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student pilot here getting close to my PPL checkride.

I've flown with flight following into and out of Class D airports before, including on my solo XCs. Every time I've gotten flight following, I've either cancelled it myself when nearing my destination, or ATC has terminated it.

I was just wondering if this is what usually happens at Class C airports as well, or if it's more common in Class C for approach to hand you off directly to tower without terminating radar services.

If I was talking to the Class C approach facility, it would seem silly to cancel flight following myself (as I usually do when approaching a class D destination), since I would then presumably need to contact them again in order to enter their airspace. For the same reason, will they typically avoid cancelling on their end?

Thanks for any insight, and I recognize the answer may well be "it depends."

EDIT: Actually, I think I'm probably able to answer my own question. Since, by definition, you're always receiving radar services when operating within Class C, it effectively makes no difference whether you got in there under flight following, or just cold called approach as you got close. Once you're within the airspace, there's really no difference between being on flight following or not - either way they can give advisories and instructions and will eventually hand you to tower. So I imagine they would never say "radar services terminated," because they're not terminating them.

Would still like to make sure that's correct before "answering my own question," though!

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    $\begingroup$ Your edit is correct—it would make no sense for either you to request, or the controller to initiate, termination of radar services. Answer your own question and I will happily upvote it! $\endgroup$
    – randomhead
    Mar 15 at 9:22
  • $\begingroup$ There's no reason for you to terminate flight following, or any other radar service, no matter what the class of airspace. The service is there to help you, I'd leave it up to ATC to terminate it. $\endgroup$
    – GdD
    Mar 15 at 10:58

2 Answers 2

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Don’t cancel VFR Flight Following yourself unless you truly don’t want it anymore.

If you’re arriving at a non-towered airport, or at a towered airport without a radar display, then Approach/Center will terminate radar services for you at an appropriate point. For a towered airport, this will usually coincide with a cold handoff: “squawk VFR, contact Tower on xxx.xx”. You will need to give the Tower your position since they’ll have no idea where you are.

If you’re arriving at a towered airport with a radar display (some D, all C and all B), then Approach/Center will give you a radar handoff: “contact Tower on xxx.xx”. Since they can see you on radar, just check in with your altitude, same as any other radar handoff.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the answer. My home airport is a Class D with radar, and if I recall correctly, on one of my dual XCs, my CFI and I cancelled flight following on the way back in. I'll try to remember to ask about that, whether it's some local best practice, something we just did for the sake of the lesson, or whatever! $\endgroup$
    – Ethan B
    Mar 15 at 14:42
  • $\begingroup$ @EthanB Maybe your CFI learned at a tower without a radar display, or at a non-towered field? These nuances aren’t something that is covered at most schools. $\endgroup$
    – StephenS
    Mar 15 at 15:15
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    $\begingroup$ If you're landing at a non-towered airport and receiving VFR F/F, as you start your descent it is helpful for you to cancel F/F with ATC before you descend below radar/radio coverage. The controller generally knows when this will happen, but if occupied with higher priority duties, may not realize you're altitude until both radio/radar are list, then we have to treat you as a possible aircraft accident. $\endgroup$
    – RetiredATC
    Mar 16 at 3:52
  • $\begingroup$ @RetiredATC I always advise beginning my descent for exactly that reason. If they choose to keep me (and there are valid reasons to sometimes), it’s on them to remember. $\endgroup$
    – StephenS
    Mar 17 at 13:38
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Thanks to commenters who confirmed my edit is correct, and that the answer to my question occurred to me shortly after I posted it:

Radar services continue by definition through Class C. All VFR aircraft are essentially automatically on "flight following" within the airspace.

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  • $\begingroup$ While you're at, look up the difference between "Class C services" and "basic VFR radar services." If the AIM or P/CG don't lay it out explicitly, Chapter 7 of the 7110.65 will. $\endgroup$
    – randomhead
    Mar 15 at 14:55

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