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I will preface this question by saying that the story in question is anecdotal, told by an instructor at an airfield I was visiting. I will obfuscate the callsigns and airfield in question.

Apparently, a pilot got onto the frequency and said: "[Airfield name] Traffic, [callsign]"

[Airfield name] ATC responded with: "I've been to University for 8 years and have several million pounds of equipment here, I'm not just some guy with a walkie talkie, please turn around"

He proceeded to leave the airspace and diverted to a different airfield, however, if he didn't, what would be the potential repercussions? I'll add this was a VFR flight with no flight plan.

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    $\begingroup$ What class of airspace was this airfield in? $\endgroup$
    – GdD
    Jun 5, 2023 at 13:55
  • $\begingroup$ It's a CTR within an AIAA. I'm not sure what class that makes it $\endgroup$
    – Cloud
    Jun 5, 2023 at 15:07
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    $\begingroup$ @Cloud Civil CTRs are class C or D $\endgroup$
    – Jamiec
    Jun 6, 2023 at 10:55

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Somewhat pedantically, but technically if you address a station as "[Airfield] Traffic" then you're not not communicating with any sort of air traffic officer, you're addressing other pilots on frequency.

If there happened to be an ATCO on duty at said airfield, they would simply reply back along the lines of "G-ABCD this is [Airfield] Radio....." or "G-ABCD this is [Airfield] Information....." as appropriate. This leaves full ATC - such as an approach/radar/tower controller - but the likelyhood of anyone calling Traffic on that frequency is vanishingly unlikely. And even if it did happen, the same would apply "G-ABCD, this is [Station] Approach/Radar/Tower".

An air/ground or Information controller has no jurisdiction over aircraft in the air - the worst they could do is file a report about you busting their ATZ without establishing 2 way communication. They might ask you to vacate the ATZ but they certainly couldn't compel you to.

What you describe is very unlikely to have ever happened.

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  • $\begingroup$ If you'd like some links to the regs (instead of some guy on the internet said so) I'm more than happy to look them up for you. $\endgroup$
    – Jamiec
    Jun 5, 2023 at 14:12
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    $\begingroup$ I agree that the way that is phrased is unprofessional and unhelpful. If that was said in that way I would expect there's a lot of dialogue missing, but even then it still sounds dubious. $\endgroup$
    – GdD
    Jun 5, 2023 at 14:37
  • $\begingroup$ I believe this was said on the radar frequency, but again, this is 3rd hand information... $\endgroup$
    – Cloud
    Jun 5, 2023 at 15:09
  • $\begingroup$ I think just disregard. Put it this way, I have never heard anything but utmost professionalism from every radar controller I've ever spoken to in the UK. If I ever heard anything remotely like that, I would be making a report. $\endgroup$
    – Jamiec
    Jun 5, 2023 at 15:10
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Assuming the ATC response is embellished a little bit in the retelling, what probably happened is a pilot entered controlled airspace, or was about to enter, without a clearance, thinking the airport was uncontrolled (addressing the frequency as "traffic", which is just addressing other aircraft in the vicinity, tells you that).

The controller was doing the pilot a favour by telling him to turn around, and the controller's statement suggests he/she wasn't too pissed off just yet. If the pilot was already inside the positive control zone, the controller could have busted the pilot for entering without a clearance.

If you look up aviation regulation enforcement action summaries for your authority, blundering into positive control airspace without a clearance is one of the more common infractions.

Something like that might bring down a fine, say 500 or 1000 dollars, (or quid) and possibly a license suspension for a few months, as you are brought before an administrative judge or tribunal.

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  • $\begingroup$ Or he just wanted this clearly confused pilot off his back—busting the pilot would require still guiding the plane to landing and then dealing with the violation. $\endgroup$
    – Jan Hudec
    Jun 8, 2023 at 6:18
  • $\begingroup$ Yes. Before the person has got to the point of endangering someone, better that to avoid the paperwork. $\endgroup$
    – John K
    Jun 8, 2023 at 12:08
  • $\begingroup$ Thinking about it more, big class Bravo airports are a scary thing for most low time VFR pilots, so it probably was a class D, likely newly towered. So now there is this confused pilot approaching. The response by the book would be something like [callsign], stay clear of delta, say position and altitude, [airport] tower — at this point tower does not even know where the plane is, because it's squawking VFR if at all. But the pilot seems not to know about the delta, so it would just confuse them and trigger more back-and-forth. If the tower is busy, just turn them away is much easier. $\endgroup$
    – Jan Hudec
    Jun 8, 2023 at 18:27
  • $\begingroup$ Yeah.I tell new pilots a couple of tips to mellow them out. The vocabulary used nearly all the time is quite small. Maybe, 50 words? Memorize all the common phrases and words in advance. The other one is simply to listen in on LiveATC.net every evening when sitting around chilling, to simply get used to the way they talk. $\endgroup$
    – John K
    Jun 9, 2023 at 3:34
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Can ATC tell someone to leave the airspace because they called them by the wrong name?

There are no plausible circumstances under which a pilot would receive an ATC instruction to "leave the airspace" simply because he/she called the (ATC) facility by the wrong name.

Based on the content of your question, I can envision a scenario in which a controller would advise the pilot that he/she is on the wrong frequency, considering the airfield the transmission was referring to, and prompt the pilot to change his/her route of flight.

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