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When should I contact Tower if Tower is the highest ATC level?


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Hi.  According to the code of conduct, we need to contact ATC if we are flying through that ATC's airspace and it's staffed.  On VatSpy, I assume that means when we enter the solid blue lines of a Center's airspace, we contact Center.  And when we fly through the circular turquoise line in VatSpy, we contact Approach/Departure. If I understand this wrong about Center, Approach/Departure, please correct me.

So if Tower is the highest level of ATC (ie. there is nobody staffing Approach/Departure or Center above it), when should I contact Tower?  For example, please look at the attached picture for LHBP.  There is no radius for the Tower so I don't exactly know when I should contact Tower.  And there is nobody staffing Center or Approach/Departure in this example of LHBP.  So if I am flying into and landing at this airport, when do I contact Tower?

Tower.png.2ddeeb4eaf43f0860cfda33c2a7928b9.png

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If you are just crossing over there airspace at stay for example FL360 and center is not online, their is no need to contact anyone. 

In regards to your questions about LHBP in the picture. If there is no center or approach/departure online you would contact tower on finals (about 10miles out approximately) or if they contact you first. Every airport is kind of different but that is the rule of thumb I tend to use.

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In addition to Marcus' comments, this is a scenario where it is very important to obtain the Tower controller's ATIS (verbally or via text) so you know which runway is active. Because you won't be given vectors to final, it's important you line yourself up with the correct runway. Otherwise, you might find a departure pointing right at you! 

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Evan Reiter
Boston Virtual ARTCC/ZBW Community Manager

 

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4 hours ago, Richard Lee said:

So if Tower is the highest level of ATC (ie. there is nobody staffing Approach/Departure or Center above it), when should I contact Tower? 

Once you are established on final approach to the runway.

The exception being class D towers, who's airspace will vary depending on the country and location.
 

1 hour ago, Evan Reiter said:

it's important you line yourself up with the correct runway. Otherwise, you might find a departure pointing right at you! 

A good tower would have decent situational awareness of what traffic is inbound to their location, if they notice an aircraft coming in on another runway, one would expect they would hold the departure. ATC is a service provider, that service is separation. There are plenty of airports around the world that run reciprocal runway operations.

Kirk Christie - VATPAC C3

VATPAC Undercover ATC Agent

Worldflight Perth 737-800 Crew Member

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