Requesting Frequency Change from Tower

Jason spent 24 years as an air traffic controller at Los Angeles Center, and recently moved east to work in DC in the Airspace office as an air traffic subject matter expert. He is a Sport Pilot, owns a Rans S12XL E-LSA, and got his >87 knot endorsement so he can rent a C162. He's here to answer your questions about ATC procedures and rules, in a strictly unofficial capacity.

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jandras
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Requesting Frequency Change from Tower

Postby jandras » Mon Nov 11, 2013 3:15 pm

In my limited student experience, when leaving a Class C or Class D surface area, the tower usually says “BugSquasher XYZ, Kibble Tower, squawk VFR, frequency change approved.” When tower occasionally does not authorize the frequency change, my flight school teaches me to say “Kibble Tower, BugSquasher XYZ, request frequency change.”

This is so even though AIM 4-3-2 says:

“In the interest of reducing tower frequency congestion, pilots are reminded that it is not necessary to request permission to leave the tower frequency once outside of Class B, Class C, and Class D surface areas.”

So, this begs the question....

What is the best practice from a controller’s point of view? Is it as specified in the AIM, or as I have been taught?

Do controllers cringe when a pilot is clear of the surface area and requests a frequency change? Or, do controllers appreciate the request?

Thanks!

ct4me
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Re: Requesting Frequency Change from Tower

Postby ct4me » Mon Nov 11, 2013 6:40 pm

'not a controller, but I think it depends on their attitude. Some seem to like the "courtesy call", letting them know you're not going to be listening. Other's, seem just to live with it, and yet others give you the 'ol "frequency change request not needed when leaving class Delta".
Same could be asked about advising a controlled area when you are NOT going to enter. Sometimes, when I'm just going to pass very near a class D, I'll let the controller know my intentions. Sometimes they seem to appreciate the call and respond with Barometric Pressure and traffic info. Other controllers seem marginally interested, and others a bit hostile for taking their time.
Tim
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Jim Stewart
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Re: Requesting Frequency Change from Tower

Postby Jim Stewart » Mon Nov 11, 2013 6:47 pm

jandras wrote:In my limited student experience, when leaving a Class C or Class D surface area, the tower usually says “BugSquasher XYZ, Kibble Tower, squawk VFR, frequency change approved.” When tower occasionally does not authorize the frequency change, my flight school teaches me to say “Kibble Tower, BugSquasher XYZ, request frequency change.”

This is so even though AIM 4-3-2 says:

“In the interest of reducing tower frequency congestion, pilots are reminded that it is not necessary to request permission to leave the tower frequency once outside of Class B, Class C, and Class D surface areas.”

So, this begs the question....

What is the best practice from a controller’s point of view? Is it as specified in the AIM, or as I have been taught?

Do controllers cringe when a pilot is clear of the surface area and requests a frequency change? Or, do controllers appreciate the request?

Thanks!


Nobody asks for a frequency change around here. I assume the controller might be reaching for a sip of coffee and I'd be interrupting him/her.
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MrMorden
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Re: Requesting Frequency Change from Tower

Postby MrMorden » Mon Nov 11, 2013 8:30 pm

I sometimes use a "clear of class delta airspace" call, they either acknowledge or approve a freq change. Nobody has ever complained.
Andy Walker
Athens, GA
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FastEddieB
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Re: Requesting Frequency Change from Tower

Postby FastEddieB » Mon Nov 11, 2013 8:47 pm

Having learned and taught at what was a VERY busy airport at the time (Opa Locka), we virtually never made a call like that unless we wanted a frequency change within what was then the Airport Traffic Area (now Class D).

Otherwise we just remained on frequency until we were clear, then switched.

No call is necessary, and it really accomplishes nothing.

Now if the frequency is dead and you're feeling cheerful, "Podunk Tower, CT 12345 is clear to the west, thanks for your help!" would not be inappropriate, and perhaps appreciated. But not required.
Last edited by FastEddieB on Mon Nov 11, 2013 9:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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drseti
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Re: Requesting Frequency Change from Tower

Postby drseti » Mon Nov 11, 2013 9:30 pm

Often, when making my initial call in the Class D, I will ask the controller if I can have a hand-off for flight following. That way, I get both a frequency assignment, and a frequency change when it's convenient for them. (Other times, they say "hand-off not available", and I know not to bother them with a further call when exiting the D.)
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designrs
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Re: Requesting Frequency Change from Tower

Postby designrs » Mon Nov 11, 2013 11:48 pm

Slightly different situation, but some similarities, when leaving the SFRA they have to release you from squawk code and frequency change. Rather than wait and listen (if the frequency is not busy) I like to beat them to the punch… "Potamac Approach, BugSquasher XYZ is clear of the SFRA" the usual reply is "BugSquasher XYZ, frequency change approved, squawk VFR"
- Richard

Jack Tyler
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Re: Requesting Frequency Change from Tower

Postby Jack Tyler » Tue Nov 12, 2013 5:40 am

Jandras, the three preceding posts illustrate in different ways why your question is as much about context - the specific Class D's circumstances - as it is about what a given pilot normally does or what the AIM says. There's a lot of that 'judgement stuff' that just comes with a bit of experience.
Jack
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CharlieTango
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Re: Requesting Frequency Change from Tower

Postby CharlieTango » Tue Nov 12, 2013 9:24 am

On a similar note when departing an uncontrolled field I appreciate it when the pilot says 'last call' it keeps things more organized in my brain. I often say something like 'departing the pattern to the north, last call'

Merlinspop
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Re: Requesting Frequency Change from Tower

Postby Merlinspop » Tue Nov 12, 2013 10:52 am

Once I'm POSITIVE that I'm clear of their airspace, if tower hasn't called me, I'll give them a "bugsmasher 123, so long" (or "see ya later" if I know I'm coming back soon) call just to let them know I'm gone.

Leaving the SFRA, I'm not touching the radio or transponder until ATC says so... I don't care if I'm halfway to Clevland! (okay, so that was an exaggeration, and I've never flown to Clevland).
- Bruce

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designrs
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Re: Requesting Frequency Change from Tower

Postby designrs » Tue Nov 12, 2013 12:17 pm

Merlinspop wrote:Leaving the SFRA, I'm not touching the radio or transponder until ATC says so... I don't care if I'm halfway to Clevland! (okay, so that was an exaggeration, and I've never flown to Clevland).


SFRA procedures require that you are released, and of course that is wise. One could speculate if you are outbound and in fact TOTALLY OUT of the SFRA you are really not their business or concen any more. The likelyhood of any repercussion for changing frequencies is probably slim. You are just be another plane skirting around outside of their jurisdiction. However, it's not cool that they did not close your SFRA flight plan and you just "disappeared". Of course if you changed squawk and frequency too early and were still inside the SFRA, then you created a violation that runs a high risk of action. Outbound would probably be followup. Inbound would probably be intercept.

Despite all the harsh warnings, the SFRA controllers are usually pretty fair and accommodating. They deal with pilots that fly in and out of the SFRA several times a day, and they deal with a lot of pilots that have never been there before. Their job is not to "control you" in a Class-B sense, but to observe you and make sure that you are not a threat. They want to help you comply. Just don't bust their airspace accidentally!

... oh, and if they don't release you, call them up and remind them before you get to Cleveland. :lol:
- Richard

jandras
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Re: Requesting Frequency Change from Tower

Postby jandras » Tue Nov 12, 2013 1:17 pm

Jack Tyler wrote:Jandras, the three preceding posts illustrate in different ways why your question is as much about context - the specific Class D's circumstances - as it is about what a given pilot normally does or what the AIM says. There's a lot of that 'judgement stuff' that just comes with a bit of experience.


Thanks all. The use of context makes great sense to me.

On another board (I think), I've seen the author of "Say Again Please," Bob Gardner, refer to the AIM and adamantly say that a pilot should never request a frequency change when clear of the surface area. My school, on the other hand, prefers the opposite. I'll stick with my school's approach for now, for obvious reasons, but exercising judgment based on context and experience is probably what I will adopt downstream.

Thanks again.

3Dreaming
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Re: Requesting Frequency Change from Tower

Postby 3Dreaming » Tue Nov 12, 2013 3:38 pm

Maybe you should ask your school why they are teaching contrary to what the AIM which is considered to be the FAA's standard procedure. I would be interested to see what they have to say. I know as an instructor sometimes a students question will teach me something new.

Flocker
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Re: Requesting Frequency Change from Tower

Postby Flocker » Tue Nov 12, 2013 6:10 pm

Great post! The Class-D [KPDK] I fly out of is sometimes so busy you can barely get a call in, hence the AIM's stance, I guess.

newamiga
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Re: Requesting Frequency Change from Tower

Postby newamiga » Tue Nov 12, 2013 9:33 pm

Not sure how many of you guys fly or have flown in and out of KAPA (Centennial in south Denver). They will not set you up for flight following from the ground, they will not hand you off to Denver approach.. they will give you the frequency but not a hand-off. I use flight following every time I fly in and out of there and just call Denver approach as soon as I get out of their delta. They are busy and don't have much time for folks who don't know their procedures. It frustrates a lot of pilots out this way who don't normally fly in and out of there. One other thing they get a lot of folks on is their ground procedure. On initial call to ground you must let them know if you need a run-up.. they taxi you to the run-up area which you need to know the location of. Once you are run up complete you call and tell them that and they tell you to MONITOR tower.. don't dare call tower. Tower will then call you to clear you to either hold short, line up and wait, or takeoff. I only bring this up to reiterate that some airports have special delta procedures due to the volume of traffic they manage on a normal basis.

Carl
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