Situations where ATC "makes it up" to aircraft?

Discussion in 'Change to my Frequency...' started by N1120A, May 10, 2018.

  1. N1120A

    N1120A Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Had an interesting situation today. Was flying SNA-CMA via the Coastal Route and SoCal did a few interesting things. First, they cleared me to 6500 once I switched from SNA tower to departure and own navigation from the shoreline to the entry point. Then, they had me level off at 4000 or 4500 for traffic, then let me climb again. Then, they had me turn to 330 just after and sort of point at LGB, clearing me through the Bravo on that heading. They then had me make a turn back toward the route, cleared through that way. When they switched me to 134.9, the controller had me descend to 6000 (reasonably common on the Coastal) and then let me resume own navigation direct at anywhere between 4500 and 6000 as soon as I crossed the LAX VOR, instead of having me turn up along the Sepulveda Pass. He also hung on to me until it was time to switch to Pt. Mugu, instead of handing me to Burbank sector.

    Ultimately, this seems like it cut off at least 5-10 minutes off my flight time. Anyone else see something like this happen? The LAX Bravo transitions are usually kept to pretty strictly, with some minor variations. This was definitely different.
     
  2. Shawn

    Shawn En-Route

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    Yup happens all the time on the Coastal Route. North of LAX only variations you will typically get are for traffic and they will sometimes turn you up the Coast if there is a hole in the arrivals...but that is usually only offered and rarely granted when requested. Hear it denied all the time.

    South of LAX it is a lot more lenient since you are out of the arrivals and departure corridor, I often will get direct once past LAX or more commonly permission to descend early which will put you beneath the Bravo Shelf then you can get own nav without having to fly the whole route if not convenient.

    On quiet nights I will also often get Direct LAX from wherever I am rather than having to hit the entry and exit points.

    There typically is a handoff right at LAX. I have learned if Mom says no, just wait and ask Dad with the next controller.

    While I always expect to execute the full published route, getting short cuts are always nice when ATC helps ya get you there quicker and does happen quite a bit. I am through there every two weeks or so and probably 50/50 if I have to fly the whole route or not.
     
    Last edited: May 11, 2018
  3. Palmpilot

    Palmpilot Touchdown! Greaser!

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    One of the reasons I like the special flight rules corridor over LAX is predictability. If I use a route that requires ATC contact and they vector me off of my planned route, with the complexity of the airspace I'm concerned that it could increase my likelihood of busting somebody's airspace. I have a hard enough time with Bay Area airspace, and that's less complex and very familiar to me.
     
  4. wsuffa

    wsuffa Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Yep. Potomac will do that sort of thing if the Dulles East corridor is open and they're not too busy.
     
  5. luvflyin

    luvflyin Final Approach

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    I’ve gotten that. Not as early as right over LAX but soon enough they hand me off to Mugu instead of the Woodland sector in the Burbank area
     
  6. N1120A

    N1120A Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Yeah, I'm definitely used to the south of LAX variations where they give me own navigation - usually staying at 5500 - after LAX about 60% of the time. Then 127.3 usually gives me one or two step down altitudes and direct Mt. Soledad before handing me off to 119.6 and then MYF.

    The only variation I've been given before this one on the north side was the option to descend to 4500 just after LAX and be out of the Bravo so I can go direct. 4500 is slightly low to go direct, in case of difficulty, given that the direct involves a lot of mountains, but 6000 was great the other day.

    I really dislike the SFRA, specifically because there is no positive control or someone with eyes on you. I've seen people screw around on that corridor enough to avoid it whenever possible. It also messes up FF, as you either have to dump your squawk and get a new one on the other side (figuring out which sector to call too) or you don't get it on the ground and have to do the dance in the air with busy controllers. I had to use the SFRA out of SMO yesterday, and it was just not fun.

    My guess is that there is a rough cut off between north and south of the 101, with some overlap. I was pretty surprised to get over the mountains and stay with Del Ray all the way to the 23. Of course, given my luck of late, I was surprised I didn't get a "squawk VFR, frequency change approved" at the 23, as Mugu has been weird about taking FF arrivals into CMA lately.
     
  7. Shawn

    Shawn En-Route

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    If you are on FF it is ATC's job to explicitly coordinate any transitions along your route through that airspace...not your's (for C and D that is). If they provide you a vector or own nav which takes you through another airspace, the pilot is not expected to obtain their own authorization. While being on FF does not permit you to fly into any 'ol airspace you desire willy nilly, if it along your route the C and D walls essentially disappear while on FF transitioning the SoCal area.

    I don't like the SFRA for the opposite reason... you have to terminate FF and re-establish on other side then airspace bust ARE on you in the meantime vs handoffs all the way to your destination.
     
    Last edited: May 11, 2018
  8. Palmpilot

    Palmpilot Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I haven't had any trouble using it, but perhaps you have more experience with it. What kind of screwing around have you seen?
     
  9. N1120A

    N1120A Pre-takeoff checklist

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    You and I agree on the SFRA, for various reasons, but I don't think the description of the SoCal airspace factors is exactly correct. Naturally, the 3 + 1 Class Cs are perfectly fine to transit while on FF, and we've all that these discussions about Class D transit clearances, but the "own navigation" clearance isn't an "altitude your discretion" clearance. I stay with the transition altitude until I'm clear of the Bravo shelf I'm working with and always let SoCal know when I'm starting my descent. The transitions are crafted specifically to deal with the various airspace issues in the area, and are part of the reason they aren't as willing to give own navigation/altitude Class B clearances as they are in the San Diego Class B.

    People not keeping the right altitude (often because they aren't paying attention to local altimeter settings), people veering off course due to not knowing how to navigate it by GPS and having poor VOR skills and VORs that may not have been checked recently, people not making position reports, etc. Not to mention the fact that you aren't getting traffic reports on the various large aircraft departures taking place. SoCal offers a fantastic service on FF that is nearly as good as IFR, from a safety standpoint. I don't like losing that, or at least tower contact (such as on the Mini Route) to do the SFRA. The only times I will use the SFRA is if I'm forced to by LAX being too good to talk to us in light GA and closing the Mini Route and I'm departing SMO, TOA, HHR or LGB. From LGB, I might actually just spiral climb to 5500 anyway and take the Coastal.
     
  10. Palmpilot

    Palmpilot Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Good point on the C walls, but on the D walls, how does that square with what people have been saying on your red board thread?

    When I've flown down there, I've planned my route to avoid airspace incursions. That's why I'm apprehensive about the possibility of being vectored off of my planned route.
     
  11. Shawn

    Shawn En-Route

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    We had the same discussion here as well...see link. The outcome of that discussion and ATC JO was that for transitions THROUGH airspace it is explicitly ATC's job to coordinate if it is part of your route. The pilot is "not expected to obtain their own authorization" is quoted in reference to transit through other airspace

    If it is arrival INTO that airspace for landing, while there may be a LOA between Approach and Tower, then only way to know for sure if you are talking to the agency that is providing air traffic services to that airspace thus giving you authorization to enter is to either query ATC or make sure you are talking to Tower before entering that airspace but for transitions it is on them, not you.

    https://www.pilotsofamerica.com/com...ef-councils-letter-for-interpretation.110328/
     
    Last edited: May 11, 2018
  12. N1120A

    N1120A Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Remember, SoCal are the ones controlling that upper airspace. LAX only controls the 100/SFC Class B from like 2600'. If you are on the Coastal Route, you are never close to anyone's class D. If you are on the Mini Route, you need only to climb to 2700 to avoid LGB's airspace, if that is a concern for you, and you aren't going to bust anyone else doing that. If you are using the Mini Route you are likely 1) going to HHR/TOA/LGB and going to establish communications anyway or 2) are going to climb to 3500' anyway. Further, you'll be on FF anyway. They aren't going to burn you on airspace if you are talking to them and staying out of the Class B without clearance.
     
  13. Shawn

    Shawn En-Route

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    Correct...and we may be conflating two different issues, but inside Bravo on Coastal Route south of LAX I will often get approved for lower (which cuts me clear of the Bravo shelf early prior to transition exit point) then own nav once clear of Bravo...usually in the form of "request lower and own nav" all in one request typically granted by ATC understanding what I wanna do.

    I learned that was a a thing possible by a controller that once offered it unsolicited. I am typically inbound for FUL and now rarely ever fly to the exit point.
     
    Last edited: May 11, 2018
  14. N1120A

    N1120A Pre-takeoff checklist

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    As a practical matter, I can understand why they would cut you loose like that for FUL. The airport has an infamously poor sight picture and is both close and far enough from the various points that cutting you loose early makes sense. The Coastal Route is basically perfect for KSNA and the San Diego area airports, but presents certain challenges for others that are closer in.

    Similarly, it works fine for CMA/OXR/SBA and further, but makes getting into VNY/WHP/BUR a bit of a dive bomb job.
     
  15. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Final Approach

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    Exactly. Common tactic we used to push more aircraft out.
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2018
  16. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Final Approach

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    “Where’d whooooo gooooo????”:D
     
  17. EdFred

    EdFred Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I once got handed off to Chicago Approach and was cleared over the Bravo. :eek:
     
  18. Palmpilot

    Palmpilot Touchdown! Greaser!

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    o_O