Into the FRZ...

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by poadeleted20, Apr 18, 2005.

  1. Brad Z

    Brad Z En-Route

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    One thing to understand: Unlike everywhere else where IFR and VFR flight plans are handled very differently (i.e. IFR flight plans go to ATC, VFR flight plans stay with flight service), inside the SFRA/FRZ, VFR and IFR flight plans are both handled by Potomac Tracon. An SFRA/FRZ VFR flight plan is just an IFR flight plan with a VFR altitude and special remarks. All FRZ flight plans have a special code in the remarks that confirms the FSS specialist confirmed the identity of the filer.

    As such, it's possible to do things like file an IFR flight plan but depart using that flight plan under visual flight rules, and potentially never pick up the IFR flight plan if you choose. Whether you're IFR or VFR, you're talking to the same people through the process. The difference is controllers don't have to worry about separation when you'r eVFR. They still have to talk to you, and you have to be squawking a non-1200 transponder code. That's why the term "transponder observed" exists; it allows them to acknowledge a VFR aircraft's transponder is squawking the right code without saying "radar contact", which would imply they are providing radar service and traffic advisories.

    Occasionally Potomac tracon will open up controller positions that just handle VFRs to reduce the workload of controllers working all the IFR arrivals and departures. Otherwise VFR folks are talking to the same controllers handling everything else.
     
  2. azure

    azure Final Approach

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    Okay it looks like I will be flying into FME not CGS. So just to confirm something I gathered from talking (very late yesterday) with Mr. Sommer @ CGS:

    For filing *IFR* to a SFRA field outside the FRZ like FME, since no PIN is required, I can file via any standard means, DUAT(S), Foreflight, etc... is this correct?

    And inbound from VT to FME, to pick up my IFR clearance, I can simply call the local ATC, is that correct? No need to call Potomac over the phone? (This I didn't discuss with Mr. Sommer and am less certain about.)

    Outbound from FME, I still have to call Potomac by phone on the ground to get a squawk. According to the A/FD, this is the only clearance delivery contact for FME. Correct?

    Hoping I have it straight now... for IFR, there seem to be some details that the online course doesn't really cover.
     
  3. GeorgeC

    GeorgeC Pattern Altitude PoA Supporter

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    For IFR into the SFRA, it's business as usual. You're squawking, you're talking, you're good.
    Do call Potomac prior to departure to get your squawk and freq; never squawk 1200 inside the SFRA.
    "Potomac departure, N12345 off Tipton, level 1000 westbound, IFR on file..." and away you go.
     
  4. Brad Z

    Brad Z En-Route

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    For SFRA operations, everyone has to be on a flight plan, squawking and talking. That's it.

    By definition, you meet that requirement IFR. For VFR, you just create a flight plan from one of the "gates" such as WOOLY OR PALEO. On ForeFlight, there's an option for a SFRA flight plan on the form. If you are VFR and under flight following, when you get handed to Potomac tracon controllers SFRA they'll find the SFRA flight plan you filed and will likely give you a new squawk code. If you're not on flight following prior to arriving from the north, you'll check in to Potomac approach on 132.775 and once they find your SFRA flight plan they'll give you your code.

    As I mentioned, IFR inbound, everything is normal. If it's VFR upon arrival, you can cancel IFR and continue VFR using the IFR flight plan and squawk code you've already been using. You've already squawking, already talking, and you've already taken the SFRA course so you're good to go. The thing about canceling your IFR early is to make sure you're at least talking to Potomac tracon before doing so; if you canceled IFR with Philly there's a chance your flight plan could get closed out before you make it to Potomac Tracon's airspace.

    You never have to call Potomac tracon via telephone inbound because you'd call them on the radio before you enter their airspace.

    I know a lot folks rather file and fly into the SFRA IFR because it sounds easier and safer. Thing is, northeast routings can be really sketchy and you can end up with an unnecessarily circuitous routing depending on how the arrivals are tracking.
     
  5. Brad Z

    Brad Z En-Route

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    One other thing I want to mention about SFRA/FRZ operations...

    This area has gotten quite a reputation for being a "ticket killer". A few years ago, the FAA was given no discretion in dealing with airspace violations, no matter how inadvertent it was. If you squawked 1200 for even a single radar sweep, you got a violation with a 30-90 day suspension.

    Things have quietly changed over the last few years. The FAA now has discretion and applies the new compliance philosophy. As such SFRA violations are relatively rare these days. Do something stupid and expect to get called out. Accidentally hit the VFR button instead of the ident button and expect nothing more than a phone call, a "don't squawk VFR in the SFRA" and a "have a nice day."

    In other words, don't sweat flying around here. It's not as bad as you think.
     
  6. azure

    azure Final Approach

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  7. wsuffa

    wsuffa Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Except you'll have to get a squawk prior to departure, might as well get the clearance, too. Cellphone works well, FME used to have a remote that dialed a patch to Potomac. I think that's gone.
     
  8. wsuffa

    wsuffa Touchdown! Greaser!

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    That would be me. I've really not had an issue at FME with bad routings - though they will keep you low to stay under the BWI departures (even VFR will have that issue headed north), but it's almost always the case out of HEF, JYO, and the like. YMMV.

    One thing to be very careful of going into FME is the proximity to the FRZ boundary. Twice going int FME they've left me pointed toward the FRZ and failed to issue the turn toward FME - speak up early and often if you get uncomfortable. That's one reason to stay on IFR - in the unlikely event they screw up, your on their vectors. But speak up, they let me get within 1 mile of the FRZ boundary which was too close for comfort.
     
  9. wsuffa

    wsuffa Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Looked it up. Last time I came back from the Boston area, it was the DP (essentially vectors) out of OWD, then V16, and then V268 to V214 and vectors over to HEF. V16 keeps you out of Philly.

    On the way back (depending on altitude) they may offer you V268 over MANTA intersection. I would accept it if I were at 15,000 or above, but I would ask for a different route if I were under that. That's the "shark route" that goes out over the coast and cuts the corner of NYC. It's shorter, but a lot of folks don't like it because it's out of gliding distance. YMMV.
     
  10. azure

    azure Final Approach

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    Yeah I think I'll pass on the "shark route". In my Cardinal I've never gone above 11,000 and noticed the controls starting to get mushy up there. I like 8 or 9000, maybe 10 at the highest. The FF "cleared route" goes well west of NYC and even skirts the west side of the PHL Bravo. The only thing that makes me a little nervous is that it then dives SW straight over BWI. I wouldn't mind being kept low through the Bravo, but I don't want them to get me south of Philly and then send me way east over the Bay. Any reasonable route I can choose to avoid that would be okay with me.

    Here's what FF gave me: KMPV RUCKY V447 CAM V542 ALB V213 SAX SBJ V403 BELAY V499 ENSUE KFME
     
  11. Brad Z

    Brad Z En-Route

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    I make frequent trips up the north east corridor; my typical destination is White Plains or Bridgeport. VFR I can truck straight on up directly over Philly and Manhatten. IFR they send me out through Allentown and up to Newburgh NY. Regardless, they are always airways.

    By the way, going into FME VFR, why are they vectoring you? Aren't you below bravo airspace? I've never been vectored VFR on my side of town unless I specially asked for a bravo clearance. That said, from years of flying traffic planes around D.C. I'm very used to cruising for hours at 1,400 MSL, just a hundred feet under bravo most of the time.
     
  12. gasfiltered

    gasfiltered Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Going to Tipton from the north you will very likely cross BWI midfield and then get direct. If not, don't sweat it, the bay is not that wide there. I would commonly get BELAY then LOUIE or GRACO then direct. If it's good vis, your best bet is to cancel with Potomac as soon as you get handed off to the 119.7 sector (right around KMTN) and request BWI direct. They won't give you that IFR, but will almost always do it VFR. I moved from Baltimore about a year ago, so things may have changed since then.
     
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  13. azure

    azure Final Approach

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    Thanks!
     
  14. azure

    azure Final Approach

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    One question that I forgot to ask here is: departing IFR from a field inside the SFRA but outside the FRZ, can you get your squawk from Potomac and then depart VFR and pick up your clearance in the air? I learned from the folks down there that you CAN NOT. You need to either get your clearance by phone from the ground with a hold for release and void time, or else if you want to pick up the clearance in the air, you have to file a separate SFRA plan for VFR departure. I chose the first route since one flight plan seemed simpler, and I didn't have a SFRA plan form with me.

    Anyway I'm back. The trip down from MPV took 3.5 hours in all, even with a 10-15 kt headwind. The trip back took 4.5 hours with a similar headwind, with a pit stop (bathroom break). The length of flight was only partly because of the pit stop. The routing was the kind I dread: they took me over a half hour out of my way on radar vectors to the SE, then over the Chesapeake and Delaware. My original clearance was the V14 "shark route", but I objected and they gave me V1 up the Jersey shore and directly over JFK. I filed for 9000 but they could only give me 7 on the shoreline route, and because of the headwind I didn't want to reduce power to fly LOP, so I was a gas guzzler for that leg (relatively speaking, 10 gph instead of 8). It was a long, slow, and very uncomfortable flight due to needing to pee the whole way.

    Oh yes, my pit stop was 1B1, Columbia County NY, where my airplane's previous owner was based for 30 years. I learned from the desk manager at Richmor Aviation that Tom has moved away... far away in fact. I won't post details publicly, but anyone who knew or had met him and wants to know more is welcome to PM me. It was a surprising development.

    Anyway, the Branded Bird had an interesting homecoming.
     
  15. weilke

    weilke Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    I can't speak for all of the SFRA, but departing IFR from 2W5 you can depart VFR and pick up the IFR clearance on the climbout. You DO have to call for the squawk and communicate your intent to the clearance desk. It makes their life easier so I have never had a problem.
     
  16. GeorgeC

    GeorgeC Pattern Altitude PoA Supporter

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    Weird, I've departed VFR on an IFR plan from Freeway with just a squawk and a departure frequency and they gave us the clearance in the air. I wonder if I (or Potomac) did it wrong.
     
  17. azure

    azure Final Approach

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    Or maybe the folks at Tipton were wrong. I asked the desk people, who asked a couple of the CFIs at the flight school down the row. They had never heard of anyone doing that. I took their word for it and didn't ask Potomac. So maybe there's nothing wrong with it, they just don't do it that way at FME. :dunno:
     
  18. weilke

    weilke Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    A couple of years ago, someone with a Pa46 took off from Tipton trying to pick up his clearance without calling for a squawk first. Potomac yelled at him and told him to land. He got frazzled, crashed and died. What you encountered may be the result of that crash.
     
  19. azure

    azure Final Approach

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    Possibly, though no one mentioned a reason why it's not done. In fact, they said they had never heard of anyone doing it.

    Oh, and an addendum: as I was writing this, CGS phoned and gave me my PIN, so I'm now fully vetted and ready to fly down. :rolleyes:

    I'm sure it will come in useful down the line, though.
     
  20. wsuffa

    wsuffa Touchdown! Greaser!

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    You can ask Potomac when you call and they either will or won't. I've picked up a clearance in the past and told them I could depart VFR and accept the release in the air and it's been granted without needing 2 flight plans. A lot of controllers, especially around BWI, are busy handling airline traffic and won't want to give a clearance in the air, but if you have the clearance and only need the release, they *might* be willing to do it. It's worth asking if the release time is going to be of any consequence.

    No guarantees, though, and the airports in the FRZ are a bit of a different story.
     
  21. Brad Z

    Brad Z En-Route

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    Sounds like you discovered why I avoid IFR flying the northeast, routing-wise...

    As far as departing VFR with an IFR pickup airborne, you most certainly can. The easiest way is to file IFR normally, call Potomac by phone to get your clearance, and advise them that you intend to depart VFR. They'll give you your routine squawk, departure frequency, etc. Before you depart, enter your squawk code and call approach. They'll give you some initial instructions and advise you to remain VFR until they can clear you. The controlllers much prefer this method as they don't have to cordon off airspace until you show up on radar.
     
  22. azure

    azure Final Approach

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    Not sure what you mean by the part I bolded. Why call them again before departure? Can't they give you these instructions with the initial clearance? Without a way to reach them by radio on the ground, I'd need to shut down, call them, restart, and do another runup.

    Anyway thanks, it's good to know that you can depart VFR and pick up in the air, thought it sounds from what @wsuffa wrote that it might be iffy depending on ATC's workload.

    For the record, my initial clearance was: cleared to KMPV via upon entering controlled airspace fly heading 140, then radar vectors PALEO SIE V308 ORW V14 GDM V151 MPV, maintain 2000, expect 9000 in 10 minutes, departure & squawk. After hearing that route I knew it was going to take me a good 10 minutes to get all that punched in on both the 480 and in Foreflight, and negotiated a release window accordingly.
     
  23. Brad Z

    Brad Z En-Route

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    Sorry...my wife was taking to me while I was typing. What I meant to say is...

    before you take off, enter your squawk code and call approach after you're airborne.

    The only iffy part about getting your IFR clearance when departing VFR is how long it will take. If you're not assured good VMC, I wouldn't recommend it...but that's true anywhere, not just in the SFRA or FRZ.