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4 Answers

IFR flight in VMC by a non-instrument pilot

Asked by: 10059 views FAA Regulations

Can a non instrument rated pilot file an IFR flight plan in VMC?  Situation:  Flying through dense airspace in an aircraft equipted for instrument flight, might it not be safer to file and fly as though in IMC even though the actual conditions are VMC?  And by a non instrument rated pilot?

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4 Answers

  1. Kent Shook on Nov 30, 2010

    Simple answer: No.
    FAR 61.3(e) states:
    <blockquote>(e) Instrument rating. No person may act as pilot in command of a civil aircraft under IFR or in weather conditions less than the minimums prescribed for VFR flight unless that person holds:

    (1) The appropriate aircraft category, class, type (if required), and instrument rating on that person’s pilot certificate for any airplane, helicopter, or powered-lift being flown;</blockquote>
    Also, in dense, busy airspace it’s generally easier to fly VFR. If you’re IFR, they may vector you all over creation to keep you out of the way. If you’re VFR, both you and ATC have more options.
    One hint: It’s much more important to sound good on the radio than it is to fly IFR. If you make an initial call that sounds like “uh, Big City Approach, um, this is Bugsmasher 1234A, can we, uh, get a clearance, uh, over to, um, Podunk Field?” they’re likely to tell you to remain clear of the Bravo, if they even answer you at all.
    On the other hand, if you call up and say “Big City Approach, Bugsmasher 1234A over Suburban Municipal at 3,500, request Bravo clearance to Podunk Field” you’re likely to hear “Bugsmasher 34A, Big City Approach, Squawk 4321” and then “Bugsmasher 34A, radar contact, fly heading 270, cleared into class Bravo at 3,500 feet.” Most ATC facilities provide excellent service and will happily let you into their airspace *IF* you sound like you won’t be using up their valuable frequency time.

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  2. Koehn on Nov 30, 2010

    I agree with Kent’s answer about being vectored all over the place in busy airspace. Also, remember that if you are flying IFR in VMC you are constrained to the IFR tolerances for altitude etc., and you’re still required to maintain visual separation from VFR aircraft.
    You’re probably better served by flying with VFR separation services (i.e., flight following) if they’re available.

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  3. Matthew Waugh on Dec 02, 2010

    Actually the answer to your questions are:
    1. Yes
    2. No
    3. Whats the question?
    You asked if you can file the flight plan – and you can – you just can’t accept a clearance – a subtle and fairly pointless distinction.
    IFR in VMC you’re separated from other IFR traffic, but you’re not separated from VFR traffic, and hitting a VFR aircraft hurts just as much no matter what kind of flight plan you’re on.

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  4. Jonathan Yo on May 31, 2013

    Where is it written that an aircraft on an ifr flight plain with radar contact is still responsible to not hit vfr aircraft? I have spent hours online searching for this. ATC here always says something about looking out for such and such aircraft near me when i’m ifr. I thought the whole idea of being on an ifr flight plain meant that you were expecting obstacle clearance 100% of the time while under positive radar contact.

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