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FAR 91.507 VFR over the Top

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FAA Regulations

I was challenged by a Fellow pilot over a scenario he presented to me.  

The scenerio:  An instrument pilot plans to departed an airport under VFR in cessna 172 not certified for IFR flight.  It's a 2 hr flight to the destination.  At the time of departure it is VFR.  The destination airport is VFR and is forecast to remain VFR at the time of arrival.  However along the route is a solid overcast layer (ceilings around 1200 AGL).  Since the instrument pilot is flying an airplane not legal for IFR flight, he can not request a "VFR on Top" clearance.  Since the airplane is not legal to fly into IMC, the pilot elects to continue the flight in VMC by flying "VFR over  the Top" for approx 2 hrs over the overcast layer and descend into the destination airport under VMC.  (We all agree that in this scenario it is not smart to fly an airplane not legal for IFR flight over an overcast for so long)

Question:  Did the pilot break any FAR's? 

What about FAR 91.507 - No person may operate an airplane over-the-top or at night under VFR unless that airplane is equipped with the instruments and equipment required for IFR operations under 91.205(d) and one electric landing light for night operations.  Each required instrument and item of equipment must be in operable condition.

Question: Does FAR 91.507 even apply to a pilot operating a small single engine airplane or does this Regulation only apply to Large and Turbine-Powered Multi-engine Airplanes and Fractional Ownership Program Aircraft.

Question:  Would the pilot be breaking 91.507 if the pilot was being compensated for the flight.

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2 Answers

  1. Wes Beard on Dec 22, 2013

    §91.507 does not apply in your case. If you read the applicability statement at the beginning of the section it will say so (§91.501.)

    Any instrument rated pilot can fly an IFR flight in a non-instrument airplane so long as they do not enter IMC conditions. In your scenario above, even if the pilot had elected to file and receive clearance for a IFR flight with “VFR on top” he would not be breaking any rules that I am aware of.

    I agree it would not be a safe practice though.

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  2. Kris Kortokrax on Dec 23, 2013

    The flight described is flown completely under VFR. IFR certification is not necessary.

    As regards compensation, if the flight is conducted under Part 135, see 135.159 for equipment requirements and 135.211 for operating requirements.


    Whether the flight can be made under IFR depends on why the airplane is “non-instrument”.
    If the equipment required by 91.205 (b),(c) and (d) is not installed or operative, the flight could not be made under IFR (whether in VMC or IMC).

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