Vfr transition in RAPCON airspace

Alaroy12

Lurker
Messages
4
Had a kind of weird situation come up last night. Civilian aircraft calls the tower looking for a vfr transition through tower airspace. I started to give him the information and approve his transition when I realized he was 100 feet above my airspace. I told him to contact the approach facility for flight following which he never did. My question is: could I have told him to descend into my airspace without first requesting it from the radar facility? Can you tell someone outside of your airspace to descend to at or below x feet and then give the radar facility traffic? What are the rules for this and where would I find them? What would you have done? Thanks in advance
 

nbtbtz

Member
Messages
12
In my level 5 up/down we put them on radar's freq immediately if they called tower, but you could also work the aircraft and just point out to the radar controller. They 804ed our radar a few months ago. Now if an aircraft calls at the edge of the Delta I will usually just approve the transition and not say anything to radar, unless it is a factor for radar, then I will point the aircraft out.
 

RavenYZF-R6

Forum Sage
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878
I would guess at 100 feet his altitude was really at your airspace and off by 100. I would have given him the transition and coordinated with the approach control. Why make him change frequencies.

Instead of issuing the altitude you could tell them if they descend 500 you could approve the transition.

Also if you are going to get him a code and tagged up couldn’t you radar identify him and flash him at approach? Or do you not have the limited radar ability there?
 

CaptainObvious

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873
Had a kind of weird situation come up last night. Civilian aircraft calls the tower looking for a vfr transition through tower airspace. I started to give him the information and approve his transition when I realized he was 100 feet above my airspace. I told him to contact the approach facility for flight following which he never did. My question is: could I have told him to descend into my airspace without first requesting it from the radar facility? Can you tell someone outside of your airspace to descend to at or below x feet and then give the radar facility traffic? What are the rules for this and where would I find them? What would you have done? Thanks in advance
Why not? If he’s not radar identified or on a code they won’t know that you’re talking to the VFR target
 

Alaroy12

Lurker
Messages
4
I had given him a squawk before I realized what altitude he was at. Then ended up telling him to contact approach and to terminate the squawk because that was what my sup wanted me to do. Just felt bad about the whole thing though and he was obviously unhappy enough he never called the rapcon so it got me thinking. We don’t have any radar capability. We have a tdw but aren’t authorized to use it for anything other than aircraft position and traffic. I guess ultimately my biggest questions are: 1. can I tell a vfr aircraft to descend into my airspace without coordinating with rapcon first (just give a point out after) and 2. Can I issue a hard altitude to an aircraft in my class delta if I know they can maintain vfr at that altitude (maintain 2,600 so I can approve your transition)?
 

Cmsgthokage

Trusted Contributor
Messages
513
If you had him in sight or if you have a CTRD you could ID them and just have them transition through your delta squawking 1200 and your approach wouldn’t know. And honestly they probably wouldn’t care as long as there’s no traffic.
Sounds like the aircraft was going to descend into your airspace eventually and stayed outside until he was given a code and the transition approval.
 

CaptainObvious

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873
I had given him a squawk before I realized what altitude he was at. Then ended up telling him to contact approach and to terminate the squawk because that was what my sup wanted me to do. Just felt bad about the whole thing though and he was obviously unhappy enough he never called the rapcon so it got me thinking. We don’t have any radar capability. We have a tdw but aren’t authorized to use it for anything other than aircraft position and traffic. I guess ultimately my biggest questions are: 1. can I tell a vfr aircraft to descend into my airspace without coordinating with rapcon first (just give a point out after) and 2. Can I issue a hard altitude to an aircraft in my class delta if I know they can maintain vfr at that altitude (maintain 2,600 so I can approve your transition)?
Well if you give him “maintain 2,600” that could be construed as an IFR clearance, because he’s not allowed to deviate from that altitude to maintain vfr requirements

Also if the TDW isn’t certified, why even bother with a code for secondary radar ID. You can’t provide radar services, so better to just use his position report to approve the transition or ignore him altogether to keep him out of the Delta
 

Alaroy12

Lurker
Messages
4
Well if you give him “maintain 2,600” that could be construed as an IFR clearance, because he’s not allowed to deviate from that altitude to maintain vfr requirements

Also if the TDW isn’t certified, why even bother with a code for secondary radar ID. You can’t provide radar services, so better to just use his position report to approve the transition or ignore him altogether to keep him out of the Delta
It’s a certified tdw but we can’t provide radar services as we are a terminal facility. In our tower oi it specifies that we must give transitioning aircraft a beacon code so it’s almost an automatic reaction when someone calls up requesting transition to say “squawk xxxx” now unfortunately. Bad to get into routines and habits like that so I’ll have to work on breaking that one. In my mind if I give him maintain 2,600 and he can’t maintain vfr at that altitude he’d come back and tell me but this is why I’m here asking the experts ;) I know I can tell aircraft making a touch and go to maintain xxx alt then right close traffic approved if I have other traffic that will be under him so I guess I’m confused as to why I can’t say maintain xxx to a transition as well. Thank you thank you thank you all for helping me understand this!!!
 

CaptainObvious

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873
It’s a certified tdw but we can’t provide radar services as we are a terminal facility. In our tower oi it specifies that we must give transitioning aircraft a beacon code so it’s almost an automatic reaction when someone calls up requesting transition to say “squawk xxxx” now unfortunately. Bad to get into routines and habits like that so I’ll have to work on breaking that one. In my mind if I give him maintain 2,600 and he can’t maintain vfr at that altitude he’d come back and tell me but this is why I’m here asking the experts ;) I know I can tell aircraft making a touch and go to maintain xxx alt then right close traffic approved if I have other traffic that will be under him so I guess I’m confused as to why I can’t say maintain xxx to a transition as well. Thank you thank you thank you all for helping me understand this!!!
Maintain 2600 is an ATC assigned altitude and constitutes a clearance. As such the pilot is legally obliged to comply, especially if he’s tagged up on beacon code and identified. If he’s tagged you can hit him with VFR at/above or at/below 2600 and he can still maneuver to maintain clear of clouds.

the beacon code thing is fine, but it could imply to the pilot he’s receiving radar services when he isn’t. And it’s super annoying to change codes for 5 miles and then terminate. He called because he had to, otherwise he’d contact approach for flight following.
 

Alaroy12

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4
Maintain 2600 is an ATC assigned altitude and constitutes a clearance. As such the pilot is legally obliged to comply, especially if he’s tagged up on beacon code and identified. If he’s tagged you can hit him with VFR at/above or at/below 2600 and he can still maneuver to maintain clear of clouds.

the beacon code thing is fine, but it could imply to the pilot he’s receiving radar services when he isn’t. And it’s super annoying to change codes for 5 miles and then terminate. He called because he had to, otherwise he’d contact approach for flight following.
That makes sense. I’ll remember not to give hard altitudes unless it’s for a traffic pattern from now on. Thank you all so much
 

COWTOWN

Member
FAA
Messages
55
Facility
SCT SoCal Tracon
My building uses hard altitudes and headings with VFR's all day long, no issues with QA and pilots. If they can't maintain vfr at that altitude they tell us. However, most do so maintain vfr at xxx so there is no confusion.
 

MJ

Administrator
Staff member
Messages
2,522
What are the rules for this and where would I find them?
The only rules for this are the airspace requirements. If the aircraft isn't entering an airspace class where they need to be in communication with ATC, they don't have to. I'm assuming there's no C or B overlying your D, so if you don't want to talk to him and he's not in your airspace, you don't need to do anything. Calling for a transition isn't requesting flight following; which is why he never called approach, he just wanted to pass through (or close) to the Delta.

You aren't providing radar services, so you can't assign altitudes or any other radar services for that matter.
 
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