Your wheels are off the ground and you’re on your way to your destination. The tower controller asks you to contact the Radar frequency shortly after takeoff. Now what?
You have several different options to communicate to ATC at this point in your flight. To assist you, the pilot, and to avoid unnecessary ATC chatter, let’s review these options.
Check-In: After you check-in, Radar will give you an altitude to climb above the airspace, which goes up to 18,000 feet (FL180). At that point, you will receive your ‘frequency change approved.’ You simply follow your flight plan to your destination. Do not check in without a flight plan.
After checking in, you do not need to communicate anything else, such as flight following or altitude requests. Once you have checked in, you are on your way!
Radar Vectors: When requesting radar vectors, you will not only be given an altitude, but you will be vectored out of the airspace and towards the general direction of your destination. You are required to follow heading and altitude changes that Radar gives you, which means you may not be following your flight plan. The Radar controller will vector you away from any potential conflict and approve a frequency change after you have departed the airspace.
Note – A pilot’s filed flight plan appears to ATC as a straight line from the departure airport to the arrival airport.
Flight Following: In Infinite Flight, Flight Following means you want to follow your flight plan. If requesting Flight Following, there is no need to check-in before-hand. There is no need to request an altitude. Do not request Flight Following without a flight plan. The Radar controller may still adjust your altitude and/or give you a vector to avoid an immediate conflict.
VFR: Flying VFR is used when General Aviation aircraft are flying in the Radar airspace without a flight plan. When you depart and request to fly VFR, the Radar controller may still vector and give you altitude adjustments to avoid direct conflict with other aircraft receiving Radar services.
Radar Airspace & Frequency Changes:
You are in Radar airspace until you have reached FL180 OR are 50NM away from the controlled airport. It is not OK to change frequency without permission. Do not request frequency change multiple times. When you are safely heading outside of the Radar airspace, you will receive your approved frequency change.
Hopefully this post helps Infinite Flight pilots understand the differences in Radar service requests when departing an airspace. Happy flying!