ATC Tips – Discrete Codes

Many of us who try to work within the ATC system are often frustrated by the inability to get a ‘discrete’ transponder code before takeoff. This is because of 1) controller workload, 2) short taxi times, and 3) lack of equipment in the tower to electronically assign a code (called FDEP or the Flight Data Entry Position, a computer terminal attached to the TRACON computer). Well, all that has been addressed by a now procedure available within the confines of the SoCal Tracon. The Tracon can now be reached by toll free number (1-800-448-3724) and a discrete transponder code can be assigned prior to engine start or even in the run-up area by cell phone. This allow the controller and air traffic computer to immediately identify you after takeoff with information already in the computer about your destination, planned cruise altitude, and route. It greatly simplifies Class Bravo clearances departing MYF and SEE, as both towers lack the ability to get a transponder code prior to departure.

Finally, if you have questions, concerns, or difficulties when operating within the SoCal Tracon, call the facility and ask to speak with the Procedures Specialists. I have found them to be most helpful and quite ‘Pilot Friendly.’

Happy Flying,

Doug Rice
Sr. Vice President – CPA