Grisk
Posts: 2
Joined: Sat Mar 23, 2019 9:18 am
VATSIM CID: 892954

VFR operations around LAX

Sat Mar 23, 2019 10:00 am

Well, this a lively forum! :) Hope this is the right place to ask a few questions.

I used to do quite a bit of virtual airline flight simming, exclusively on VATSIM for several years, so I was pretty comfortable with it. Then I got burned out around 10 years ago, and moved on to other hobbies. Now I've gotten back into flight simming, flying offline for a little over a year now, but I have been wanting to get back onto VATSIM since I started. However, on the path back to the big jetliners, I discovered I'm actually pretty satisfied just doing GA flying, and for the past few months I've also gotten into doing flights with FS Economy, so that tends to keep you flying between small airports, un-towered or class D at most, with the occasional class C thrown in there.

Currently doing flights around the LAX area in a Piper Arrow. VFR whenever I can, IFR if I really want to fly and that's the only way to get into or out of places. LA looks to be a really challenging area for VFR, what with all the airports, not to mention the terrain. Hills and low ceilings are an interesting combination if they're between you and your destination!

Anyway, I've started reading through the various featured articles on the ARTCC website, which are very helpful. I have just a couple general questions regarding VFR operations around your airspace:
  1. When no ATC is online, I would be squawking 1200 and announcing intentions on UNICOM. I try to keep out of Class B airspace, but I would be OK passing through the class D and C airspaces (and maybe cutting through a corner of class B), as long as I'm communicating on UNICOM and not doing stupid things like flying over these airports at pattern altitude?
  2. If only Center is on, then I'd contact them and request flight following, so I think I'd still be OK flying through class C and D airspaces, since we've established contact and they'd know where I'm heading, and give landing clearance if I'm heading to a towered field.
  3. If LAX Approach is online, I should only be talking to them if I'm within their space around LAX (30nm?). So for instance, if only APP is online, and I'm at Chino and heading away from their airspace, I do not need to contact them.
Thanks, and hope to be seen on your scopes in the near future!

Grisk

User avatar
Matthew Kramer
Deputy Air Traffic Manager
Posts: 192
Joined: Thu May 17, 2007 11:56 am
VATSIM CID: 845421
Location: Los Angeles

Re: VFR operations around LAX

Sat Mar 23, 2019 11:30 am

Hey there Grisk, happy to help. Los Angeles is great for VFR.

1) In "the real world," closed class D airspace becomes class E* and you can transit it as if it were an uncontrolled airport. For VATSIM purposes, I think what you're doing is fine. I would stay out of B airspace unless you were on a VFR transition route since other virtual traffic is likely to be in and out of the major airport, and if ATC does come online they might ask you to exit the bravo, anyway.

2) Correct. We do "Top-Down" service in the US on VATSIM. Center online by themselves is the controlling authority for every controllable position in our airspace and you would contact them in the air for flight following, and on the ground for tower services. Should Socal Approach come online, they would assume top-down service for that area and so on.

3) Los Angeles has a "combined" approach control. Instead of each airport here having its own approach, the FAA merged all of them together to create "SoCal Approach" which extends from about Malibu south to San Diego, east to Palm Springs, and north along the mountain ridge between Palmdale/Victorville and Ontario/San Bernardino. We have a diagram on our main page which should the rough lateral boundary. If you see "SCT_APP" that means the controller is working every sector of the airspace and should be contacted, even over Chino.

Sometimes you may see "ONT_APP" or "SNA_APP," those controllers are just working an individual sector of the SOCAL airspace. It's better to contact an online controller and be told you don't need to talk to them than it is to assume you are outside their airspace, at least until you get more familiar with how it breaks down.

*One is supposed to check the A/FD, sometimes it reverts to a different airspace class, but it's unimportant for VATSIM since we do not follow real world operating hours.

Grisk
Posts: 2
Joined: Sat Mar 23, 2019 9:18 am
VATSIM CID: 892954

Re: VFR operations around LAX

Sun Mar 24, 2019 8:15 am

Thank you! I see a number of "CTC SOCAL APP WITHIN 20NM ON ..." boxes around the area on the Los Angeles TAC. Is that 20nm from the nearest Class C airspace to the box or 20nm from the vicinity of the box itself? As I recall, when you got close to any controlled airspace with no hand-off, the controller would often PM you to contact them, but I know you can't always rely on that. I agree, though, best to err on the side of caution.

User avatar
Matthew Kramer
Deputy Air Traffic Manager
Posts: 192
Joined: Thu May 17, 2007 11:56 am
VATSIM CID: 845421
Location: Los Angeles

Re: VFR operations around LAX

Sun Mar 24, 2019 9:39 am

Thank you! I see a number of "CTC SOCAL APP WITHIN 20NM ON ..." boxes around the area on the Los Angeles TAC. Is that 20nm from the nearest Class C airspace to the box or 20nm from the vicinity of the box itself? As I recall, when you got close to any controlled airspace with no hand-off, the controller would often PM you to contact them, but I know you can't always rely on that. I agree, though, best to err on the side of caution.
Those boxes mean within 20nm of the Class C airspace, but you can use them as a good indicator for whether or not you're in SOCAL airspace at all. Flying VFR we'll leave you alone unless you want to enter class D, C, and B airspace. We encourage flight following, so feel free to call up if you want.

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