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4 Answers

Is flight following only for cross country flights?

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Airspace, FAA Regulations, Flight Instructor, General Aviation, Private Pilot, Student Pilot

One instructor told me that you would never use flight following on a local flight to the practice area. But on a local flight with a different instructor, I heard him request "VFR traffic advisories" from approach control. Isn't this the same as requesting flight following? Should I do this when i'm just practicing maneuvers?

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4 Answers

  1. John D Collins on Mar 21, 2015

    Both are legitimate uses. If I was practicing maneuvers, it is nice to have another set of eyes looking for traffic. It is still your responsibility. Also remember that this service is not always available if the controller is busy with other tasks.

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  2. Heather McNevin on Mar 23, 2015

    Flight following can be used anytime you think another set of eyes might help. It is traditionally used on cross-country flights, but it certainly can be used in other situations, like delaying in a practice area, etc. It is based on controller workload, but I have only denied it due to workload twice in almost 9 years. You’ll just need to be in radar coverage. You can get flight following from any radar facility – so approach or center. When you call up, I (as a center controller) would ask you your type aircraft with equipment suffix and your destination. For destination just say you’re doing airwork in the local area for the next 45 minutes. Its no problem at all, and can often be helpful since other pilots use the practice area as well and there may be a great deal of traffic around the airport. Controllers are there to help pilots, and most controllers enjoy doing so.

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  3. Alex Weeks on Mar 25, 2015

    I suspect the first instructor was talking about which semantics to use rather than whether or not you should use the service. With our local tower “flight following” implies you are going somewhere while “traffic advisories” means you’re staying in the local area.

    In the Pilot Controller Glossary for the term “flight following” it says “see Traffic Advisories” So same service, different ways to ask for it.

    I can’t imagine why anyone would suggest you don’t use the service if it’s available and ATC is willing to provide it. Especially while practicing maneuvers in the practice area.

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  4. Jontayl on Sep 16, 2015

    Flight Following is one of the most underrated tools that a VFR pilot has under his belt. Though controllers who have high workloads won\’t always make the service available, there\’s no reason not to ask, regardless of where you\’re going or what you\’re doing. I ALWAYS ask for flight following, even if it\’s just a 10-mile flight to another area airport because I fly in the busy area underneath KSFO\’s class B airspace. Know that there\’s no minimum distance for flight following, though it can be an unnecessary hassle for controllers if you do what I do in clear skies and non-congested airspace. If you\’re going to do maneuvers in a practice area, then ask for traffic advisories. Just dial up TRACON or center and say, \”Anytown Approach/Departure/Center, Cessna N1234, four thousand feet, niner miles west of the Anytown VOR, with request.\” Once they call you back, ask for traffic advisories while you do your manuvers.

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