Pilot's Tip of the Week
Benefits of Flight Following
Featuring John Krug
"Would you please share with us the benefits of flight following, particularly for the pilot requesting combined with the benefits to other pilots in the sky and the controllers?" - Marty B.
"Flight following or VFR advisories – two different names for the same thing - is a service provided by a RADAR facility to participating VFR pilots. Traffic advisories are provided to the extent possible depending on higher priority duties of the controller or other factors (volume of traffic, frequency congestion, radar limitations or controller workload).
Flight Following provides the VFR pilot with a lot more than just traffic advisories, though. Many of the protections and features that a pilot on an IFR flight plan gets are also provided. Services such as severe weather warnings, parachute jumping advisories, TFR avoidance and clearance through Class C and D airspace are provided.
In the event of an emergency or situation requiring assistance, you are already in contact with ATC. They know your location and type aircraft. If ATC loses contact with a VFR aircraft, they are required to start a search the same as for an IFR aircraft.
It is also beneficial to other pilots and controllers to know what you are doing. If the controller sees a VFR aircraft on a 1200 code heading towards an IFR aircraft, he or she will have to take action by turning or changing the altitude of the IFR aircraft.
Of course, it's important to remember that radar traffic advisories do not relieve the pilot of the responsibility to see and avoid other aircraft. There may be times when the controller is not able to give traffic advisories concerning all aircraft in the aircraft's proximity; in other words, when a pilot requests or is receiving traffic advisories, do not assume that all traffic will be issued."
Next week's tip: Engine out glide