Airspace Overflight

A reader recently sent me the following question.

Q: If you fly over an airspace (e.g., EMT), is it customary to call in to the EMT tower just to make your intentions clear that you don’t intend to enter the airspace?  Does it depend on whether you have flight following (by SoCal Approach, for example)?

A: If you are in the lateral bounds, but above the vertical bounds of an airport’s airspace, there is no requirement to contact the tower. If I were going to be flying just above (say, at 2900, when the airspace ends at 2800), I might call just to be sure – the limits of precision on radar and altimeter reporting could make it look as though you entered their space. However, I prefer to avoid those situations for just that reason and either fly in the airspace (and thus have to to request a transition prior to entry) or fly high enough above the airspace to avoid confusion. I consider 300′ buffer to be my personal minimum.

If you are receiving flight following (like from SoCal), then you definitely would not contact the tower in this situation, unless specifically instructed to.

I find that if one person has a question, then most likely someone else does too. Always feel free to ask questions and I’ll do my best to answer.

2 thoughts on “Airspace Overflight

  1. What if you were, say, flying along the 10 fwy eastbound below the LAX bravo at 2300′ and were approaching EMT’s airspace while talking to SoCal for flight following? Would they hand you off to EMT tower, tell you to quickly climb to 2800’+ or just coordinate the delta transition for you?

    SkyVector link for illustration: http://skyvector.com/?ll=34.08845473779909,-118.12531086556159&chart=114&zoom=1&plan=G.34.07162409046918,-118.13361883116643:G.34.07506848732293,-118.11217788316254

    • Any of those are possibilities. SoCal often won’t give flight following when flying that low though. They can coordinate delta airspace transitions or they can say “remain clear of El Monte class delta” or they could give a short clearance through Bravo (“climb and maintain 2500, cleared into LAX class bravo”). EMT airspace now only extends up to 2400′ MSL.

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