There are two ways to request VFR traffic advisories with air traffic control–on the ground or in the air. Here’s how to do it prior to leaving the chocks at your departure airport:
“Melbourne Clearance Delivery, Piper 378 Quebec Charlie*, with information Lima, at Williams Air, requesting VFR traffic advisories to Venice.”
“Piper 378 Quebec Charlie, Melbourne Clearance, say your planned altitude.”
“Piper 8 Quebec Charlie, four thousand five hundred.”
“Piper 8 Quebec Charlie, the Orlando Approach frequency will be 132.65, squawk 0133.”
“Piper 8 Quebec Charlie, 132.65, squawking 0133.”
“Piper 8 Quebec Charlie, read back correct. Contact Ground 121.9 when ready to taxi and have a good day.”
“Piper 8 Quebec Charlie, 21.9, good day.” “Piper 8 Quebec Charlie, 121.9, good day.”
This exchange will get you traffic advisories as long as you are within radar coverage of the terminal radar control (TRACON) for the airport you are departing. Once you reach the limit of TRACON, you’ll hear this:
“Piper 8 Quebec Charlie, radar service terminated. Squawk 1200. For further advisories, try Miami Center on 127.2.”
There is no handoff of VFR aircraft between an airport’s TRACON and enroute air traffic control centers. It is up to you to re-insert yourself into the air traffic control system once you leave an airport’s radar coverage. Here’s how to pick up traffic advisories in the air:
“Miami Center, Piper 378 Quebec Charlie, requesting VFR traffic advisories.”
“Piper 378 Quebec Charlie, Miami Center, squawk 6412 and say your type, position, altitude and destination.” Or, Center may give you a squawk and tell you to “go ahead.” Either way, they want to hear all the relevant information about your flight in one transmission.
“Piper 378 Quebec Charlie, a Piper Cub, 20 miles east of the Lakeland VOR, VFR to Venice at four thousand five hundred.”
“Piper 8 Quebec Charlie, radar contact 19 miles east of Lakeland. Maintain VFR and advise prior to any altitude changes. Lakeland altimeter 30.01.”
“Piper 8 Quebec Charlie, 30.01 and we’ll advise prior to altitude changes.”
That’s it, you are in the system. However, (and this is a big however,) hearing “radar contact” does not relieve you of the responsibility to visually clear for traffic. ATC provides traffic advisories to VFR aircraft on a workload permitting basis. If the frequency you are on is very busy with IFR traffic, know that you are not at the top of the controller’s list of priorities.
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Recently, while departing out of Miami International in a B-757, I heard an exchange between Miami Departure Control and the pilot of a light aircraft who wanted VFR traffic advisories. The exchange clearly showed why busy controllers don’t always have the time to work with VFR aircraft, especially when the pilot making the request doesn’t have his act together. I’ll have that for you in a future article. Next time, let’s talk about the importance of what’s learned first is learned best. Until then. . .
*This is a fictitious aircraft callsign. The FBO mentioned in this article is also fictitious.