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I fly in the Bay Area. I sometimes like to fly over SF through the San Francisco Class B. If I am in contact with Norcal Approach and in their airspace, I can ask them for an exception and they can authorize it. But, I could also be talking to the tower, and could also be talking to Oakland Tower.

All three of the following agencies have authority over sections of airspace that overlap with the stadium TFRs at the Giants stadium (see image).

  • Oakland tower (class C)
  • San Francisco tower (core class B)
  • Norcal approach (outside core class B)

My question is: which of these three agencies have the authority to grant me an exception to the stadium TFR?

(Image is SF TAC with TFR plotted by Foreflight.) TAC

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The answer will vary based on the location - San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York may each have different arrangements. However, in general, it'll come down to how the different ATC facilities have the situation worked out with each other.

The stadium TFR itself does not help much. The relevant section states that:

THE RESTRICTIONS DESCRIBED ABOVE DO NOT APPLY TO THOSE AIRCRAFT AUTHORIZED BY AND IN CONTACT WITH ATC FOR OPERATIONAL OR SAFETY OF FLIGHT PURPOSES

Any of those facilities could provide the authorization - so it's then down to which will do so. The answer to that will depend on the structure of how the facilities work with each other. The ATC facilities will have Letters of Agreement which state that a given area of airspace is managed by a given facility, as well as how handoffs are handled.

The facility that can provide flight following is also the facility that can authorize you into the TFR in that area. To figure that out, all you have to do is ask: call up Norcal Approach or Oakland Tower, and ask for flight following. If they can do that, then they're the right folks to ask about transiting the TFR. If not, they'll give you another frequency to try. Of course, just because they have authority over the airspace doesn't mean they'll grant the request.

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  • $\begingroup$ I was in contact with Oakland Tower two days ago during a stadium TFR there, and it's necessary to fly through the TFR there to land at Oakland. When I asked explicitly about it during a loop in the traffic pattern, I was told "just don't fly directly over the stadium". $\endgroup$ – CJBS Nov 30 '16 at 0:06

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