I recently flew from a small airport under a Bravo shelf into the nearby Bravo airspace above. When I advised the ground controller that I was doing as such, he cleared me to taxi, then added the frequencies for the Bravo approach control and said "code on request". A moment later he came back with a discrete squawk code. I'm assuming "code on request" meant he had requested a squawk code from approach control and was waiting for the reply, am I correct? Is any response required by me? I got my PPL at a smaller airport and had never heard that before.

  • $\begingroup$ I haven't heard this exact terminology before, but your interpretation sounds correct to me! $\endgroup$
    – egid
    Commented Oct 2, 2015 at 20:44
  • $\begingroup$ Instances of this expression can be found online, like here: After getting the ATIS, I call PAO ground and announce my intentions: "Palo Alto Ground, Cessna 96934 at Romeo 2-8 with Quebec for a Bay Tour." The usual response is taxi instruction and "code on request." $\endgroup$
    – mins
    Commented Oct 3, 2015 at 11:02

1 Answer 1


Yes, I think you're correct although the phrasing is unusual. The usual phrase is "clearance on request", which is used for IFR departures as explained nicely in this AOPA article:

Experienced instrument pilots know that when they call to request their clearance, the controller may not yet have received it. "Clearance on request" is ATC's way of politely saying "I don't have it - I've requested it - you'll be the first to know when I get it!"

The only FAA reference for the phrase that I could find is buried in the glossary of the Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge:

Clearance on request. An IFR clearance not yet received after filing a flight plan.

But as RalphJ commented, if this is a VFR scenario and you needed a class B clearance and transponder code then I assume that the controller said "code on request" to let you know that he was waiting for a transponder code for you, as you assumed.

It wasn't an instruction as such so you could just acknowledge it with "Roger" or whatever. See this question for more information on that.

  • $\begingroup$ He wasn't getting an IFR clearance, just a transponer code. Same concept, but a different thing the controller would get back from Approach to give to the pilot. The OP's understanding is correct. $\endgroup$
    – Ralph J
    Commented Oct 2, 2015 at 21:13
  • $\begingroup$ I don't believe these are related - he's talking about a VFR departure, I believe. $\endgroup$
    – egid
    Commented Oct 2, 2015 at 21:13
  • $\begingroup$ @RalphJ That makes sense, the "code on request" phrase is nowhere to be found in any document, so I assume it's by analogy to "clearance on request". I'll update my answer. $\endgroup$
    – Pondlife
    Commented Oct 2, 2015 at 21:15

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