Flying close to Class C airspace?

HeyEng

NAHB Doesn't Give a Crap
So when you fly in fairly close proximity to class C (within about 3 miles) but don't intend to go in the airspace, do you call approach anyway? I was just kinda curious as a lot of my local flying is pretty close to the San Antonio class C. I don't want to bug the controllers too much if I don't have to (and one of our controllers can be REAL moody!!!) but then again, I think it would be good for their (and my) situational awareness.

If you do call them, what do you tell them? I'm not going in your airspace but wanted you to know what I was doing?

Just curious of your opinions...:)
 

Brian Z

Well-Known Member
Go ahead and give them a call. What would it hurt? If you let them know your intentions then they do not need to guess what you are doing.
 

Holocene

Well-Known Member
No contact is required unless you plan to penatrate the physical boundaries of the airspace. "Close" doesn't matter...although your xpndr must have mode-C capability, and be turned on, when flying within the "outer area" of the airspace.
 

tgrayson

New Member
So when you fly in fairly close proximity to class C (within about 3 miles) but don't intend to go in the airspace, do you call approach anyway?
It's a good idea. They provide Class C services up to 20 nm from the airport, which is why the sectionals say to contact approach within that radius. You don't have to, but it helps them to have you on a discrete squawk code.

The callup is the normal, 'who you are, where you are, and what you're going to do." Note that Class C services include separating you from IFR traffic, which could be inconvenient.
 

HeyEng

NAHB Doesn't Give a Crap
Good deal...I think I will do that in the future. Thanks for the quick responses!!!
 

Milesar

Well-Known Member
Sometimes you could just monitor the Freq, you might hear them mention you if you accidentally bust their airspace or are in close proximity to other traffic.

I think the best option however is to give em a call up and let them know.
 

Nick

Well-Known Member
Unless you are taking off from an airport that is 3 miles from class C and flying directly away from it immediately, I would establish communications.

First of all, you are of course in the radar area that they control despite being outside class C. So it is probably not a difficult thing for them to create a strip for your blip on the screen.

Secondly, I can't remember what words the AIM uses but if I remember correctly it says communications are either recommended or encouraged. i.e. if the controller sounds like they have time, give them a call if you are going to be flying in the area.

Thirdly, I have a story about this that supports the first two reasons I just typed.

I had about 25 hours in my logbook. I was going up with my instructor at night from our class D airport to an uncontrolled field that involved flying through or over top of a nearby class C airport to get there. Our class D training airport's airspace actually touched the class C's outer ring and there was a cutout. So the point is, it was right there.

We departed and had told our class D tower we were going to the north. They wanted us to stay on frequency until traffic coming from the north was clear. So we did, and leveled off at an altitude that kept us below class C but we would have liked to be on the radio with the class C controller by then.

Well the traffic went by us and the class D airport tower said we could switch frequences so we flipped over to the class C controller's freq. First thing we heard:

[sound of mic being keyed with Traffic! Climb. Climb now! Climb. Climb now! in the background]
"Approach United 751 we're climbing for an RA."

We saw them about two miles ahead of us and probably 500 to 1000 feet above. We were not in class C and they were doing as they were told, yet we generated an RA since we were climbing and they were descending.

The class C controller was quite irritated when we checked on and requested VFR flight following to the north through and above his airspace. We got "the phone number" radio call.

My instructor called them after we landed and they basically told him/me, 'we know you were doing everything right and you were not in our airspace. We also understand that you would have normally switched over by then but tower wanted you to stay. In the future, we'd appreciate it if you could switch over sooner.'

Basically my point is, even though a plane could be outside class C airspace, it could still really be getting in the way of things if it's on a 15 mile final at 3000 feet, for example, orbiting around maneuvering there. So it's best to let the controller know what the plan is instead of having them have to guess as to which way this blip on their radar is going to go next.
 

HeyEng

NAHB Doesn't Give a Crap
Unless you are taking off from an airport that is 3 miles from class C and flying directly away from it immediately, I would establish communications.

First of all, you are of course in the radar area that they control despite being outside class C. So it is probably not a difficult thing for them to create a strip for your blip on the screen.

Secondly, I can't remember what words the AIM uses but if I remember correctly it says communications are either recommended or encouraged. i.e. if the controller sounds like they have time, give them a call if you are going to be flying in the area.

Thirdly, I have a story about this that supports the first two reasons I just typed.

I had about 25 hours in my logbook. I was going up with my instructor at night from our class D airport to an uncontrolled field that involved flying through or over top of a nearby class C airport to get there. Our class D training airport's airspace actually touched the class C's outer ring and there was a cutout. So the point is, it was right there.

We departed and had told our class D tower we were going to the north. They wanted us to stay on frequency until traffic coming from the north was clear. So we did, and leveled off at an altitude that kept us below class C but we would have liked to be on the radio with the class C controller by then.

Well the traffic went by us and the class D airport tower said we could switch frequences so we flipped over to the class C controller's freq. First thing we heard:

[sound of mic being keyed with Traffic! Climb. Climb now! Climb. Climb now! in the background]
"Approach United 751 we're climbing for an RA."

We saw them about two miles ahead of us and probably 500 to 1000 feet above. We were not in class C and they were doing as they were told, yet we generated an RA since we were climbing and they were descending.

The class C controller was quite irritated when we checked on and requested VFR flight following to the north through and above his airspace. We got "the phone number" radio call.

My instructor called them after we landed and they basically told him/me, 'we know you were doing everything right and you were not in our airspace. We also understand that you would have normally switched over by then but tower wanted you to stay. In the future, we'd appreciate it if you could switch over sooner.'

Basically my point is, even though a plane could be outside class C airspace, it could still really be getting in the way of things if it's on a 15 mile final at 3000 feet, for example, orbiting around maneuvering there. So it's best to let the controller know what the plan is instead of having them have to guess as to which way this blip on their radar is going to go next.
Really good story to illustrate the usefulness of talking to them. Helps solidify my decision to "give a call" when in the area.
 

matt152

Well-Known Member
It depends. There is a VOR about 25 miles from a class C that I use for holding practice with my instrument students. I usually request flight following for "airwork over the VOR" even though I am not near the class C. They send alot of their departure airline traffic that way.

There is also a small airport four miles from the class C primary airport. There is actually a cutout of the class C surface area for it. Sometimes I will call them for flight following into the small airport, but usually I just monitor the approach frequency and slip under the shelf. I've been responsible for several "we've got him on TCAS" calls, but no RAs to my knowledge.
 

Brian Z

Well-Known Member
Here is a very good example. I was around Bravo, but I was not in their airspace at the time. I was in contact with them though. I was at 9500, 500 below the top shelf floor, and I wanted to descend to 7500 because I was approaching a step down in the airspace. Even though I was VFR and not in his airspace I let the controller know my intentions. The controller had me stop at 8500 and cleared me into the Bravo otherwise I would have had a near miss with a helicopter at 8000 that was also talking with him. Now neither of us had to be in contact with ATC, but we were and it possibly avoided an oops.
 

Scandinavian13

New Member
Sometimes you could just monitor the Freq, you might hear them mention you if you accidentally bust their airspace or are in close proximity to other traffic.

I think the best option however is to give em a call up and let them know.
That's what I generally do. Just a quick "hey, I'm here and I'll be skirting the airspace - I'll be monitoring if you need to holler at me" goes a long way. Late at night, some airports appreciate having contact with somebody.
 

mjg407

Well-Known Member
It's a good idea. They provide Class C services up to 20 nm from the airport, which is why the sectionals say to contact approach within that radius. You don't have to, but it helps them to have you on a discrete squawk code.

The callup is the normal, 'who you are, where you are, and what you're going to do." Note that Class C services include separating you from IFR traffic, which could be inconvenient.
:yeahthat:
 

OldTownPilot

Well-Known Member
I call em up.

Can't hurt especially if you are crossing the approach end of an active runway.

Of course Bangor Maine's class C is a lot less busy than San Antonio's (and most other class C airports)
 

Sidious

Well-Known Member
No contact is required unless you plan to penatrate the physical boundaries of the airspace. "Close" doesn't matter...although your xpndr must have mode-C capability, and be turned on, when flying within the "outer area" of the airspace.

Reading 91.215 and AIM 4-1-20 I dont see anything about the "Outer area" of Class C mentioned. I do not think you need Mode C operating in this area because you are not within the lateral limits of Class C
 

E_Dawg

Moderator
You can always just call 'em on the phone, and figure out where you're best off before hand. That way when you do fly you don't even have to worry about it.

Just another idea, not better or worse than the others!
 

germb747

Well-Known Member
It's up to you, but I always appreciate the extra set of eyes that the radar controllers provide (workload permitting).
 

Holocene

Well-Known Member
Reading 91.215 and AIM 4-1-20 I dont see anything about the "Outer area" of Class C mentioned. I do not think you need Mode C operating in this area because you are not within the lateral limits of Class C
My mistake. The "outer area" pertains to class-B airspace, not class-C. However, mode-C will be required if operating above class-C airspace, even if not in the airspace. "Lateral limits", as you say.
 

tgrayson

New Member
Reading 91.215 and AIM 4-1-20 I dont see anything about the "Outer area" of Class C mentioned. I do not think you need Mode C operating in this area because you are not within the lateral limits of Class C
AIM 3-2-4. Class C Airspace

[...]

Note

4. Though not requiring regulatory action, Class C
airspace areas have a procedural Outer Area. Normally
this area is 20 NM from the primary Class C airspace
airport. Its vertical limit extends from the lower limits of
radio/radar coverage up to the ceiling of the approach
control's delegated airspace, excluding the Class C
airspace itself, and other airspace as appropriate. (This
outer area is not charted.)
 

HeyEng

NAHB Doesn't Give a Crap
AIM 3-2-4. Class C Airspace

[...]

Note

4. Though not requiring regulatory action, Class C
airspace areas have a procedural Outer Area. Normally
this area is 20 NM from the primary Class C airspace
airport. Its vertical limit extends from the lower limits of
radio/radar coverage up to the ceiling of the approach
control's delegated airspace, excluding the Class C
airspace itself, and other airspace as appropriate. (This
outer area is not charted.)
What the heck does that mean? "procedural outer area" and then the part about "not requiring regulatory action"?!?

All I can say is I am glad I have the AOPA legal plan!!! :)
 
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