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ATC communication in class d airspace and satellite airports

Asked by: 2065 views FAA Regulations

I am a new pilot with 70 hours. I am planning a cross country flight to a location that is a satellite airport in class d airspace. I believe I need to contact the controlling ATC before entering the class d airspace on the approach frequency at least 10 miles out. At what point will I switch to the Unicom frequency for the destination airport and announce my intention? Or will the controlling ATC for the class d airspace provide approach and departure instructions in and out of the satellite airport? Ron

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1 Answers



  1. John D Collins on Mar 22, 2015

    91.129 prescribes the rules for operating in the Class D airspace. In summary, you must establish communications with the tower prior to entering the Class D airspace. The tower controller will indicate when you can switch frequency to the satellite airport for landing. This may occur before you ever enter the class D airspace, depending on the traffic situation. There isn’t a specific distance mandated by the rule, but 10 NM is a good guide. If you have dual Navcom radios, you might want to first listen to the weather and monitor the satellite frequency on one radio while you establish contact with the tower on the other.

    Assuming there isn’t a tower at the satellite airport, you are required to contact the primary Class D tower as soon as practical. I would stay on the satellite frequency until clearing the pattern if there is local traffic or leave the frequency sooner if there isn’t any local traffic at the time. Before leaving the satellite frequency, self announce the direction of flight and then switch to the Class D tower.

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