Question about frequency changes.

Scenario: I’m working tower at LAX and I have a plane departing my airspace. The only other available frequency is SOCAL Approach; SOCAL Departure is closed.

Question: Is it ok to hand them off to approach or should I just say, “Frequency change approved” and the pilot just tunes out of my frequency?

P.S. This applies to all airfields, not just LAX. I just used LAX as an example.


The only time when tower would hand off to approach is when the aircraft is doing pattern work or is headed for another airport that the approach frequency covers. Otherwise, you just send “frequency change approved”.

Yes, I know that on Expert that happens. The Approach controller most likely will approve the pilot for tune out after 18 thousand feet.

Frequency change is not used during pattern work, only when departing out of airspace or during a missed approach/ go around with approach frequency active.

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That is correct, send the “frequency change approved” command, and if they don’t change frequency, simply swipe right on the flight progress strip dedicated to that aircraft (the black boxes on the side of your screen).

No no no. Approach sometimes wants the pattern works, but it’s not something you should expect or demand that they should. Tower is mostly responsible for patterns.


I’m talking in the case if the plane “departs the airspace” as mentioned in the op, while doing pattern work normally because of high traffic. Then the tower should hand over to approach to sequence them in. This happened to me a couple of times on Expert Server when the airspace was packed.

You don’t do pattern work if you depart the airspace ;)


When it comes to sending regular departures to the approach frequency, it’s not “appropriate” in a sense unless it was agreed upon prior between the tower and approach. This is why you’ll see it on Expert,
as this method allows one controller to man approach and departure on one radar screen, and another controller can man departure if it gets too busy. As @schyllberg said before, pattern work is the same way, and is decided upon between the tower and the approach controller, and normally changes as well based on traffic volume

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