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5 Answers

Flight Following

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I ask this question because the correct answer needs wide distribution. Scenario - I have plotted my x-country flight in a straight line which takes me through airspace with a control tower in operation. I don't want to circumnavigate around it. I can't go above it because of weather. I am participating in Flight Following and am now about to enter the airspace.

Am I legal to continue on into and through the airspace without making contact with the control tower since I'm already with Flight Following? What is "best practice" here? 

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5 Answers

  1. John D Collins on Nov 08, 2014

    ATC will normally coordinate with the Class D controller and switch you to the D frequency, but compliance with the regulations is the pilot’s responsibility.

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  2. Mark Kolber on Nov 09, 2014

    Here’s what the FAA has to say about controller responsibility for transitions in FAA Order 7110.65V, the ATC Handbook:

    2-1-16 (emphasis in the original)
    a. **
    b. Coordinate with the appropriate control tower for transit authorization when you are providing radar traffic advisory service to an aircraft that will enter another facility’s airspace.

    The pilot is not expected to obtain his/her own authorization through each area when in contact with a radar facility.


    If you think about it, it makes sense. The communication requirement is to communicate with the facility that has jurisdiction over the airspace. Especially with respect to area TRACON and Class D airports, there are many Letters of Agreement that talk about which facility is responsible at certain altitudes. These aren’t published and there isn’t a general way for pilots to know which facility actually has jurisdiction. So the FAA wisely puts the burden of coordination for Class D through traffic won those who have the information.

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  3. Best Answer

    Mark Kolber on Nov 09, 2014

    Couple of additional clarifications that I thought of:

    The title of §2-1-16, which I accidentally omitted, is “Surface Areas.” So keep in mind that while it applies to such things as Class D or the inner circle of Class C when speaking with TRACON, this section would not necessarily apply to other airspace incursions. For example, receiving flight following from Center and approaching a Class C airspace, I would expect to be handed off to Approach long before I reached the Class C boundary and would query the Center controller if I were not.

    Also, the section specifically talks about “transit” and “through” so I would also at least ask “do I stay with you” or “should I switch to Tower” if not being handed off for landing. I have, for example, been cleared to land at a Class D airport by Approach; I have also been given a late handoff to Tower for landing which aggravated the Tower (the latter happened so often between Denver TRACON and Centennial Tower that I was convinced it was a game TRACON was playing from time to time).

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  4. Gary on Nov 10, 2014

    Gentlemen, thanks for your answers. It’s always great when we can get annswers we can depend on.

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  5. Gary S. on Nov 17, 2014

    Folks, I found this article in Avweb.com about Flight Following. Worth a read since FF is such a valuable tool. Thanks to Maj. David M. Sampson, USAF.


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