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I want to fly into a Class C airport and do a full stop taxi back. I'll be approaching the airport with flight following. When ATC hands me off to approach control for the airport I'll be landing at, what do I need to tell approach control given that I'm already on flight following? I'm guessing that I need to tell them I have the ATIS and that I want to do a full stop taxi back. It would seem that I would not need to report my position. Do I need to report my altitude? It seems I would say, "So Cal Approach Cessna 1234R with information A, inbound for fullstop taxi back."

And on my full stop taxi back, I'll land and then exit the runway. When I exit I'll be directed to ground, and I'll ask for return for takeoff. At this point I would also like to ask for flight following to my next airport, but usually I would ask clearance delivery, not ground, for flight following at a Class C airport. Will ground be able to give me flight following? Also, I will not have told them that I'm flying a Cessna 172/G because this information was not required to obtain flight following for me because I didn't take off from an airport with clearance delivery. Is that going to matter when asking for flight following from ground?

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    $\begingroup$ You should ALWAYS report your altitude on first call to a radar unit. It is used to verify mode C info. $\endgroup$ – expeditedescent Dec 1 '20 at 7:23
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The answer to this depends a bit on what happens in practice as in my experience flight following does not always orchestrate handoffs as well as say an IFR flight would.

In some cases FF may drop you before you get to the class C airspace and you will have to request clearance into the airspace as if you were flying without flight following.

They may hand you off to the approach controller, and you can always ask for a handoff but FF is under no obligation to provide that. Remember flight following is NOT an airspace clearance and you will need to obtain clearance as you normally would (for class C thats positive radio contact that does not include a diversion or hold instruction). They will generally hand you off with time/distance to deal with this but you should have that approach frequency queued up in the radio.

Yes you should always report your altitude and position (when appropriate) and positive receiving of the weather when calling an approach controller for entry to their airspace assume FF has given them no information. You could say:

So Cal Approach Cessna 1234R at three thousand feet, inbound for a full stop landing at KLAX with information X-Ray

You should report position if you are not handed off and/or you feel as though local procedures require it (maybe FF is provided by a non radar entity), you would add something like

5 miles south of KLAX


Once on the ground you can ask ground, or the tower before takeoff for a flight following handoff. In my experience they will orchestrate this if its a quiet day and they dont have a lot else going on, other than that they are likely to tell you to contact approach in the air and request it.

They dont really need to know anything beyond Cessna 172 which gives them the performance information they need.

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  • $\begingroup$ Reporting position when being handed off??? Assuming that you're in radar contact & being handed off from one radar facility to another, this seems unnecessary. Center & Approach will always point out IFR traffic to each other in preparation for a handoff, so why not with VFR traffic as well. I'd suspect that checking in with altitude & ATIS and NOT tying up the frequency with the position report would be preferred. But, adapt to whatever the local practices are. $\endgroup$ – Ralph J Dec 1 '20 at 16:11
  • $\begingroup$ @RalphJ I don’t think do, because usually for VFR flight there won’t be an automated ABI and ACT/LAM exchange $\endgroup$ – pcfreakxx Dec 1 '20 at 19:28
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    $\begingroup$ @RalphJ Uncontrolled VFR is normally not coordinated $\endgroup$ – expeditedescent Dec 1 '20 at 20:15
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    $\begingroup$ @expeditedescent VFR Flight Following is a different beast from just VFR (or even CVFR) and normally gets the same handoffs and coordination as IFR. $\endgroup$ – StephenS Dec 10 '20 at 2:34
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If they say “contact Approach on 123.45”, that’s a handoff, meaning that your radar target’s ownership has been transferred from one controller to another. Since you’re still “in the system”, you normally only have to check in with your altitude.

However, if you hear “radar service terminated, squawk VFR, try Approach on 123.45”, you have been dropped. This is what happens when a handoff fails, typically because one controller or the other is too busy. You squawk VFR as told and then start all over with the next controller.

When to tell Approach you have the ATIS/WX at your destination is tricky. Only the last controller before tower/CTAF actually cares, but who is last? Look up the airport in the A/FD, and it will list a freq for App/Dep. That is the sector your airport is in, meaning when you get to that freq, add “with [letter]” to your check-in. Except sometimes sectors get combined, so don’t be surprised if you get asked “verify you have information [letter] at [airport]” on an unexpected freq. It happens.

When Approach then hands you off to Tower, Tower will assume you’re full stop by default, so this is when you tell them you want a taxi back, same as you would do on an initial call if you came into a D airport without Flight Following. You don’t need to tell them you have the ATIS/WX, though, since they know Approach will have checked that before handing you off.

When you exit the runway, Tower will tell you to contact Ground for the taxi back, and you can ask Ground whether they can get you a new code for your departure or whether you need to call Clearance. It can go either way depending on their workload at that moment, so don’t be surprised by either answer—or if they give you the new clearance while you’re moving. (Many will ask you to advise when ready to copy, but some will just read it to you right away.) Ground will have the data from your old code in front of them, so you can skip your type, but Clearance won’t know anything about you, so you’d have to give them everything.

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  • $\begingroup$ As you said, a full-stop taxi-back counts as a full stop in the radar controller's eyes—they will get a new "rolling call" when you take off again. If you'll only be doing a touch-and-go both the tower and the approach controllers will want to know that. $\endgroup$ – randomhead Mar 16 at 21:02

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