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Asking for a departure clearance for a VFR departure

Are there any rules for this?

I normally do it at an airport which is in controlled airspace, because they will generally want to know/control which way people will get out of there.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

In what class of airspace?

EGTK Oxford

This is not my cup of tea, but I should think that, if flying from a controlled a/d, one must have filed a flight plan anyway so that the powers that be are aware of your intentions? Though I have heard that at the smaller airports, tower staff will create the flight plan upon receiving the relevant information.

However a formal “clearance” cannot be required at a public use a/d unless local regulations say so, just like the really big places want you to obtain startup clearance.

EBZH Kiewit, Belgium

This is not my cup of tea, but I should think that, if flying from a controlled a/d, one must have filed a flight plan anyway

Actually no. You can depart VFR without a flight plan from a controlled aerodrome assuming the aerodrome is in an airspace class you can be in without a flight plan but most are limited to those with a clearance or flying under specific flight rules. But if you are under positive ATC control you need to follow their instructions.

I just normally tell them I am tracking to point X at altitude Y. Or departing the zone to the N/S/E/W.

Last Edited by JasonC at 31 Mar 22:19
EGTK Oxford

Thought provoking question.

Are there any rules for this?

The definitions of lettered airspace A-G would lead me to believe that if the airport has lower than Class C airspace, there would be no need for a formalized departure clearance system for VFR traffic. Accordingly a Class D tower should provide instructions as and if required, with the takeoff clearance. Conversely, Class C up requires formal separation of IFR traffic from VFR traffic as an ATC function, so ATC may need to pre-plan the VFR plane’s track.

I’d be interested in whether there are actually additional rules in European countries where ATC control of VFR traffic in Class D is seemingly so rigid.

I just normally tell them I am tracking to point X at altitude Y. Or departing the zone to the N/S/E/W.

Similarly at a US Class D controlled airport there is no pre-planned departure clearance. The takeoff clearance at the runway hold line is requested with something like “123AB holding short runway XX, right downwind” or similar, to which they answer “123AB, runway XX, cleared for takeoff, right downwind approved” and I depart the area from the right downwind. At my base that seems to work for 650 movements per day of everything from Light Sports to Gulfstreams, with I’d guess about 10% being IFR and on a flight plan. I’m sure their radar data link reduces the practical need to approve every detail.

Last Edited by Silvaire at 31 Mar 23:57

I may be misunderstanding the question (due to tiredness ) but at my local airport (situated in class D) the procedure is generally to ‘book out’ first by phone and give them an idea of what you want so they can prepare a strip, and then I go to the aircraft, start it up and say something like “ABC Tower GABCD GA Apron request taxi for VFR departure to the N/E/S/W” to which the reply will come “GCD ABC Tower, Cleared to depart the zone to the N/E/S/W not above 2500’ QNH 1020, Taxi holding point C runway 15 and report ready for departure”.

I would have absolutely no problems saying “Request departure clearence VFR to the N/E/S/W” and probably have done before.

The procedure at Leeds ( class D) is more or less as stated by Pirho above.
Book out by phone with desired routing,
Call “Delivery” for zone clearance, (usually given as not above a stated altitude with an assigned squawk)
Call Tower for taxi instructions, (or ground if applicable)
After departure contact radar controller.

Egnm, United Kingdom

The procedure at Leeds

Sorry to digress but my only procedure at Leeds is to cope with the always massive xwind!

EGTK Oxford

Wikipedia has a good overview on the national differences regarding ICAO airspace classes:

Airports with control zones (mainly class C or D) generally require a clearance for IFR and VFR flights (with some exceptions like the United States). A clearance can only be issued if the controller knows about the intentions of the pilot, so someone has to tell him in some way. In my part of the world, this can be done either by filing a VFR flight plan, by phone (if one wants to depart non-radio from a controlled airport) or via radio upon startup. The latter method is used for 99,9% of all flights. “Booking out” by phone is totally unknown to me and probably the controllers in this part of the world as well, they wouldn’t know what to make of such a phone call…

EDDS - Stuttgart

My home airport EKRK is towered class D, intersecting runways and 2 x ILS. An ATS flight plan or abbreviated flight plan (“strip”) is compulsory for flights out. Abbreviated flight plans are submitted preferably on the airport’s website (no login required!), at least 20 minutes before initial call to TWR. A start-up clearence is not required. A “strip” can also be submitted at the briefing office, via telephone or (in a pinch) via VHF to the briefing/handling frequency. After run-up and calling “ready for departure”, TWR will issue a departure clearance: “After departure, turn right to leave via Valby at or below 1500 ft. Taxi to the stop line.” (Valby is one of 4 designated VFR departure points located just outside the CTR.) If another departure point is requested by the pilot, it will usually be granted. The pilot is not given a routing but is expected to fly a reasonably straight line from 500 ft climbing to the departure point.

After leaving the CTR on an abbreviated flight plan (“strip”), you are no longer on a flight plan. However, “strips” for local flights are held open until the aircraft returns, saving some R/T time when calling to enter CTR for landing.

Slight digression: The pilot has to read back all of the departure clearence and will then recieve take-off clearance. Even VFR, ATC procedures call for departure and take-off clearances to be issued in separate calls. Standard misunderstanding and no. 1 reason for runway infringements is the pilot taking the departure clearance for a take-off clearence. Another reason for R/T trouble is the “at or below 1500 ft” part. Even if everyone with a map knows that 1500 ft MSL is the floor of the TMA everywhere in Denmark, the 1500 ft limit has to be told each aircraft and if not read back, the controller has to repeat it and insist on having it read back. As the airport has 5-7 flight schools and is by far the busiest VFR place in the country, a lot of R/T time is spent that way, detracting from clarity, embedding important traffic information and adding clutter on the frequency. Apparently these are rules that the controllers cannot do anything about – they would very much like to.

Interesting thread, since I hardly ever depart other towered airports VFR, so I have not been much aware of the differences.

Last Edited by huv at 01 Apr 09:41
EKRK, Denmark
31 Posts
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