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Dean
07-13-2008, 07:06 AM
When on VFR Flight Following and I need to make turns or change direction, do I need to advise the controller? I am not talking about changing altitude only heading. Do I need to advise the controller every time I want to change a course heading. How about if only to divert around a cloud and then resume back direct on course?

Sid Lambert
07-13-2008, 07:15 AM
I often deviate a few degrees to avoid clouds and they have never complained.

As long as the destination doesn't change I don't see a problem with wondering around a bit.

It's common for aerial photogs to get flight following when shooting a site and they are rarely flying in a straight line.

bergroup
07-13-2008, 07:21 AM
You are not required to advise the controller of any heading and/or altitude changes while on VFR Flight Following. As long as you maintain VFR minimums, you can basically do anything you want. (Navigationally speaking.) Just make sure to advise the controller before you make any frequency changes or when you wish to terminate flight following. Under VFR flight following you are still responsible to see and be seen. The controller is under no obligation to identify potential traffic conflicts although most will.

Tandem46
07-13-2008, 07:22 AM
Dean,

Since it's your responisbility to "maintain VFR", ATC expects you to manuever as necessary. As Sid said, as long as you don't go off on some completely different direction (ie, change destination), then ATC won't care. If you do need to do that, just simply advise them what you're doing so that they're not looking at their screen wondering what you're doing.

hevansrv7a
07-13-2008, 08:05 AM
It is common in my experience for controllers to request that I advise of any change in altitude. Maybe I don't HAVE TO but it sure makes sense to comply with such a reasonable request in the interest of safety. I would think that course changes could be viewed similarly. The altitude consideration is especially true in or near terminal airspace which is, of course, where flight following is the most important. I have also had them say "resume own navigation" when they are able to do so.

Let's remember that requesting FF means we want assistance with separation. It only makes sense to make that assistance easier to give. Separation keeps the IFR traffic safer, too.

TSwezey
07-13-2008, 08:23 AM
It is common in my experience for controllers to request that I advise of any change in altitude. Maybe I don't HAVE TO but it sure makes sense to comply with such a reasonable request in the interest of safety. I would think that course changes could be viewed similarly. The altitude consideration is especially true in or near terminal airspace which is, of course, where flight following is the most important. I have also had them say "resume own navigation" when they are able to do so.

Let's remember that requesting FF means we want assistance with separation. It only makes sense to make that assistance easier to give. Separation keeps the IFR traffic safer, too.

I have to agree with this and I ALWAYS advise when making altitude changes. You can create very dangerous situations and a lot of work for the controllers if you are bouncing around at all different altitudes. I am very thankful for FF and try to make it as easy as possible for them. Don't be a PITA!

Bill Wightman
07-13-2008, 09:06 AM
The above posts are all correct *assuming* the controller doesn't give you any specific assignments.

It is possible and permissible for ATC to issue altitude, heading, airspeed or even course assignments to you as a VFR aircraft. I've had this happen many times, and in that case, you are required to comply, if possible.

Example: you're VFR FF and ATC wants to take you around airspace or other traffic. They might issue a heading, altitude, or both.

bsacks05
07-13-2008, 09:19 AM
From my limited experience: If you are in the proximity of busy airspace (Charlotte, D.C., etc..) and under FF, stay on course and altitude. If I have to maneuver for clouds in airspace that is well away from Bravo then I just advise the controller before hand.

JoeLofton
07-13-2008, 11:41 AM
Once on FF, without any instructions to report changes, I was approaching a waypoint for a turn through the 180 deg heading and started my climb to the next x500 feet. The controller asked my intentions. When I explained he stated that I shouldn't make an altitude change without notifying him. So some controllers expect to be notified regardless. Now I report in with any significant heading/altitude changes. If it helps them, it helps me.

...Joe

Dean
07-13-2008, 12:31 PM
Thanks for all the responses it helps alot. There is the text book answer and reality. When I'm on FF I like to keep ATC informed of anything that I do. I was recently on a cross country at 11,500 and flew through two clouds (3-4 seconds each. I was on top of puffing cumulous and had 2 pinnacles that extended higher than myself about 300-400ft. I was in and out quickly and in hindsight should have just turned to avoid them. Everything else was clear. Next time I will stay legal and steer around them. I will also contact ATC and notify them of my intentions to wander a bit.

N131RV
07-13-2008, 12:46 PM
When on VFR Flight Following and I need to make turns or change direction, do I need to advise the controller? I am not talking about changing altitude only heading. Do I need to advise the controller every time I want to change a course heading. How about if only to divert around a cloud and then resume back direct on course?

The answer is "it depends". Most of the time, when you are cross country and using FF, you can do as you please. It's courteous to tell FF but not required unless the controller directs you otherwise. When they need a specific course and altitude they will direct you with specific instructions and usually include a phrase directing you to notify or request a deviation.

Inside controlled airspace, it's a different story. Usually, when I am in controlled airspace I am given specific instructions to follow and I do. Any deviation must be requested and approved, unless it's an emergency. Even in an emergency, you should inform the controller of your needs and intentions.

YMMV,

steveKs.
07-13-2008, 04:19 PM
The last couple of times I have been on FF, center asked me for 'cruising alititude'.
I make my FF request with position, altitude (I always report altitude as 'level' or present altitude and "climbing to"), destination and ID. I don't recall being asked for my 'cruising altitude' in the past. I wonder if this is something new. I was asked on initial call up and once when being handed off to a military controller going through a MOA.

I agree with above that you should advise of any deviation to your reported and assumed route/altitude.

Oh, and if you arn't familiar with FF, when reporting back after freq. change, just say your "N number and altitude" they know the rest (they need the altitude to confirm what they are reading on your transponder).....you don't need to even say "with you", they know that too.

frankh
07-13-2008, 05:20 PM
I resonated with the above statement, remember that SO FAR ATC services are free and may they long continue to be so.

In the meantime I strive to cause controllers as little work as possible whether VFR or IFR. I have on occasion heard GA pilots stumble over words and make a complete hash of reading back instructions etc. What this does is add to the controllers hassle and gives those who point to user fees as the cure to airspace congestion more ammunition.

The more I sound like an airline pilot the more I like it.

Now if we get user fees then all bets are off..:)

Frank

ronschreck
07-14-2008, 08:19 AM
The AIM Pilot/Controller Glossary does not define "Flight Following" but only advises the reader to "See TRAFFIC ADVISORIES".

I think too many pilots believe that by requesting flight following they will be kept clear of other traffic, restricted areas, TFR's, male pattern baldness and the heartbreak of psoriasis. In fact, flight following or traffic advisory service does not relieve the pilot of the responsibility to see and avoid other aircraft and the pilot should not assume that all traffic will be issued. Keeping you clear of terrain, restricted areas and TFR's is a nice thing that controllers VOLUNTARILY do for you. If they are unable to do any of these services due to other higher priority duties they are not even required to tell you that they are suspending traffic advisory service. So, when you violate that TFR or restricted area, telling the FAA investigator that you were flight following with XXX Center will get you nowhere. And you will still be stuck with the heartbreak of psoriasis!

Personnally, I find that if I spend 100 percent of my effort to navigate and clear for traffic ON MY OWN, I become more aware of my situation and am not lulled into a false sense of security by depending on some overworked controller to look after me when he has the time and inclination. YMMV

Fly safe.

steveKs.
07-14-2008, 05:46 PM
I completely agree that we are responsible for our own separation and navigation even when recieving radar advisories. I trust only my own eyes even when being controlled by ATC.

I like FF or radar advisories because they often see other aircraft and give me a heads up where to look when I havn't picked them up yet with my own eyes.
I also like the idea that their finger is on my pulse if I need someone to come looking for me in the advent of a forced landing and little time to communicate my position and status.