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| |-+  Pilot/Controller Forum (Moderators: dave, RonR)
| | |-+  VFR Altitude Situation
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Author Topic: VFR Altitude Situation  (Read 24355 times)
mielsonwheals
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« on: May 07, 2012, 01:55:17 PM »

During my first long solo cross country when I was a student pilot, I was flying an Easterly magnetic course. I had planned an altitude of 5,500. There was a broken ceiling here though, so I stayed at 4,500 while planning what to do.

I know this is the wrong altitude for my magnetic course. I was receiving flight following. (They had also instructed me to maintain VFR at or below 4,500 if able). I know 3,500 would have worked, both for ATC and VFR flight rules, but it would have put me in the Manchester, NH class C airspace which extends to 4,300 MSL.

So, I stayed at 4,500. Mainly because I was receiving flight following. If I had not been, I would not have been comfortable at this altitude.

If this situation happened to me now, I would simply request to transit the class C airspace at 3,500. I guess before I was hesitant to bother ATC with a clearance through that airspace.

Just looking to confirm that the best course of action here would be to request the clearance. Thanks.
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dave
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« Reply #1 on: May 07, 2012, 02:39:30 PM »

Weren't you already talking to Boston Approach on either 124.9 or 134.75?  If you were, you were implicitly cleared into/through their Class C airspace.

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mielsonwheals
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« Reply #2 on: May 07, 2012, 03:06:38 PM »

If I was on with Manchester tower, or on with appraoch and landing at MHT, I would have known I was cleared, with radio contact and a call sign readback. 

I didn't know that being on with approach clears you to transit their class C airspace as well, even if you don't specify your intention to go through the class C. Thanks, that is valuable information.
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dave
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« Reply #3 on: May 07, 2012, 03:11:33 PM »

If I was on with Manchester tower, or on with appraoch and landing at MHT, I would have known I was cleared, with radio contact and a call sign readback. 

I didn't know that being on with approach clears you to transit their class C airspace as well, even if you don't specify your intention to go through the class C. Thanks, that is valuable information.

Who were you talking to for Flight Following?  While you would have been cleared into Class C airspace, it is always a good idea to state your intentions, which it sounds like you were doing.

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mielsonwheals
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« Reply #4 on: May 07, 2012, 03:23:40 PM »

Definitely Boston Approach, I think on 134.75. I'm not positive of the frequency but think it was 134.75.
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martyj19
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« Reply #5 on: May 07, 2012, 05:46:17 PM »

134.75 is the 4000 and above Manchester Approach, so that would be right.  124.9 is the lower altitude.  Both of which the KMHT scanner has.  Just for amusement, both Boston Approach and what used to be Manchester Approach, now all addressed as Boston Approach, are physically located in Merrimack, NH.

One time I was VFR from Maine back to Nashua, contacted them northeast of Concord and they had me descend from 4500 to 4000 during the transit and then down to 2500 before handing to Nashua Tower, which is of course an IFR altitude.

At the very most, a "confirm cleared through the Class Charlie" is all that it would have taken.  But of course if you are in radio contact with Boston Approach and have an operable transponder, you are implicitly cleared to enter the Class C.  Another time I was coming back from Nantucket and asked for a "confirm cleared through the Class Bravo" since I was getting close to it.  Cape Approach didn't actually hand me to Boston Approach until I was well inside of it.  In that case you do need a clear understanding on both sides as to whether it is okay to enter.

I wouldn't think it is any more work for the controller whether you are being worked at 4500 or 3500 inside the C as opposed to above it, assuming you are already being worked.
« Last Edit: May 07, 2012, 06:27:19 PM by martyj19 » Logged
StuSEL
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« Reply #6 on: May 08, 2012, 02:18:09 AM »

Another time I was coming back from Nantucket and asked for a "confirm cleared through the Class Bravo" since I was getting close to it.  Cape Approach didn't actually hand me to Boston Approach until I was well inside of it.  In that case you do need a clear understanding on both sides as to whether it is okay to enter.
A key difference that is important to state here is that pilots are not implicitly cleared into the Class B airspace, as opposed to the Classes C and D, where the establishment of two-way radio communication is indeed the implied clearance. I'm sure you know that; I'm just pointing it out.

I wouldn't think it is any more work for the controller whether you are being worked at 4500 or 3500 inside the C as opposed to above it, assuming you are already being worked.
The difference would be that a VFR aircraft outside of the Class C would not necessarily (ie. by the book) be required to be separated by the 500-foot minimum between an IFR and a VFR aircraft as would be required if they were both in the Class C. That said, I have yet to encounter a controller at my Class C airport who would not apply that separation anyway.
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martyj19
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« Reply #7 on: May 08, 2012, 07:56:53 AM »

Yes, thank you, I could have put that more forcefully.

And it is worth pointing out that now in the new world we have airspace where the entry requirements are even more severe than Class B, where you could potentially be shot at.

http://www.aopa.org/adiz/adiz.html

And, you must get in the habit of checking for TFRs on every flight the way you check weather.
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ogogog
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« Reply #8 on: May 08, 2012, 10:00:34 AM »

During my first long solo cross country when I was a student pilot, I was flying an Easterly magnetic course. I had planned an altitude of 5,500. There was a broken ceiling here though, so I stayed at 4,500 while planning what to do.

I know this is the wrong altitude for my magnetic course. I was receiving flight following. (They had also instructed me to maintain VFR at or below 4,500 if able). I know 3,500 would have worked, both for ATC and VFR flight rules, but it would have put me in the Manchester, NH class C airspace which extends to 4,300 MSL.

So, I stayed at 4,500. Mainly because I was receiving flight following. If I had not been, I would not have been comfortable at this altitude.

If this situation happened to me now, I would simply request to transit the class C airspace at 3,500. I guess before I was hesitant to bother ATC with a clearance through that airspace.

Just looking to confirm that the best course of action here would be to request the clearance. Thanks.

you do realise that just because ATC dose not care that your violating FARs dose not make it right or leagle and the old " well i didnt want to bother the controller" excuse is getting pretty old and isnt gonna help if the FAA gets you for a FAR violation. controllers are not the FAR police and dont care what you violate as long as it dosent affect there operation.
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mielsonwheals
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« Reply #9 on: May 08, 2012, 11:54:50 AM »



you do realise that just because ATC dose not care that your violating FARs dose not make it right or leagle and the old " well i didnt want to bother the controller" excuse is getting pretty old and isnt gonna help if the FAA gets you for a FAR violation. controllers are not the FAR police and dont care what you violate as long as it dosent affect there operation.

I was a student pilot and I did not think I was violating a FAR. That has since been cleared up. Like I said, I knew I was at the wrong altitude, and in no way am I saying the controller made it right or legal. It's an explanation of the thought process of a learning pilot, not an excuse.
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iskyfly
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« Reply #10 on: May 09, 2012, 09:51:32 AM »



And it is worth pointing out that now in the new world we have airspace where the entry requirements are even more severe than Class B, where you could potentially be shot at.

http://www.aopa.org/adiz/adiz.html

And, you must get in the habit of checking for TFRs on every flight the way you check weather.
Airspace that I fly in weekly. If VFR a DC SFRA flight plan along with discrete squawk code required before every flight. ATC comms required before entry. (exceptions for fringe airport and towered pattern work)
Note- that even with a squawk and ATC comms this does not imply ATC services.
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kumara6
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« Reply #11 on: May 17, 2012, 07:27:10 PM »

Asking for clarification never hurts...especially when dealing with multiple controllers.

One of my flights from W29 -> MTN -> LNS(great restaurant there btw). I departed and climbed to 2000, I got in touch with ATC soon after departure and requested 3000 through Bravo. He told me to stand by, higher will be available shortly. I kept going on my way and he came back "Climb to 3000 approved". At that place the Bravo floor was 2500, so I asked "Am I cleared into Bravo?" to which he replied "Negative." It baffled me that he could approve the climb to 3000 WITHOUT the Bravo clearance.

So I told him I would be staying at 2000 and asked him to advise MTN Airport that I would be transitioning through their airspace, or let me switch freq to do it myself. He never replied to that. As I was approaching the MTN Delta I put it in slow flight to give me more time, and I asked again if he talked to MTN. Now he said "No, stand by...*pause*....Proceed on course". And the frequency was not busy at all that day, at least not busy for what I'm used to hearing in that area.
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gmsteve
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« Reply #12 on: July 26, 2012, 12:16:52 PM »

OK, I must clarify something here.  Pilots receiving flight following in class E airspace are NOT implicitly cleared through a higher class of airspace.  Pilots must establish two way radio communication with the ATC facility providing air traffic services for that airspace.  If you are receiving flight following and you come up on tower controlled airspace, you must establish and maintain comms with that control tower, or you can ask approach/center to coordinate your transition through the tower's airspace.  If you do neither of these things, you cannot fly through the airspace.
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sykocus
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« Reply #13 on: July 27, 2012, 02:31:58 AM »

OK, I must clarify something here.  Pilots receiving flight following in class E airspace are NOT implicitly cleared through a higher class of airspace.  Pilots must establish two way radio communication with the ATC facility providing air traffic services for that airspace.  If you are receiving flight following and you come up on tower controlled airspace, you must establish and maintain comms with that control tower, or you can ask approach/center to coordinate your transition through the tower's airspace.  If you do neither of these things, you cannot fly through the airspace.


Interesting you bring that up as I was just doing some research on the the subject. From a controller's perspective it's my responsibility to coordinate with adjacent facilities for aircraft under my control which may enter their control area. the 7110.65 says as much in 2-1-16
http://www.faa.gov/air_traffic/publications/atpubs/atc/atc0201.html#atc0201.html.7
In fact there is even a note which says:
Quote
"The pilot is not expected to obtain his/her own authorization through each area when in contact with a radar facility."
It's the understanding of every controller I've worked with that you either coordinate for the aircraft or you cut them loose from your frequency and let them talk to the facility themselves.

However I only recently found out that the AIM says in 3-2-1
Quote
"d. VFR Requirements. It is the responsibility of the pilot to insure that ATC clearance or radio communication requirements are met prior to entry
into Class B, Class C, or Class D airspace. The pilot retains this responsibility when receiving ATC radar advisories. (See 14 CFR Part 91.)"
So you are not incorrect either when you say pilots are "NOT implicitly cleared through" controlled airspace.

I'll let everyone's own judgment guide them on how to deal with those seemingly contradictory instructions.
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davolijj
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« Reply #14 on: July 27, 2012, 10:58:47 AM »

I think the reason for the confliction is because there is a difference between "airspace of jurisdiction," and class B, C, or D airspace.  The Class C "outer area" is a good example of this difference as indicated here:



In other words, a controller is responsible for coordinating a VFR transition through the clear portion of airspace, but it is incumbent on the pilot to ensure he is cleared into the blue part.
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Regards
JD
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