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FAA / ATC Protocols?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by volito, Mar 25, 2015.

  1. volito

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    Hi all. I’m a new Vision+ owner and photography hobbyist, and I really enjoy visiting this forum. At some point I’d like to put my Phantom up nearby to get a series of photos, but the issue is that the desired area is within an intersection of FAA Class C and Class D Airspace, and I’m not sure how to proceed. I will likely need a number of short flights after sunrise and before sunset, spread out over a few weeks to get the shots I want. This area is near the airspace limits of both towers (4.7mi. and 4.1mi respectively) if that matters. I need advice and guidance from you to get this right the first time.

    Questions:
    a) Which ATC should I contact, Class C, Class D or both?
    b) How much lead-time is appropriate or required before the flight?
    c) Does one give heading and distance from airport for location, or a GPS point?
    d) If GPS, Degrees/Minutes/Seconds or decimal?
    e) Do I need to specify a ceiling? (I only need 100-150 feet of the allowed 400.)

    Any tips on dealing with ATC and appropriate protocols would be appreciated. Although I understand that a notification is all that is required from me, I’d like to make this a cooperative exchange and get an affirmative response from ATC. I want to make these flights safely, and I do not wish to waste their time or my own. This is not a commercial venture, and the shots are for personal use only.

    Thanks for sharing your wisdom and advice.
     
  2. Suwaneeguy

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    The way I see it, unless you're going to be flying in the landing pattern, I don't see a need to make contact.
    If you're that close to the airport, you should just make contact with the public relations officer face to face.
    Explain what your intent is and ask if they even want to be notified.

    In all my years of travelling around the country side, I've only seen two cases where a commercial airplane was flying below 400 feet.
    Actually, both were leer jet types.
    The first one was a guy who flew at night and was flying low to avoid radar for what ever reasons.
    The second one was apparently flying VFR rules and got caught in a rainstorm.
    He was about 300 feet above the interstate and heading to a nearby airport.

    Got buzzed once by an F-14 though.
     
  3. jadebox

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    A) Call 1-800-WX-BRIEF (1-800-992-7433). They can provide the number of the closest ATC.

    B) I believe they ask for 24 to 48 hours notice.

    C) Either the latitude/longitude or radial/distance is okay.

    D) Either should be okay.

    E) Yes. Chances are that once they hear that you are flying under 400 feet, any concerns they might have had will be eased.

    -- Roger
     
  4. jadebox

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    BTW, the people you call will probably be understanding, courteous, and helpful. I haven't heard of anyone having a problem dealing with them. We used to have to call in for notification of large rocket launches and it was usually just a minute-long call.

    -- Roger
     
  5. volito

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    Thanks everybody for your input; it's much appreciated.
     
  6. Meta4

    Meta4 Moderator
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    Four miles out and at a height of 150 feet!
    Do you get a lot of low air traffic there ?
    Calling air traffic control sounds unnecessary for that.
     
  7. jahjahwarrior

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    Sounds unnecessary but is legally required.

    Local airports told me to contact this number to file a NOTAM. Easy process. Remember distance is measured from end of runway and you have to commit to a radius, which is usually larger than your transmitter would allow anyways.

    1 (877) 487-6867
     
  8. johan

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    Then don't call them. Because regardless of that the regs say, wasting their time is the only thing you'd be doing. At 4 miles out and 150' agl, you're not going to be any kind of factor for any traffic that they're working. And if you are a factor for their traffic at that distance and altitude, then both the traffic and ATC are going to have way bigger things to be concerned with than the fact that some schmuck is flying a 5lb RC copter somewhere in the vicinity.

    Edit: I take that back, the regs say you have to call so you probably should. But yeah, you'll probably be wasting their time none the less.