IFR procedures

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 61.3(a)

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.

Partial Panel
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 conditions.

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". ATC 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 data occur.
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 causes disorientation.
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 turn coordinator.
You should cover the failed instrument with post-it, paper money or what ever. Use gum as glue.

Holding Headings
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 an accident.

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 10 degrees.


Failed vacuum eliminates the attitude indicator, most heading indicators and the HSI (horizontal situation indicator). 
A blocked pitot tube kills the airspeed indicator. 
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 panel scan.

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 change.

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.

Unusual Attitudes
Conduct both full and partial panel recoveries. Use turn coordinator to level wings. VSI for pitch.
Nose high:

Lower nose
Add power
Level wings and centre ball

Nose low

Power off
Level wings centre ball
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 roll.

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 alternative.

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
rudder to centre ball
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

Reduce power
Level wings
Easy with elevator

In clouds, airspeed increasing, altitude increasing

Increase power
--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 vertigo.

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 is applied.

On Staying IFR
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 runway.

Departure over water with no lights in view

Stay on instruments
Monitor altitude
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 non-IFR pilot
Don't make flight

IFR Crosswind Landings
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 man.

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.

IFR Accidents
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 judgment.

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 approach.

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.

IFR Survival

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.
7. The 180 is the best parachute for an airplane.

IFR Illusions

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 are.
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 away.
This may make you fly a less safe lower approach.
An approach over unlighted terrain may cause you to make a lower than normal approach.
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 falling.

IFR Departure
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 turning.

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 obstacles.
Listen to procedure used by locals or ask ATC when in doubt.
Most airports have at least one peculiarity, ask.

IFR Arrivals
The IFR arrival checklist should include :

Before Landing items
Gear down/go down
Radios to frequencies

Missed procedure DH/MDA

Go-around configuration

No-Go Decisions
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.

Make 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.
Avoid distractions
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 Flight Plans
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 TRACONs now 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.


Every 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 in place.
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 below MDA. 
The lower you are to the minimums the more difficult will it be to avoid busting minimums.
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 protection.
ATC operates on the basis that information is exchanged with the pilot. 
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 information.

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.

The 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 airport.

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.

Flying MOAs
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.

GPS Problems
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.

Side Notes:

A 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 slope.
Half dot deflection on AI equals 200’ climb descent on VSI.  Scan, interpret and analyze.
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 ILS.
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 return.
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 shut-down.
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 it work.
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 numbers)

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.

Not the FAA Way

Using 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 turn coordinator.
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 reaction.

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.

Real World IFR
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 vectors,

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 VOR
Scan priority
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

Scan Priority
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.

MOCA--Minimum obstruction clearance altitude is the lowest altitude in between radio fixes that meets clearance requirements but only gives navaid reception within 22 miles of the navaid.

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 coverage.

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.

Approach Ideas

Be familiar with plate before making the approach.
The more experienced you are, the more likely you are to fly below a glide slope.
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 briefing procedure
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 adjustments)
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 changes immediately.
Tendency is to over control pitch so take out half of all pitch changes immediately
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 down
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 feet
At one mile a dot localizer error is 40 feet; one dot glideslope error is 25 feet.
Inside FAF maximum heading change is five degrees; maximum pitch change is two degrees.
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 power off
Having some idea of the physical distance you want to correct will reduce over corrections
Missed approach is most difficult part and least performed in the real world.
During approach briefing set missed approach intercept into #2 nav.
Decision altitude is the place where the missed or landing must be accomplished
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. Negotiate.
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.

IFR Procedures

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 the runway.

Approach Setup

Most needed when entering an unusual situation.
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 threshold altitude.
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 course.
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 the Game

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:

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.

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
Inadequate preflight
Fail to confirm or reconfirm assigned altitude
Fly route always assigned instead of one assigned
Ducking under one too many times

Airway Clearances
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 if:
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 instructions.
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.

FAR 135.217
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 early.

IFR Charts.
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.

Conversion Table
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 ground speed.

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)
IFR Departure

Review chart for obstacles
Required rate of climb
Turn altitude
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 group.

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.

A 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.

Alternate Airport
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.

A 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 strip.
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 the rush.
Alternate that you can reach is better than the VFR airport out of range.

Alternate Alternates
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 within range.

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 basic VFR.

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 such filing.

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 restrictions, etc.

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

Crossing the IAF
Stable descent (know rate)
Marker altitude check
At all turns
1. Turn
2. Time
3. Twist
4. Throttle
5. Talk

Altitude call-outs
Step down altitudes

Where am I, cross-check?
No delay of missed

Second Pilot
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.
Pitot heat
Vacuum switch
Alternate air

You Need:

Ceiling and visibility
Memorize chart essentials.
Debrief the approach as to headings, altitudes, frequencies, and missed approach.
Direction (Which way). Will vectors affect your orientation.

How to Protect Yourself

Altitudes (How low)
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 available.
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)
Five "A"s
Approach briefing
Which Way
How low
How long

2. Course interception
Needle alive
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
Configuration check

5. Circling minimums
Visual Descent point (VDP)
Gear down

6. Missed approach point (MAP)
Runway in sight

Each approach may require a slightly different arrangement of the above.

Flying Approaches
A successful approach begins by homework before takeoff. Many IFR students overlook the planning and organization required before you leave the ground.
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 ASAP.

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 them
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


Don’t fly actual to minimums unless all aids are operating in the aircraft and on the surface.
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 cancelled IFR


Aircraft type and identification
Relative position
Cleared to/for limit
Altitude restriction
Appropriate Frequency

Item: 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.

CRAFTS (mnemonic)
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
the route.
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

IFR Shorthand

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
C cleared,
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
_/____ intercept,
x cross,
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 double spaced 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

An full approach clearance does not include airways before the feeder routes and associated initial approach segments for which the aircraft is equipped.

As filed
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 possible confusion
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 clearance delivery.
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: