. highjacking.

Squawk 7600

Now 7600 seems like the middle child of the squawk codes. Again, often overlooked and just not thought about daily but you need to know to squawk 7600 in the event that you lose your radios in the airplane. If you have a radio communication failure 7600 will let air traffic control know that your unresponsiveness to them isn’t merely your distain for their attitude, but rather your fried radios.

I remember communication failure and 7600 by absolutely nothing other than it is the middle non remembered one. Sorry there’s no good way to figure this one out you just need to remember it.

Squawk 7700

And finally, the one that covers all the rest of emergencies from engine fires to lost engines, to control malfunctions and more. Squawk 7700 is for when the shit has hit the fan.

I remember this by the double 77’s. Don’t they just look intimidating enough to know it is the ultimate emergency squawk code?

Emergency Squawk Codes Made Easy?

So there you have it, a very laymen’s way of remembering the emergency squawk codes that could help you in an emergency situation should you ever find yourself in one. Remember, that 7500 has a person in the squawk and 7700 just looks intimidating. If you remember those two little bits of information your venture into looking like you know your squawk codes just got much simpler.