IFR radio

IFR Communications the Way It Ought to Be

Your pilot competence shows through your communications. Don’t use unnecessary phrases or politeness.
Learn the standard FAA phraseology and use it.
Use standard phraseology for all altitudes, headings (3 digits), frequencies (point for the decimal), and call signs.
Use telegraphic brevity. Give ALL the required information only.
Learn to anticipate ATC requirements. Listen to what happens to other aircraft on the frequency.
Learn when it is appropriate to supply ATC with information.
--Learn the standard procedure for an initial call-up and use it.
Anticipate that ATC is required to make an altimeter check with you. Make the check before he asks.
Anticipate that you will need the ATIS and have it ready before ATC gives it for you.
Use ‘request’ as the last word of a required communication so ATC can come back to you when he’s ready.
Acknowledge all ATC (RADAR) instructions with a readback. (It’s nice if you can correct any clearance mistakes in the readback.
Readback all frequencies, X-ponder codes, and headings. Include the the direction of the turn to the heading just to be certain. Occasionally the turn is required to take the long-way-around for spacing. Query ATC if in doubt.

IFR Communications
What we say and the way we say it make aviation communications unique. It is precise and when correctly performed is designed for clarity and understanding. Even so it is capable of being misunderstood, hence the readback procedure as insurance. Be prepared to query if you have any doubts as to what you may have heard. The use of excess verbiage greatly reduces clarity. Say what is needed for understanding. Be aware that in some areas and below certain altitudes communications and navigation ability can be lost.

Required IFR Communications

Continuous listening watch
--Report as soon as possible on frequency
Time & altitude at reporting point
Un-forecast weather
Safety information

91.183 IFR radio communications.
The pilot in command of each aircraft operated under IFR in controlled airspace shall have a continuous watch maintained on the appropriate frequency and shall report by radio as soon as possible-
(a) The time and altitude of passing each designated reporting point, or the reporting points specified by ATC, except that while the aircraft is under radar control, only the passing of those reporting points specifically requested by ATC need be reported;
(b) Any un-forecast weather conditions encountered; and
(c) Any other information relating to the safety of flight.

AIM 5-3-3. Additional Reports
a. The following reports should be made to ATC or FSS facilities without a specific ATC request:
1. At all times.
(a) When vacating any previously assigned altitude or flight level for a newly assigned altitude or flight level.
(b) When an altitude change will be made if operating on a clearance specifying VFR-on-top.
(c) When unable to climb/descend at a rate of a least 500 feet per minute.
(d) When approach has been missed. (Request clearance for specific action; i.e., to alternative airport, another approach, etc.)
(e) Change in the average true airspeed (at cruising altitude) when it varies by 5 percent or 10 knots (whichever is greater) from that filed in the flight plan.
(f) The time and altitude or flight level upon reaching a holding fix or point to which cleared.
(g) When leaving any assigned holding fix or point.

The reports in subparagraphs (f) and (g) may be omitted by pilots of aircraft involved in instrument training at military terminal area facilities when radar service is being provided.

(h) Any loss, in controlled airspace, of VOR, TACAN, ADF, low frequency navigation receiver capability, GPS anomalies while using installed IFR-certified GPS/GNSS receivers, complete or partial loss of ILS
receiver capability or impairment of air/ground communications capability. Reports should include aircraft identification, equipment affected, degree to which the capability to operate under IFR in the ATC system is impaired, and the nature and extent of assistance desired from ATC.

1. Other equipment installed in an aircraft may effectively impair safety and/or the ability to operate under IFR. If such equipment (e.g. airborne weather radar) malfunctions and in the pilot's judgment either safety or IFR capabilities are affected, reports should be made as above.
2. When reporting GPS anomalies, include the location and altitude of the anomaly. Be specific when describing the location and include duration of the anomaly if necessary.
(i) Any information relating to the safety of flight.
3. When not in radar contact.
(a) When leaving final approach fix inbound on final approach (nonprecision approach) or when leaving the outer marker or fix used in lieu of the outer marker inbound on final approach (precision approach).
(b) A corrected estimate at anytime it becomes apparent that an estimate as previously submitted is in error in excess of 3 minutes.
c. Pilots encountering weather conditions which have not been forecast,
or hazardous conditions which have been forecast, are expected to forward a
report of such weather to ATC.

Radar environment

Leaving an altitude
Missed approach
Entering/Leaving holding pattern
10 Kt variation in speed
Malfunction of equipment
Weather problem

When convective turbulence makes it difficult to maintain a selected IFR altitude request a block altitude which can allow altitude excursions limited only by ATC clearance restrictions. Makes possible better airspeed control. Much turbulence is pilot induced. Because of the one second human reaction time the pilot will always be out of sync.

Malfunction Reports:

Communication or Navigation ability
Aircraft identification
What happened
Loss of capability involved
Desired assistance

One area of IFR training that poses the most instructional difficulty is use of the radio. The VFR pilot may not have made improvement or seen the need for changes for many years and hundreds of hours of flying. When you move into the IFR world you must resolve to upgrade your radio work as well as your flying. Poor radio procedures is an embarrassment to others in the system. Old habits can be broken and your IFR performance will be improved.

Controllers can discern from the pilot radio technique the probability of a pilot's ability to comply with instructions. Much of the difficulties encountered by ATC is the integration of competent pilots with those not so competent. What you say on your initial callup will often determine your operational choices. Standard phraseology is absolutely necessary to avoid a misunderstanding. The safest, best way, to read back a clearance is exactly as given. This takes expert listening.

With experience you learn to anticipate the 90% of IFR communications that are of routine format. The standard phraseology used in the system allows the pilot to pick out the essentials of frequency, altitude, heading and traffic. Simulators do not duplicate the real ATC communications system. The pilot who has difficulty understanding the radio is most likely the one who is unfamiliar with IFR procedures.

By listening to the communications you can allow a high cost jet a departure preference before your C-172. You can often cancel an IFR approach and fly it in VFR conditions thus allowing an IFR departure to avoid a five minute wait. IFR through a TCA to an underlying airport can be cancelled and you automatically get a VFR TCA clearance. See the AIM.

When used with ATC instructions, "when able", gives the pilot latitude to delay compliance until a condition or event has satisfied the pilot. On the other hand, if the pilot has a request for any deviation, it is important to make the request for deviation as soon as possible. When requesting an IFR departure from an FSS be ready for departure. ATC often has unpublished frequencies or corrections for published frequencies. Ask.

Communications is a two-way street between pilots and ATC. This street has some potholes. One is that pilots are reading back wrong numbers and the controllers are not picking up on the mistakes. There are four major areas for readback/hearback mistakes.

Pick up on the existence of similar aircraft call signs. When you know there is a similar call sign situation always use your full call sign with emphasis on the similarity conflict.
Most IFR cockpits, even in single engine aircraft, are two pilot aircraft. Be very careful if only one pilot is listening on the ATC frequency. Have the other pilot bring you up to date.
One-zero followed by ten-thousand and one-one followed by eleven thousand are ways to say altitudes that will overcome slips of the mind and of the tongue. Watch were to, too, two, can be crossed in meaning and interpretation. Consider, turn to, two, two, zero, too.

With experience you learn what to expect from ATC. Your mind may be spring-loaded to react to the situation and miss completely an unexpected ATC communication. This loading of the mind may be with regard to such things as traffic, altitudes, restrictions, deviations, runways, and clearances. If you have not yet had all of these problems, fly long enough and you will.

In IFR there will be a mix of readback/hearback problems caused by inexperience, and distraction. There are a number of precautions and cautions that should be part of your IFR communications procedures.

Do not accept "silence" as an ATC authorization. Always ask for ATC verification.
If one pilot goes ‘off frequency’ make a point to bring him up to date as soon as he is back.
Always use standard communications procedures and terminology. This is especially true when reading back clearances.
It is very easy to pick up a stray ATC altitude reference as an instruction. always ask for ATC verification is there is any doubt.
Protect yourself by using full call sign when aircraft are on the channel with similar call signs.

Differences in IFR Communications

Some airports, but not all of them, expect the pilot to contact clearance delivery prior to contacting ground for taxiing instructions.
General Aviation airports usually combine Ground Control and Clearance delivery. If any part of your taxi clearance or IFR clearance is not clearly understood, demand clarification until it is understood.

An aircraft at an uncontrolled airport may need to get a clearance through a FSS or from another ATC server by phone or radio relay. This type of clearance has a void time that becomes unusable if ATC contact is not made in 30 minutes. An attempt to get a clearance in the air may not work unless you know the altitude limitations placed on the radar facility for issuing such a clearance. ATC may suggest an intersection departure. Any such departure reduces your emergency options.

Any very first contact with an ATC facility having radar should be only:
1) The name of the facility,
2) Your identification, and
3) ‘Over’ this gives the controller time to finish work that preceded your call

If you have been handed off from another facility, your call should begin
1) Name of facility,
2) Your full aircraft identification, and
3 Your altitude (s) as level, climbing to, descending to, as well as any ATC speed restrictions.

Position reports should follow the standard format of
1) Facility name,
2) Your identification,
3) Position or ETA to next position, along with altitude(s) involved. Advise each controller if your routing is other than a published route. Anticipate that your routing may require a holding pattern at any clearance limit. Get the hold assignment well before the limit by making your request early.
4) Read back all instructions and clearances in the sequence given.

ATC is required to give you the altimeter setting at least once while in his sector. Read it back. It is easier to give the readback in the order received if you put your aircraft identification at the end. When handed-off to a new radar sector always state present altitude, altitude climbing or descending to and assigned heading if being vectored. Read back heading and altitude assignments. Altitude reassignment readback should include mandatory report of "leaving" prior altitude. "Cleared for the approach" should be read back since that automatically includes the heading and altitudes as depicted on the approach chart. Being cleared is not, repeat not, an authorization to descend below any altitude shown on the charted route. Any airspeed change of five or more knots different than filed requires that ATC be advised. Any fuel situation or deviation for collision avoidance or other reason must be identified to ATC.

Initial IFR contact will be with either ground control or clearance delivery to obtain your clearance or engine start time. If your filing was at an uncontrolled airport by phone you will have a clearance void time. This means your clearance must be canceled or activated within 30 minutes of that time. Otherwise, rescue operations are set in motion. You are required to read back all hold short instructions, all runway assignments, runway hold short and takeoff clearances. ATC should be advised if any delay exceeds one hour. Only IFR flight plans at towered fields are closed automatically.

Initial ATC radar facility contact requires full aircraft identification and "over". This will be followed by aircraft type, present position or route data, and altitude. If you are taking a handoff you need only to give the name of the new ATC facility, your aircraft identification, altitude and any unpublished routing.

Use your identification before giving any readback of altitudes, vectors and restrictions such as for speed exactly as they are given. Any time you are approaching a clearance limit be sure to request ATC for any holding instructions unless they are charted. always read back all clearances containing vectors and altitudes.

Practice approaches should be so identified both as to sequence and expected termination. Advise when last approach is commenced and ask for additional clearance if desired. Always advise ATC if you are going to make any manoeuvre that cannot be expected by ATC.

Request clarification for any uncertainty in your hear back of a clearance or instruction. Remember any change in aircraft speed of five percent or 10 knots on a flight plan requires notification of ATC. You can refuse speed adjustments for safety reasons. Notification also includes such things as hazardous weather and fuel situation.

ATC must be notified about any altitude change and when such a change will not be at least 500 fpm. Advise ATC as the FAF, when making a missed and why, when reaching a holding fix or clearance limit, leaving a holding fix, any loss of navigational capability, any adverse safety factor, and time and altitude at any specified reporting points.

ATC needs to know if you cannot fly the approach in use. An uncontrolled airport should be advised on the CTAF frequency when you are at the FAF and your intentions as soon as ATC hands you off. Advise ATC your intentions regarding acceptance or rejection visual approaches and if unable to continue an accepted visual approach. Asking for a contact approach assumes you are clear of clouds and have one mile visibility, advise ATC if conditions deteriorate.

Preset Radios
ome ATC facilities are not monitored. This means if they are not working ATC will not know until someone tells them. This becomes a good reason whey you should always positively identify every navaid you intend to use. It's a good idea to keep the ident volume of a navaid you're using for an approach at a sufficient level so you can tell if it fails. Monitor identifiers throughout the approach. Flags have been known to fail. Be concise on the radio. You don't need to name the facility. Use of the facility name is a wake-up call that is most often unnecessary.

Preflight Plan for Lost Communications
1. Where are the cloud tops and which way to nearest VFR.
2. What is destination weather and alternate.
3. Trouble shoot com
a. Stuck microphone
b. Unplug and adjust squelch.
c. Check audio selector
d. Confirm frequency
e.. Try another radio
f. Reduce electrical load
g. Squawk 7600
4. Stay on published airways, transitions at published altitudes.
5. Lost communications is an emergency under IFR conditions. You can deviate as necessary to resolve the problem.

Negotiated Clearances
A pilot should believe that ATC is there for his convenience and safety. You want to manipulate the system to ensure that you have a safe and comfortable flight. Don’t hesitate to ask ATC for flight weather information that may only be available from other aircraft. Sometimes ATC will reject a request. This is probably due to restrictions from a Letter-of-Agreement.

Our intent is not to bend the rules so much as augmenting the possibilities. If procedures can be bent to your advantage why not and, if so how? And, if how, why? and, if not me, then who. Consider borrowing an overheard clearance to give you an idea of what is coming. Write down the frequency changes of the guy up ahead and preset your radios. Controllers and facilities use the same rule book but the way they follow the rules is not uniform.

Usage Rules:
1. Ask ATC for what you want. If you are refused make an alternate suggestion.
2. Every ATC clearance is just an opening for negotiation. If a change would be better for you,
make a suggestion.
3. If ATC refuses, be persistent. see what you can get from the next controller.
4. If unable, so advise, make a counter offer.
5. Give ATC a reason for your request.
6. Don't hesitate to take command, don't be intimidated. If you need, can't get it, take it with your
command right given by FAR 91.3.
7. Pilot compliance is expected immediately with ATC direction or clearance using the word
8. Pilot discretion is available only when ATC specifically states "at pilot’s discretion". In the absence of these two quotes the pilot should proceed ‘promptly".

There are times when negotiating won’t work. You can file anything but you won’t get it. Some of this you learn by actually flying the routes. If the route is different than as filed, don’t depart until you have worked out the routing.

Not all preferred routes are listed. Ask if another route is available. Take what you are given and as soon as you pass the first major fix start making requests. Alternatively, depart VFR and do a pop-up to be effective at a relatively distant fix. Don’t argue if you don’t get what you want. Be suggestive, give alternatives. It is often well to make a phone contact prior to departure.

The best of negotiated clearances is done by requesting ‘direct’. This allows you to save time, money, and speed up the system if five of six things occur in manageable sequence.
1. You must be in an area that has radar coverage.
2. You must not be in conflict with other traffic.
3. You must have a cooperative controller.
4. You must be at or above the minimum vectoring altitude.
MVAs are not published so you have no way of knowing. MVA may have higher requirements than
MEA which is good only for four NM each side of the airway.

Radar Reporting
Except when in radar contact, compulsory position reports are required at points depicted as solid triangles. Report identification, position, time, altitude, flight plan type, ETA to next report and name of the still next point + remarks related to flight safety.
FAR 91.183 Mandatory reports are:

Time/altitude at designated reporting point
Requested reports by ATC
Un-forecast weather

AIM Advisory Reports...

Leaving an altitude 5-5-5
Unable 500 fpm climb/descent 5-5-5
Missed approach as well as the reason for the missed. 5-5-5 (d)
--10 kt change in airspeed 5-5-9
Time/altitude reaching holding fix 4-4-3e6 and 5-3-7f
Leaving holding fix or point 4-4-3e6 and 5-3-7f
Any loss of navigation or communication capability FAR 91.187(a)
DME failure above 24,000’ FAR 91.205(e)

Not on Radar:

Leaving final approach fix inbound
Corrected time estimate if off by three minutes
Time and altitude passing designated ATC reporting points.
Any safety of flight information FAR 91.183(c)
Any report requested by ATC

Procedure Turn Outbound
Failure to use AIM recommendations even though not an FAR has been considered a violation of FAR 91.13(a) as careless or reckless operation. A procedure turn is a required manoeuvre except when:

As a holding when depicted in lieu of a procedure turn. The holding distance and time must be observed. (AIM 5-4-8
NoPT is shown .Arriving at the NoPT sector by vectors or by an airway means that you do not need to do the procedure turn.
Where radar vectors are available
When holding pattern is published in lieu. Implication is that the holding pattern must be flown as depicted when charted. (Consider visiting the radar facility and requesting course reversal instead just to see what happens.)

Required Reports No Contact

Any report requested by ATC
FAF inbound
When a radar handoff is made to the tower, the controller specified for you to report the FAF. He does this
so that he (sans radar) will know your position on the approach. He needs to know this because of potential
traffic conflicts in the pattern. Failure to report the FAF, especially when the tower has required it, is cause
for an FAA hearing.
Position at compulsory reporting points
Over 3 minute error in ETA
Procedure turn inbound
Final approach fix
Missed approach

Other Reports Required:

Unable to fly approach in use. AIM 5-4-4b
Advise position and approach and FAF at uncontrolled airports AIM 5-4-4(c)
Traffic advisory reports at FSS airport if unable to contact FSS.
Advise ATC if manoeuvres are required to follow traffic. AIM 4-3-5
Read back any hold-short instructions AIM 4-3-11a7 and 5-5-2
Not to change frequency until advised by ATC to contact ground. AIM 4-13-14b
Request braking advisory and give ATC report afterwards AIM 4-3-8d
To decline visual approach when being used. AIM 5-4-20f and 5-5-10
When unable to follow aircraft ahead on visual approach AIM 5-5-11a5
Unable to follow charted visual procedure AIM 5-5-21k
Unable to continue contact approach. AIM 5-4-22a and 5-5-3
--Ask ATC if vector is across final approach course AIM 5-4-3b
Pilot has right to refuse excessive or unsafe speed adjustments AIM 5-5-9a2
Close all flight plans not closed automatically AIM 5-1-13ef and FAR 91.169(d)

Required FAR Reports...

Leaving an altitude
altitude change when VFR-on top
Unable 500 fpm climb/descent
Missed approach
Failed nav unit
Changed TAS 5% or 10 kts.
Time/altitude entering hold
Time leaving holding fix
Procedure turn inbound
Leaving FAF inbound
ETA error off by 3 minutes
un-forecast weather
"Radar contact lost," position

...There are 10 reports required at all times and two more when not in radar contact. FAR 91.183 (1991)now lists only three mandatory reports.

1. Time and altitude of passage over designated point.
2. Reports requested by radar ATC
3. Unforecast weather or safety of flight information.

AIM Reports Are:...

Failure to make AIM reports comes under FAR 91.13 (a) as careless and reckless operation.
Deviating from an ATC clearance as in an emergency (91.123(c)
Time and altitude over designated reporting point when not on radar. 91.183(a)
Encountering unforecast weather; 91.183(b)
Safety of flight information 91.183(c)
Com/nav malfunction
DME failure above 24,000' 91.205(e)

On radar, points or fixes must be reported only if requested by ATC

If you are having equipment problems which make it difficult to locate fixes along approach, call upon radar to 'call' distances, intersections or markers for you.

If told to fly to a compass locator when you do not have an ADF be sure to advise the controller of your inability to perform. You are IFR in controlled airspace and the #1 VOR (only one with glide slope and localizer capability) fails. #2 has no ILS capability. You should report the malfunction immediately. FAR 91.187

When IFR an emergency requires deviating from your clearance you must notify ATC of the deviation as soon as possible. FAR 91.123 ATC has standards of separation between aircraft that may prevent you from making a weather deviation. Your declaration of an emergency allows ATC to ignore certain standards of separation which would allow the weather deviation. Don't let ATC fly you into a thunderstorm.

Every initial contact with a radar facility requires a "Mode C validation. This means that if you do not include your present altitude to ATC they are obligated to query you as to your altitude. The ;most efficient way for you to do this is in your contact where you give all the pertinent information. Just include your altitude and if climbing include the altitude you are climbing to; if descending report leaving and what you are descending to. Nice, but not required to report reaching altitudes as well. VFR you can make most any change you wish as long as you tell ATC. Just be sure to include the altitude you are going to. Basic procedure is to always advise ATC when you are leaving an altitude. The Mode C must be within 300’ of your reported altitude to be valid. Beyond 300’ you may be asked to use standby or Mode A.

You may be advised of traffic conflicts by ATC radar services but you are still responsible to see and avoid. VFR advisories do not include vectors unless specifically requested by the pilot. Once you have confirmed seeing traffic you have relieved ATC of any further responsibility. (Consider not seeing traffic so you can continue getting radar service.)

Make a practice of including your altitude with every new ATC frequency. All radio calls to a controlled airport include altitude except those actually in the pattern.

Altitude Reports

Present altitude
Present passing altitude and assigned altitude
On reaching an altitude if not with Mode C or radar contact.
Any ATC requests
Always when leaving an altitude
Don’t say "With you...it is redundant.

Reporting the Marker
Pilots tend to forget to report the marker because of procedural overload. It is up to pilot to devise a checklist, visual reminder, or other system to make sure that the marker is reported and frequencies are selected and changed appropriately. Use the 1000' AGL point as an all-the-time reminder.

ATC has several ways of putting the report to the pilot. ATC may tell you to contact the tower at the marker. This means you should not change frequency until the marker. You may be told to change frequencies it will be up to the next controller to call for the marker report. Regardless of when the frequency is changed, the marker must be reported.

Lost Communications: NORDO (No radio)
Best option may be to declare an emergency to yourself and fly to VFR or do an approach to the nearest airport using your GPS even though not IFR certified. Squawk 7600 or even 7700. Transmit in the blind what your intentions are.

In case of lost communications, a pilot is expected to hold at a fix located at the destination airport on the inbound course at the aircraft’s altitude. ATC will protect airspace and altitude.

ATC supposes that you are where you are supposed to be. ATC clears the airspace along your route giving you a large block of airspace from which other aircraft are excluded.

Remember MEA
E xpected
A ssigned

Fly the Route

If VFR or reaching VFR, remain VFR and land as soon as practicable (FAR 91.185b)
As last assigned by ATC; (If departing on a SID you follow SID unless VFR) (FAR 91.185 c); or
If vectored, direct to fix, route, airway given in vector clearance; or
In absence of assigned route by route advised, expected; or
As flight planned.

  Fly the Altitude
Highest of: (FAR i85 (c) (2))

As last assigned; or
Minimum in FAR 91.121; or
Altitude expected from ATC.
Cautions: No climbing to a MEA until at fix requiring MEA
MCA and MRA must be reached by anticipatory climb
MOCA gives VOR signals only within 22 nm.

Fly the Altitude Problems

Misinterpreted by pilot or ATC
Readback/hear back similarity problems
Too many or similar numbers
FAR 250/10,000 anticipation/mindset
Not questioning the unusual
Distraction/cockpit management
Non-standard radio technique
Not getting confirmation of doubts
Not familiar with area or local procedures
38% of IFR altitude read-back problems relate to 10,000 and 11,000 interpretations.

What you got, what you were told to expect, what you filed.

Altitude: Highest of: the clearance, the minimum IFR, or what ATC gave you to expect.

Since ATC routinely clears aircraft to an airport rather than to a fix, the airport is the clearance limit. Part 91.177(c)(3) does not apply. In a radar environment ATC will keep other aircraft clear. Refer to FAR 91.185 and 91.3. IFR pilots must be prepared for loss of communications and learn the procedure before they are needed.

Fly the Approach
Requires knowledge of FAR 91.185 and AIM 4-43, 5-31, 6-31, 32, 33. These rules were designed for 'normal' IFR which means before radar.

In event of two-way radio failure in IMC follow FAR 91,185. ATC will keep all IAF (initial approach fixes protected until 30 minutes after ETA. A clearance limit should be given in the clearance. Being cleared as filed to an airport contains no "clearance limit". Your IFR clearance is to a given airport. Enroute you lose radio communication. You now have a series of "if" options. In today's radar ATC the clearance limit is usually the destination airport in which FAR 91.185 (c) (3) does not apply. Just fly your route, complete the approach, and land. ATC considers the approaches to be extensions of the airport.

1. If two-way com failure occurs in VMC (visual meteorological conditions) you should continue in VFR and land as soon as practicable. FAR 91.185
2. If IMC and at IAF early (FAR 91.185 (c)3). If without EFC (expect further clearance), hold only until you have enough time left to fly the approach and touchdown at your ETA.
3. If the clearance limit you are holding at is a fix that is not one from which the approach begins (IAF):
a. If you have an EFC , so you should depart the holding fix at the EFC time. Far 91.185 & AIM
Para 470
b. If you do not have an EFC, upon arrival you depart to a fix from which an approach begins and
commence descent or descent and approach as close as possible to the ETA as calculated,
filed or amended for the estimated time enroute (ETE).

Per FAR 91.185(c)3. Hold at IAF until EFC time. If an EFC has not been given, leave the hold when you have only enough time to fly the published approach and land at your ETA.

Expect Further Clearance
As part of your clearance sheet you should have the word 'Expect'. The 'expect" is the pilot's protection against radio failure. A pilot problem is to interpret 'expect' as the clearance. A controller can delete the 'expect' from a Standard Instrument Departure (SID). If radios fail before 'expect' occurs you are not required to continue the flight under FAR 91.185. You can exercise emergency authority under 91.3 and land where ever.

ATC cannot give conditional clearances. The 'expect' option is a way around this restriction. As a pilot you must distinguish between the 'expect' and 'clearance'. 'Expect' is a look into the future that may or may not turn into a clearance.

When in IMC (Instrument meteorological conditions) you have two-way com failure. If you MUST exercise emergency authority, you should set the transponder to 7600. This transponder code is changed as of 1-1-93. Continue on the assigned, expected or filed route and altitudes as assigned, published, or filed. AIM Para 470 & 471

Changes are usually made at 45 after the hour. It make take several minutes to get it right and over ten minutes to get it to the FSS as an sequence report. Rapid changes in conditions may change this schedule. Consider calling destination airport ATIS number to get a jump on instructor and to plan your approach airspeed. You will have a close approximation of ATIS when you arrive.

Position Report
The items on a position report differ when given to ARTCC and a FSS. Items are:

Time at present
Position, (named)
Type of flight plan,
ETA at next (named),
Reporting point,
Name of still next reporting point.

Non-Radar Position Reporting
Along airways without radar required reporting points are where intersections or VORs have a solid black or blue equilateral triangle inside, the pilot is expected to give a position report containing the following information is an exact sequence: Call sign, position, time, altitude, ETA and name of the next fix, name of the next fix without ETA and finally any remarks.

Type of Flight Plan
Type of flight plan is omitted when reporting to ARTCC. Your transponder code reveals the type of plan and possibly

Cancelling IFR
If while en route, you are above clouds when it is time to descend, you will have no choice other than to utilize ATC and MVAs to get below the clouds. You should not cancel IFR until you are able to proceed VFR. Should you cancel IFR after breaking out at one airport with the intention as then proceeding to the second airport as your final destination, you have no weather guarantees. This situation can cause a pilot to fly into IFR conditions while on a VFR flight. Where electronic guidance is available, a pilot is well advised to use it especially at night.

IFR Radio
The most universal of FSS frequencies is 122.2 but because it is nearly universal it is heavily used. Were Flight Service Stations are located on uncontrolled airports the frequency will be 2l123.6, 123.62 or 123.65. Since such airports are disappearing so are these frequencies.

The Airport/Facility Directory is the best source of all FSS and ATC frequencies. The use of FSS receive only frequency at 122.1 and receiving on the associated VOR was in the process of being decommissioned five years ago but as of the year 2000 more are coming back into use. Some FSSs have frequencies followed by T from which they can only transmit.

Recommended Procedures
1. Never leave an ATC frequency without notifying then that you are going to FSS and will report back.
2. Listen before talking on an FSS frequency.
3. Give complete aircraft identification and frequency used on initial call-up.
4. If you fail to make contact, consider that up to 12 frequencies may be in use. Wait.
5. Always give a PIREP
6. Use Flight Watch for weather information on 122.0
7. Initial Flight Watch call-up must include name of nearest VOR
8. Give Flight Watch your altitude, route destination and if IFR capable.
9. HIWAS is a continuous server weather forecast of alerts, SIGMETS convective segments, AIRMETS and urgent PIREPS.

Ground Communications Outlet (GCO)
When departing IFR from an airfield that requires using a Ground Communications Outlet (GCO) to contact the ARTCC, FSS, or facility to get a weather information, close a flight plan or clearance as explained in the AIM. The GCO system is intended to be used only on the ground. You must use one second long mike switch clicks four times to make automated voice advise you that it is dialling a specific ATC facility. Six such clicks will connect you to an FSS.

Basic IFR Communications

Ultimate basic is to tell ATC who you are, where you are and what you want.
The best aid to ATC is to get all the appropriate information from other sources. (ATIS, other aircraft, etc.)
If you do not have ATIS, the controller is required to read it to you.
A request for a pre-filed clearance over 30-minutes early requires that the controller be so advised.
If your 'pre-filed' clearance is not in the computer, it must be re-filed with an flight service station.
If your 'pre-filed' clearance is more than two hours old it may have been timed out and need re-filing.
In certain situations you might want to get your clearance before starting your engine.
--Stating to ATC that you are ready to taxi, means just that. Be ready.
When advised to 'monitor' an frequency, don't speak on the frequency, just listen.
If time permits monitor the ATIS for any changes between initial ATC contact and takeoff.
In busy situations, be as succinct (brief but complete as to type, position, intentions) as possible.
In some busy situations just moving the aircraft may be considered an acknowledgment.
Listen up to the ground frequency for clearance changes, frequency changes, or even runway changes.
Other aircraft may be cleared for takeoff before your 'turn' (hold for release) due to a different routing.
On handoff to tower give type, number, approach type/runway, will report marker and type of landing.
Advise tower sooner rather than later if unable to comply with any landing restrictions.
Leaving the runway ends all things IFR. Give ground a comprehensive call-up for taxiing.
Centre controllers are not allowed to accept a pilot's visual contact with traffic to allow altitude changes.
Towers and approaches are allowed to accept a pilot/s visual contact with traffic to allow altitude changes on request..

300# Gorilla Flying IFR

Knowledge of military flights is something you need to know about
UHF is military, VHF is civil and one doesn’t always hear the other
ATC talking to military will be like your hearing one side of a phone conversation
Situation is similar when ATC controller is using both local and ground radio
To find military traffic ask ATC
UHF emergency is 243.) MHz and is called
VHF emergency is 121.5 KHs and is called GUARD
9/11 orders require all aircraft monitor
If you violate a TFR you will be commanded to, "Come up on GUARD" can kill you
An IFR flight of USAF aircraft is a
MARASA in which only one of several will have an active x-ponder
Finding one military aircraft is not enough during MARSA operations
Recommendation is always use your transponder with Mode C
ATC will give military operations preference over civil operations
Military operations at night use night vision devices with minimum night aircraft lights or none at all
Night vision can cause an aircraft to fly into IMC without knowing it.
The TACAN part of the VOR system gives the military one button DME and Nav capability

All of  IFR Radio Briefly
In the Beginning
CRAFT of Clearance
This is the most useful mnemonic in IFR if use is the criteria of value. You are Cleared to a destination by way of a Route climbing to an initial Altitude as assigned with expectations later. The Frequency for departure is given to initiate the after takeoff communications along with the Transponder code for the flight.. With this information you are ready to contact the Tower

Making the Clearance Fit the Route
Don’t be in a hurry to give the readback if you are in an unfamiliar situation. Use all the time it takes to compare your plates and charts with the clearance to make sure you understand what you are supposed to do. I once had a student take nearly ten minutes before he was ready to give the readback at Paso Robles CA.

Checklist/Cockpit Organization
Regarding the forgoing final remark, had my student had his charts laid out in order ahead of time we could have cost him less in ground engine time. He had extensive checklists as well but found them cumbersome to use. We figured out the rather intricate clearance and read back the clearance. No sooner had we taken off than we were handed off to approach. Immediately approach negated all the work we did on the clearance as we were immediately vectored across a military restricted area to intercept an airway on the other side.

This is not to suggest that you should not work out just what the clearance expects of you. You might get lucky as we did and get an easy way out of a complex situation. Had they not done it for us we could have tried negotiating for an easier routing/

Requesting the Clearance
After you have the aircraft all prepared for departure you then contact ground and request the clearance. Alternatively you at some airports you might taxi to the runup area via a ground clearance and then get your route clearance from clearance delivery along with a readback before contacting tower. The procedure varies tower to tower.

Copying the Clearance
The cockpit is expected to copy the clearance in its entirety, confirm that it can be flown by your aircraft safely as presented. Using the CRAFT format and a personal form shorthand or abbreviations of the clearance.

Reading Back the Clearance
Before you read back the clearance you must perform a clearance check to see that everything on the clearance can be performed by the aircraft. Once you have checked the clearance and have found it can be flown by your aircraft, you are ready to read it back.

The readback should be word for word as it was given to you. If you have any part of the readback in which you are uncertain, say so and ask for a repeat. If the specialist detects any defects in your readback you will be given the correction and told to readback the correction as given. Once the readback is accepted by either ground or clearance delivery you will be told to contact tower or to told short and monitor tower for takeoff clearance. Once again procedures do vary according to the composition of the tower personnel.

Finding IFR Frequencies
The AF/D is the best single source of frequency information. When prepared for the approach the frequency information on the plates, has the best sequence arrangement with frequencies in order. IFR charts have ARTCC frequencies scattered throughout but sometimes they are not located along your route. With a little time you will get better at finding chart frequencies.

It is often faster just by asking ATC or an FSS for the proper frequency in a given area. I often call a tower to get a local facility frequency. There is some confusion as to whether a radar facility should be called approach or departure. They serve a dual use but general practice is to call a facility a departure if you are leaving an airport and approach if you are coming into an airport.

ARTCC or Air Route Traffic Control Centers cover hundreds of miles of radar communications facilities that extend above the much lower routes between urban areas. They also take over when the spaces between the urban areas become excessive.

Below this huge web of airways lies a lower level tower en route system that permits IFR flights to be conducted from metro area to metro area.

Getting the ATIS is important in VFR flight but in IFR flight it is essential. The ATIS tells which approach is in use at the airport and any restrictions the IFR flight may expect due to airport limitations. The ATIS exists at towered airports and is amended hourly with an alphabetical name along with the time and tower name. Changes are made as well when weather changes make it appropriate. Getting the ATIS is expected of all arriving aircraft. That you have the ATIS is an expected part of your radio work with an approach facility. When the tower is closed as AWOS may be transmitted on the ATIS frequency.

AWOS/ASOS are slightly different forms of the ATIS. They are automated digital voice weather reporting systems that give changes as they occur every minute. When arriving at an airport with either AWOS or ASOS you are expected to get the information and from that information relating to the wind select the runway most favoured by the wind as your runway of choice for landing. An IFR flight to an AWOS/ASOS equipped non tower airport should advise ATC as having the one-minute-weather. Any aircraft on having the automated weather should advise traffic that based on the "one-minute-weather" you have selected a specific runway for landing.

Clearance Delivery
Clearance delivery is a tower position that can be performed by one person or any combination of specialists in the tower. A pilot who has previously filed a flight plan with DUAT or a flight service station can, after completing pre-takeoff can contact clearance delivery and request his clearance to be read for him to study and readback.

The Common Traffic Advisory Frequency is used at non-controlled airports as the handoff frequency for an approach facility to send a pilot/aircraft to. More often than not the pilot will not be given the frequency

since the pilot is supposed to have it available as a part of his planning.

Where the airport has AWOS or ASOS the pilot is expected to have this one-minute-weather and plan his approach. When other traffic is using the airport, the arrival of an IFR Flight can create problems if the approach runway is not the active (other traffic) runway.

Every IFR pilot is expected to have all the current weather, notams, and TFR information prior to every flight. No flight should be planned into forecast icing or forecast thunderstorms. The Flight Service Station of today is totally automated and paperless.

For IFR flights is quite the same as for VFR except if you let them know you are previously filed IFR they will be sure to send you to an IFR runway. You know--the one with the big markings. May act as clearance delivery at many airports.

The IFR procedure for the tower is different only in that the specialist will hand you off to the approach facility where ordinarily you might just leave the airspace.

Tower en Route
In the event that requested clearance has not been pre-filed the pilot can request of ground a tower en route clearance just by giving the destination desired. The tower en route is a ‘canned’ clearance that, if saved from a previous flight will be exactly the same. The tower en route gets you from here to there below the ARTCC structure between urban areas.

On Our Way
Before we start to taxi we get any one of the three weather services weather data, AWOS, ASOS, ATIS. Once we are ready to move we confirm that our expected frequency selection is complete and available,

Getting Clearance
Getting the clearance by phone on the ground requires that we get what is called a void clearance time. This means that you are expected to takeoff and contact the radar facility within the restrictions of the clearance by a certain time. This procedure can tie up a considerable amount of airspace and airway time.

RCO from Ground
Some non-tower airports have Remote Communication Outlets that allow direct contact with an FSS while on the ground.

Clearance Delivery
Getting your clearance from clearance delivery is the standard at most mid-size towered airports. You contact clearance delivery after you have completed your preflight ablutions and ask for your clearance previously filed. If you have judged your timing correctly it will be available and waiting for you. Otherwise they will make a call to find it.

Unacceptable Clearances
I will list some of the ways a clearance may be considered unacceptable. The time may be too soon or late considering the weather changes forecast. The required climb rate and time to expect higher may be beyond my aircraft performance. For health reasons an assigned future altitude may out of reach. A radio frequency may exceed my avionics design.

Preferred Route Clearances
The FAA has, in its effort to streamline the entire airways system, selected some routes as being preferred. This means any pilot who tries to go his selected way to a destination may find that the system refuses to give him his desired clearance and gives him the preferred route clearance instead.

A departure from an uncontrolled airport to en route altitude is usually by a void time clearance but it may be conditional that you are able to climb to an altitude that will allow you to get a clearance similar to the pop-up.

Handoff by Tower
Shortly after liftoff from a towered airport ATC should give you a handoff to a departure frequency. If it doesn’t happen it is up to you to ask for it. Do not change a frequency without letting them know what you are doing.

IFR departure procedure for your flight is given as part of your clearance. The clearance begins with the name of the airport and a number. The number is the number of revisions that have been made in the clearance. This will be followed by a transition of which there may be several. Usually named for a VOR or intersection close by. Included in the clearance will be an initial altitude and possibly an altitude to expect in a certain amount of time. Then you will be given a transponder code or be told to expect for it to be given prior to takeoff. Expect every airport to have slightly different variations from every other.

Every takeoff under IFR has an expectation that you will be able to maintain a specific minimum rates of climb given as feet per mile where your rate of climb instrument gives you rate of climb per minute. This means that you need to make a conversion. Failure to make the conversion in unfamiliar airports is the primary cause of the number of CFIT (controlled flight into terrain) accidents. If in doubt, don’t.

It is the rare airport that does not have some oddball tower or other obstacle in the vicinity. At night this is an even greater problem because many obstacles are not lighted. Obstacle clearance is an on-going problem with many towers having unconfirmed altitudes. Look at the S.F. Sectional down around the Lemoore NAS for a good example of unconfirmed tower altitudes.

En Route
All the airspace of the ATC airways system is divided into sectors as you fly along an airway you will from time to time move from one sector to the next and so on. You can learn to anticipate the sector change and the next frequency. The beauty of this is that the vast majority of the frequencies remain in place for years even the facility may change its name.

The transition from one sector to the next is a multi phase operation that when the pilot get into the act is seems instantaneous. Visualize as you walk from room to room of your house at night the lights go off and on as you progress. Essentially this is what happens along the airways be they high or low.

When your aircraft approaches the edge of a controllers sector he will push a button that will cause your radar data display on his screen to flash repeatedly. As soon as your enter the next sector the specialist there will stop your radar target display from flashing. This is his way of telling the first specialist that he has your display and is ready to talk to you on the radio. Now the first sector specialist will tell you to contact the next specialist along with the name of the facility if it should change and the required frequency.

Now it is the pilot’s turn to participate. The pilot will readback the instructions and frequency given by the first sector specialist, change his radio frequency and make his call-up. The call up consists of the name of the facility, his full aircraft call sign and his altitude. Every radar specialist is required to obtain an aircraft’s altitude at least once so most want to do it on first contact. If you do not give your altitude on your call-up they will ask for your altitude. You must request any change of altitude you want and you must acknowledge any change in altitude given you by ATC

A fairly recent change in the way altitude changes are said on an aircraft radio has taken place in the past several years. Take a situation where you are told by ATC to climb to 4000 feet. You might respond, " "36X out of three for four-thousand." For and four are said exactly the same and sound the same just as does all the two, too, to. The change in this confusion of for/four, and two/too/too is that you will include in your broadcast the words climbing or descending as the case may be. With a bit of practice you can make the change work for you.

Advisories are not always a given in IFR flight. The IFR pilot is supposed to know the weather for the flight. He is supposed to know the best altitude to fly for a good tailwind. It would be normal to expect the ATC to give a pilot the best available flight information just as he would safety warnings.

ATC has ways to help a pilot on a flight and much of this help is dependent upon how the pilot works with the system.

ATC will give your vectors when they see a safety need. When given a point out and unable to find anything it is always a good option to indicate that you are willing to accept a vector. In some facilities they, as a matter of course, give vectors to a filed aircraft so that an airway route of considerable length can be bypassed. A pilot who can see where a vector would be more economic should not hesitate to request a vector that will save time and money.

When on an approach and for some reason ATC finds that required separation is going to be lost, they may give you a vector through an approach course and successive vectors to bring you back around to the course from the other side. Also ATC may vector you in too close and too high to the FAF.

Request Vector
If you know your location and can see where a vector would help your situation, ask for it. You can ask for a delaying vector if you are having difficulty preparing for an approach. Such a vector is easier to fly than is a holding pattern. Request a vector to avoid traffic that you cannot locate, such as an overtaking aircraft at six o’clock. When having difficulty locating an airport, request a vector. More importantly, always request avoidance vectors if you are unable to determine just where a TFR (temporary flight restriction) is relative to your position.

Changing Altitudes
Once you are established at an assigned IFR altitude you cannot change that altitude without a clearance to do so. You can ask for a climb or descent to a specific altitude and you may or may not get the change.

When you are changing altitudes for any change of over 1000 feet ATC expects the change to be at a rate of at least 500-fpm except for the last 1000 feet. You must always readback a clearance for a change in altitude stating the altitude leaving, the final altitude and use the words descending and climbing as appropriate.

Rate of Climb
In IFR the rate of climb can be a critical factor in many phases of a flight. All the airways have minimum obstacle clearance altitudes listed. IFR departures have a minimum climb required beginning at 35 feet over the departure threshold of 200 feet per nautical mile. Many of the intersections along airways have minimum crossing altitudes that may apply to either obstacles or radio reception. Of all the situations the most critical is that that occurs during the missed approach. A failure to maintain a pre-assigned rate of climb during a missed approach is the cause of a high percentage of accidents.

When making an IFR descent you are expected to descend at 500 fpm until within 1000 feet of you selected altitude. In many approaches the traditional step-down procedure has been overlaid with a constant rate descent angle on the side view of the approach.

One of the greatest IFR problems with descent is the failure to stop the descent before reaching the MDA.  One of the reasons for not delaying your descents outside the FAF is that to do so means that inside the FAF you will be faced with a greater than planned rate of descent. Much better to execute an early missed.

Variations of Climb or Descent
A pilot early in his IFR training should learn all the power settings and speeds needed for making vertical-S

manoeuvres. This is where you select a speed like 90 knots. Then you climb at 90 knots for one minute, level off for one minute, descend for one minute and make a chart of your configuration, power setting and the process for making the changes.

Changing Heading
IFR turns are made at a standard rate of three degrees per second. This rate of turn is a variable that depends on airspeed. The pilot should practice turns at various speeds and calibrate the turn coordinator for each speed by making a timed series of two minute turns left and right. Learn your turn coordinator and then transfer the readings (mentally) to the attitude indicator.

What this does is simplify your scan. You can use the attitude indicator to set a bank for the airspeed and then check the turn coordinator to confirm the accuracy of the bank. The speeds you need to confirm should be no more than four or five depending on aircraft performance.

In IFR flying you should make it a practice to readback everything ATC says to you. When you have difficulty be prepared to skip some and start writing again. You can then ask ATC to read back everything between two parts of the clearance or instructions. As a preliminary, you might tell ATC that you are classified as a slow listener (student or unfamiliar pilot) and ask for a slow reading of the clearance to the alternative of saying it over several times.

You need to develop early on your own brand of shorthand that will enable you to improve your readback skills. Take a tape recorder and record all the clearances you can on an IFR day. Then take the recording and play the clearances over and over as you develop your shorthand that conveys the meanings you must readback. By doing this at nearby towered airports you will soon have everything organized so that there will be no difficulty getting clearances which are more alike than different using the CRAFT profile or order.

Position Reports
Like clearances position reports have a historic order than has never changed for many years. Make a copy of the position format with some blank spaces to fill in information than changes. Put the form on the back of a 6 x 22-inch lapboard. The position report is not used often but your IFR competence is reflected in how well prepared you are to give an unexpected position report.

Requesting Direct
Any time you are in a position when requesting direct would be a desirable choice you can do it even if in IFR conditions and while using a handheld GPS or non-IFR Loran so long as the direct route is under radar watch.

One-Minute Frequency Changes
Any time you are in contact with a radar frequency where you feel the flight is so under control that you could leave the frequency to take care of some other business all you need do is ask. In your request you should indicate that you will report back on frequency. The asking consists of saying to what frequency or place you will be going. You can go to the FSS to extend a flight plan, ask for some weather or winds aloft information. You can call an UNICOM to order a taxi, check fuel available or ask them to call a friend. The field is wide open.

A pilot report is the best weather information you can get. It tells you just what a pilot saw and did. As a pilot it is your obligation on any flight to forward to an FSS or to Flight Watch any weather or significant flight condition that may be significant to the safety of flight. It is also acceptable to report good conditions. Your lapboard should also have the format for making a PIREP on it.

You file an IFR flight plan and request VFR-on-top it means that you expect to climb to VFR conditions while intending to cancel IFR once VFR on top. You must obey both IFR and VFR FARs. May or may not be flown following the IFR flight planned route. Ask for on top reports. Don’t take the clearance if you can’t make the altitude before reaching your clearance limit. Whenever you are in VFR conditions on an IFR flight and IFR traffic conditions restrict your ability to climb or descend, ask for VFR on top. You are responsible for traffic avoidance while giving IFR position reports and following clearances. All altitude changes must be reported. Any vectors must be above MVA and IFR minimum altitudes. Ends when the pilot cancels IFR or returns to the original flight plan at a waypoint on that plan.

IFR / VFR Routes
You can file a flight that takes you relatively close to a VFR non-radar destination as an intersection and then proceed VFR with the requirement that you close your VFR flight plan on arrival with an FSS. Been there done that.

Required Reports
Airways have a large number of intersections. Some few of then are designated as required reporting points. They become required reporting points only if radar has a failure problem or made required by ATC for your flight.

Cruise Clearance
The use of a cruise clearance is for getting via IFR to airports without an IFR procedure. You must have a current sectional. You cannot file for a cruise clearance. But still descend to the airport even at night if within a half mile of the airport. The process is over a small area with one controller getting mandatory reports if without radar.

Pilot is responsible for knowing or finding IFR minimum altitudes. The clearance is hand filed by ATC and gives a block altitude from the IFR minimum up. It will get you to an airport without using an IFR approach. From an upper altitude but you must cancel IFR when going below IFR minimum altitude.

You can descend all the way down to the airport and make a VFR arrival. If ‘through’ is in your clearance you can go back up as necessary but you cannot go back to any altitude reported as leaving.

Refuse the clearance if you don't know minimum altitude. ATC knows..

When ATC gives a vector the pilot is expected to make the required turn to a heading by the shortest arc unless told to turn long way around. As he is turning he should say both the direction and the assigned heading as a readback. Do it and argue later. When time permits the specialist will tell you the purpose for the vector. Purposes can be for avoidance, spacing, sequencing, interception or alignment.

A hold is a way of parking an aircraft to make time for other aircraft. A hold can be used to turn an aircraft around so as to go towards a runway for the approach. A hold can be used as a means of descending an aircraft in steps behind and in front of other aircraft making the same steps. The aircraft are all at the same location but at differing altitudes.

In the cockpit there are numerous variations of what must be done on and during the approach. The following is just a briefing that has nothing to do with the actual flying of the aircraft.

Ident approach frequency and set volume so that you if it is functioning.
Set the missed approach navaid frequency and verify required course
Confirm heading indicator is set with compass course and heading bug set
Verify altimeter setting and FAF altitude
Confirm altimeter bug is set for glide slope altitude at FAF
Review place as to when missed point is reached and when to turn to where
Determine decision altitude and minimum visibility required for landing.
Time every aspect of the flight from FAF to MAP
Do the visual descent point (VDP) math to confirm if a normal landing is possible.
At or just before FAF confirm there are no flags on instruments or gauges
Verify that cockpit belts, harness and otherwise items are secure
Set flaps and gear for landing
Set propeller power, mixture and airspeed for approach

The Missed

Verbalize the changes required for executing the missed.
Pitch aircraft and add power
Gear and flaps in sequence required
Confirm required climb rate on missed approach
Verify just when to execute turns and course of missed approach
Radio tower that you are executing the missed approach

On the missed your clearance will be to fly as published to the missed approach to a specified altitude and hold at an intersection awaiting further clearance.

At any points in the missed approach you may expect vectors depending on whether you want to try again or intend to fly to an alternate.

Turning Around for an Approach
There are several ways an aircraft may be turned around to line up for an approach. The most common in a radar environment is the use of vectors. The procedure turn is a reversal that depends on timing the outbound 45-degree leg for one minute and then turning back to intercept the approach course. Some procedures use a holding pattern both as a descent and changing direction as the case may be. The course reversal is now accepted by the FAA as a way to change direction.

Circle to Land
Airlines do not usually authorize circle to land approaches because of the higher altitudes required and visual contact with the landing runway at all times. I have never made a circle to land approach except in practice and find them unpleasant in IFR conditions.

Wind Check
At any point you can and should ask the controlling facility for a wind check. There are areas where winds can make significant changes due to terrain features and such a wind check is most necessary.

Practice Approaches
A practice approach can be requested from an ATC facility most any time. The ATIS will indicate if practice approaches are not available or your request may be refused. Refusal usually occurs where there is conflict between the wind direction and the instrument runway. In this situation VFR traffic is in conflict with instrument approach traffic. Not a good thing.

Cancelling IFR
Any time you are in VFR conditions and able to maintain VFR you are able to cancel IFR. There are occasions when you are doing ATC a favour by cancelling. When inbound on an approach in good conditions and you are aware of an aircraft on the ground awaiting your arrival for an IFR departure

You are helping your fellow pilot by cancelling. When on an approach into an uncontrolled airport and ATC tells you to report cancelling IFR. What is happening is that you are keeping a block of airspace closed to other IFR traffic that is waiting for you to get out of the system so they can get going. ATC is giving you a hint to cancel. You will be helping the system work better if you cancel conditions permitting.

Non-towered airports can have IFR approaches. The future says that every airport can have a GPS approach.

Towered airports all have approaches when the tower is operating.  approaches will exist when the tower is closed as well but different requirements exist.  You must cancel IFR before leaving approach or call in the cancellation to an FSS after landing..

LAHSO means land and hold short procedures in progress. This is where a towered airport has intersecting runways. Your aircraft can be cleared for a LAHSO landing if you accept the condition that you will be able to stop short of the runway intersection.

Expecting the Unexpected
Changed Route
The failure of a navaid or a radar facility may make a route change necessary. Regardless any such failure will require position reports where otherwise they would be unnecessary. The controller may offer you a route change with vectors as a time or weather option. You can ask for any change you desire. The worst thing that can happen is to hear NO.

Minimum fuel is a radio call a pilot should make to ATC when he doubtful as to whether he has enough fuel to go past his destination and possibly not enough to get to the destination and do an additional approach in IFR conditions. Never fly past a refuelling opportunity if you become aware of your fuel gauges.

Void time clearance is a method of departing an uncontrolled airport. Getting a clearance before departure that allows you to enter the IFR system. Entry is conditional that you are able to get airborne at altitude and in radio contact before a certain time.

Other Word for Near Emergency 
When in contact with ATC, pilots can use the word "immediately" to avoid an imminent situation.  

Lost Radios
VFR loss of radios is not an emergency. Under IFR there is an entire program for dealing with not having radios. It gives you how to select your altitudes and what you are supposed to do.

Loss of Navigation Radios
Time was many of the 600 FSS facilities had direction finding capability. Today with near universal radar at altitude you can climb to an airway en route altitude and get vectors to where you want to go. What will we do in ten years when all that is left is GPS?

No Gyro
The no gyro approach presumes that the aircraft has no compass or heading indicator. In this situation all turns are executed at half-standard rate. Once the aircraft is established at a beginning approach altitude the pilot is instructed to "Turn right", "Stop turn" as the ATC specialist guides you toward the runway with occasional altitude changes along the way. The pilot needs to be very proficient in light touch on the controls. Something that could/should be practiced during training.

The ground-controlled approach now seems to exist only at Naval Air Stations. It allows a dual azimuth radar system to make it possible for specialists giving heading and altitude instructions to bring most any aircraft down to a safe landing. It is a very labour-intensive system and is probably not longer for this world.

Transponder Failure
There are several alternatives open to both the pilot and ATC when encoded responses from the transponder do not exist. ATC can still track you as a primary target during which time you will be required to give altitude reports.