I see this everytime I’m on Departure, Center, or Approach. 50% of users or more are contacting the frequency in the wrong way. So I thought I would write something on how to contact a radar frequency.
So you have just departed your airfield and your going to another airfield. Upon departure you will either be handed to Departure, Approach, or Center depending on what’s available, once handed off your first contact should be your intentions. “Radar vectors”, “ILS approach”, “Flight following”, and “VFR”. If you are in a commercial airliner please don’t request “Flight following” or “VFR” flight. The best course of action is to request “Radar vectors” to your destination airport. now I say “Radar vectors” because you can request the ILS to the departure frequency but they can’t give you that clearance as its outside of there airspace. Resulting in 1 of 2 commands being sent. 1. “Unable outside of coverage area proceed on course”. I don’t like this as it grants flight following when you say it. Or 2. “Runway is closed expect radar vectors to runway XX at XXXX”. I don’t like this one either because typically it says the runway they asked for is closed which is usually the runway you tell them anyway so it doesn’t sound right. So request “Radar vectors” right out of the gate.
Ok now we move on to the “Check in” message once you have already contacted a Radar frequency and stated your intentions “Radar vectors”. You can now use the “Check in” message since you have already been cleared for radar vectors to where you are going. So upon contact to another frequency such as Center or Approach on your arriving airport. Use the “check in” message and they can see your already cleared for radar vectors and to which airport and further guide you along the way. There is no need to ask for an ILS approach when contacting approach as now they can issue it without you doing anything but checking in. One instance where you will need to re state your intentions is if you have been given vectors and landed at an airport but now want to depart to another airport. Once you depart again you will need to state your new intentions unless you want to be vectored back to the same airport.
Ok now let’s move to “Flight following” and “VFR” flight. These should only be used for general aviation aircraft operating under FL180. So don’t request this if your in a commercial aircraft.
And lastly what is Center used for. This is a big one. Somewhere along the way of IF it has come to be Center is only for aircraft above FL180. I don’t know where that came to be but here is the actual role of the Center fequency. Center controls the entire region from surface level to FL600. So any GA aircraft on flight following from any airfield without approach or departure should contact Center for their “flight following” and “VFR” requests. Now that’s only if you want radar services. At the same time all commercial aircraft in between Departure and Approach should contact Center. Center is the do all for the region no matter the altitude.
Hope this helps when contacting frequency’s and I look forward to an improvement in reguards to this.