LOA Question

Hairball

Newcomer
Nov 20, 2010
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I'm at an up/down. We own SFC-10,000. Center owns above us.

Neighboring approach control owns SFC-14,000. Center owns above them.

Our LOA with the neighboring facility says, in short, overflights are not allowed.

I had a plane depart a few days ago filed at 12,000, and his route would take him through the neighboring approach's airspace. I didn't reroute him in the tower, or amend his requested altitude, since our approach hands him off to the center, and, in my logic, the center's LOA with the neighboring approach may be totally different; i.e., overflights may be permitted between them and the approach control (I have not seen their LOA).

The controller working downstairs thought I was ignoring our LOA with the neighboring approach, and bumped him all the way up to 16,000, above their airspace, but I thought that was unnecessary. After asking a few other fellow controllers, opinions are mixed. Thoughts?
 

JoshATC

Epic Member
Jun 27, 2010
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I would think if your LOA with your adjacent facility says No overflights and they own SFC-14000 and a departure / transition is filed for 12000 you can't have this per your LOA.

Im assuming before your approach hands him off to center they coordinate a pointout with the adjacent approach control? Or do the get him above 14k before?

Unless I'm missing... is there more to the story?
 

Hairball

Newcomer
Nov 20, 2010
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I would think if your LOA with your adjacent facility says No overflights and they own SFC-14000 and a departure / transition is filed for 12000 you can't have this per your LOA.

Im assuming before your approach hands him off to center they coordinate a pointout with the adjacent approach control? Or do the get him above 14k before?

Unless I'm missing... is there more to the story?
The adjacent approach is located about 50 miles from our primary airport, so we don't point them out. On a good day center takes the hand off pretty quickly, climbs them, works them for a while, and hands them off to the adjacent approach control. The approach wouldn't take a point out since the aircraft would be flying almost the entire width of their airspace.

I believe it's a question of the center's LOA with the adjacent approach, and whether they can ship them as an overflight; not OUR LOA with the adjacent approach, which says we cannot.
 

JoshATC

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Jun 27, 2010
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I see.. not knowing the airports in question made it sound like your airspace and the other approach airspace were close.
 

WatchThis

Trusted Contributor
Apr 29, 2010
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Are you saying that your approach airspace does not touch the other approach airspace? If that's the case, why is there an LOA?

I'm not aware of any justification, short of a restricted area, that would justify "no overflights". It doesn't sound legal from a rule-making standpoint. Pilots should complain about that. I understand the area might be busy but there must be other options like preferred routing.

It sounds like your facility got roped into enforcing questionable practices.
 

Hairball

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Nov 20, 2010
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The two approach controls do touch, but in this scenario the departing aircraft would be switched to the center before being switched to the approach. I should clarify, the no-overflight rule is only when the adjacent airport is on a certain flow. I agree it is very restrictive, pilots do complain, and once and a while end up cancelling IFR just to avoid the reroutes altogether. Other surrounding facilities have much more leeway about routing through their airspace, for whatever reason. Such is life though.
 

WatchThis

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Apr 29, 2010
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I got it now. They climb out of yours and then sidewall the other. That situation sounds more reasonable since its for designated flow situations. Yeah, I'd say you need to play ball and amend the flight plan and clearance. Maybe put in remarks the lower altitude that was originally requested. I would think there has to be some allowance or alternative for aircraft that can't climb high enough though.
 
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mbalunda

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Jan 31, 2009
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I'm not aware of any justification, short of a restricted area, that would justify "no overflights". It doesn't sound legal from a rule-making standpoint. Pilots should complain about that. I understand the area might be busy but there must be other options like preferred routes.
C90(Chicago) approach doesn't work IFR over flights either, they'll pretty much only talk to A/C landing within their airspace.
 

WatchThis

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Apr 29, 2010
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Not even on the airways? I'd understand no random overflights but would think the airways or other preferred routes could be used.
 

FM_Weasel

Senior Analyst
Dec 9, 2008
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If the aircraft enters the center's airspace prior to hitting the adjacent approach control's airspace,then you should follow the center LOA and screw what the approach control LOA says.

No overflights sounds like bullshit anyway. Sorry, sometimes planes need to transition your sector. Deal with it.
 

mbalunda

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Jan 31, 2009
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Not even on the airways? I'd understand no random overflights but would think the airways or other preferred routes could be used.
Not even on the airways. There are a couple routes that are approved for several airports right outside C90s airspace, but that's it. If I've got a guy going to some aiport in Kentucky and direct will take him through their airpace, they either have to go north over lake michigan to go down the east side, go well south and then east, or climb to 17k to go over the top.

It's pretty insane, but I'd say on an average day I re-route anywhere from 10-20 A/C around the approach one way or the other. Not so much in winter because most of the little guys have packed up their planes for the year, but during the summer it effects a lot more people.
 

MikeATC

Retired FAA, NATCA Member
Apr 3, 2009
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Yes you need to either re-route, or ask the pilot to accept a higher altitude so as to "NOT" violate your LOA. I understand that initially the acft will climb above your airspace prior to entering the adjacent approach controls airspace, but that does not preclude you from abiding by your LOA.

If you want to coordinate with the center for something different that is up to you but then you have to complete "ALL" the coordination so that your approach control, and the center is on the same page.
 

killswitch

Tin Pusher
Sep 12, 2008
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If the aircraft enters the center's airspace prior to hitting the adjacent approach control's airspace,then you should follow the center LOA and screw what the approach control LOA says.
That's how I feel because you are causing that aircraft a delay. Your LOA may be to have no overflights but their LOA with the Center could be different.

We had a similar situation at my last facility. Aircraft going to TCL were suppose to be non-radar at 5000 on an airway. However, a lot of times they'd go to a different approach control before they hit the approach control with BHM. If I rerouted the guy instead of letting him continue direct through the other approach controls airspace it'd delay him 15-20nm.

Why don't they have PDR's for guys at your airport to avoid the airspace if they aren't allowed to have aircraft transition? Sounds ATSAP worthy because you'll have 10 different people doing 10 different things causing further unnecessary delay. In our airspace, if that aircraft departed and was going to TCL it'd give them a PDR to begin with. Leaves a lot of things to question without something standardized. At least with PDR's it'll give the least amount of undue delay.
 

ATCtower

Epic Member
Oct 26, 2008
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Without seeing your LOA/airspace, I cant evaluate 100% but I too agree that if he goes to Center before the other approach control, you abide by Center LOA. Not only do they have a different LOA you are not privy to, they may have procedures to minimize (if any) the delay on the pilot.

A similar example, I work in a center where my LOA prohibits handing A/C to one approach control unless they are in a particular gate at a particular speed/altitude. Another approach control below us that also touches the first approach control can explicitly hand A/C off to the other approach control with other (none really) constraints that I am not allowed to do. If I hand the A/C to the facility that can hand the A/C off to the more prohibitive approach control, outside my LOA but within theirs, I am not violating my LOA because I am complying with the LOA of the approach control I am handing the A/C off to...

It all comes down to who you hand the plane off to. If you hand it to the center, you comply with the center's LOA, if you hand it to the approach control, you abide by theirs. Cut and dry.

And remember, anything can be accomplished with an APPREQ :D
 

FM_Weasel

Senior Analyst
Dec 9, 2008
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Presuming center's LOA with the other approach states something similar to yours, then that language should also be in you facility's LOA with the center.

If it's not, there could be a gentleman's agreement between you guys but I don't see how you could be considered deviating from a rule that's not actually in the center LOA when handing an aircraft off to them.

Unless you get the story straight from a reliable source at the center, you have no way of knowing whether amending the flight plan helps them out at all or not. Do you guys have a radar display? Can you watch the aircraft as it leaves your airspace and see if center's changing their altitude or flight path? Without clarification in the LOA, it's all just guesswork anyway.

I'll say, that though I don't believe a deviation would occur from what's happening, I used to work at a small radar facility that butted up against a large tracon with airspace much higher than ours. Though we did not have any agreement stating such, we always routed folks around it because we knew that center would anyway. It should have been in the LOA but it wasn't. If we stopped doing it, center was just going to do it after they got the hand off.
 

Hotel_Sierra

Newcomer
Dec 10, 2012
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If the aircraft enters the center's airspace prior to hitting the adjacent approach control's airspace,then you should follow the center LOA and screw what the approach control LOA says.

No overflights sounds like bullshit anyway. Sorry, sometimes planes need to transition your sector. Deal with it.
I agree - if they are going to the center, and not the neighboring approach control, the LOA needing to be applied would be the one with center. Let the center determine if that altitude is sufficient or not.
 

Hairball

Newcomer
Nov 20, 2010
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Thanks for the replies. More canvassing by fellow controllers yields more mixed opinions. This isn't a hugely common occurrence, but our LOA with the TRACON and our LOA with the center seems to have a lot of other gray areas in it. I did actually find the center-TRACON LOA in question and it says overflights at 12k and 14k shall be individually coordinated. So I see nothing wrong with sending a guy at those altitudes to center. If they want to coordinate it, ok. If not, they can be bumped up or rerouted. I guess it's a case of "know your players" and know who's going to have a coronary if it's not amended and who could care less.
 

FAAFLM

Newcomer
Nov 27, 2012
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I would simply ask the center what thier LOA says. I would Imagine they do alow overflights, but they must be in a gate. If the Center LOA allowed overflights you are certainly in the "right." Even if they don't, if your a/c levels in Center control prior to crossing the neighboring approach boundary, it sounds like a center problem from there. And I work center, if that helps.