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VFR Circuits - asking for startup request?

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Before flying a VFR circuit around an airport do I have to ask ATC for a start up request?

For example; I might say 'C172 DW by Apron xyz, Type GA, VFR to remain in the pattern, and request start up'


I assume with a IFR flight you don’t have to request for start up and this particular request can be skipped.  Am I right?


With IFR I might say;  'C172 DW by Apron xyz, Type GA, request IFR clearance to Gatwick with information Bravo'

* The information Bravo coming from the ATIS


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I normally startup already and ask for taxi clearance.. I will just say: ABC at apron XYZ; type C172; 1+1 onboard; 2hours endurance; with information A;  request taxi instructions for circuits and/or VFR flight to ................ Something like that 🙂


Edited by Nico de Lange


Nico de Lange


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  • Board of Governors

Like so many things in aviation... it depends.

IFR flights from controlled aerodromes pretty much always have to request start because they may be slot restricted etc, although you don’t necessarily explicitly request startup (your phraseology example is basically correct although assuming you are in the UK based on your choice of airport remember you need to state the QNH you have, ie from the ATIS — because altimeter settings are a mandatory readback so you have to give this in addition to the ATIS letter). Having received your clearance the next thing would be to “report ready” at which point assuming there is no delay you would then be told “start approved, hold position, contact ground 121.9” — so then you do nothing and call ground to get your pushback approval/instructions if necessary, or if you don’t need pushback you could simply start up your engine(s) and call ground for taxi.

For VFR it depends on the airport - some (usually larger/busier airports) require VFR aircraft to obtain permission to start (as it may take a while for you to be integrated in to the IFR traffic flow), others do not and in that instance you can start engines at your own discretion and your initial call would simply be to request taxi, e.g. “GABCD, C172 on the GA apron, 1 POB, information D QNH 1011 request taxi for VFR circuits”.

The answer is to check the charts and see if any requirements are stated - the textual data sections have a wealth of relevant information and it is always a good idea to review those pages before flying to/from any new airfield (and even those you are familiar with!).

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Vice President, Pilot Training

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  • 4 months later...

I have an expansion question to this.  I am just getting started in all of this, I am connecting to my local airport which does not have a tower.  I have submitted a flight plan that shows this airport as the Departure and Destination and have comment that I will be in the circuit doing touch and goes.  I am with in 30NM of a class B so I squawk 1200 mode-c IF and When my local ATC is online should I contact them and have them open the Flighplan?  or should I just use UNICOM as I would normally if I was doing touch and goes in the real world?

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