ATC- How to connect/get in range

Something I have not been able to find an answer to, hoping someone can help: flying into an airport, say LAX, and I get N ATC alert saying “You’re in an active airspace. Contact approach on …”. However, when I select any of the nearby airports that have active ATC, I can’t connect to them. I guess my question is when am I considered “in range” to connect to ATC, and what do I do if I get that alert but have no way of actually responding?

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For Tower frequencies, you should be able to contact them once you are within 26NM of the airport. Any further than that, you should be unable to contact and you should not be guarded, especially on the expert server (where controllers should know the contact minimums). Being guarded from longer distances is more common on the training server, where controllers may not be as experienced or may just be trolling.

Approach has a larger airspace, where you should only be guarded if you are within 50NM of the airports, which again, is more common on the training server for you to be guarded further out.


Make sure you are below 18,000 and if you are and it does not show in the frequency table for airports, try going into the map and select the airport.

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The easiest way is to click on the airport. It will show you the active frequencies for that airport. If they’re gray, you’re out of range. If white, you can click to tune in.

One thing to note:

Training server controllers don’t have any concept of airspace. They will guard you on Mars if they feel like it.

You are not required to tune into them if you’re not in their airspace.

For tower, this is inbound to that field, radius of 25nm, below 10k AAL.

For Approach, inbound to their field, radius of 50 nm, below FL180.

If you’re inbound to KMIA at FL270 and KTPA Tower guards you, ignore them. That will happen a lot on TS. Just worry about the fields for which you’re actually responsible to be tuned into.

In the old days, any flight from KLAX-KSAN, the entire flight would be both approaches just guarding in succession. They want traffic. It doesn’t reall matter where you’re headed. But don’t worry about them. Only tune in if you’re in the above ranges and headed to their field.

Side note for others:

When you’re overflying an airport at Cruise and you notice there’s an active approach frequency, there’s no need to tune in and ask for flight following to a field across the ocean. It’s just spamming the controller.


This helps a lot, thanks! Despite always selecting the airport and seeing the available ATC frequencies and not being able to select them, I always thought I was doing something wrong. But it sounds like I’m only responsible for being tuned into a frequency when I am in range and can tune into it.


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