Frequency Change Approved Timing on tower

Hi all,
Just wondered after an aircraft departs is there a particular time to “frequency change approve” them… ie a particular altitude or distance away from the runway? I normally contact them when they are above 1000ft or so just wondered if that is correct?

Also when there is a go around situation and after you instruct them to make left/right runway … etc, do you hand them off to approach straight after if approach is available. If approach is not available can you or do you hand them off to departure?
J Air

Tower’s airspace is 25 miles out at 10,000 feet or below. A frequency change should generally be used when an aircraft is departing your airspace and will no longer affect other aircraft under your control. If you have a radar frequency to hand off to, send them departures shortly after takeoff, otherwise, use your best judgement and at the latest, give them a frequency change as they depart your airspace. The 25/10,000 rule also applies when aircraft are inbound, so on guarding them at 1000 feet would be incorrect.

As for the go around situation, if radar is active, let them deal with vectors and line them up again. If there is no radar frequency present, treat it as if the aircraft is flying a pattern. That is, they would make right/left traffic, fly the downwind, turn base, and back to final where they would complete the go around.


Great, thanks naro makes perfect sense. When I’ve flown on expert I’ve noticed I can get handed off on “frequency change approved” fairly quickly after take off so I just wondered if there was a particular procedure for it… I guess depends on how busy it is and also down to a common sense procedure at the same time.
Thanks for the info

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If I know where the AC is going after takeoff and there isn’t any other planes in the way I will issue the freq change early.

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Frequency changed time is at the discretion of the controller but normally happens for a departing aircraft just after wheels up. Controllers do not need to keep an aircraft that is departing on their frequency.

In a go around, that’s up to the communication of controllers if there is approach and how busy it is. It’s easier for an approach controller to control the aircraft and guide them back into a sequence. However, if it’s not too busy tower can let them know who they will follow.


The only exception would be when controllers are giving aircraft a “Maintain runway heading until xxxx feet”. Then, the frequency change is given a nice they pass that altitude. At least that’s how I do it


Ok, so if you give them fly runway heading until at or above xxxxft then you should keep them on your frequency until then?

I issue a frequency change (with no approach/departure control present) when the departing aircraft is free of potential conflict with other traffic, and have attained the runway heading altitude if issued.

Also, please don’t spam with frequency change requests. I haven’t forgotten you, and will issue at the appropriate time.


It’s 5 miles and 5,000. 25/10 only applies as to when a controller may on-guard or receive an aircraft.


A higher up member of IFATC can correct me, but I think it depends on your type of approach. For instrument approaches you would get sent back to approach (ILS, GPS) but for visual approaches (Radar Vectors, Visual) you would stay with tower.


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