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What are the protocols around VFR flight following?

I started my flight lessons a while back, and took a break for about a year. I would like to get back into them but I am trying to refresh my memory as much as possible to reduce the amount of refresher lessons/ground lessons I have to take.

So lets say I just took off of my airfield which lies just outside of Philadelphia airspace, and want to get flight following through the Bravo airspace to another airfield. Assuming I haven't yet contacted Philadelphia approach control, what would be the exact radio command to do this? If they clear me for flight following, am I also cleared through the Bravo by default or do I have to wait? If they deny me for flight following, do I then have to re-request transition through the Bravo?

I used to slip up on radio protocol all the time, and I guess I never got the hang of exactly what I was supposed to say in every situation. I want to seem competent both over the radio and too my new instructor. Thanks.

3 Answers

  • Favorite Answer

    Technically, Flight Following is not a clearance through any controlled or restricted airspace. The pilot is still responsible for obtaining any clearances required.

    However, since the controller knows where you are going, they usually will clear you through any controlled airspace if it is not too busy.

    Since flight following is given on a workload permitting basis, you must keep in mind, such clearances are not automatic. So, if you do have flight following and you are nearing Class B airspace and haven't received a clearance, request it.

    Your initial call up would be:

    You- "Philadelphia Approach, Cessna 12345"

    ATC- "Cessna 12345, Philadelphia Approach, go ahead."

    You- "Cessna 12345 is a Cessna 172, 5 miles west of the Pottstown VOR at Three thousand five hundred, en route from Perkiomen to Trenton-Robinsville, request flight following." You might also add "We'd also like to get cleared through Philadelphia Class B and fly direct."

    This way, you can alter your plan early if clearance is denied.

    ATC "Cessna 12345 Philadelphia Altimeter is 30.10 Squawk 1025 and ident"

    You "30.10, Squwak 1025,ident, Cessna 12345." (Hit ident)

    ATC "Cessna 12345, radar contact, maintain VFR, cleared through Philadelphia Class Bravo turn right heading 160, maintain three thousand five hundred."

    You " Right to 160, maintain VFR, three thousand five hundred, cleared through Philadelphia Class Bravo."

    You will receive and follow heading and altitudes issued by ATC until you are clear of the Class B airspace.

    (Or you may be told to remain clear of Class B. Depends on how busy the airspace/controller is.)

    So, bottom line, though flight following is not a clearance, you will often get one without having to ask. But it is your responsibility to get one.

    Source(s): Pilot
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  • 1 decade ago

    You may request flight following at any time: "XYZ Approach/XYZ Center, Cessna one seven two four foxtrot level seven thousand five hundred VFR two four miles southwest of ABC request flight following." Flight following is provided on a workload-permitting basis and may be denied.

    You must explicitly request and be granted clearance into Class B airspace before you touch it, and this is true whether or not you have flight following: "XYZ Approach, Cessna one seven two four foxtrot request clearance to operate in the Foobar Bravo airspace" (with position and altitude info if you don't already have FF, and possibly an indication of what you plan to do in the Class B, be it transition, landing, etc.). You may not enter the Bravo unless you hear the magic words "Cleared into/to operate in the the Foobar Class Bravo airspace" usually with something like "maintain VFR at or below four thousand five hundred." You must have an alternate plan that keeps you out of the Class B in case you are denied clearance.

    Once inside the Class B, you may receive specific heading, altitude, and speed restrictions, which you are expected to observe even under VFR.

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  • 1 decade ago

    You have to have permission to enter Class B, not just radio contact.

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