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This is partially a question on terminology, I have flown in the USA and used a service which is commonly referred to as "Flight Following".

I have read this question: Is there a European equivalent of VFR Flight Following?

And I am interested in whether requesting a "Basic Service" which I use in the UK is a direct equivalent? If not, what are the major differences?

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  • $\begingroup$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. $\endgroup$ – Jamiec Feb 8 '18 at 16:14
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Based on the UK Flight Information Services document that Dan helpfully provided in chat, it looks like they're different:

Basic Service

  • Available to IFR flights in class G
  • Available to VFR flights in class E and G
  • Provides information on "airspace activity that may affect your flight"
  • Pilot is free to manoeuvre as needed, unless otherwise "agreed" with ATC
  • Provided workload permitting

Flight Following

  • Not available to IFR flights
  • Available to VFR flights in any airspace where ATC has radar coverage
  • Provides information on airspace, traffic and weather
  • Pilot is free to maneuver as needed, unless otherwise instructed by ATC
  • Provided workload permitting

So the major differences seem to be:

  • Basic Service is available to IFR flights; Flight Following is not (it wouldn't make sense anyway)
  • Basic Service provides airspace information only, not traffic information; Flight Following provides both

The whole traffic vs airspace information thing is very confusing in the CAA doc. Read literally, there's no VFR service that offers both airspace and traffic advisories, but that makes no sense at all. I'm probably missing something, but reading that document makes me glad the US has kept it simple...

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  • $\begingroup$ To add to that... I assume since Flight Following provides traffic and airspace information then aircraft are positively identified using a unique squawk code? A radar/radar based identification is not required for a Basic Service in the UK. $\endgroup$ – BDLPPL Feb 9 '18 at 9:25
  • $\begingroup$ @BDLPPL That's correct, Flight Following does require a discrete squawk. Do you have a reference for not requiring one for Basic Service? If so, I'll add it to my answer. I Googled quickly and the sources I found were unclear on which UK services require a discrete code. $\endgroup$ – Pondlife Feb 9 '18 at 15:35

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