LAX transitions

Discussion in 'Change to my Frequency...' started by Chrisj13, Nov 7, 2016.

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  1. Chrisj13

    Chrisj13 Pre-Flight

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    I know this topic has been well covered, and I've read most of the threads. Thought I would seek out some area controllers for advice though, and anybody else who has transited the area recently.
    I'll be flying to compton airport from Norcal sometime next week, and will be on flight following. As I understand it, the mini-route provides the lowest altitude. Do I just tell the controller I want the mini route, keep my current squawk code and fly on my way? I know I have to have clearance for the mini, but does being on FF count? Or do I have to cancel FF, contact SMO, get a code, contact Hawthorne on the other side of LAX, then land at KCPM?

    On the way out, I assume I circle above compton till at 2,500 (?) contact Hawthorne again, do the reverse and be on my merry way?

    The route doesn't look too hard, busy airspace isn't a big deal for me. (In and out of KSFO class B all the time). Just want to make sure I'm doing it right and not missing anything.
     
  2. Shawn

    Shawn En-Route

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    Not a controller but I fly all the LAX transitions regularly from NorCal. I will take going through Bravo than going around/under any day. Just did this weekend.

    Super simple if you are on FF. On your first handoff to SoCal Approach..."SoCal, Sklyane 12345, Level X,XXX. Request Bravo transition Mini Route" is all you need. LA Center or Magoo Approach will just tell you to make your request with SoCal if you ask earlier. SoCal expects you to know the route and what you are supposed to do and where to fly. I have heard pilots that were bumbling on the radio and told to remain clear then they cleared me right through.

    That is all you need then they will give you the appropriate handoffs to SMO, LAX, HHR if needed like any other handoff. You do not need to initiate any contact on your own. You may or may not get Bravo clearance back with that first controller, but unless they tell you to remain clear of Bravo, it will come. Being on FF does NOT grant you Bravo clearance, you need to explicitly still get that clearance but SoCal can give that to you or hand you off to SMO who may give it to you...but with that initial request they should line up the clearance for you.

    A lot of the transition radio procedures on the TAC are listed for those that are making an inital cold call for clearance and not already on FF. It will be a lot of quick radio work but they should simply hand you off all the way to CPM.

    Only time you need to cancel is if you want the SFRA transition. Then you dump FF, squawk 1201, self announce, then have to re-etablish on the other side. Not at all useful if you want FF to destination.

    Out of KCPM I pick up FF with SoCal right away on their departure frequency then make my Bravo request and they will give you climbing vectors and handoffs again on the way back. You can start with HHR but you will be flying blind during your climb to 2500' and vectoring to the entry point in some busy airspace. SMO has been known to dump people off FF heading northbound, in which case you just have to reestablish with SoCal before running into BUR's Charlie. I would ask SMO specially for a handoff for FF on the way back and/or have SMO Departure frequency handy in your back pocket.

    Have a backup plan plotted around Bravo just in case. It is rare, but I have had to use that once when they were not letting VFR through Bravo. I have my backup route and all the transition routes plotted and saved as favorites in Foreflight so I can pull up without missing a beat if needed in case things don't go as planned!
     
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2016
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  3. register@teamandras.com

    register@teamandras.com Cleared for Takeoff

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    Plan B's are good!

    The last time I tried to use the mini route (northbound), So Cal Approach transferred me to Hawthorne (HHR) and they surprised me by saying it was closed. So, I had to do a 180, start talking to So Cal again, and then climb up while turning around over the Long Beach harbor to get higher and eventually take the Coastal Route at 6500 instead.
     
  4. MAKG1

    MAKG1 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    And they did exactly that to me. I was totally unprepared for it, and it resulted in my one and only airspace bust, after I read the chart in too much of a hurry and got the BUR ceiling wrong coming out of Sepulveda Pass. I had hurriedly re-contacted SoCal and had been told to remain clear of Class B and C.

    No consequence aside from a NASA form and a (very) mild tongue-lashing from the SoCal controller. But it would have been worse if there had been anyone in the airspace.

    But you can bet I won't be so unprepared again. Felt like a total idiot.
     
  5. Shawn

    Shawn En-Route

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    ...and just to add another side note to be sure you receive your Bravo clearance before you cross that line, they are human and can be forgetful waiting till the last second. Just coming home Sunday headed for the Coastal route, set up FF on the ground at FUL and made the Bravo request with SoCal on departure. SoCal gave me a vector which was a short cut that I appreciated, then a climb to 5,500 for traffic. Well, that vector and climb put me under a 5000' shelf and I had not yet been given the clearance. Leveled off approaching 5000' and made the call "SoCal, Skylane 12345...climb to 5,500 puts me in Bravo, am I cleared?"...then the clearance came and gave me yet another shortcut to join the Coastal Route at 6,500.

    That bust technically would have been on me.

    If you are unsure and uneasy about not having yet received the clearance, you can and I have asked "SoCal, Skylane 12345, should I expect that clearance"
     
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2016
  6. Chrisj13

    Chrisj13 Pre-Flight

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    All very good information, thank you very much!
     
  7. Chrisj13

    Chrisj13 Pre-Flight

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    Any rhyme or reason why the mini closes? Or does it just occur at random times?
     
  8. Shawn

    Shawn En-Route

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    some reasons I know of for denial/closure...

    1) Weather
    2) If LAX is slammed or an incident and LAX Tower does not wanna deal with VFR handoffs that low
    3) Heard it closed once for Police helicopter ops adjacent to LAX
    4) Traffic target or two already on Mini Route coming opposite direction (it is 2500' both directions)
    5) LAX landing from offshore

    Not that common but it does happen. Much less so on the other routes though.
     
  9. register@teamandras.com

    register@teamandras.com Cleared for Takeoff

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    I think it was due to low clouds, but I didn't have the mental capacity to ask why at the time. The TAC inset says that LAX must be reporting a ceiling of at least 3500' and visibility of at least three miles, and that Hawthorne and Santa Monica must be VFR.

    We were ready to go at 9am, but there was some cloud coverage over the LAX complex. I waited until 10:30 or so for the ceiling to lift at all three airports before I even departed SNA, and SoCal Approach merrily guided me toward Hawthorne for the mini route north and transferred me to Hawthorne. It really caught me off guard when Hawthorne tower said it was closed and turned me away.

    Hawthorne told me to squawk VFR, but I was going to be doing a 180 in the Torrance delta, so I went immediately back to SoCal just in case.

    I called Hawthorne tower a couple of days later to see why I couldn't rely on the ceilings reported in the METARs, but I couldn't really get a straight answer. I'm guessing that there's a bit of a lag between the ceiling being high enough, and the "official" opening of the mini route.

    I don't know if LAX alone opens or closes it, or if any one of HHR, LAX and/or SMO can unilaterally close it. Probably LAX controls and HHR/SMO just follow. Anybody know?

    Next time, especially if the ceiling or visibility are recently compliant, I will ask SoCal to confirm it's open before getting transferred to one of the gate-keeper airports.
     
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2016
  10. Shawn

    Shawn En-Route

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    That lag time is usually between the reported conditions and actual conditions. If the conditions improved which was obvious visually but ATIS had not yet been updated they have to still go by the reported weather.
     
  11. register@teamandras.com

    register@teamandras.com Cleared for Takeoff

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    Maybe. I didn't specifically check the ATIS recordings on the ground or in the air. I was using ForeFlight to check the conditions as actually reported in the METARs before we started the engine, not visually, but I suppose the ATIS updates may be separate and could take longer.

    On the other hand, it probably took me at least 20 minutes to get there, and that was after the METARs were good.
     
  12. luvflyin

    luvflyin En-Route PoA Supporter

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    Yeah. Being climbed to 5,500 for traffic, accepting that clearance, then leveling off at 5,000 and starting the conversation then about "Bravo clearance" is not a real good idea. If the frequency is getting busy and you can't get a word in edgewise to confirm it, and there is some real traffic close by that is being avoided by your acceptance of the climb to 5,500, leveling off at 5,000 ain't to cool.
     
  13. Shawn

    Shawn En-Route

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    Thanks for the backseat flyin, but your assessment and critical judgement was nowhere close to the the actual scenario I was in. Requested altitude and Coastal Route transition was 6,500. He gave me VFR climb to 5,500 till traffic passed above (which I included in the story cuz those that know the route know it is 6,500 northbound, not 5,500) and frequency was not at all busy and rather relaxed. The vectors were different than typical which put me under the shelf rather than entering it from the side which is the published route. It was more slowing ascent rather than blow through into the 5,000' Bravo ring floor till I confirmed clearance which immediately came once queried which was far from a "conversation". Query ATC is exactly what you are supposed to do when there is any ambiguity...or would you just have blown through the Bravo and kept going without clearance? cuz THAT ain't cool...
     
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2016
  14. ircphoenix

    ircphoenix Pattern Altitude

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    Shawn nailed it.

    A couple of things from my personal experience with the mini route both directions.

    I have never been cleared through the bravo by SMO or HHR. I *always* have been told to remain clear of the bravo, when advised contact LA Tower. Tower will clear you through the bravo.

    Have your frequencies (120.1, 119.8, 121.1 going southbound) written down and change your standby freq as soon as you get switched to the next controller on the mini route. That way you won't get task saturated.

    One piece of advice I'd offer is to tell the controller at LA Tower when you're overhead midfield once you get there. I've had a controller being extremely busy and forget about me until I was well through the Bravo 1 foot above Hawthorne's class Delta looking at the departure end. They won't mind the call.

    The one time I've had the mini route closed on me, there was a tiny pocket of marine layer about 2 miles off the coast at 1500 feet that hadn't quite burned off yet. I wish I had photos, but it was CAVU except for that tiny patch nowhere near the mini route, and it was still closed by LAX. SFRA is a nice backup plan to have.

    As a side note the Hawthorne controllers are all super chill. One guy is RIDICULOUSLY mellow and awesome, and I think it trickles down to the other controllers.
     
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  15. luvflyin

    luvflyin En-Route PoA Supporter

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    I hear ya. More detail of the actual situation, you're not be climbed above something at 5, but being held below something at 6, paints a picture. I wasn't judging what what you did. Just reaffirming your point to "verify." The point I was making was verify it when you get the clearance. Like "outta 4,000 for 5,550, verify cleared into the Bravo." My bad for making it seem judgemental of your action at the time.
     
  16. Shawn

    Shawn En-Route

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    SoCal will sometimes wait till you are nose to nose with the blue line till they give you those actual clearance magic words which I am used to and why I use that story to let others know to make sure that you get it before entering. That can make some pilots that are not that familiar uncomfortable. Yeah, I usually would have queried with the acknowledgment as you mentioned but with the different than usual vectors, It was not until I was rapidly approaching that floor that I realized I would be entering Bravo under it and intercepting the Coastal Route, not on the side of it at the typical published entry point at 6500 which you can freely climb to clear of Bravo.
     
  17. MAKG1

    MAKG1 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Hmm, both times I went through, the B clearance came with a reasonable margin. LAX controllers were fabulous. It's only the SMO controllers I have a beef with.
     
  18. TheGolfPilot

    TheGolfPilot Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I'll second the Hawthorne controllers being awesome. It seems like Hawthorne is where retired LAX guys go
     
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  19. Ravioli

    Ravioli En-Route PoA Supporter

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    Must be why the city council is pushing to close the...............
     
  20. ircphoenix

    ircphoenix Pattern Altitude

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    Hawthoorrrrnnnne tower.

    I've found myself calling them the same way they announce. Lol.
     
  21. ircphoenix

    ircphoenix Pattern Altitude

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    Are they a training tower at SMO?
     
  22. Ravioli

    Ravioli En-Route PoA Supporter

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    It's not pronounced whore-thorn anymore? Times they do be a changing.
     
  23. MAKG1

    MAKG1 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I thought all towers were training towers.

    There was very definitely a trainee at Palo Alto Sunday. Really obvious. And more traffic than he could handle.
     
  24. ircphoenix

    ircphoenix Pattern Altitude

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    Hell I don't know. I've heard the phrase "oh they're a training tower" before so I didn't know if there are towers that don't train or why a "training tower" would be different from any other tower.
     
  25. ircphoenix

    ircphoenix Pattern Altitude

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    Guess it depends on the ear of the person listening. There's definitely interesting inflection. I love them for it.
     
  26. MAKG1

    MAKG1 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Umm, I think he's referring to Hawthorne Blvd.

    At least when I lived a bit south of there, it wasn't a place you went to for a "quality date."
     
  27. ircphoenix

    ircphoenix Pattern Altitude

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    Ah. I've not been Hawthorne much north of the 405. For a reason.
     
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  28. arnoha

    arnoha Line Up and Wait

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    I've had it be a surprise closed on me due to weather. LAX was reporting the needed 3500' ceiling, but I guess they hadn't caught up yet. I had departed SNA expecting to fly under the clouds through the Mini, but was surprised to find it closed per SoCal. The weather report must have changed after I departed, as I was able to climb through a hole to take the SFRA at 4500', which suggests 3500' wasn't really the ceiling at that point. The 3500' SFRA was definitely not VFR, so I got lucky that I was going the correct direction to take the height that was VFR. Overall, not my finest bit of flight planning thought it did work out. I ended up flying 3/4 of the way home to PAO with a layer under me, which is pretty...but not my favorite thing to do VFR.