What is a transition?

I’ve been looking on the forum for a good explanation as to what a transition is. Looking at n here I can only find topics such as ‘when is the right time to ask for a transition’ or sometimes topics will start talking about airspace. Surprisingly, I never asked for a transition and I’ve been playing IF for just about 3 years now and it’s always just something I’ve ignored. If anyone could give a good, understandable explanation then I would be grateful.

Thanks, Jacob


All you need to know is here :)


It’s when you fly over the tower airspace before coming in to land I believe.


I think a transition altitude is the altitude you can fly over an airport without interfering with its airspace (pattern traffic mostly)


I have read through that topic but I still don’t know what one is.


A transition is when you fly over an airport within the tower controllers frequency. This frequency reaches 5nm around the airport and 5000ft above it. This means if you intend to fly through this airspace, you should request a transition!


It is often used if flying a G/A aircraft low to the ground (within 5000 ft) and one flies directly over an airport!


A transition is issued at an altitude that ensures separation with other aircraft, particularly pattern work, and is not always at 3000 ft… The transition level is calculated as follows. Airport elevation + 1500 for jet pattern altitude + 1000 for separation and then all rounded up to nearest 500 feet (unless with 100 feet rounding down). In other words it is airport elevation + 2500ft. rounded up to the closest 500 ft (unless within 100 ft rounding down).

When flying just remember that if you are going to fly over an airport within it’s 5nm radius and less then 5000ft AAGL (actual above ground level) above it, request a transition!


I don’t think anybody has explicitly said it yet but the point of the transition is that you DO NOT intend on landing at the towered airport but would like to fly through their airspace instead of going all the way around or above. Likewise, you may also need to land at an airport within the primary airport’s airspace but this scenario I have yet to see


@Josh_Suarez Transition doesn’t mean you won’t land at the airport, it just means you will fly over it within tower’s airspace. You can overfly it to the other side of the airport and then request a landing.

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That’s not how it’s used irl tho and I’m pretty sure if someone did that on the expert server, they always get the “check tutorials” bit. If you intend on landing at the airport, you ask for a pattern entry and if the controller wants you to fly overhead, they will issue an opposing downwind entry.

It’s even partially implied in Mark’s tutorial on when to request a transition because it says that they need to focus on inbounds and pattern traffic. Meaning they don’t consider you an inbound if you request for a transition.

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There seems to be a lot of confusion in the comments here so here we go. A transition is requested from the pilot to atc if the pilot wishes to cross through a towers controlled airspace without intending to land at the airport (The pilot can call inbound while in transition but thats different). The airspace of a tower controller is 5000ft agl (above ground level). Therefore a transition is requested to cross through this airspace as you are still crossing through controlled airspace and can’t do it without permission. A transition is usually granted 2500-3000ft agl so that it doesn’t interfere with pattern work.

If you have any more questions you can look at the link that @Gliding_Central placed in the chat or PM me!

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Its not used? Hmmm… I remember all my training sessions and including the practical exam, people asked for a transition and later called inbound

Adding on to @BinaryChess, this is what is used and taught in IFATC. Both of us are IFATC so we know how it can and should be used with IF. It is perfectly fine to request transition and then call inbound, and you will not get “check tutorials” if you do so!

However @Josh_Suarez, looking at your qualifications, you seem to be correct regarding it’s purpose in real life, however we are talking about IF and ATC in IF, where what me and @BinaryChess have described is completely fine.


The reason I say that here is because I’ve done that before considering the limitations of IF and IFATC and I was given the “check tutorials” spiel. I know there are limitations in IF and I did what you guys are saying and got reprimanded for it. As long as I know you guys as IFATC are ok with it, then I’ll be ok to do it again at airports where I know that is SOP

Check tutorials is not meant to reprimand. We’re all learning as pilots and controllers and appreciate those that do take the time to inquire about things like this.

You would be correct in that aircraft transitioning the airspace are not considered inbound, as they are overflying all other traffic in the pattern. If a transitioning aircraft wants in to the pattern, they can call inbound as soon as they over fly the field, just like any other inbound aircraft.


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