Safety Pilots and Medicals
A person is not required to hold a medical certificate...when exercising
the privileges of a flight instructor certificate if the person is not acting
as pilot in command or serving as a required pilot flight crew member. FAR
No person may not operate a
civil aircraft in simulated instrument flight unless...the other control seat is
occupied by a safety pilot who possesses at least a private pilot certificate
with category and class ratings appropriate for the aircraft being flown.
The regulation say a safety
pilot needs only to have private certificate with category and class ratings
appropriate to the aircraft. The regulations are silent that the safety pilot be
current and qualified in the aircraft. The instant the pilot puts on a hood
the safety pilot must have a current valid medical.
There should be no change in your
control touch between normal IFR and partial panel. A light two finger touch
with smooth pressures works just as well with partial panel. The partial panel
scan, in many respects, is easier because to some degree the number of
instruments to be scanned is reduced. So long as you avoid any extreme
attitudes or abrupt control movements partial panel is not very difficult to
fly. Once the equilibrium of the aircraft is disrupted partial panel flight
requires very considered control input and power applications.
Partial panel requires that
the pilot have at least one pitch and one bank instrument always in the scan
while using the compass and altimeter and turn coordinator to verify
performance. Heading changes are best
made incrementally using the count method. One, two, three, level, verify and
repeat as necessary.Try for an ILS or possibly a GCA or radar assisted
approach if possible. Your turn coordinator is used to maintain heading.
You must know your aircraft
performance numbers and required configuration to maintain a pre-determined
approach speed. Any speed above Vref for your aircraft weight puts you in danger
of self-destructing. Under partial panel you may well be better off to slow
to approach speed immediately to avoid exceeding Va. Should you get into a
high-speed situation you should first level the wings using the TC and reduce
power before initiating recovery. A bank will add stress to the structure. Avoid
any turns (bank) when in an uncontrolled descent.
A low-speed situation compounded
with loss of control requires that the angle of attack be reduced, the wings
levelled, and power advanced at least to low-cruise. Get everything
stabilized before attempting to get any assigned heading, altitude, or speed.
It would be well to practice partial panel stabilization procedures to set
firmly in place just how you stabilize yourself from the slow and fast
Oddly, some pilots find partial panel easier than full panel. This happens when
the pilot flies in such a way that the airplane is not part of the problem. In
partial panel caused by vacuum failure the altimeter, VSI, IAS and power sets
attitude. Heading uses the compass and timed turns to change headings.
Wings level uses the turn coordinator.
Partial Panel Items
Declare an emergency and advise ATC that you are flying, "No gyro".
knows not 'partial panel'.
One peek is worth a thousand scans.
--Vertical card compass is great asset to partial panel flying.
Needle, ball and airspeed skills are essential skills, in my case, that
was a first learned way of flying IFR.
There is no way to realistically simulate the sensational conflicts of actual
conditions spatial disorientation.
A vacuum failure light is initially more important than partial panel skills.
It tells you when PP is needed.
Gradual loss of electrical or vacuum power that results in gyro failure
cannot be simulated in your aircraft.
The compass and AI are least likely to fail. Believe them with conflicts of
Delay in recognition of need to go on partial panel will get aircraft beyond
point of recovery.
The gradual failure of gyros leads the pilot to follow just long enough to be
beyond point of recovery.
It is the conflict between what you see on instruments and what you feel that
Without the AI and HI you have a stage set for spatial disorientation.
Instinctive pulling back on the yoke only tightens the turn, increases
G-forces and descent rate.
Critical attitudes must be detected and stopped immediately.
Duration of partial panel is inversely relative to likelihood of maintaining
control under stress. Head for VFR
Critical attitudes or unusual attitudes require frequent review.
Once under control, level and trimmed fly only with rudder.
The less you touch the yoke the more likely the aircraft is to remain
under control. Avoid aileron use.
Rudder flying is done by pressures and anticipation especially in making
turns. Standard rate or less.
Prepare for partial panel flying by practicing rudder only flying as
often as practical.
Descend by reducing power. Level off by anticipating with 'level' power.
Climbs need power and rudder.
In retractables use landing gear to descend and regain level flight.
Things to Know About Partial Panel
Distractions galore for the unprepared
Spatial disorientation will occur
Slightly over 10% of total annual accidents
Less than 10% are vacuum related
Complex high performance most likely to cause disorientation
Training needed for all possible failures that’s impossible in planes.
Speed up your scan and keep a light touch on yoke.
Recognition of the failure is the first essential.
Gyro instruments take several minutes to completely fail. Always check the
You should cover the failed instrument with post-it, paper money or what ever.
Use gum as glue.
Partial panel tracking of a bearing
or radial can be done using the turn coordinator, which is primary for holding
headings under partial panel. Any flight from wings level shows immediately on
the turn coordinator or needle. By flying the needle/TC as primary for heading
very accurate headings and bearing/radials can be flown. Many pilots find that
bracketing using the needle/TC is actually easier than using the AI.
A heading does not change if the
needle is centred. A heading does not change with wings level turn coordinator.
Heading control is perhaps the most essential element of attitude flying.
The turn needle and the turn coordinator are primary for heading control under
partial panel. These do not reveal bank angle except in so far as the pilot is
able to relate the standard rate turn and airspeed into an angle. A needle width
turn is the same as a two-minute turn coordinator turn.
Before flown in actual
conditions both the needle and the turn coordinator should be calibrated by
making level standard rate indicated turns and clocking it with the number of
degrees turned per second. Standard rate
turns and holding headings under partial panel is totally dependent on the
ability of the pilot to fly using an absolute minimum of control pressures. This
means no more than one finger and thumb used to move the aircraft off of its
trimmed attitude. It is relatively late to learn to fly this way if you have not
flown that way since you started flying. A tight grip will result in over
control and loss of controlled flight.
The type of partial panel
emergency you can expect is directly related to the way your aircraft is
equipped. The traditional vacuum failure is only one of several ways it can
happen. The best solution to any emergency is to get to the ground flying VFR.
A partial panel emergency that extends for any period is likely to result in
The record of IFR accidents
shows that many pilots were unable to control the aircraft on partial panel. A
partial panel accident is most likely to occur when the pilot has not opted to
go to the nearest VFR conditions.
The only way to fly without the AI is to be able to fly needle (attitude
indicator), ball, and airspeed. The other gauges such as the altimeter, DI,
(compass), VSI are all telling you in their own small way what is happening. The
only thing that will save you without the AI is the speed with which you scan
the remaining instruments.
Without the attitude
indicator a pilot will tend to over control and not make the required small
corrections. Once you have noticed that
you are reacting instinctively to the remaining instruments you can avoid the
problem by taking out at least half of any initial reaction.
The worst time to study
emergency procedures is when you have one in progress. You can only prepare for
the partial panel emergency by practicing the procedure and studying how the
condition can be recognized quickly. The first response must be to cover any
inoperative instrument. Should your
aircraft have a vacuum back-up, should at least be familiar with how to get it
operating along with possible limitations.
In actual IFR conditions a
failure can best be handled by knowing where the closest VFR conditions exist.
The extent to which you are familiar with your aircraft is perhaps the most
important element of partial panel survival. You must know the power settings,
airspeeds, sounds and all their variations to enhance your chance of survival.
The lack of partial panel
practice will deteriorate your scan skills. Partial panel proficiency is the
most perishable of instrument skills. Your skills usually coincide with your
equipment and the frequency of use. You tend to use well what is there to use.
Being reduced to basic instruments requires the use of skills seldom practiced.
Accidents happen when the abnormal occurs. The basics of partial panel are
heading, altitude, and airspeed. Don’t expect ATC to fully understand your
partial panel problem unless you give a full explanation.
Knowing what power settings
provide the control equilibrium for any desired flight condition makes partial
panel approach feasible. You want to get lined up on final as far out as
possible. As an approach indicator the compass is just too erratic especially
inside the FAF. Once you know the course fly with wings level and the ball
centred. Don’t chase the needles, use rudder for instant, quick and small
corrections. Since you are flying headings, keep the wings level.
It would be a rare instance for
pitot-static, vacuum and electric system to fail together. The best defence of a
failure of one is to have an operational/available backup system. The better
your cross-check the sooner you will notice a problem. AI cross-check is
Altimeter, VSI and airspeed. Heading cross-check is the TC and compass. airspeed
check is altimeter, AI VSI and power. Altitude check is with VSI, AI and
airspeed. Practice partial panel often.
Partial panel practice
exercises. Hold altitude and airspeed as constants. With power as a variable,
control airspeed with power and altitude with pitch. Practice 180 and 360
compass turns both left and right. Vary airspeed while maintaining level flight.
Make timed turns to headings. Practice rate-climbs and descents. Practice stalls
and unusual attitude recoveries. Allowable error margins of 100', 10 knots and
Failed vacuum eliminates the attitude indicator, most heading indicators and
the HSI (horizontal situation indicator).
A blocked pitot tube kills the
A blocked static hole
invalidates readings of the altimeter, airspeed, and vertical speed indicators.
Electrical failure of the turn
coordinator has a backup in the attitude indicator and knowing the angle of bank
for a given airspeed.
Cover inoperative instruments
at once. Keep control of the aircraft.
Advise ATC of problem and intentions. Request No Gyro assistance and possible
vector to VFR. Good practice is, when in VFR conditions, to cover heading and
attitude indicators while on approach. The logic of this is that the more we
simulate emergencies and train for the possibility, the better our chances of
survival. Gyro failure is an inherent risk of IFR flight.
Many pilots find partial panel
easier. This is only possible if flying skill reduces the pilot's dependence on
scan. Some disorientation will occur regardless of experience. The time
period for this to occur will vary among pilots. At some point even the most
experienced and best of us will experience some confusion. In a seven year
period of the 80s 330 accidents occurred due to spatial disorientation. 28% of
the pilots involved had instrument ratings. Currency alone is not sufficient,
you must be proficient as a partial panel pilot as well. You start losing
instrument competence as soon as you get out of the plane. Three flights a month
are required to maintain minimum competence.
The best currency is actual IFR.
Instrument cross check skill includes your ability to lock the arm/elbow while
looking at charts. Three seconds out of the scan is maximum.
If you have trimmed your
aircraft for the mode of flight don't change trim. Power should first be set and
then used to adjust altitude in small increments. Fly hands off but hold
rudder as required. Don't hurry. If the TC is level and the ball centred the
aircraft is not turning. Needle, ball and airspeed has flown IFR in the past and
can be flown today.
VFR partial panel can be
practiced by flying an ILS or localizer. With a legal safety pilot aboard, cover
the heading indicator. Watch the CDI and make 1/2 standard rate turns with
rudder only toward the needle when it moves. Repeat the process as requires. As
you react to the needle it will centre and rudder corrections will decrease
until only slight pressures are required. It can be done down to MDA or DH and
will get better with practice.
Daytime partial panel is not
a realistic simulation. Try practicing
partial panel at night or in actual conditions but never as a single pilot
operation. A systems failure in actual conditions is an emergency. A
partial-panel approach in IMC is a full-up emergency. Call it. Cover all failed
instruments. Advise ATC of the problem and make the declaration. Your flying
skills must have habit patterns so well developed that your flight procedures
will work in the worst circumstance.
The pilot should know the
systems that operate the instruments as well as how the instruments operate.
Knowing this, the pilot should include in his IFR instrument scan a check of the
vacuum and electrical operation. the functioning of one instrument should be
checked against another. The AI vs. the turn coordinator etc. ATC offers options
such as vectors, no-gyro approaches and advice as to options. Cover all dead
instruments since they become a visual attraction that will destroy any partial
Partial Panel Turns
Use 18 degrees or less of bank to make a standard rate turn. The
maximum turning error is the latitude of the aircraft. At 36 degrees latitude
you will have a maximum of 36 degrees error when turning to north or south.
This has been called the OSUN method since you overshoot the compass reading for
turns to the south and undershoot for turns to the north. Little correction
is required if turning east or west since the error is zero. Turns to
intermediate headings by 30 degree increments will be 12 or 24 degrees. Lead
roll-out by 1/2 angle of bank for northern turns and delay roll-out by 1/2 angle
of bank for turns to the south.
Partial panel turns can be aided
by using the ADF card. Set card to heading. Which way to turn is quickly
determined as well as timing since each quadrant is three ten second divisions
or thirty seconds.
Timed partial panel compass
turns are easier to make. Determine the number of degrees you plan to turn and
divide by 3 to get the number of seconds you will turn. A sweep second hand
makes this easier to determine. 3 degree heading corrections can be made by
rolling in and immediately out of a 1/2 standard rate turn. Use a standard rate turn for a 6 degree
Disorientation in Turbulence
Turbulence will cause spatial
disorientation In the event of turbulence the pilot should immediately reduce
the speed to Va as determined by weight. The lighter you are the slower you
go in turbulence. Altitude is a variable. Let ATC know of the problem and
they will assign you a range (block) altitude instead of a hard altitude.
Your concentration in turbulence
must be on aircraft control. Believe your instruments, listen to what is
happening. If an instrument is not performing as it should, cover it. ATC
can be a help or a hindrance by the way they communicate. If their communication
becomes a problem as in an amended clearance have them do it one step at a time
as you perform. Don’t let communications interfere with your control of the
aircraft. Don’t read back or accept a clearance until you have reviewed and
given it a ‘reasonability’ check.
The end all of turbulence
is...keep the ball centred. You won’t spin. Wings level can be flow using the
ADF and keeping it on the nose or tail. Another way is to fly 180 on the
magnetic compass. Proficiency is the only absolute solution.
In IFR conditions there are definitely some instinctive forces that seem counter
to your mental inputs. Placing your safety in your instruments suddenly becomes
difficult to impossible.. All senses and intellect will be trying to make you
manoeuvre opposite what the instruments are reporting.
The problem is that the glare shield takes the place of the horizon when outside
references no longer exist. We instinctively relate our sense of weight and
motion to the visual reference of the windshield. Our visual feeling of up is in
conflict with our messages from the ear. The conflict of sensory messages
creates mental confusion.
Having spent our lives relying on our visual and other sensory inputs that are
in agreement and correcting balance without conscious thought our brain becomes
confused.. It is this onset of conflicting sensory input that precipitates
disorientation and mental confusion. More than one pilot has been unable to
resolve the conflict. It takes extreme will power and concentration.
Conduct both full and partial panel recoveries. Use turn coordinator to
level wings. VSI for pitch.
Level wings and
Go to level flight at cruise
1. Failure to use trim
2. Fixation or crosscheck
3. Believing illusion instead of instruments
4. Failure to simultaneously correct bank, pitch and power
Any flight condition you
don't expect is an unusual attitude.
Just as mistakes compound so do unusual attitudes. You must recognize and
correct any unexpected flight condition before it becomes worse. Sound is a
good way to detect the unexpected. You should memorize the sounds of your
aircraft performance so that you can recognize the sound of a nose high or low
condition. Bank is more difficult to detect by sound but most unusual attitudes
are a combination of pitch and bank. Get the pitch under control if it is
high, first. Get the bank under control if the pitch attitude is low. Get
the wings level first. Without the proper mental set, pilots tend to pull back
on the yoke, which merely serves to tighten the spiral descent. Aerobatic
training is the best way to know what to do in the event of an inverted
condition or unintentional roll. If beset by a vortex induced roll, continue the
Instinctive reactions must be
aggressively overcome. When inverted the
elevator control must be pushed firmly forward. Roll input from the ailerons is
usually inadvertent due to distraction or body movements. A spiral descent will
soon follow as below. Releasing the yoke when distracted seems like a valid
Unusual Attitudes Items
1. Either nose high at low speed or nose down at high speed
Airspeed increasing? Reduce power.
Airspeed decreasing? Increase power
2. Level wings
Aileron to level turn coordinator
Hands off yoke. Steer with rudder only.
3. Elevator pressure to stop descent
Instinct tells you to pull back. This tightens turn and increases G-load
Only elevator to reduce descent rate. Use VSI to level, no more.
Level wings again and add power for level cruise.
In clouds, airspeed increasing, altitude decreasing
Easy with elevator
In clouds, airspeed increasing, altitude increasing
--Level wings with aileron and rudder
Stop climb with VSI
Unusual Attitude Recovery
1. Check airspeed
If speed is high or increasing, reduce power
If speed is low or decreasing , add full power
2. Check attitude indicator
If nose is high, lower nose and level wings on horizon.
If nose is low, level wings and raise nose to horizon.
Partial Panel Recovery
1. Check VSI
If climbing, lower nose to reverse trend
Use turn coordinator and level wings
2. Check VSI
If descending, check turn coordinator and level wings
Raise nose until VSI trend reverses.
Graveyard Spiral Recovery
In the event of a failure that leads
to a bank and the sound of increasing airspeed, first reduce power. Aircraft
structural limits can be exceeded the insidious forces of the graveyard spiral
entered due to instrument failure. Pulling back on the yoke will only continue
the descent. Do not apply back elevator until the wings are level. Use any
indicator you can to get wings level. Request no-gryo assistance if you are
in radar contact.
Finding the Runway
Descent to minimums is only a part of the game. Now you must find the
airport. There is considerable difference in breaking out at minimums as to
whether you are in a single pilot or two pilot cockpit. With two pilots the
problem is simplified as to when to look and where to look because the pilot
flying stays on the gauges while the pilot not flying can know when to look and
has time to plan where to look. The technique used varies as to whether the
approach is precision or non-precision.
Any approach that breaks out at
minimums is going to make finding the airport if it is on speed and on altitude.
An un-stabilized approach makes the when and where choices more
difficult. Day vs. night makes the transition skills even more daunting. Being
familiar with the area and procedures improves all options. Consider keeping the
flaps up to help reduce the go-around load.
At night all lights should be
off during the approach. A crosswind
will skew your ‘where to look’ situation because your nose will not be pointing
to where you are going. An HSI helps solve this problem by showing the wind
correction angle. The normal tendency, during a crosswind, is to drift downwind.
By holding your wind correction you will remain on the course even though the
runway may appear off to one side.
On breaking out at minimums
there are several illusions that you must watch for. Using the lights of an
ASLF-2 for slope is apt to induce a dive for a shallow arrival. Fly the glide
slope. Watch out for the color, gray-white to dark-grey, change your peripheral
vision picks up just prior to breaking out. Peripheral vision can affect your
ability to keep the plane level. At night seeing a single light can initiate
Stay on the gauges. The angular
difference between heading and runway can be duplicated by approaches that are
not lined up with the runway. An LDA approach off-set only ten degrees like
Concord’s can create additional visual offset problems if a crosswind correction
One of the most difficult aspects
of IFR is to remain focused on the instruments when you expect to breakout at
any moment at minimums. One of the reasons this is difficult is because the
pilot knows there will be a certain degree of disorientation on breakout and a
very real possibility of misjudging the altitude and positioning with the
Departure over water with no lights in
Stay on instruments
Resist urge to push nose down
Reduction of power will make you want to raise nose
Arrival at airport with no visible
lights in area at night
Flight into deteriorating weather as
Don't make flight
Airports are designed somewhat like golf courses. The terrain and winds
help determine runway direction and layout. Prevailing winds are selected for
primary runway directions but nature has a way of nullifying the best plans of
Full flaps should be limited to winds
less than ten knots. Twenty degrees of flap at 15 knots. 10-degrees at 20 knots.
Over twenty, no flaps. The more flaps extended in the crosswind, the sooner they
should be retracted on touchdown. Most landing accidents occurs in crosswinds
after touchdown. Getting flaps off quickly will greatly reduce the weather
vane effect on rollout.
The right crosswind landing is
one that gets the plane on the ground without excessive side load on the gear,
without excess speed, without using the nose wheel and without requiring
excessive braking. This means that you do not 'fly' the plane on to the runway.
You do try to walk the line between the slowest speed at touchdown that will
still allow you to stop drift with the ailerons while holding the nose straight
with the rudder.
An IFR rated pilot is more likely to have an IMC accident than a VFR
pilot. VFR into IFR accidents have an 85% fatality rate. They usually result
from flight into rising terrain. Not having a sectional showing terrain is a
common part of accident evidence. Complete competency can be overcome by bad
Causes of IFR accidents include, pilot out of currency, over-confidence in
equipment, effort to avoid ATC system and a pilot who is deficient in system
malfunction training. An Unknown number of IFR accidents seem to be related to
chart reading! Most pilots catch their interpretation errors before they become
problems or accidents. Errors tend to be related to confusing typographical
depiction, clutter, unclear notes, omissions, errors and differences between NOS
and Jeppesen. Some approaches are not even published by NOS or Jeppesen but may
be given to the pilot by approach as though they were. The ILS approach is
five to seven times less likely to result in an accident as is a non-precision
Unless you have a routine
pattern for flying IFR you will have problems in dealing with an emergency. Your
routine is the basis for the way you perform all IFR tasks. Any proficiency
training is devoted to improving and fixing in place this routine. Part of this
routine involves the way you prepare the radios, where you keep your alternate
information, and the priority you give to flying the airplane and maintaining
your scan. To what extent will a problem distract you from your routine. It
will, but how much and how long? Your salvation lies in having consistent
habits. Consistency in configuring the plane allows you to devote extra
effort to the outside cockpit problems. This reduces anxiety and stress even
though what is happening is not totally predictable. The highest level of
learning is your ability to learn from the routines of others.
1. File only if proficient, current is not enough.
2. Know and abide by your weather limits.
3. Know and abide by your aircraft weather limits.
4. Use your alternate at the first 'doubt'.
5. Never exceed personal limits.
6. Fuel should never be a concern.
The 180 is the best parachute for an airplane.
A narrow runway will create an illusion of being high.
A wide runway can cause you to flare high and long.
A downslope approach and runway can cause the illusion that you are lower than
you really are. This means you will overshoot the end of the runway.
Featureless terrain will cause the illusion you are higher than you are. This
means you may descend too soon.
Haze gives the illusion that you are farther from the runway than you really
Unexpected entrance into fog can cause the illusion that the aircraft has
suddenly pitched up. This may cause the pilot to suddenly pitch down.
Excessively bright runway lights can cause the illusion that the runway is
much closer than it really is.
Rain on the windshield can cause the illusion that you are higher and farther
This may make you fly a less safe lower approach.
An approach over unlighted terrain may cause you to make a lower than normal
This is especially true on long straight-in approaches.
Under the hood, an abrupt transition from climb to level can give the illusion
of falling backwards. the instinctive reaction to this of lowering the nose is
known as the inversion illusion.
The postural sense can be caused to interpret centrifugal force as a rising or
IFR departures will be the same
whether VFR or IFR conditions exist. Local limits will determine the crosswind
turn altitude as well as the direction in your clearance. In IFR you must comply
with a DP if any. You should fly the visual departure profile to reach any turn
point in minimum time. This means flying at Vy to a safe altitude before going
to a cruise climb. An IFR standard departure is expected to maintain at least
200’ per mile, be at 35’ over the departure end of the runway and at 400’ before
No departure is published if 200 feet-per-mile is adequate
DPs may require more than these.
ATC does not know of climb restrictions, it is PIC responsibility
Read the fine print because the DP may be for noise abatement or for
Listen to procedure used by locals or ask ATC when in doubt.
Most airports have at least one peculiarity, ask.
The IFR arrival checklist should include :
Before Landing items
Gear down/go down
Radios to frequencies
Missed procedure DH/MDA
We all have out own pressures but
the gotta-be-there monkey should not be one. The pilot makes the call, not the
passengers. Cancelling is always better if you have alternatives. The Part 91
pilot who uses Part 135 departure criteria will not go wrong. Accidents
result from pilot decision-making. Saying "no" is just as difficult as
making the flight. Make the decision the safe one.
The decision is based not only
on equipment but on pilot competence. Always have an alternate plan when
faced with icing, thunderstorms, low ceilings and no alternate. Just being
current is not sufficient, you must be competent.
If there is no alternate within
reasonable distance, cancel. A zero-zero departure is quite different when
simulated from the actual. In an actual zero-zero you have no chance of
returning. Ego-based decisions are most often accident prone. always fly
with a tad of humility. If you lack humility then IFR flight will eventually
give you some. You must be confident of your ability but not so much as to do
something stupid. Time in type under IFR is essential.
When planning an actual IFR
flight you should do so with the idea of completing the flight by anticipating
what it’s going to entail, to minimize the surprises, and to fly a better
flight. Do not assume that any remarks included in your filing of a flight plan
will be passed along to the ATC controllers down the line.
When One Head Has to Work for Two.
a personal assessment that goes beyond meeting the FARs DECIDE
Establish as many constants as you can in airspeed, configuration, and
completed checklists. Get all the electronic help you can. Reducing the workload
leaves more of your resources to deal with discrepancies.
Don’t get too far ahead in your preparation since it may put you behind.
Use the simplest possible procedure for holding.
Don’t be in a hurry. Thoroughness is more important than speed. Doing what has
to be done correctly is more important than when it is done.
Know where you are. If you become uncertain ask ATC.
--Practice partial panel and emergency situation simulations.
Plan your communications to set yourself up for an approach with ATC help.
Know how to ask for help and don’t hesitate asking for it.
The way you use the radio greatly improves the way ATC will respond.
Know how to use the equipment.
IFR and VFR flight plans are done on
Centre computers as part of flight data processing (FDP) The computer knows
every route, published and unpublished. It knows every navaid, most
intersections and all airports. It knows preferential routes and knows that
forecast or real time weather may change arrival routes. Centre computers do not
overlap in coverage or information with other Centres. Flight requests not
honoured in one must be repeated in the next. Centres and
have a computer graphic that can show every aircraft in the U. S. that is on a
flight plan as to its flight plan information and present position.
You can specify routing by
remarks such as "no over water", "No altitudes over 12,000'" etc. The ETE
destination point on an IFR flight is the point of intended landing. FAR 91.169
which refers you to FAR 91.153 (a)(6)
FAR sets rules and items that
pilots should do to fly safely.
To operate IFR you must file a flight plan and obtain a clearance before
entering controlled airspace.
FAR 91.173 If you are on a VFR/IFR or an IFR/VFR flight plan you MUST open and
close the VFR parts of any plan through a Flight Service Station.
This appears to be part of an FAA make work program. Flying according to
airline standards, even though Part 91 capable, is much safer.
Box # 3
Without approach capable GPS file as /R. Approach
capable GPS files as /G
Box # 5
Know that the navaid or intersection is in the ATC
airspace to be contacted if other than an airport.
Box # 6
You can extend the two-hour life of a pre-filed
plan by filing a time 30 minutes later than you actually plan to file.
Box # 7
File your final altitude but check the ATC preferred altitudes to avoid the ATC
preferred routing that may screw up your flight planned route.
Box # 8
Using preferred routes will avoid having to copy a clearance when airborne.
Box # 9
By always filing an alternate you avoid forgetting
that one is
required where filing to an airport without an approach.
Box # 11
Mention GPS, instructor, or multiple approaches.
Box # 17
Provide both departure and destination phone
numbers where someone will be available.
Flight Plans to Nowhere
The computerized ATC system cannot
readily adjust to a flight plan that is bogus. The flight may not be intentional
but it may be able to fool the computer into acceptance. Even more likely will
the the filing of another flight plan through a different media such as DUATS
along another route to the same destination.
When you, as the pilot do not understand exactly what the approach clearance
includes and requires, think the approach through as though it were a briefing
and tell ATC what you need to know.
Whenever possible avoid the
procedure turn unless you really need to change direction.
In the mountains always proceed via an initial approach fix.
approach must be considered as going to minimums
When ATC requests (Requires) higher than normal approach speeds this becomes a
'special technique' and should be part of your training and practice.
Arrival at the FAF without knowing all the numbers related to headings,
altitudes, distances, and time means that the go-around to the missed approach
is primary consideration.
Arrival at the MDA and being unable to make a normal landing is time for the
missed approach procedure.
Next time ask for extended vectors that will allow you to get all the numbers
An uneasy feeling or sense of uncertainty is sufficient reason to abandon the
approach descent. Climb and proceed to the missed approach point before turning.
Be aware that an approach with AWOS weather is being based upon a snapshot in
time and you should expect worse.
Low light and visibility conditions give optical and physiological illusions.
The better your scan the better you will avoid false sensations caused by the
absence of visual cues. These conditions often lead a pilot to continue descent
The lower you are to the minimums the more difficult will it be to avoid
Without the any of the required visual references at DH and missed approach
point means go-around…no ifs or buts…go-around.
Develop a practice of making altitude callouts at 1000', 500' and 100' above MDA or DH
An IFR pilot should press against the unknown gently as a matter of course.
Stretching your own IFR limits by flying in actual weather that poses actual
risks builds your experience base.
It is often more important to find reasons to fly than it is to find reasons
not to fly.
You need to explore where your IFR limits are gradually. Do not make the
process either two abrupt or complicated.
Flying in the System
Just as you have self-imposed driving restrictions so should you have
self-imposed IFR flying restrictions.
Start making a collection of limitations that can always be revised as your
flying frequency and destinations change.
The fatigue of driving cannot be compared with the fatigue of flying.
A pilot is most likely to overestimate his fatigue while driving and
underestimate the fatigue effects while flying.
It is only at the end of a flight that a pilot’s proficiency in identifying
personal limits becomes critical.
The increase of hazard in flying increases with time and distance.
Even remaining within the FAR time rules may not provide the required
operates on the basis that information is exchanged with the
ATC issues a clearance that the pilot reads back and flies in compliance.
ATC radar monitors the flight, issues advisories and confirms compliance with
route and altitudes.
ATC warns the pilot of deviations and provides corrective vectors and
With the expansion of radar
there has been a corresponding reduction in the acquisition and maintenance of
independent orientation by pilots. I mean that the pilot should be utilizing all
available facilities and equipment to keep his own record of where he is, where
he is going and where his escape outlet lies. Only if you know where you are,
can you know when ATC has forgotten you, failed to give a vector, descent, or
clearance. When you know where you are you are better able to protect yourself.
ATC can and does make mistakes.
Complacency is one factor that
can give unexpected and undesirable IFR adventures. Complacency is responsible
for many more accidents than is realized. Complacency seems to affect most
insidiously those with the most experience.
As an IFR pilot you must
anticipate a potential problem before it arrives. A circle to land may be
indicative of a tailwind on approach (CCR)that requires correcting for a
tailwind effect ground speed. If the tailwind is strong it may cause your ground
speed to rise to Category B. The radius of turn then goes from 1.3 to 1.5
nautical miles. Will left or right turns in a hold make for an easier departure
outbound (APC)? Will one departure be better for you (not ATC) than another.
Taking positive assertive action over the radio to ease your situation is an
attitude called aggression. When it affects the safety of your flight it is
aggressive safety. Your flight safety and convenience does not just happen
through the good graces of ATC; you must make your own flight safety. A pilot
can become disoriented while manoeuvring, looking for the runway, scanning the
instruments, and talking to ATC. Protect yourself by knowing the rules,
limitations of systems and equipment, and
your own limits.
pilot of a plane has command authority for which he is often inadequately
trained. The pilot who does not recognize an inappropriate vector, clearance or
altitude is not taking charge. Go not quietly into that thunderstorm or icing
altitude. Continued flight in known icing conditions is prohibited in the FARs.
As a pilot you have the command authority to decline, request, suggest or to act
for the safety of your aircraft.
In recent years we have become
too reliant on ATC. As a part of every instrument procedure we should include
several fixes of our own to supplement those on the approach charts. Our fixes
should provide us with situational awareness while under radar vectors. Knowing
where you are will help you anticipate radar handoffs, heading changes, when to
anticipate airspeed, and altitude changes. Flying IFR means understanding where
the airplane was before, where it is now, and where it is going. Keep your mind
ahead of the airplane; know what comes next.
Don’t ever feel that your
acquired skills and experience will allow you to overcome the safety net built
into the FARs. Breaking the FARs is not an IFR option. The fundamentals of IFR
rules make breaking them offer benefits much outweighed by the risks. You have
options. There are things you should do and things you should not do. Some of
the things you should not do change into things you must not do. The always
available option in IFR flight is to go somewhere else.
The instrument pilot who relies
on ATC to give assistance on the approach is apt to be unaware that radar is
relatively inaccurate at extended ranges. Even vectors are only approximations.
If you are in a situation where you MUST rely on radar you would do better to
fly the whole instrument procedure.
The pilot who does not fly
instruments regularly is going to regress in basic skills, be liable to the
effects of distraction, and be behind the aircraft. the more experience and the
more recent it is the more able will the pilot be to deal with the basics of the
approach and the unexpected things that always occur.
Working the IFR System
A pilot must expect a clearance to
be via preferred routes. Many pilots surrender to the preferred routings and
never try to go for a direct route. You want to avoid dense traffic, probable
delays, dangerous airspace, high altitudes and over water flight. When you, the
pilot, initiate the route choice, it is up to you to confirm the safety of the
route. When ATC initiates the route the monkey is on ATCs back. Any direct route
must have the same obstruction clearance as required to each side of an airway.
One way to avoid a diversion
around a Class C or B footprint is to request or suggest a direct route over the
airport. When you know that your instrument approach will
begin with a vector to a FAF why not set up your flight for there instead of the
Best reference is in back of current A/FD booklet. Preferred routs usually take
the flight around high-density areas and are supposed to result in fewer delays.
Flights into certain airports require 'reservations' unless flight arrives
between midnight and 6am local time.
Radar facilities would prefer that you get the ATIS prior to making contact as
you near a destination airport. How far away you do this depends on ground
speed. When you are given a handoff, you have about two minutes to get the ATIS
before the next controller gets antsy.
If your IFR flight takes you through an MOA and ATC gives you a
diversion around the MOA, consider the option of cancelling IFR and proceeding
VFR. Hot MOAs do have mobile long-range radar surveillance of MOAs that track
all targets, primary and secondary. The TPS-75 radar used can measure altitude
as well. Military controllers are trained to detect conflicts and vector their
trainers to a different altitude.
Every ATC radar specialist has an
area of responsibility. His first highest priority is separation, next comes the
processing of those aircraft which are 'sidewalling' his area of responsibility.
Aircraft that are either in the process of entering or leaving his area. Within
his area the specialist can issue or amend clearances as he feels the need.
The transfer of a 'sidwalling'
aircraft must take place before crossing the line between controller sectors.
Some of these are done via 'letters-of-agreement' which have in writing that a
certain variance is both allowed and expected. Occasionally such agreements
allow certain 'nicking' of another controllers airspace by mutual controller
agreement. Computerization is the usual process The computer relies on the
transponder code to confirm that all controllers are seeing the same aircraft.
Often, for a few minutes prior to the blinking the data block is placed into a
'handoff advance list' in the receptor sector. This gives the specialist warning
of the impending switch. The computer detects the approaching 'sidewall' and
starts the datablock to begin blinking in both sectors.
The 'sidewalling has been in
process for a few minutes with the receiver made aware through the advance list.
The actual transfer takes place by the reliever making an entry of acceptance
for the transfer. The blinking stops on both scopes. This transfer only takes
seconds but a failure to transfer can put an unaccepted IFR aircraft into a
sector. Only when the transfer has been completed will the 'handoff' frequency
change be given to the pilot. While the computer verifies the transponder code
it is up to the controller to verify the Mode C altitude readout. This is why
your call-up after a handoff should (must) include your altitude. When the
computer fails everything changes. Every sector change must be handled by phone.
When flying IFR through radar
observed airspace you can expect to be transiting from one sector or facility to
another. Your present controller initiates the handoff by causing your aircraft
data tag to flicker. When the next controller notes the flicker he can use his
roller ball to move the cursor to your target and click on the target. At this
point your present controller will tell you to contact the next controller along
with giving you the frequency to use. For ATC the handoff is complete. For you
it is not complete until you have established radio contact along with giving
your altitude status. The handoff may be done through the computers and all you
will do is the radio word required. Everything that is done or said is recorded.
On all non-radar approaches the
approach begins over the initial approach fix (IAF) for your arrival. Otherwise
ATC must vector you to the final approach course to intercept prior to the final
approach fix (FAF) at an altitude useable for the procedure.
The exception to this
fundamental process is when no IAF exists as in the two following instances:
1. Approach begins at intermediate fix not on an airway and radar is required.
2. Intermediate fix is on airway and descent from MEA to FAF and course
alignments complies with TERPs.
3:1 descent will lose 1000’ in three miles.
A 2.5:1 descent will lose 1000’ in two and a half miles.
Low altitude tailwinds require excessive descent rate to stay on the glide
Half dot deflection on AI equals 200’ climb descent on VSI. Scan, interpret
Non-radar approaches are more complicated
The crossing radial is the least accurate way to define any fixes. The compass
locator or beacon are far better.
ATC may request a marker or crossing report but they are not critical to the
GPS overlays are the procedure of choice over a VOR or NDB. The VOR or the ADF
can be used as backup but the use of the ADF is questionable.
GPS requires time and planning to set up.
GPS will back up an ILS by setting in FAF to the missed approach point.
Don’t use the airport reference point since it is near mid-field
General rule for departures is to set up the ILS procedure for an immediate
Computer navigation fixes (CNF’s) are for GPS systems on enroute low altitude
charts at the mileage breakdown points that are currently shown with a x.
Chance of engine failure in IFR less that training intentional engine
Stopped propeller greatly improves glide.
Negotiating skills help to get the best service, stay current, know what you
are doing and do it right. As for what you want and offer to compromise to make
Centres own the airspace. Centre computers originate clearances while
terminals and towers coordinate with computer or phone. Clearance strip prints
out at tower 30 minutes prior to proposed time off. Plan will be active for 2
hours but will vary with traffic level. any FSS filed flight plan will begin
with, "ATC clears..."
Once you have received a hold-for-release instruction you must remain on the
ground since separation is based on the hold instruction. An early departure may
compromise this separation.
If you have a full-route clearance to your destination and lose communications
en route you should exercise your emergency authority and commence the approach
immediately on arrive under your emergency authority.
No difference between an instruction which specified immediate action without
a required read back, while a clearance requires a read back before compliance.
The IFR flight using
control/performance instead of the FAA method of primary and support is growing
in use simply because the FAA method has the value of each instrument changing
for every manoeuvre.
Flying the FAA way:(Primary has
For level cruise primary pitch is altimeter support is VSI
For bank primary bank is heading indicator support is turn coordinator.
For power primary is airspeed support is engine instruments
For constant ias climb primary for pitch is airspeed
For normal climb primary for pitch is VSI
You will note in the FAA way the
attitude indicator is a minor factor.
the FAA Way
control/performance we have three categories of instruments control,
performance, and navigation.
Attitude indicator is main reference for pitch and bank
Power instruments reference power
Performance is monitored by altimeter, airspeed, VSI, heading indicator and
Navigation instruments tell where you are.
First establish an attitude, set
power for desired performance, hold attitude while acquiring desired
performance, trim off pressure. Check performance and adjust attitude, power,
and trim as required.
The better you know your
attitudes, know your power settings, and know your trim settings, the more
precise will be your flying. You must train your ability to anticipate what must
be done to acquire the desired performance. Flying must not be allowed to become
a part of the IFR problem. Knowing ahead of time what to do and set minimizes
the cross-check requirements in constant performance situations and reduces
cross-check requirements when performance is changing. Knowing in advance what
to do when simplifies the entire process. Flying is done by anticipation not by
Departure vectors come from the
tower either by reference to a SID (Standard Instrument Departure) a specific
heading or a turn to a heading. On the handoff to departure these initial
vectors may be supplemented for transition to the en route structure.
Arrival vectors begin by an
initial vector which is an ATC guess as to what conditions will require.
Following the initial vectors will be vectors to intercept the final approach
course, for spacing/sequence, for base leg, or delay. The fewer the vectors the
higher skill displayed by the controller. Sequencing and spacing are standard
procedures. As a pilot you can request any one of the various vector types if
you feel ‘pressed’ by the situation.
"Radar contact" means that you
and ATC are using radar procedures.
ATC will advise you if they take
you across the final approach course. This is sometimes done for spacing but
more often because they forgot to vector you in time for the intercept. Being
vectored does not mean that you are being protected from all traffic. Vectors
provide only guidance and do not guarantee radio coverage, terrain clearance, or
a clear missed approach.
The approach gate is an
imaginary point used as a basis for vectoring to the final approach course.
Ceilings determine how far out the gate the intercept vector should occur. the
intercept may be at the gate if the ceiling is 500’ above the minimum vectoring
altitude with VFR visibility.
Centre can give vectors just as
do terminal but the different type of radar antenna turn slower by I/3. Centre
scope PPI (Plan Position Indicator) are mosaic pictures from several radar
sites. Centre radar has 150 mile range so a 10 mile approach procedure will be
only an inch long on the scope. The scope symbols showing the approach are
always the same size regardless of the scope scale (range). Any centre vector
must have an assigned altitude that is 1000’ AGL or 2000’ AGL when in
mountainous terrain. On occasion, this altitude requirement can be evaded by
vectoring a localizer/glide slope intercept at a higher altitude than the FAF by
increasing the distance.
Try to share any IFR flight you make
take with other IFR pilots. Single pilot IFR is not the best way to go. Until
you develop the hours and experience where you can take a younger pilot, try to
fly with the most experienced pilot available. Expose yourself and the other
pilot to real turbulence, overwhelming fatigue, poor vectors to final, tight
instrument failure and rain so
hard it activates the stall warner. Cancel IFR to avoid a vector into a CB and
execute a missed and depart for an alternate. Always have a good alternate.
Redundant pilots are just as valuable as redundant instruments and power.
Depart CCR and at 600' go direct to
Heading approximate 360 with centred needle
Altitude Climb to altitude assigned and note time of a delayed altitude
assignment en route.
Looking for VOR passage
At VOR passage use the 5 T's
Turn to intercept heading of next route
Time time of passage and time of route segment
Twist to new course radial
Throttle no change until level-off
Talk report VOR if requested
tracking radial of course with needle centred
Altitude as assigned
Looking for intersection, next intersection
At each VOR, mileage break, or intersection, the 6 T's will aid the memory in
correct selection of new heading, VOR, etc. #2 VOR is always used just prior to
the approach so as to allow setting of #1 NAV to approach navaid. As the
approach begins, the Looking for prompt will aid recognition of station
passages and expected reaction.
Looking for VOR, ADF, glide slope, localizer, time to MAP, decision
altitude, MDA, etc
TCH--threshold crossing height position of glideslope receiver on
aircraft directly affects to terrain and obstacle clearance. System must be
placed so that all aircraft will be headed for a safe touchdown zone landing.
clearance altitude is the lowest altitude in between radio fixes that meets
clearance requirements but only gives navaid reception within 22 miles of the
MRA--Minimum reception altitude
is lowest at which an intersection can be determined.
MEA--Minimum en route altitude
is lowest altitude between navaids that gives both obstacle clearance and signal
COP--Changeover point is marked
by Z to advise to switch VOR reception for best signal.
MSA--Minimum safe altitude is on
approach charts and provide 1000’ clearance at specified distance from a
specified procedure related navaid.
MAA--Maximum authorized altitude
represents the highest altitude that will not cause a conflict in navaid signals
from two different points.
Be familiar with plate before making the approach.
The more experienced you are, the more likely you are to fly below a glide
The TERPS margin above obstacles on an ILS can be as little as 92 feet.
Performance and discipline of pilot in last 300 feet to DH is critical.
You need to practice making the ILS transition to a localizer approach.
(Covering works on HSI)
Locate the transition fix between ILS into localizer approach as part of your
ILS/Localizer intercepts can be by vector, DME arc, transition fix, procedure
turn or holding pattern.
Each of the intercepts requires different situational awareness skills. Know
when to expect what.
Practice your anticipation skills as to what is happening next and how soon.
Faster planes require faster anticipation skills.
One way to slow things down is to slow down the aircraft. Knowing when to slow
down requires practice
Waiting to slow down until intercept is a prelude to an unstabilized approach.
A too shallow or obtuse angle of intercept is to be avoided. (Make sneaky
Limit your bank angle to the number of degrees correction required.
ILS localizer is only 2.5 degrees to each side, use your rudder
--Set the power for speed fly the slope with pitch. Take out half of all power
Tendency is to over control pitch so take out half of all pitch changes
Over controlling is most frequent ILS error
Differences in winds from the surface winds will make a difference in how the ILS flies.
Decreasing tailwinds on the glide slope will tend to make a high approach.
Required heading will change.
Holding? If you must reverse direction fly outbound from fix for 45 seconds,
make course reversal, hold.
Get slowed up before you are given your intercept vector
Vectors will finally give you an intercept heading, an altitude to
maintain, a clearance and new frequency
Be ready for this sequence and ready to read back direction, altitude, cleared
for approach, to tower
Be slow, established, at glide slope intercept altitude and prepared to start
ILS final approach fix is not always the same as the localizer FAF.
Get time at localizer FAF but if you don't plan for ILS missed and return
another day for the localizer.
You must get confirmation of glide slope altitude at marker to confirm you are
on the planned glide slope.
Because of false glide slopes above the proper slope the intercept from below
is highly recommended.
At FAF one dot localizer error is 840 feet; one dot glide slope error is 130
At one mile a dot localizer error is 40 feet; one dot glideslope error is 25
Inside FAF maximum heading change is five degrees; maximum pitch change is two
ILS touchdown point is from 500 feet to 1500 feet down runway threshold
ILS slope is power on at three degrees, about half of usual visual approach
Having some idea of the physical distance you want to correct will reduce over
Missed approach is most difficult part and least performed in the real
During approach briefing set missed approach intercept into #2 nav.
Decision altitude is the place where the missed or landing must be
You can execute missed before reaching DH but climbs only. No turns allowed
until past runway. Time??
Do not lose altitude during missed. Increase scan speed.
Use all navaids, make small correction, no deflection over two dots,
Negotiating with ATC
Dancers and choreographers = ATC and Pilots
ATC and Pilots make organized imagination work.
ATC three dimensional chess with aircraft sans blindfold
Harmony between controller and an obedient pilot
Harmony between controller and properly assertive pilot
An advisory/request from ATC requires a pilot answer
Pilot's option is always, "Unable" but expect ATC retaliation
'Unable' is due to pilot or aircraft inability or lack of desire.
Time is the currency of air traffic control.
Pilots who misuse time in any way can expect ATC reaction/action
Only cooperation of pilots allow ATC to use time efficiently
Poor planning on your part does not constitute an emergency.
Urgency or stress can appear in the voice of either pilot or controller. You
hear and feel it.
Priority treatment goes with pilots saying, "Low fuel state".
Declaring an emergency sooner is better than later.
ATC may not understand words you use for low-level problem.
Don't let ATC fly you into an emergency
Highest level of priority is an emergency
Best negotiating ploy is, "Last controller said you would…
If you are being delayed, it could be because of your selected altitude.
Tell clearance delivery that you will accept any altitude up to…
Ask if there is some letter-of-agreement that requires a non-published routing
The complexity of the airspace may or may not permit controller flexibility to
meet your requests.
The newer ATC systems trade ground holding for airborne holding. (Operational
Evolution Plan OEP)
OEP allows reduced altitude and distance separation.
ADS-B gives all aircraft ability to see traffic just as ATC sees traffic.
Curved approaches to precision landings are now possible.
Heavy traffic regions may become special equipment zones.
By asking a radar facility to speak to the 'local separator you will get to
speak with the person who determines the routing of aircraft.
An IFR pilot can accept a direct ATC clearance if he has the capability and
ATC can radar monitor his route.
You will normally be advised by approach control of the approach to be
expected. Advise early if you want to assert your PIC right to a selection of
your choice. Get winds early so you can plan ahead.
At uncontrolled airports ATC will advise you of weather if he has it.
Cancelling IFR before changing to advisory when you have the field is sight is
the easiest way.
At uncontrolled airports advise on the radio early as to where you are and
what you are doing.
Make checking the agreement of the DG and compass a fundamental process at all
checkpoints and FAFs.
Use your heading bug to show you where the wind in from and where to look for
Most needed when entering an
Common mnemonics are GUMP. CIGAR, and WCRR (West Coast railroad)
Complete avionic set-up when issued vector.
Set up the final approach course as soon as possible.
Setting up a VOR is always a three-step process…frequency then OBS and IDENT.
For ILS do the five-step: frequency, course, marker crossing altitude, DA and
Top VOR is set to where you are going; #2 is crossing radials
When DME is required setting the DME comes right after setting approach
Always check source of DME and display frequency if possible.
Finally, scan the stack to confirm settings.
Do ten practice set-ups until you can do the entire process in minimum time.
Anticipation Is the Name of
Knowing what to expect from ATC is always the winning hand in IFR.
First you must know that you should be prepared to ask ATC for lower and
slower as required.
Sooner is always better than later in slick aircraft.
You know that Approach is taking you into and through the ‘gate’ before
handing you off to tower.
#1 way to the gate is an airway transition, which allows decent to published
altitudes when cleared for the approach.
#2 way to the gate is a published transition with published routes giving
course, distance and altitude.
#2a is when ATC assigns an altitude or expects your last altitude to a fix and
published route and altitude.
#3 way to the gate is no procedure turn routes to the initial approach fix (IAF)
IFR Routes (Internet)
For IFR folks, you can enter airports
that you're flying between and get a list of IFR routes that people have flown,
which makes flight planning a lot easier. Free web site that does tracking of
IFR flights by call-sign, maps and graphs and whatnot:
PART 91 IFR
Only FAR 91 operations can depart regardless of visibility and get a
"look-see" privilege on approaches. Someone operating under FAR Part 91 can
legally takeoff from an airport but not have the landing minimums needed to
return and land at the same airport after takeoff. Not a good 'go' choice. Under
FAR Part 91 you can legally takeoff when a commercial/airline operator would be
grounded. Yeah, takeoff but can you get back?
Since there are no Part 91
departure standards, prudence would dictate:
No departure be made if an arrival is not possible.
Compliance with a published IFR procedure or with a DP is not mandatory unless
it is included in the clearance.
If no IAP is published, what will be the safest way to go?
Is an alternate obstruction clearance route available?
Will visual clearances be possible? Know the terrain, the minimum climb rates
compared with your aircraft capability.
Departure obstacles are based on
a 152' per mile slope from 35' above the departure end of the runway. As a
standard, procedure designers assume that the aircraft will cross the end of the
runway by at least 35' above the ground and will then climb at least 200 feet
per nautical mile. The aircraft is expected to climb to 400' AGL before turning.
If an obstacle penetrates this slope the airport will have a non-standard
takeoff minimums. (Small T in black triangle) and greater performance will be
required. If a climb of more than 200 fpnm is required on the plate to a certain
altitude, a climb of 200 fp/nm will suffice after that altitude.
If marginal conditions exist,
you must check takeoff and alternate minimums. The standard minimums apply only
if there are no nonstandard alternate minimums published. To qualify under
alternate minimums an airport must have approved weather reporting. This
does not mean a terminal forecast. The published departure procedure gives an
obstruction clearance route. You are expected to climb to pattern altitude
before turning on course or to the assigned heading.
For Part 91 operations, reported ceiling does not
make a difference. Only visibility controls.
A technique to avoid vectors
around areas like LA Basin, Chicago, or in the North East works well . File IFR
from VOR on the other side of these areas to your destination. In remarks
section of flight plan indicate time you will pick up IFR plan over VOR. Takeoff
VFR fly to VOR and pick up IFR flight plan. You must remain VFR. This avoids all
the wasteful vectors ATC gives IFR flights around the dense areas. The more
off-hours you fly the more likely you are to get your way instead of ATC's way.
If you have reason to believe that being IFR will lead to ATC vector problems.
Ask if canceling IFR and proceeding VFR will help.
VFR to IFR
It is often better to depart VFR
and avoid the IFR vectors that take you away from where you want to go. Pick up
the IFR clearance once in the air and going the way you want to go.
Violated while IFR
You must understand and confirm your
understanding in IFR communications. Your read back will eliminate 80% of IFR
violations. Being in a hurry is the primary cause of oversight failures.
Don't do anything you know to be stupid and indefensible.
Descent to wrong altitude
Land without clearance
Fail to follow clearance
Failing to read back
Unprepared for approach
Fail to advise ATC of disorientation
Proceed beyond clearance limit
Failure to comply with clearance
Flying unairworthy aircraft
Acknowledge ATC but fail to comply
Communicate with an 'attitude'
Unsure of where you are going
Failure to check NOTAMS
Fly beyond aircraft certifications
Get inadequate weather briefing
Turn wrong way contrary to ATC instruction
Flying with out of currency charts
Fly through a cloud on a visual approach
Forget to take flight bag
Fail to use checklist
Fail to confirm or reconfirm assigned altitude
Fly route always assigned instead of one assigned
Ducking under one too many times
IFR or VFR you have every
responsibility to question any ATC clearance that in your opinion hazardous. The
possibility of losing your radios is always a legitimate concern. You might
reject a route over water. Proximity of a thunderstorm is plenty of reason. FAR
91.3 is the basis you have for rejection of any clearance.
If a pilot who is operating
along an airway receives a clearance to operate below the MEA it can be accepted
1. If the altitude is no lower than the MOCA and the aircraft is within 22
nautical miles of the applicable fix or navaid.
2. If radar navigational guidance is provided along with lost communications
3. Do not accept a clearance that is proximate to an obstacle
4. Composite flight plans are combination IFR/VFR. VFR flight MUST be
opened with FSS on IFR departure and also closed with FSS on completion.
Effective January 1, 1998 all SIDS
and IFR departure procedures are replaced by Instrument Departure Procedures or
DPs. Every IFR airport has one or more arrival procedures. Complex DPs will be
both charted ;and verbally stated. A DP is a canned method for presenting the
pilot with a procedure the provides both separations and traffic flow. One
of the difficulties is that there is no guidance about which of any number of
DPs to use when ATC fails to assign one. A DP is always given when the obstacle
clearance route does not exceed 40:1.
Without an ATC departure
restriction you are free to fly direct to your first en route fix once you are
above 400’. If no climb requirement is specified than a minimum of 200’ per
nautical ground mile applies. IFR operations should limit IFR departures to VFR
if climb performance cannot exceed 350 per minute. Circle to climb should be
done only in VFR and with ATC concurrence.
An ATC assigned climb gradient
is mandatory. If a DP requires a turn of more than 15 degrees, the turn must be
done after reaching 400’ AGL. Some airports have specified early turn
requirements as part of the DP. Part 91 pilots are responsible for obstacle
clearance. If any part of a Part 91 departure is going to enter controlled
airspace the pilot much get an ATC clearance and not level off until the
altitude requirement of 91.177(a)(2) are met. ATC assigns the altitude for IFR
operations but can be different than required by the hemispheric rule. Special
use airspace may be listed at the bottom of the front panel.
No takeoff where weather is below IFR landing minimums unless alternate within
one hour flight time. Part 91 have neither IFR takeoff minimums or alternate
requirement. Suggestion: Fly by PART 135 standards.
Departures require different
airspeeds. The angle of bank as shown on the attitude indicator
is directly related to the airspeed. Knowing this the proficient instrument
pilot is able to adjust elevator, throttle coordination and trim to maintain a
constant altitude. You know that as airspeed increases the angle of bank will
increase and vice versa. On departures, make a practice of noting rpm and
engine sounds as normally exists. This will help you note any malfunctions
ICAO uses 28 day cycle. U.S. and Canada uses 2 x 28 day cycle. Effective
time is 0901 Zulu. Charts only up to 18,000’ all airspace Class E above 14,500
is controlled. Time zone boundaries are shown by line of T’s on front panel
along with time conversion for Coordinated Universal Time (UTC)
There are four types of IFR charts, high-altitude en route charts or jet charts
for above 18000’. Low-altitude enroute charts for flights below 18,000’.
Terminal Charts for high density regions. Approach charts for each airport with
an IFR procedure or procedures. IFR charts can be handy for VFR pilots since
they give distances and radials between VORs Approach charts include airport
diagrams as well as NDBs that are otherwise not depicted on VFR charts.
Jeppesen Charted Items
Magenta squares around any Class D airspace does not allow SVFR
Airport with *D before its information means Class D is part time.
Airspace not class D becomes Class G. Times are all local.
Base of controlled airspace starts at surface, 700’, or 1200’.AGL
700’ is a transition area base. 1200’ is base of airways extending 4 nm each
side as well as a transition area base.
White areas of charts show airspace as being controlled below 14,500’ Adjacent
shaded airspace has a base of 14,500 for controlled Class E airspace.
Jepp charts have adjusted inoperative components progressively to the
right. Lowest minimums are to the left.
If the approach course is more than 30-degrees from the landing runway,
straight in minimums are not authorized.
If the descent gradient exceeds 400 fpm from the FAF to the threshold,
straight-in minimums are not authorized.
Aircraft categories apply to both straight-in and circle-to-land minimums.
Once the approach stops using the glide slope the approach becomes a
non-precision approach with a MDA be it straight in or circling. The lowest
circle-to-land MDA must be 350' above the airport while the straight in MDA can
be 250' above the airport reference altitude regardless of runway used. A
minimum of 300' is provided for all categories above obstacles for all aircraft
categories. A DH may have as little as 120' terrain clearance.
Category 1 ILS visibility is 1/2 mile. With TDZL and
centreline lights it can
be 1800 RVR for a specific runway.
Part 91 must have the OM or an authorized substitute. The substitute may be
radar, DME, VOR or NDB.
Minimum instrument altitude (MIA) is within 22 miles of VOR and may be below
minimum enroute altitude (MEA.
actually an altitude instead of a height. An HAT and DH
should be verified by reference to the TDZ elevation.
This table gives ground speed,
descent rate and time figures. By picking a ground speed you can determine your
time to the MDA and rate of descent it takes to get you there. Use DME to get
On the ILS the conversion table
specifies the time to the missed approach point for Localizer approaches. The
ILS decision altitude is usually a half-mile before the threshold. If timing
is not on the chart, it is not authorized. The missed approach can then be
determined by DME.
Instrument Departure Procedures (DP)
Review chart for obstacles
Required rate of climb
Heading to navaid
An airport with an instrument approach will have a DP when obstacles exceed a
40-to-1 plane. . The making of the DP requires a survey that will find a 40:1
departure route based upon a minimum climb of 1352 feet per nautical mile with
no margin of error. A DP depicts all nav aids, courses, and altitudes for the
departure. The presentation is both graphic, textual and computer coded. The
standard climb gradient of 200 feet per nautical mile is expected unless a
steeper gradient is specified. Required frequencies are part of the DP plate.
DPs come in three types: pilot
nav DPs, vector DPs, and in combination. Most DPs are combination. DP
plates change rather often so keep your DPs up to date. I recently had one more
current than the one given by ATC. DPs may require specific aircraft performance
to meet DP requirements. Check the gradient chart to see if you comply. Standard
is 200 feet per mile or 333 feet per minute at 100 kts The departure requirement
of 200'pnm gives you an ever-increasing margin of safety altitude of 48' per
mile, only if you cross the departure end of the runway at 35'. Turns are not
allowed until above 400'. Any tailwind on a DP reduces the safety margins.
If there is no DP because
obstacles do not break the 40-to-1 plane, the pilot is expected to do what is
required to assure a safe departure. You should check the terrain, gather local
advice, plan for visual avoidance of terrain, or otherwise fly the published
departure procedure. ATC expects the pilot to fly the DP so that required
separations will be met. If you are below radar coverage you are on your own
until reaching controlled airspace or an assigned fix.
If a textual DP specified a navaid, the flight plan should be filed according to
the procedure. Textual procedures are on the Jeppesen charts but on a different
chart in the NOS system. A DP procedure may be either an IFR procedure or an
obstacle clearance procedure. Having radar as assist in flying a DP since
the departure frequency, initial altitude and heading is a part of the procedure
though not given in the clearance. The best part of a DP is that the pilot gets
to plan in advance what to expect and what you have to do.
DPs based upon text assume that
you ate at least passing through 35-feet at the end of the runway and will climb
to 400 feet before turning and continues to climb at 200 fpm from then on.
Ninety knots gives 1.5 nm per minute. This should be plenty fast unless there is
a tailwind that could make it difficult for a loaded C-172. Radar contact does
not relieve the pilot of terrain clearance responsibility. However a radar
vector means that ATC has assumed terrain clearance responsibility. Text
descriptions are being replaced with symbolic depictions.
Hold-for-release means that your
clearance is not valid until ATC tells you to go or gives you a void time.
Standard Terminal Arrivals (STARS)
At the end of the en route part of
an IFR flight awaits the approach segment. The pilot gets rid of distractions
and briefs the chart procedure. This briefing may consist of one or more
post-its detailing the changing altitudes, flight directions, time, frequencies,
and missed procedure. This is a good time to get the ATIS and decide when you
are going to make speed and configuration changes. Much of your arrival may be
incorporated into a STAR (Standard Terminal Arrival Route). Again, Jeppesen has
STAR charts with the approach charts while NOS pages them alphabetically in a
A STAR can be a profile or textual description of a route whose purpose is to
get you on the instrument approach. Different classes of aircraft may have
different ‘notes’ to follow. If you go to an airport that has STAR procedures
you will probably get one even though you did not file one. Some ATC procedures
are STAR like without being called a STAR. They often coincide with PARs or
preferred arrival routes. Controllers will often cut the corners off of STAR
routes to same time. Always confirm with
ATC if your routing is different than indicated on the STAR.
Use of a STAR requires that you
use that code as the first part of a transition code since it will make computer
acceptance easier. If you file using a star you must have at least the textual
presentation with you. The STAR gives speeds, altitudes and what to expect.
All descents require a clearance even though depicted in the STAR. If you
are ATC directed to proceed via a part of a STAR you may head and descend as
written in the STAR. You can reject the STAR by filing 'No Star'.
The terminal area hold is fitted
into place so that multiple arrivals can be spaced and stacked at a navaid.
Aircraft told to hold will be given the direction of the hold and the fix, the
course, bearing or airway and the direction if not to the right. Additional the
altitude and EFC (expect further clearance time) which give you a time to leave
in case of communications failure.
STARs have altitudes that are MEAs. If you lose your radios do not fly the
STAR altitudes. STAR altitudes and descents are valid only when you have
been cleared for descent or on a cruise/approach clearance. A STAR may not be at
an IAF (initial approach fix). Centre may use the end of such a STAR to hand you
over for vectors by TRACON.
A STAR has the same features as
a DP with the addition of specific altitudes and speeds. Mostly required for
heavy jets. Know what the STARs are so you know what ATC is doing. What you
usually see on a STAR is what you will normally get as a clearance when filing
"No STAR". Star transitions are just branches from the root route. Required
frequencies are part of the STAR.
A STAR is not a profile descent. When descent clearance is issued ask for
clarification if ATC gives mix of descents and STAR clearances. Don’t descend to
the altitudes shown on a STAR until an unrestricted descent clearance is issued.
STAR altitudes are to be ‘expected’ and must be validated by a clearance.
Being cleared for approach while on a STAR route gives you the right to descend
to all published MEAs, otherwise you must stay at your last assigned.
not unusual ATC clearance error is failure to mention the STAR to the pilot that
is assigned as part of the en route clearance.
If you filed a STAR it can be considered as included in the 'cleared as
filed' ATC statement. Either way, the ATC controller where the STAR
commences is expected to assign it by name.
With the help of marginal weather the IFR approaches can be supplemented by
contact and visual approaches. Only the pilot can initiate a contact
approach, which can be approved by ATC if reported ground visibility is one mile.
In return the pilot is responsible for obstruction clearance, must have one-mile
flight visibility and will be able to reach the airport in those conditions. Use
the contact approach when you have the airport in sight but you cannot maintain
VFR but have ground contact. Losing sight of the ground or the airport requires
that you advise ATC. They will give you a climb clearance and vector you back
for the full approach.
The visual approach can be
initiated by either the pilot or ATC and is conditional on your being able to
see either the airport or an aircraft to follow.
Remaining clear of clouds is an additional condition and the airport must have a
ceiling at or above 1000' and three-mile visibility.
An alternate is not required if the first airport of intended landing
has a standard instrument approach procedure. In addition for at least one hour
before and one hour after the estimated time of arrival, the weather reports or
forecasts, or any combination of them indicate the ceiling will be at least
2000' above the airport elevation and the visibility will be at least three
statute miles. Weather reports or forecasts, or any combination of them may be
used to determine if an alternate airport is required. (A terminal forecast from
the destination airport is required.) FAR 91.169(b)
If no instrument approach
procedure has been published in FAR Part 97 for an airport, the ceiling and
visibility minimums are those allowing descent from the MEA, approach, and
landing under basic VFR. FAR Part 91.169(C)(2)
An airport with a precision
approach can be filed as an alternate if at the estimated time of your arrival
the forecast is at least 600 and two miles.
24 hour monitored ASOS at an airport will allow for alternate minimums
You, ATC and Your Alternate
ATC has no information as to the alternate you filed with FSS.
Your FSS flight planned alternate is not 'automatically' put on your flight
You select an alternate because you must by FAR.
If you suspect you may need to go missed, plan what you want to do before ATC
does it for you.
The sooner you tell ATC of what you plan to do the sooner they can put it
together for you.
When you go missed at your destination tell ATC what you plan to do.
No weather will be exactly as forecast.
Instead of trying an approach that is below minimums, divert early and avoid
Alternate that you can reach is better than the VFR airport out of range.
Far 91.103 gives legal requirements but the your real need may differ.
With your destination predicted to be above 2000' and 3 miles for an hour either
side of your arrival time you don't need an alternate. If you can't land at your
destination you will head for the closest ILS with over 600' and 2 miles or a
non-precision with 800 and two miles. The "paper alternate" exists to assure
you of protected airspace to cover lost communications.
Never rely on an alternate's
forecast. Weather is what it is; not what it's supposed to be. Monitor
your alternate weather en route. Barring the forced use of the "paper"
alternate, you can use anywhere you want as the alternate. The choice of
alternates declines at night. Radar and towers close. Keep your alternate
If your destination doesn't
have an approved approach procedure you're required to file an alternate
regardless of the weather. Some airports are not legal alternates with tower
closed, having no weather observer, or navaids out of service. The rules for
alternates exist so pilots have a way out. Your alternate doesn't need an
approach procedure if you can descend from the MEA, approach and land under
Middle marker is not required
for a Cat 1 ILS. Neither is outer marker since glide slope FAF is intercept
altitude. Minimums adjustment no longer exists on approach plates. Most
middle markers are decommissioned.
Consider filing to a VFR
airport. this can be done if the forecast weather at ETA allows a VFR descent
and landing from the MEA. An alternate airport is always required as a part of
If in flight, your original IFR destination drops below the 1-2-3 rule you must file an alternate and have
the fuel to reach it.
Any airport, even one that has
an approach, cannot be filed as an alternate regardless of a weather forecast if
the chart says N/A. for not authorized.
A planning alternate must have navaid monitoring and weather reporting to avoid
having N/A on the chart.
Even a chart that has
alternate minimums may have higher than usual minimums when used as an
alternate. The critical factor of such minimums is the circling minimums.
The approach charts must be checked prior to flight and filing.
Dead reckoning is a frequent and legitimate part of IFR procedures. DR can be
used if it is acceptable to ATC.
Top of page
Learning to Brief
(mnemonic) will cover all the elements of an approach. It is best to say
everything out loud from the plate since errors become more apparent.
N stands for NOTAMS. NOTAMS usually occur at the end of the ATIS and will
tell about runways, procedures or aspects of the airport that are not useable.
A stands for Approach. This means that you will orally review the plate
's essentials such as
Date of issue
Kind of approach
Navaid frequencies set and ident
Com frequencies set
Course and course changes
Intercept altitude and altimeter check
Missed procedure point, heading and altitude
Set altimeter, heading bugs and time
T stands for Terrain. What it takes in performance to avoid CFIT
S stands for Special Pages. Things related to noise abatement, time
Sample Approach Briefing
1. This will be a ______ to runway
____ at ___________
2. Field elevation is ______ feet
3. Time for the FAF to MAP will be ______min ______sec.
4. The MDA/DH for this approach will be ______ feet.
5. The required rate of descent will be ______FPM at ______Kts.
Get 3-degree descent by G. S. X 10/2
6. Approach notes are
7. Missed approach procedure is...
Approach Briefing: (sample)
1. Current weather
2. Proper charts
3. Set all radios then ident all
4. Which way, how low, how long
5. Missed procedure
THE FIVE T's
Crossing the IAF
Stable descent (know rate)
Marker altitude check
At all turns
Step down altitudes
Where am I, cross-check?
No delay of missed
1. Confirms briefing data
2. Calls altitudes
3. Calls missed
4. Calls runway
By being prepared and organized you can concentrate on your flying.
Get the ATIS ahead of time. If no ATIS get weather and NOTAMs ahead of time.
Set radio for best reception
Heading indicator set
Listen selectively for what applies to you and that you need.
Memorize chart essentials.
Debrief the approach as to headings, altitudes, frequencies, and missed
Direction (Which way). Will vectors affect your orientation.
How to Protect Yourself
Nearby published holds.
Time (How long)
Initial heading and Altitude of missed procedure
Know how and where to locate chart information. Have all charts for flight
Use the other person in the cockpit
Aircraft performance settings for level, descent, and missed.
Fuel requirements. Escape routes.
Instrument performance check.
One Planning System:
1. Inside the initial approach fix (IAF)
2. Course interception
Callout Six "T"s
Turn; Time; Twist; Throttle; Talk; Track
3. Intercepting radial
"Cross radial alive"
4. Descent from Final Approach Fix (FAF)
Callout Six "T"s
5. Circling minimums
Visual Descent point (VDP)
6. Missed approach point (MAP)
Runway in sight
Each approach may require a
slightly different arrangement of the above.
A successful approach begins by homework before takeoff. Many IFR
students overlook the planning and organization required before you leave the
You have planned and decided:
When to set your radio stack for the approach,
When to slow to approach speed,
When to do the pre-landing,
…When to remind ATC that they are creating a problem for you,
How you plan to maintain situational awareness (ADF),
Effect of a head or tail wind,
A descent, and a visual descent point, etc.
With the new Jeppesen charts showing terrain in color the pilot should form a
mental picture as part of the pre approach planning.
Approaches begin at the initial approach fix. (IAF)
Final approach segment is found by starting at the airport and working
backwards to the FAF.
FAF is usually the outer marker on localizer approaches, the VOR on VOR
approaches when not on airport.
Off airport NDBs are the final approach fix.
Jeppeson uses the Maltese cross to indicate FAF.
FAA has defined FAF for precision approaches as the point in space where the
glide slope and intercept altitude meet.
This is a different FAF than for the localizer approach with the Maltese cross
a location over the ground. --Missed approach points are
usually at the runway threshold.
Timing is used to determine the MAP on non-precision approaches.
The precision MAP is where the localizer, glide slope and a DA meet usually
200' over the touchdown zone.
DA is replacing DH.
Any missed approach executed prior to reaching the MAP or time must be
flown on course until passing the MAP before executing a turn.
The climb may be executed immediately. Inform ATC of missed and your situation
Note: IFR En route Low Altitude charts:
Will have Computer Navigation Fixes (CNF’s)
Provides GPS navigation systems the information needed to identify position.
First CNF’s will be at mileage breakdown points and turns on airways charted
with small x.
ATC will not be aware of CNF’s.
Preflight Planning Do’s
Check for TFRs
Review approach procedures, all of
Confirm alternate requirements
Confirm aircraft has required instruments
Check category and category minimums
Get all NOTAMs
Determine personal minimums based on experience at this field.
Plan to fly as published
Plan your descent and the Missed Approach
Know what it takes to have airport in sight
Expect to do the missed and plan to fly it as mapped
Turn toward runway if a circle to land missed is required.
If proceeding VFR be sure to cancel IFR
fly actual to minimums unless all aids are operating in the aircraft and on the
Don’t descent below DH or MDA until you see the runway indicators
Don’t fly circle-to-land at-straight in minimums
Don’t deviate from IFR procedures until VFR and have
type and identification
Cleared to/for limit
Pre-Departure Clearances (PDC)
New procedure will reduce clearance delivery frequency congestion. but it does
not check on the accuracy of the clearance by requiring a read back.
C = clearance limit
C = clearance limit is 99% of the time the destination airport. Sometimes a
"paper stop" is used in
non-radar operations that will delay you in a holding patterns which just
affects the clearance limit not
R = route
R = The route used for separation purposes. DPs (Departure procedures) are not
in the computer plans
so the DP is given by the tower.
A = altitude
A = initial altitude followed by expected altitude. Altitude crossing
restrictions are given in the order.
F = Frequency
F = Sometimes in the DP so it may not be given. Local differences. Read the DP
T = Transponder Code
T = Transponder/time. Time in this case is a void time after which you cannot
leave and must re-contact
S = special instructions
Your shorthand is your own...make it
quick, easy, clear...
Always slash a zero to avoid confusing with O|
Put parentheses around instructions
15 = fifteen minutes after the hour
HFR = hold for release
AF = as filed
RV = radar vectors
RH = runway heading
/_______ climb and maintain,
\______ descend and maintain,
rr = report reaching,
CDA Class Delta Airspace,
___________ A line above and below means maintain
A line below means at or above
A line above means at or below
O with arrow into, out of, or through means to enter, leave, fly through
EFC expect further clearance, expect ten thousand in ten minutes
If cleared to 2000 and expect 6000 in 10 minutes...Write 2- 6 x 10
rt right turn,...etc
D = With arrow = direct
15k with up arrow = climb 15000'
Put transponder code in rectangle
V = victor airway or void as in void time
X = cross as in crossing fix or VOR
The vocabulary of a clearance is based on specialized interpretations of
common words. A new pilot must be aware of these words and what they mean.
The AIM glossary lists many of them. In addition common usage has corrupted some
of the AIM strictures. A new pilot should stick to the definitions and
requirements listed as references in the PTS.
The PTS examiner may simulate a
clearance during the oral part of the test that adds impossible routings, leaves
out essential elements or otherwise constitutes an invalid clearance.
The process is a valuable and valid part of the PTS. The interpretation of a
clearance on a chart is essential part of the clearance procedure. In your home
area you know the clearances. An unfamiliar clearance needs careful study and
clarification of any doubtful elements. Several months ago took a complex
clearance out of San Luis Obispo and took a few minutes to make sure it was
fully understood. After takeoff and a turn to intercept a radial outbound the
remainder of the clearance became a non-factor. We were high enough to be
cleared direct to the next VOR. You should be so lucky.
Visualize a situation where you
have filed, ATC has your clearance but refuses to issue it. What to do? Can they
do that? A part 91 flight can make up a safe departure. See AIM 5-2-6. Go VFR
and get an en route pop-up clearance. The right of ATC refusal of a clearance
depends on the service volume (capability) of the navaids. You can expect to
avoid FAA action if you make a regular practice of giving a full read back of
all clearances and instructions. Be careful and exact in reading back numbers
related to altitude, runways, taxiways, vector headings, etc.
You do prepare and write out your expected clearance
for room to make changes.
You ask for a repeat of specific items, everything before, everything after,
or claim to have dropped pencil.
Make your own shorthand and symbols for common words and phrases such as
direct, maintain, at or above
at or below, radar vectors, own navigation, altitudes in hundreds, hold, DME
arc, climb, descend, until, before, after, void time, cross,
Consider copying clearances on charts.
Types of Clearances
full approach clearance does not include airways before the feeder routes and
associated initial approach segments for which the aircraft is equipped.
If ATC chooses not to allow "cleared as filed" then the full route
clearance must be read to pilot, copied by pilot and read back by pilot.
Variations on Clearances
No FAR that requires you to copy.
You must 'acknowledge' i.e. read back and comply. FAR 91.123(a) requires
clarification of clearance.
PDC is a pre-departure clearance delivered electronically to airlines.
FRC is a full route clearance gives everything or a major change to avoid
AF clearances are as filed and may have already been written out by the pilot.
Pre-filed and tower en route clearances are given by either ground control or
Tower en route clearances are somewhat limited in distance and go from towered
airport to towered airport.
Towered airports not served by local TRACON are usually unable to give a tower
en route clearance.
A pop-up clearance is obtained in flight from ATC facility
En route Clearance Change Sequence: