If you are cleared by PHX Approach Control to conduct a practice instrument approach into an airport within Class D airspace, can you do so without establishing 2-way communications with the tower?  In the PHX area, some pilots recently have turned away from the Class D when the hand off was late and they were not yet talking to the tower.

This issue came up at the last AFTW meeting. Scottsdale FSDO Acting Front Line Manager for Operations Tina Buskirk asked Support Specialist Mike Gabrick, with PHX TRACON, to help clarify what pilots should expect when interacting with PHX Approach into Class D airspace. Here is Gabrick’s response. Please note: This only applies to approaches approved by PHX Approach.

“If a pilot has received a clearance from the TRACON to conduct an approach whether VFR or IFR, the coordination will have been done between the TRACON and the Tower so the pilot does not need to establish 2-way communication before entering the Class D Airspace. Furthermore, ATC would expect the pilot to enter the Delta Airspace on the approach as instructed, deviating from it would likely conflict with other traffic.

There are Letters to Airmen (LTA) in place for CHD, IWA and FFZ as well as at PRC, here are the URLs:





Regardless of the LTA’s, if a pilot receives a clearance or authorization to conduct an approach at a towered airport, the ARTCC or Approach Control is required to coordinate with that tower if the aircraft will enter the tower’s airspace. That takes place off frequency between the facilities. If the tower is too busy to accept the approach, the radar controller will advise the pilot and likely provide service to a different airport or terminate radar service if appropriate.

Such is the case at SDL where there is no LTA in place, the TRACON authorizes the approach and coordinates through the automation with SDL ATCT for the pilot.

Regarding DVT, there is not an LTA in place there either however, when authorizing a practice RNAV (GPS) 25L approach at DVT, Phoenix TRACON coordinates the arrival with DVT ATCT.

The practice RNAV (GPS) 7R approaches at DVT begin in LUF RAPCON’s airspace and I am not sure what (if anything) LUF RAPCON issues to pilots. The pilot would need to clarify with the RAPCON controller whether or not they are actually authorized to fly the procedure to the airport. That would need to be addressed with LUF RAPCON directly.”