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2 Answers

Cleared into someone else’s airspace?

Asked by: 448 views , , ,
Airspace, FAA Regulations, General Aviation, Private Pilot

Had a couple of situations recently with the congested socal airspace I fly out of. Sometimes the controllers will give vectors or instructions that would cause me to bust into another tower's airspace. Here are some examples:

  1. In class E airspace on flight following, which hands me off to class D tower. Class D tower advises a heading that would cause me to bust into an overlying class C shelf.
  2. In class E airspace on flight following, which advises a heading that would cause me to bust into a class D.

I would think that in both of these situations I am not allowed to enter the airspace mentioned, but I would like to confirm. 

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2 Answers



  1. Russ Roslewski on Nov 28, 2017

    It is the controller’s responsibility to coordinate with the adjacent facility if you are going to enter their airspace. From the 7110.65, the ATC manual:

    2−1−14. COORDINATE USE OF AIRSPACE
    a. Ensure that the necessary coordination has been
    accomplished before you allow an aircraft under your
    control to enter another controller’s area of
    jurisdiction.

    So, if the tower controller gives you a heading that will enter Class C airspace, they are supposed to coordinate that. Same answer to your second question. I wouldn’t generally worry about it, with two exceptions:

    1. If a controller (any controller) has you potentially entering Class B, you still can’t enter unless you hear the words “Cleared into Class B”. If you’re getting close, you need to speak up.

    2. If a controller has you pointing at a restricted or prohibited area, TFR or similar, I would ask for clarification just to make sure.

    However, all the above only really applies if ATC is directing you around the sky. If you are on your own navigation (whether or not in the Class D or C, or receiving flight following), then you are responsible for airspace separation same as always.

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  2. KDS on Nov 28, 2017

    Excellent answer by Russ.

    I’ll just add that I know of a case where one controller maneuvered a pilot into Class B airspace (not just kind of on the edge, but right through the middle) without “clearing” him into Class B. The behind the scenes story is that controller had a conflict with another controller who did not wish him well. The whole thing ended up in front of a judge and the judge found that the pilot was indeed in violation of the regulations despite having been turned into the Class B by ATC. So, based on that experience, I’d second Russ’ admonitions regarding the two exceptions.

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