Clearance into Class Bravo/SFRA
Hi there,

Brand new Private Pilot (as of Wednesday) here.  I am planning a flight to take my wife from KMTN-KFME-W50-KMTN without landing at those intermediate airports (that route overflies our house and where my wife works).  I realize I will need to file a SFRA flight plan, obtain clearance into BWI's Class Bravo airspace, and then obtain clearance into the SFRA.  What is unclear to me is how this might work in practice. 

I think (but am not sure) that I will obtain clearance to take off from KMTN tower then contact Potomac approach (119.7) for clearance into BWI's Class Bravo.  At this point, Potomac should give me a transponder code to squawk.  Pretty straightforward.  But I also need to contact SFRA East (132.775) almost immediately afterwards to obtain clearance into the SFRA and a SFRA transponder code.

Any ideas on how this actually works? Can Potomac (on initial contact) give me one clearance/transponder code that will work for both Class Bravo and SFRA?

Any help is greatly appreciated!

Thanks!
Dan
2 Replies
Ronald Levy
1522 Posts

Daniel Smith:
Hi there,

Brand new Private Pilot (as of Wednesday) here.  I am planning a flight to take my wife from KMTN-KFME-W50-KMTN without landing at those intermediate airports (that route overflies our house and where my wife works).  I realize I will need to file a SFRA flight plan, obtain clearance into BWI's Class Bravo airspace, and then obtain clearance into the SFRA.  What is unclear to me is how this might work in practice. 

You have taken the DC SFRA course, right?  If not, stop what you're doing and take it.  Most of the answers you seek are in it, and it's mandatory for VFR ops in the DC SFRA.

I think (but am not sure) that I will obtain clearance to take off from KMTN tower then contact Potomac approach (119.7) for clearance into BWI's Class Bravo.

That would be true if you were going through the Bravo, but Potomac will not allow VFR aircraft to transit the B-space other than to depart/land at an airport in (not under) the B-space.  You are going to have to remain outside/below the B-space.  The route you can do is south out of MTN down near Annapolis, then from there via the VPOOP and VPONX VFR waypoints (staying below the 1500-foot B-space floor over Tipton) to W50.  From there, you'll need to head northeast towards Eldersburg near EMI staying below the Bravo, and then southeast back to MTN.  Note that about 10 north of BWI there are the towers on TV Hill which stick all the way up into the Bravo -- you'll need to stay north of them under the 2500 shelf of the Bravo.

  At this point, Potomac should give me a transponder code to squawk.  Pretty straightforward.  But I also need to contact SFRA East (132.775) almost immediately afterwards to obtain clearance into the SFRA and a SFRA transponder code.

You don't have to contact them twice -- one contact, one code.  Either you contact Potomac on 132.77 (SFRA East freg) after clearing MTN's Delta and get your transponder code and "transponder observed" from them, or you contact Potomac on 119.7 for flight following and they'll give you a code.  But for what you propose, the folks on 119.7 are going to send you right back to 132.77 anyway since they do not provide flight following below the Bravo and they won't let you through the Bravo VFR unless you're landing inside the Bravo.

If you still have questions, call Potomac TRACON Chesapeake Sector at 866-429-5882/540-349-4097.  They'll help you work this out.

BTW, you don't "obtain clearance into the SFRA" -- the procedure and verbiage is a bit different.  Suggest reviewing that DC SFRA course linked above to refresh your knowledge.  You might consider getting a local instructor to fly with you for your first foray into the DC SFRA.  You should also download the FAA's DC SFRA kneeboard card to take with you.  The current edition of this card linked above is 170301 -- anyone with the older 140605 version should update their files.

Thank you so much.  That was very helpful!