In typical usage, the terms seem to be used interchangeably. However, aircraft must be transponder- or encoder-equipped for traffic advisories to be possible, for example.

What information does each provide to pilots that the other does not?

  • $\begingroup$ You can get both by asking ATC for either one. I understand traffic advisories to be one of the benefits of flight following. See this AOPA article on the subject. $\endgroup$ – J Walters Feb 20 '16 at 19:13
  • $\begingroup$ See also the Pilot/Controller Glossary entries on RADAR ADVISORY, FLIGHT FOLLOWING, and TRAFFIC ADVISORIES. $\endgroup$ – J Walters Feb 20 '16 at 19:28
  • $\begingroup$ Services provided by ATC depend on the airspace class. When only advisory service is provided, ATC doesn't provide vectors or assign flight levels, only traffic information. This may vary by countries. Typically this is the F airspace (not used in the US). $\endgroup$ – mins Feb 21 '16 at 14:19

Depends on the ANSP (Air Navigation Service Provider) to what each term means to them. In most ANSPs they mean exactly the same thing or their individual regulations only have one of these terms/procedures available.

A traffic advisory technically doesn't always require a transponder especially if it is of a snapshot of traffic. The pilot requesting the traffic advisory gives position and a one time traffic picture is provided to the pilot. This is mainly relevant in areas where there is not Secondary Surveillance coverage and/or no surveillance coverage at all.

However Flight Following does require being able to be identified for continual coverage. Some ANSPs also provide additional reporting services with those receiving flight following like SAR services and Hazard Alerting services.

Some ANSPs only provide these services at the discretion of the controller based on their own perceived workload.

Check the local regulations for the ANSP your flying in to get exactly what you will be provided


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