ATC Not Talking to Itself
Sharing my experience from yesterday with ATC so that we can all be more aware in the future. Short version: Socal Approach wasn't talking to Burbank tower, but thankfully nobody was in any danger.
I picked up flight following from El Monte (EMT) ground to do a fly-by of the Hollywood sign then return east-bound. Tower hands me off to approach on 135.05 and I re-state my intentions. Near the sign I re-state that I want to turn eastbound over the 134 freeway. They respond "approved as requested". About half-way through my turn they tell me to turn right to 080 immediately for traffic off of Burbank which I do. Traffic was in sight, several miles away. They pass me off the El Monte tower when exiting BUR class C.
I didn't actually want to land immediately so I cancel flight following with El Monte tower and say I'm heading to the practice area. They tell me to squawk VFR, but then 3 times try to give me transition instruction even when I keep saying no transition is needed, I'm staying outside of class D. They also give me a phone number to call after landing which I consider odd.
After landing I call the number and it's for BUR tower. Apparently the ATC system showed that I was talking to EMT even while I was having multiple exchanges with approach on 135.05, and approach never coordinated my transition through BUR airspace. Once this became clear they apologized and said it must have been an internal communications breakdown. They also said I was still 3 miles from the departing traffic so no immediate hazard existed, but because the two controllers weren't talking to each other both I and a 737 had been assigned the same airspace! They're following up internally to figure out how this happened.
So although there was no near miss or danger here, it's a reminder to all of us that ATC can make mistakes, and even when one of the planes (the 737) is on an IFR flight plan and has TCAS it's still up to us pilots to make sure we know where we are, and where everybody else is around us!