ATC Will Not Separate VFR Aircraft in Class C

closedTowerATC won’t separate VFR aircraft flying in Class C airspace? Is that really true? Good luck, Skippy. You’re on your own. I hope you don’t hit another aircraft. . .

I’ve got to be kidding you, right? I’m not kidding. Radar controllers do not provide VFR aircraft with separation from other aircraft operating in Class Charlie airspace. But, despite this, you are not putting your life on the line when you enter Class C. I’ll explain why in this show.

Also in this show, a live phone conversation with a pilot who had a great question for me about using Clearance Delivery when flying VFR. (How can a phone conversation be live if it’s recorded?)

Plus, a thought-provoker about sequestration; some good news for you about an upcoming workbook; and of course, your Question of the Week.

Show Notes:

  1. ATC will provide sequencing for you when flying VFR in Class C airspace unless you tell the controller, “negative radar service.”


  3. ATC will separate IFR aircraft from your aircraft using either vertical separation standards, visual separation, or “green between” your aircraft and the IFR aircraft.

  5. While ATC will not adjust your speed or altitude to create standard separation between your aircraft and other VFR aircraft, you will still get traffic advisories and alerts from ATC when other aircraft conflict with your flight path.

  7. I talk to a pilot about how Clearance Delivery may apply to a pilot flying VFR from a Class D airport. Generally, at Class D airports, Clearance Delivery is used to give route and departure instructions to pilots departing under IFR. Listen to the airport ATIS for any exceptions to this standard practice.

  9. Sequestration is upon us. How will it affect where you fly. Write to and tell me.

  11. Soon, you will able to volunteer to receive a free copy of a new workbook. The workbook will help you mentally prepare to make a radio call to ATC. Look for details in the next edition of Radar Contact how you can volunteer to be an editor of the workbook and receive your free copy.

Your Question of the Week:

To provide traffic advisories and alerts, ATC has to know 3 important pieces of information about your aircraft.

First, ATC needs to know who you are. This is your call sign, of course. Second, an air traffic controller needs to know where you are. Your position includes your aircraft’s location over the ground and your aircraft’s altitude. Third, ATC needs to know where you are going so the controller can project ahead to see if your flight path might conflict with another airplane’s flight path.

Once your aircraft is in radar contact, your aircraft’s identity and location will be updated each time the controller’s radar sweeps across your aircraft and interrogates your transponder. Your flight path is also tracked by radar so ATC can project where you are headed. Mode C on your transponder updates your altitude. When you switch from one controller to the next, your transponder ensures the new controller receives all of the same information provided to the previous controller. Here comes your question: If radar updates your aircraft’s identity, location and flight, and your transponder’s Mode C reports your altitude to ATC, why does ATC require you check in with each new controller by stating your current altitude?

When you think you know the answer to the question, go to There you will find a complete answer along with an explanation of how that answer was derived.


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