Flying Through Class B and C VFR?

So I'm about to go on my 2nd cross country with my instructor and our route takes us through class B and C airspace. It was my understanding that if you're taking to the right ATC (in this case norcal app/dep) you're usually cleared through said airspaces and can continue on your own navigation until told otherwise. After planning our flight and sending it to my instructor, he told me that it was best to plan to avoid some airspace since ATC will not want us in those areas. So my questions are:

1. first of all if you are talking to the right people will they usually clear you through airspace and if so will they clear you through all of it or just portions... how does this work?

2. When planning a flight how do you know what areas to purposefully avoid b/c atc wont want you there?

3. If you are cleared through and end up in an area that atc doesnt want you what happens? what do they tell you to get you out? do you get in trouble?


and btw we're still planning on flying through the class b and c but the route is just a little different.

3 Answers

  • John R
    Lv 7
    7 years ago
    Best Answer

    From a practical standpoint, the difference between B and C is that you must be cleared to enter B, you only need to be contact with ATC to enter C.

    1. This means that if ATC is too busy with other traffic, they will not clear you to enter the Bravo, but once they do, you just follow their directions. The clearance more often than not is something like " procede on course, remain at or below 2500", but it can include specific vectors " fly 030, maintian 3000". They will tell you what they need you to do.

    2. You don't need to. There are routes that ATC prefer to use, but those are not really published, but after you fly the area a bit it becomes familar. For years I flew out of an airport North of Philly, if I wanted to go to the shore I could go round the PHL class B, but if I called Philly Approach, they would have me go direct at 5000 feet, crossing PHL at mid field . That's not published anywhere, but after it happen 8 or 9 times I detected a pattern.

    Your instructor is making your flight planning a bit simpler - you are concentrating on flying a planned route plotted on a map. If ATC vectored you 20 miles off the course you carefully plotted, you might get a bit lost.

    3. If they don't want you there, they will not clear you to enter or will vector you around. As long as you follow ATC's instructions, you will not "get into trouble", at least trouble with airspace regulations.

  • 7 years ago

    The greatest thing about getting ATC "control" while VFR is that flying is so much easier. Imagine if you planned your flight to avoid all the controlled airspace, you'd be up and down and here and there and never really sure where you are. Once "cleared" into the airspace you will often be given vectors telling you where to go. So you may not follow your path precisely but will still get to your destination. The navigation is simple because the ATC controller tells you when and where to turn.

    If you are not cleared, then you have your work cut out for you. You have to keep away while still sorting out where you want to go next.

  • 7 years ago

    Class B is usually very busy airspace. You must receive a clearance from the controller in order to enter the area. If you do not get a clearance you do not enter the airspace! In class C if they make positive contact (meaning they reply to the tail number) you may still enter the airspace even if they didn't issue a specific clearance.

    So you can plan to fly trough class B but that doesn't mean you will! Unless you are cleared you have to avoid the airspace. Most times if you plan a path that doesn't interfere with major traffic routes you will get clearance. For instance flying east/west across the middle of DFW when they are using the north/south runways generally gets approved. Asking for a northerly path when aircraft are using the n/s runways usually gets you routed out to the edges of the airspace or a "stay clear of class B" reply.

    Yes, if you end up in Class B where you don't belong, you have enforcement issues! Follow the route ATC gives you, not the one you drew on your map. They usually don't send fighters... your instructor will explain this to you. If not, get a new instructor!

    Source(s): TL
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