CAT-11 Flight: Class B Arrival and Departure



Conduct a flight from Los Angeles International Airport (KLAX) to San Diego Lindbergh Airport (KSAN).

Learning objectives

  • Learn radio communications when operating from and to Class B airports.
  • Review basic VFR navigation skills.

Flying the Rating

To successfully complete this rating you must accomplish the following tasks:

  • Fly from KLAX to KSAN.
  • Inform ATC on initial contact at KLAX that you are performing the CAT-11 Rating.
  • Request flight following for the flight (you can make the request on the ground or after departure).
  • Meet the CAT Ratings Practical Test Standards

Tip #1: Be aware that once you exit Class Bravo airspace, you cannot re-enter it without obtaining another clearance. This is vitally important to understand when departing LAX as you’re likely to exit the Class Bravo shelf to the southeast, only to encounter another one later on if you continue to climb.

Tip #2: Be aware that you may not be granted immediate clearance into Class Bravo airspace during the arrival. While you will ultimately need a Bravo clearance to enter the surface-based Bravo immediately surrounding an airport, piston aircraft are often kept below the Bravo shelves prior to that point. Have a plan as to how you’ll navigate the airspace if you don’t have a Bravo clearance for the outer shelves. San Diego’s Bravo airspace is creatively designed such that the airspace from 3200ft to 6800ft (non-inclusive) is NOT part of the Bravo. Plan accordingly.

Airspace Review

Class B Airspace

Undoubtedly, you’re aware of this by now, but Class B airspace is the most restrictive airspace that VFR aircraft has access to and is located around the busiest airports in the country.

Aircraft operating in Class B airspace must obtain an ATC clearance prior to entering the airspace. Additionally, all aircraft operating in Class B airspace or within 30 NM of the primary Class B airspace must have and use a mode C transponder.

Communications Review

Departing a Class B Airport

Departing a Class B airport follows the general flow of departing a Class C airport. First you will contact Clearance Delivery in order to obtain a Class Bravo clearance and departure instructions.

You will want to tell Clearance Delivery your aircraft type, cruise altitude, destination, and ATIS code. If you don’t have a specific destination you can provide a general direction of departure. Additionally if you desire flight following once clear of the Class B airspace you should advise clearance delivery in your initial call.

Clearance Delivery will provide initial departure instructions, a departure frequency, and a transponder code. Again, this bears a striking resemblance to a Class C Departure, does it not?

When ready to taxi call ground and provide your location on the airport. Ground will provide taxi instructions.

After departing you should expect tower to instruct you to contact departure. At this time you should tune in the frequency that Clearance Delivery provided in your initial departure instructions (the frequency that you dutifully wrote down, right?) and check in with them.

Departure will provide Class B services until you are clear of the Class B airspace. At this time you will either be instructed to squawk VFR and that a frequency change is approved, or provide flight following services (if previously requested).

Arriving at a Class B Airport

Arriving at a Class B airport is simply the reverse of departing. Around 40NM from the airport and prior to entering Class B airspace contact approach control on the frequency listed on your VFR chart.

On initial contact you should provide your callsign, location, altitude, request, and the ATIS code. Approach control will provide a transponder code and once radar identified a clearance to operate in the Class B airspace. Make sure you get a clearance prior to entering the airspace. Approach control will advise you to contact tower at the appropriate time.

Aircraft that are receiving flight following will automatically be provided Class B services once they enter Class B airspace. No specific action is required by the pilot to initiate these services. Once again make sure you are given a Class B clearance prior to entering the airspace.


Previous ratings have reviewed flight following services. Below is an example of the radio transmissions involved in VFR departures and arrivals to Class B airports.

N123AB: “Los Angeles Clearance Delivery, Cessna 123AB, Cessna 172 slant golf, request flight following to San Diego at 7500 with information Victor.”

Los Angeles Clearance Delivery: “Cessna 123AB, Los Angeles Clearance Delivery, Cleared out of the Los Angeles Bravo airspace, on departure fly runway heading, maintain VFR at or below 3000, departure frequency 125.20, squawk 7110.”

N123AB: “Cleared out of the Bravo airspace, on Departure fly runway heading, maintain VFR at or below 3000, departure frequency 125.20 squawk 7110.”

Los Angeles Clearance Delivery: “Cessna 123AB, read back correct.”

Note, your departure instructions will be quite different if you haven’t requested flight following. They will instead advise you to make a left turn at the shoreline without a departure frequency, after which tower will drop you like a Potato En Fuego.

When ready to taxi

N123AB: “Los Angeles Ground, N123AB, south transient parking, ready to taxi.”

Los Angeles Ground: “Cessna 123AB, Los Angeles Ground, runway 25 left taxi via alpha, foxtrot.”

N123AB: “Runway 25 left taxi via alpha, foxtrot”

When ready for departure:

N123AB: “Los Angeles Tower, Cessna 123AB, holding short runway 25 left.”

Los Angeles Tower: “Cessna 123AB, Los Angeles Tower, runway 25 left, cleared for takeoff.”

N123AB: “Cleared for takeoff runway 25 left.”

Los Angeles Tower: “Cessna 123AB, contact SOCAL Departure.”

N123AB: “Contact departure, Cessna 123AB.”

Switch to 125.20

N123AB: “SOCAL Departure, Cessna 123AB, 1000 climbing 3000.”

SOCAL Departure: “Cessna 123AB, radar contact, resume own navigation and appropriate VFR altitudes”

At this time you can resume your own navigation and climb to your planned cruise altitude.

When approaching San Diego:

SOCAL Approach: “Cessna 123AB, contact SOCAL Approach on 119.6.”

N123AB: “Contact 119.6, Cessna 123AB.”

N123AB: “SOCAL Approach, Cessna 123AB, level 7500 with Whiskey.”

SOCAL Approach: Cessna 123AB, SOCAL Approach, San Diego altimeter 29.93, expect runway 27, cleared into the San Diego Bravo airspace."

N123AB: “29.93, runway 27, cleared into the Bravo airspace, Cessna 123AB.”

When 10NM From KSAN expect approach to hand you off to tower.

SOCAL Approach: “Cessna 123AB, contact Lindbergh tower 118.30.”

N123AB: “Contact tower 118.30, Cessna 123AB.”

N123AB: “Lindbergh Tower, Cessna 123AB, 10 Miles North, full stop landing”

Lindbergh Tower: “Cessna 123AB, Lindbergh Tower, enter right downwind runway 27, report midfield downwind.”

N123AB: “Report midfield right downwind, runway 27, Cessna 123AB.”

When on midfield right downwind:

N123AB: “Midfield downwind, Cessna 123AB”

Lindbergh Tower: “Cessna 123AB, runway 27 cleared to land.”

N123AB: “Cleared to land, Runway 27, Cessna 123AB.”

Lindbergh Tower: “Cessna 123AB, contact ground 123.9.”

N123AB: “Contact ground, Cessna 123AB.”

After switching to ground frequency.

N123AB: “Lindbergh Ground, Cessna 123AB, clear of runway 27 at charlie 6, taxi to transient parking.”

Lindbergh Ground: “Cessna 123AB, Lindbergh Ground, taxi to parking via charlie.”

N123AB: “Taxi to parking via charlie, Cessna 123AB.”

Cockpit Video

Related Material

Airport Traffic Patterns (Wikipedia)

How to Fly a Traffic Pattern

Web site containing scrollable, zoomable VFR and IFR charts

VFR Cruising Altitudes

Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge – Navigation

FAA publication on basic and advanced VFR navigation skills.

VFR Flight Planning and Navigation Workshop

YouTube recording of a live workshop conducted by PilotEdge covering VFR flight planning and navigation methods.