Something tells me that Clearance Delivery might offer different instructions at airports within Bravo, Charlie, and Delta airspace, e.g. if I take off VFR from KLAX vs from a class Delta out in the middle of nowhere.

Can someone give me some guidelines on what might be similar or different? I'm guessing that Clearance Delivery might give me a heading, altitude, and a departure frequency in a class Bravo. In class Delta, I might get an altitude (stay below 2500' AGL) to remain inside of the Delta?

  • $\begingroup$ I have seen clearance delivery at B/C only but not at Class D airports. C is just like talking to the ground. I haven't had the courage to land at B yet :) $\endgroup$ – Prashant Saraswat Jun 22 '18 at 18:03

All will be pretty similar. In Bravo, and Charlie and Delta if they are close to the Bravo, you will typically contact Clearance for your departure directions (heading to fly, altitude to climb to or hold at after takeoff (or cleared to climb to 1, and expect clearance to higher after so many minutes, or when reaching some intersection), and Approach frequency to expect) before Ground gives you clearance to taxi from parking towards the active runway and for your runup. If you filed a Flight Plan, expect to have the clearance (perhaps modified) read to you, which you must read back. After switching to Gnd for Taxi directions, be ready to read those back as well. Have the Airport Diagram out, and don't be afraid to ask for Progressive Directins. Things can be busy at a Bravo. When your runup is done, you switch to Tower if Gnd hadn't handed you over already, let them know where you are and that you're ready for takeoff.

If the Charlie and Delta are not near the Bravo, things may be a little more relaxed. You may get your Clearance from the Tower, or Gnd, and Gnd/Tower may be the same guy on the same frequency, or he may be on 2 or more frequencies, switching between Gnd and 1 or more Tower frequencies for different air sectors. You may stay on the Tower frequency longer before being switched to Approach, or for Delta you may just be asked to advise when you are clear of the Delta airspace.

Don't fly to any Bravos until you are comfortable on the radio. Limit flights to Delta and Charlie to start until you can follow the lingo.


Clearance Delivery in Class B is different for VFR aircraft because it's the only airspace where VFR aircraft require a clearance (rather than merely two-way radio contact) just to be there. You'll get a specific heading and altitude to use between takeoff and when Tower hands you over to Departure, you can expect one or both to change as soon as you do contact Departure, and you'll keep getting vectors until you're out of their airspace. You do need to be solid on the radio or they'll kick you out--possibly in the wrong direction if that's most convenient for them; this goes double for arrivals or transits, where they will refuse you entry if you sound like too much of a hassle to deal with.

Class C/D airports are generally more laid back, altitudes are more likely to be "at or above/below" rather than exact (or none at all), you may not be given a specific heading (maybe just "left turn"), and they're usually not in a hurry to get rid of you. For arrivals and transits, they'll rarely deny you entry unless you sound so incompetent that you shouldn't be flying in the first place.

Class C/D airports under a class B shelf are somewhere in between; in general, Clearance Delivery will send VFR aircraft around the class B rather than through it, but if you're solid on your first contact or two, Departure may decide to clear you through it instead. If you're not, they'll let you continue on around--and maybe drop you at the next sector boundary instead of handing you off.


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