Transponders are not necessary equipment for touring abroad although they can make life easier.
Some of the larger French airfields are surrounded by Class D, for which a transponder would normally be required. However our experience is that this requirement is not universally enforced but it is probably a good idea to find out beforehand whether it is likely to be so that alternative routes can be considered.
There is in Europe generally a greater tolerance of "formation" flying whereby in those cases where a transponder could be needed (as was the case for our entry into Berlin Tempelhof just before it finally closed, and also for La Rochelle) ATC were happy to accept a group of aircraft with one transponder in the lead aircraft.
A transponder is a useful safety feature for water crossings provided the ATC service is taken from a radar equipped unit such as Le Touquet Tower.
Transponder Mandatory Zones (TMZ) were first observed in Germany by WFAeC members in 2005 and are now in the UK, such as in the Stansted area. It is possible to transit without a transponder but one concern is that as more such zones are introduced so it will become more difficult to do so.
Two types of transponder have been so far favoured by owners for fitting into microlight aircraft (by virtue of weight and performance). These are TRIG and Filser/Funkwerk. If a Filser/Funkwerk is fitted it can be set to a standby squawk which can immediately be flipped onto action. Filser owners often set 7700 (the MayDay squawk) into the standby squawk for immediate action if needed. The TRIG however is easier to fit as it comes in two main parts, the smaller of which is the display in the panel.
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