Climb to FLxxx from departure

If a departure controller gives me an instruction such as climb to FL330, do I have to climb to 33000ft, or do I just need to climb above 18000ft because then I am outside controlled airspace?


Follow their instructions and climb to 33,000. Chances are, they’ll approve a frequency change before you hit 18,000, and you’ll most likely be allowed to resume own navigation after that.

I’ve never personally seen a controller assign someone an altitude above 18,000, though. The only cases I’ve witnessed involved the pilot requesting a high altitude and the controller approving it. That being said, I’m not sure if IFATC radar controllers will proactively assign an altitude above 18000, so an officer will have to confirm.


What would I do if I am unable to climb to 33000 (eg. too heavy)?
This actually stems from another post about requesting the wrong FL, but do IFATC always use the east/west rule, or do they follow local rules in Europe? Like going SW is even in US, but odd in France.

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I won’t speak for the rest of IFATC, but I personally just use east=odd/west=even rules. Makes it simpler that way.

I’m not sure that I can think of a situation in which I’m too heavy for 33,000. Even in a heavy A380, I’ve been able to climb to 33,000 using a low ascent rate. However, there should be an “unable” option which you can hit, and then explain to the controller later that you’re too heavy.


E175? I.climb to 290/300 on full fuel

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Can you PM me with your route? I’m not an expert on the E175 but I do have a few ideas regarding your situation.

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A “fully loaded” (ULH) A380 won’t climb to FL330 with it’s current physics model. Not without going over 100% N1.
Believe me, I’ve made the mistake of trying that one before.

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I was heavy, not fully loaded. But yes, it would be problematic for a completely full flight. ;)


Mmmx will have ATC assign higher than 180 but sea level 99.999995% of the time not.

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I’ll usually clear someone to cruising alt and hit freq change approved once they’re near FL180. Above that is no longer my problem.


From the IFATC Manual. This is what we follow.


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Put it this way, by the time you’re near FL330, no controller is going to care.

The only stipulation I have is if someone asks for a cruise altitude of, say, FL320 and they’re travelling east, I’m going to asssign an odd flight level. Chances are they’ll just ignore me anyway if they already show that they don’t know the proper cruise levels, but it’s not like I follow them to their destination and keep track.

Essentially, once you’re above FL180 you’re out of the controller’s airspace and it’s not relevant. I only do the odd/even thing because if you’re going to specifically request an incorrect altitude, I’m going to do my best to steer you correctly. Other than that, I don’t care.

(But you are in their airspace under FL180, so if people could stop asking for freq change at 5k feet, that’d be great.)

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