Contacting Departure

What is the correct procedure for contacting departure? I recently contacted departure and normally I would’ve thought that a standard “Check In” would suffice, but after I checked in, I was asked for my intentions. After I was asked for intentions, I asked for vectors to my destination. I was then told that the destination was not in the controller’s range and that I should change frequency. The whole situation left me perplexed, and I would like clarification.


Was this experience on TS1 by any chance?

Nope, happened on the Expert server. I don’t remember the controller’s name and I am not looking to get them in any trouble. I am just trying to figure out if I should “Check in” or request vectors.

From my experience, I think you should have requested flight following if the departure controller wasn’t in range of your destination airport.

Flight following is for VFR only, I believe.


This may help!


So I would be correct in saying that after switching to departure I have to check in? What do I do if they ask for intentions?

What about requesting flight following then when you’re close enough, you request vectors to your destination airport, that’s if your destination airport has an active approach controller.

Flight Following is used only when flying General Aviation aircraft like Cessna 172/208 and Cirrus SR22 and following a VFR flight.


According to the post linked by @Mattia_Bordoni you request vectors when you are close to an airport, then you request the approach you’d like.

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The procedure would be to either request flight following (assuming you have a flight plan) or radar vectors. For flight following you should expect a “proceed on course” for radar vectors an “expect radar vectors to XXX”. Sometimes the controller is overwhelmed and can deny the vectors in that case you should get a “unable at this time, proceed on course”.

Based on your note, sounds like you requested GPS/ILS to another airport, hence the reply that is “outside of coverage area, proceed on course”. Hope it helps.


I use VFR when I have no destination and I’m just flying around the region at or above FL 300 in any aircraft not just GA aircraft.

@MannyG I had a FPL filed and checked in. When I was asked for intentions I requested vectors (not an approach), as I believed it was most suitable. I believe that IRL, you just check in, as a departure controller would probably never deny radar services to IFR aircraft.

That is incorrect, VFR flights are below FL180 and reserved to GA. It’s very hard to control an airspace when we don’t know what you are up to.


Like @MannyG said, VFR flight only goes up to 18,000 feet.

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So what is it called when I’m flying around the region at 42,000 feet in a B787-8 for example? Just flying around the region?

Roger. Maybe the controller was too busy at the moment, you did nothing wrong. The check in should sufice for flight following but that doesn’t change the flight strip or the tag on the radar, so we usually ask for intentions so you say flight following or radar vectors - then your flight information updates on our screen. When you check in nothing happens really. When a controller has 10-20 aircraft on the screen it is hard to keep track of everyone if the tag doesn’t show what you are up to.

Check-ins are harmless but highly uncesserary unless you are being handed from one radar frequency to another - just announce your intentions right away. Hope this clarifies. Happy landings.

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If you had a flight plan filed (which you should when above FL180) you would just check in (with a center?) and follow your flight plan.

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But my departure intentions under IFR would be to request vectors, correct?

Just pick a random airport on the far corner or the map and request flight following.

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