I had this question posed to me the other day and I wanted to make sure I responded correctly.

When do you contact ATC when departing from a non-towered airport into class D controlled airspace?

This is the situation where the uncontrolled airport sits under the Class D shelf.


1 Answer 1


Class D is usually a cylinder so there's no shelf to be underneath; I'm assuming you're asking about departing from an uncontrolled airport that's actually in class D, like this one (N96):

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Because class D goes to the surface I'd try to contact ATC on the ground before departure if possible, either on a regular frequency or via an RCO. And it would be worth checking the Chart Supplement for any local rules.

Otherwise, 14 CFR 91.129 says you should contact ATC as soon as you can after departure:

(2) Departing flight. Each person—


(ii) From a satellite airport without an operating control tower, must establish and maintain two-way radio communications with the ATC facility having jurisdiction over the Class D airspace area as soon as practicable after departing.

There are some special cases like KDTS where you can't takeoff without contacting ATC first, but it's in a special rules area.


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