Switched frequencies once out of range without getting approval; is that wrong?

So after takeoff, I went to the departure frequency as normal. But since me and the departure never really talked on that frequency, I eventually went out of range. Therefore I presume he couldn’t hear any of my radio transmissions. Then when checking for other frequencies I noticed that my previous frequency was no longer shown meaning I no longer had any way to get to the communication menu because I was out of range. Him presumably not hearing me combined with me not being able to get back to the talk menu eventually forced me to leave the frequency. Thankfully I was never ghosted but I want to ask, would it have been possible for me to get ghosted like this? and if it was, what should I have done when I was out of range and unable to communicate.

In my opinion if you leave the frequency without permission yes it is wrong, if it’s busy though I see that this could help controllers if they have lost track and you aren’t anywhere near the airport but as for your question of being ghosted, I’m sure they would on guard you, if you didn’t get on the freq after this then there may be issues. Every controller has a differing opinion though so take it as you will

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I mean they didn’t on guard me. the problem was I was out of range, so I don’t think the controller heard me and was unable to get on the frequency later.

The proper way that this should be applied is that once out of a given controllers airspace, you are no longer their problem. That’s pretty easy with tower, as you can see the rings. Once you’re out of them, you’re in class E, where you don’t need to talk to anyone. This is slightly more difficult with an approach frequency, as their boundaries are less published to pilots. Of course, using common sense is smart. Ask to change frequencies, don’t leave a frequency if within an airspace or near traffic, etc.

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the problem is I assume they couldn’t hear me, because I think I was massively out of range

I don’t think there should be issue if you’re so far out, but just to be safe, I would probably request frequency change before I got to that point.

If you are connected to the frequency they can still hear and communicate with you. This applies around the world as long as that frequency stays open / also applying to Unicom.

If you get away from the airport and are departing with a departure frequency, just ask for a frequency change. If you do, the controller will just respond accordingly.

If you are departing and there is only an approach controller, if you are not handed off from tower to them, you don’t have to switch to them when you depart. It’s prefered by the approach controller to not have departures contact them unless they ask Tower for it.

If you are inbound, never switch frequency without being told to.

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the problem was there was never a response when I requested frequency change, so I assumed he couldn’t hear me.

Sometimes what happens is that the departure controller goes offline and quits the game, it doesn’t let you know though unless you look at the bar on the ATC menu where it’ll say “no frequency available” that’s probably why you were sending messages and not receiving any

As mentioned, you had long left the airspace and quite probably had reached your initial cruise altitude. The radar controller was probably too busy with aircrafts close to the airport, and lost sight of any far away outbounds still on his frequency. You’re good to sign-out.

But, again:

  • make sure you’re well over 18,000 feet
  • more than 80 NM away from the airport
  • first request a frequency change
  • when you tune out, wait a bit for any on-guard message.

And…don’t make it a habit. It’s good practice to wait for the frequency approved, or request it yourself if you’re outside the parameters mentioned above.


I don’t make it a habit, this rarely happens. I usually do request a frequency change and wait for a response or sometimes the controller even clears me to change before I request one. This one scenario was just after ~ 3 tries and 15 minutes I gave up. But thanks for providing that bullet point info because was unsure of how far the range of a departure controller goes so that info really helped.

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like azee said, in that case tuning out probably won’t hurt you. But always try requesting a frequency change and waiting for a response first. and also wait after tuning out incase the atc sends you an on guard message

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The answer to your question was given above.

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