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5 Answers

VFR Requirements in class D

Asked by: 3812 views FAA Regulations

I know  Class D requirements is 3 miles, 500 below, 1000 above and 2000 horizontal, but today I heard a Cessna 150 doing  touch and goes, but it was overcast at 1200 AGL and the traffic pattern is 1500 feet.  Is this  legal?

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5 Answers

  1. Mark Kolber on Dec 22, 2013

    So long as the ceiling is at least 1000′ airports with surface areas in controlled airspace (Class E, D, C, B) are VFR (91.155(c).

    So long as the pilot maintained his 500′ below cloud clearance (or got a Special VFR clearance) , no problem (I’m assuming Tower had no problem with it.)

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  2. Robert P. HARTIGAN on Dec 22, 2013

    I would also add that pattern altitude is mean sea level and weather is reported in feet above ground level. It would be helpful to know field elevation to really answer the question. I suspect if the pilot was getting ATC clearance to land and he did not have to request a Special VFR then it was all good!

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  3. MaggotCFII on Dec 23, 2013

    Probably well over-answering your question, but the research was interesting!

    This is the link to the the ATC Joint Order, JO 7110.65U, a/k/a manual, drill down to Chapter 7. Visual and then Section 5. Special VFR (SVFR), one can see what the controllers are given to follow – Interesting read.


    The “D” that I operate in will not allow SVFR and IFR traffic to be in the same airspace at the same time. So yes, I could get an SVFR for T/Pattern ops, T&Gs, but if Approach hands an IFR over to the Tower, it will be a full stop, taxi back and wait for another clearance. Not necessarily cost effective for the student – great if a CFI is a “time builder” slug.

    There is a note in the “Priority” paragraph which gives the controller prerogative concerning SVFR.

    Then there are the comments in the A/FD which may list other T/Pat concerns and Noise Abatement.

    To get an idea of how the “bureaucracy” thinks, go to this link and peruse the Letters of Interpretation that the FAA Regulations Division has published on the topic.


    The Baginski (2012) is really worth a read.

    Again a “how are these guys thinking look”.

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  4. Mark Kolber on Dec 23, 2013

    The “D” that I operate in will not allow SVFR and IFR traffic to be in the same airspace at the same time.

    None will. For the same reason ATC won’t allow two IFR traffic to be in the same airspace at the same time, even having one in a holding pattern until the first reports cancellation of IFR at a non-radar airport — required separation.

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  5. Sam Dawson on Dec 23, 2013

    Here’s a weird one. A non-towered airport where I often operate is within class D airspace. A few times I have operated at this non-towered airport when the AWOS was reporting VFR. The Class D ATIS, however, reported IFR. Since the Class D was IFR I needed a special VFR to operate at the non-towered airport. I had to keep one radio on CTAF and the other on tower. When IFR traffic came in I had to land and wait their arrival.

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