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I'm just wondering about VFR requests relating to class bravo airspace in the US:

  1. Is requesting VFR flight following in a class bravo the same thing as requesting a class bravo clearance?
  2. Does requesting a class bravo airspace transition automatically include VFR flight following (radar traffic information service)?
  3. If I am cleared into the bravo airspace and the controller gives me a heading and altitude to fly that clips the airspace of an underlying class C / D airspace, have I satisfied the requirements to enter said airspace (class C - 2-way communication and squawking mode C, class D - 2-way communication)?
  4. Why does ATC provide traffic advisories for VFR aircraft in class bravo airspace at all if they are on the hook for providing separation?
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closed as too broad by Pondlife, Peter Kämpf, Ralph J, kevin, Sanchises Jul 5 '18 at 11:55

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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  • Is requesting VFR flight following in a class bravo the same thing as requesting a class bravo clearance?

No. Flight following just means that the aircraft is receiving traffic advisories. A VFR aircraft needs explicit clearance to enter the Class B. The pilot should net ATC know that they intend to enter the Class B.

  • Does requesting a class bravo airspace transition automatically include VFR flight following (radar traffic information service)?

Yes, ATC must separate VFR aircraft from VFR/IFR aircraft while in the Class B. (7110.65X Section 7-9-4)

  • If I am cleared into the bravo airspace and the controller gives me a heading and altitude to fly that clips the airspace of an underlying class C / D airspace, have I satisfied the requirements to enter said airspace (class C - 2-way communication and squawking mode C, class D - 2-way communication)?

If ATC has given specific instructions that take a pilot through other airspace, then ATC should coordinate this with the appropriate controllers. Per 7110.65X Section 7-9-2 the controller should also either vector aircraft to stay in class B or to inform them if they are leaving it. Pilots should not change frequencies on their own unless asked, and the pilot should ask the controller if they are unsure.

Also, note that:

Assignment of radar headings, routes, or altitudes is based on the provision that a pilot operating in accordance with VFR is expected to advise ATC if compliance will cause violation of any part of the CFR.

  • Why does ATC provide traffic advisories for VFR aircraft in class bravo airspace at all if they are on the hook for providing separation?

As described above, ATC is required to separate VFR aircraft from other aircraft in the Class B. ATC is instructed by 7110.65X Section 2-1-21 to:

...issue traffic advisories to all aircraft (IFR or VFR) on your frequency when, in your judgment, their proximity may diminish to less than the applicable separation minima.

Unless a VFR aircraft has explicit instructions, ATC does not know for sure what they will do. And IFR aircraft may still need to perform unexpected maneuvers like a missed approach. Traffic callouts make it easier to apply visual separation if needed.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks. If ATC tells aircraft to maintain visual separation, can they legally allow less than the prescribed radar separation (3 miles, or green between targets)? I was thinking that maybe they used visual separation so that they could increase the number of aircraft in the area but still remain safe and legal. $\endgroup$ – slantalpha Jul 3 '18 at 19:00
  • $\begingroup$ @jeff0000 Yes, the separation options here are horizontal, vertical, or visual. One of the three is sufficient. $\endgroup$ – fooot Jul 3 '18 at 22:26
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  1. If you request VFR flight following that will transition Class Bravo, you will either be explicitly cleared into the Bravo, or not - perhaps your path will take you under/through the arriving/departing active runway that day, and you will be denied Bravo clearance, and can request it again in a few miles, or they may clear you to a high altitude without asking once you will not be in the way. I've had it go both ways flying in the Boston, MA area.

  2. Yes, sort of - IFR traffic will be warned of you, you may not be told of IFR traffic near you.

  3. Last time I was tracked to overfly an underlying airspace with flight following, the Class B originated flight following cleared me thru the underlying Class C, and I didn't talk to the Class C folks at all. The flight following should stay with you until you clear the various class boundaries - or may stay with you to your destination. Really depends where you are flying and if you remain high enough for them to 'see' you. For example, I flew from west of Boston all the way out to Nantucket Island - was handed off between several controllers on the way, including the Class C in Providence, RI, for a few of the miles.

  4. Seperation is for IFR, with VFR on time permitting basis. See #2.

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    $\begingroup$ Thanks. By the way, I found this FAA document that says that all aircraft (IFR and VFR) are separated in class bravo airspace: faasafety.gov/gslac/ALC/… "An ATC clearance is required for all aircraft to operate in Class B Airspace, and all aircraft that so cleared receive separation services within the airspace. The cloud clearance requirement for VFR operations is "clear of clouds"." $\endgroup$ – slantalpha Jul 3 '18 at 15:07
  • $\begingroup$ Even better! Good to know. $\endgroup$ – CrossRoads Jul 3 '18 at 16:29
  • $\begingroup$ VFR flight following will NOT necessarily result in an explicit statement that you are to remain clear of the Bravo. A helpful controller might prompt you ("Skykisser A-BCDE, you are approaching the Bravo; say intentions"), but it is the PIC's responsibility to request the clearance, and to remain outside unless explicitly cleared in. $\endgroup$ – ammPilot Jul 4 '18 at 14:22
  • $\begingroup$ FYI, there are not separate "class B folks" and "class C folks". Despite the different chart labels, the same TRACON facility will handle all adjacent B/C (except what Tower handles near the surface) plus the E above/below/around, and their sectors often don't match class lines. $\endgroup$ – StephenS Jan 12 at 18:26

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