Author Topic: FAR 91.159 and flight following  (Read 18927 times)

Offline HappyBird

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FAR 91.159 and flight following
« on: August 18, 2014, 08:18:27 AM »
I'm hoping a controller here can settle a little debate I've been having with a friend of mine. He contends that when a pilot is receiving flight following, he/she is free to fly without regard to the standard VFR cruising altitudes. My reading of the regulation is that unless specifically authorized by ATC, the east-odd/west-even rule still applies for VFR flights. And I'm assuming that authorization does not include silence on ATC's part when a pilot is inadvertently flying at the wrong altitude. Thanks for any guidance!



Offline martyj19

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Re: FAR 91.159 and flight following
« Reply #1 on: August 18, 2014, 11:03:38 AM »
The text "shall maintain" and "unless otherwise authorized by ATC" are very clear and would lead to the conclusion that your friend is not correct.

To get a definitive answer I think you would need to have the FAA issue a ruling or maybe an experienced aviation attorney who has dealt with that specific issue.

I have been assigned non VFR altitudes while in B/C airspace so it does happen.  I have also heard controllers ask other aircraft to get on the correct altitude for direction of flight.

Offline N/A

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Re: FAR 91.159 and flight following
« Reply #2 on: August 18, 2014, 11:44:52 AM »
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« Last Edit: June 16, 2021, 02:51:26 PM by None. »

Offline martyj19

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Re: FAR 91.159 and flight following
« Reply #3 on: August 18, 2014, 01:26:55 PM »
Do you mean things like "maintain VFR at or below 2,400 until advised" (e.g. KSNA), or hard altitudes like "maintain VFR at 2000" ?

One example: I was at 4500 transiting KMHT Class C and given "descend and maintain 4000" and much later "descend and maintain 2500 contact Nashua Tower".

Offline StuSEL

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Re: FAR 91.159 and flight following
« Reply #4 on: August 19, 2014, 03:07:16 PM »
When within Class B, Class C, or the Class C outer area, the type of service being provided by a radar controller is different than the flight following you receive outside of those classes of airspace. Inside the Class B, Class C, or Class C outer area, the controller is required to provide you a certain level of separation from other traffic dependent upon your weight classification. In doing so, the controller may legally assign you altitudes that do not comply with NEODD-SWEVEN/91.159.

Outside of a Class B, Class C, or the Class C outer area, controllers provide traffic advisories on a workload-permitting basis. They also have an order to prevent collisions between aircraft, so it would not be unheard of for a controller to "assign" or suggest a heading or altitude change to prevent a collision, if he or she believes one is imminent.

In no case while talking to ATC is a pilot permitted to violate the regulations of14 CFR. In the absence of an ATC-issued altitude assignment, pilots must comply with 91.159.

Offline hayek

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Re: FAR 91.159 and flight following
« Reply #5 on: September 09, 2014, 07:19:45 PM »
A few weeks ago, while getting VFR advisories from NORCAL, cruising at 7500 outside the C/D airspaces, I received this call: "N123, descend and maintain 7000, traffic converging from behind you at 7,500".  I took that as "authorization" from ATC to go to 7000 and did so. 

Offline spades

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Re: FAR 91.159 and flight following
« Reply #6 on: September 11, 2014, 11:46:14 PM »
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Offline svoynick

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Re: FAR 91.159 and flight following
« Reply #7 on: September 15, 2014, 03:57:24 AM »
A few weeks ago, while getting VFR advisories from NORCAL, cruising at 7500 outside the C/D airspaces, I received this call: "N123, descend and maintain 7000, traffic converging from behind you at 7,500".  I took that as "authorization" from ATC to go to 7000 and did so.  
I would think that goes beyond just an authorization, but is an "instruction", which requires compliance.  From the following FAA legal interpretation letter, http://goo.gl/omFVad

"A pilot flying VFR in Class E airspace, which is controlled airspace, is not required to communicate with ATC; however, if a pilot is communicating with ATC and ATC issues an instruction, the pilot must comply with that instruction."

My question:  what happened after this?  Did you eventually get some kind of a "resume..." instruction?  "Resume own navigation", or "resume appropriate VFR altitudes", as mentioned earlier, or what?  How did they eventually release you from this altitude assignment?
« Last Edit: September 15, 2014, 03:59:12 AM by svoynick »

Offline hayek

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Re: FAR 91.159 and flight following
« Reply #8 on: September 15, 2014, 01:16:13 PM »
Quote
My question:  what happened after this?  Did you eventually get some kind of a "resume..." instruction?  "Resume own navigation", or "resume appropriate VFR altitudes", as mentioned earlier, or what?  How did they eventually release you from this altitude assignment?

Turns out, I starting having altimeter issues around this time and decided to turn around to return to my departure field, so I advised ATC of my intentions and went to 6500 for the opposite direction leg.  Had I not done so, I would have expected "Resume own navigation, altitude restriction cancelled" or some such formulation.