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7 Answers

VFR arrival and immediate departure at class C airport – clearance delivery

Asked by: 6817 views , , ,
Airspace, FAA Regulations, General Aviation

If I were at the ramp and departing VFR from a class C airport, I'd plan to listen to the ATIS, get departure instructions from clearance delivery, get taxi instructions from ground control, etc.

My scenario is a little different. I'd like to fly into a class C airport (KABQ) and then taxi back to take off to depart to another airport. Once I land at KABQ and am clear of the runway, I expect to be told to contact ground control. Would I tell ground control something like, "ABQ ground, Cessna xxxx clear of 21 at bravo 4, taxi for takeoff with kilo, VFR to Belen, please advise if I should contact clearance delivery"?

I'm not sure if a call to clearance delivery is recommended or required in this situation, and if it is, I don't know when I'd have a chance to make the call, since I'd be talking to ground already, next to an active runway, etc. 

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7 Answers

  1. Keith Moore on Jul 31, 2011

    I would let the tower controller know my intentions while on approach. Something like “ABQ tower Cessna 1234 plans taxi-back and immediate departure to XYZ”. When clear of the active and handed-off to ground, I’d tell them “ABQ ground Cessna 1234 at Bravo 4 taxi VFR to XYZ”.
    That said, I’m not a CFI, and I’d love to hear a more informed opinion.

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  2. Brent on Jul 31, 2011

    Your best bet is to notify approach of your intentions before you land (they may even ask you before you get a chance to volunteer). This allows the approach controller to coordinate with departure (the same controller might be playing both roles anyway), and from then on they will tell you who you need to contact and when.
    In the rare event that you get to a point where you can’t proceed without having received further instructions, I would just stick with the classic who you are, where you are, and what you want to do in your radio call. If you need to be on a different frequency, they’ll let you know.

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  3. Matthew Waugh on Jul 31, 2011

    I would concur with Brent. Tell approach control your intentions, the controller can probably work it out so your squawk stays the same, so you just taxi back with ground, launch with tower and just tag up again when in radar coverage.
    Worse case scenario ground tells you tough luck, taxi to the ramp, you find a quiet corner of the ramp and go through the whole process. More likely the ground controller kicks the guy covering clearance and says “I need a departure squawk for the Cessna 172” and ground just gives you a new code. In between situation would be if Ground sends you somewhere quiet and tells you to contact clearance.
    I’ve done pattern work on an IFR flight plan in VFR doing full stop landings in a regional jet – so don’t tell me controllers can’t be flexible. 🙂

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  4. Andy Neumann on Aug 01, 2011

    If you are on the ground, just clear of the runway, simply call ground and state your intentions.  Do not call clearance delivery because tower most likely told you to “contact ground.”  My radio call would go something like this “Albuquerque Ground, Cessna 182LA clear of Runway 3 at Foxtrot 1, taxi for VFR departure to Belen.”  (Very similar to your idea.)  99% of the time, the ground controller will issue you a taxi clearance AND VFR departure instructions.  The clearance delivery controller and ground controller work side by side, so they can easily do this.  I doubt there would be any delay if you did not notify approach or tower ahead of time. 

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  5. Aaron Strasburg on Aug 02, 2011

    I agree, especially since I did essentially the same thing at KABQ last year while working on my PPL. Night flights at a “big” Class C airport are interesting compared to my usual Class D (KAEG).

    We were doing some pattern work and were given full stop, taxi back instructions, to a different runway no less. Only tower and ground were involved. Granted, that was all their idea, but you’ll already have a squawk code so I can’t imagine why you’d need to talk to clearance.

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  6. Doug Dunston on Aug 03, 2011

    I flew the flight today – after reading the (very helpful!) answers above, I decided to plan on making my request to ground after clearing the runway, but I was ready to tell approach if they asked, too. After my initial call, approach gave me a squawk, confirmed radar contact, and immediately asked my intentions. They coordinated everything else – I kept the same squawk, and it went very smoothly.

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  7. Andy Neumann on Aug 03, 2011

    Good job Doug!  If you are really motivated, I would highly suggest trying to arrange an ATC tower tour.  Once I learned that clearance delivery, ground, and tower work side-by-side in the tower, I had a better idea of how interact with the system as a pilot, and I wasn’t so nervous about making a mistake.  I pulled the phone number for the tower at Double Eagle from the Ac-u-kwik website.  It’s 505-352-5595.  The only requirements are that you are U.S. citizen and you need to be given prior permission (thus the phone call).  They would be happy to give you a tour.  Next cross-country? I didn’t get through with KABQ tower, but they might be happy too!  (They also might ask you “red or green?”!!!)

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