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4 Answers

VFR limited aircraft in VMC flying under IFR

Asked by: 6365 views , ,
FAA Regulations, Helicopter, Instrument Rating


Can an aircraft who's POH limitations section says it is authorized for Day & Night VFR legally fly under IFR while in VMC if the aircraft meets all of the part 91 IFR requirements, such as having all the equipment (i.e. GRAB CARD), an IFR certified GPS with a current database, recent VOR checks; Pitot/Static checks, etc?


The reason I ask is 61.65 (e) (2) (ii) requires a XC tirip under IFR with a flight plan.  My school uses R44's for the instrument training but the POH limits the aircraft to Day & night VFR.

It is enough of a gray area that most instructors at the school only do the 1 flight required to meet the aeronautical experience under actual IFR (and, again, in hard VMC).  The rest of the simulated instrument training is under VFR. 

I expect this to make the transition to "real" IFR, even if in VMC, more difficult due to the lack of experienc with real ATC clearances and communications.

Thanks for your thoughts.

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4 Answers

  1. Wes Beard on Jun 13, 2011

    I remember a similar question my flight school asked for airplanes on training flights.  It was determined that we can use VFR only aircraft in the IFR environment for training purposes only.
    This interpretation from the FAA legal counsel seems to indicate a VFR only helicopter can fly VMC under instrument rules whether or not they are on a training flight.

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  2. Gibson on Jun 14, 2011

    Thank you Wes!  The letter you linked to mentions “FAA Order 8900.1, paragraph 5-439” which I looked up and have pasted below (& linked), but if that doesn’t work, under 8900.1, it is volume 5, chapter 2, section 9.  Yes, if properly equiped, a non-IFR rated ship can be flown on an IFR flight plan & therefore under IFR rules, but must remain in VMC.  At least for IFR training

    VOLUME 5  airman certification
    Section 9  Conduct an Instrument Rating Certification

    5-439              USE OF AIRCRAFT NOT APPROVED FOR IFR OPERATIONS UNDER ITS TYPE CERTIFICATE FOR INSTRUMENT TRAINING AND/OR AIRMAN CERTIFICATION TESTING.  The following paragraphs are intended to clarify the use of an aircraft not approved for IFR operations under its type certificate for instrument flight training and/or airman certification testing.
    A.     IFR Training in Visual Meteorological Conditions (VMC). Instrument flight training may be conducted during VMC in any aircraft that meets the equipment requirements of part 91, sections (§§) 91.109, 91.205, and, for an airplane operated in controlled airspace under the IFR system, §§ 91.411 and 91.413. An aircraft may be operated on an IFR flight plan under IFR in VMC, provided the PIC is properly certificated to operate the aircraft under IFR. However, if the aircraft is not approved for IFR operations under its type certificate, or if the appropriate instruments and equipment are not installed or are not operative, operations in Instrument Meteorological Conditions (IMC) are prohibited. The PIC of such an aircraft must cancel the IFR flight plan in use and avoid flight into IMC. 

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  3. Earl Kessler on Jun 14, 2011

    I had a similar problem with an instrument student in a Diamond DA-20.  Although equipped with a GNS 430 and all the proper equipment except for a heated pitot tube, this aspect prevented IFR flight.  The DPE’s son, whom I trained, did all of his training in VMC.  I have a personal rule that no student takes the exam until he or she does some IFR-Wet time.  His dad promised me he would take him on the wet adventure after the exam, which he did in another certified airplane.  During training, we filed IFR and did all the appropriate training without seeing the inside of a cloud.

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  4. Heather McNevin on Jun 18, 2011

    This came up recently at the Center where I work.  It is allowed, however, if you get a clearance you cannot comply with, FSDO said you had to cancel IFR and proceed VFR.  It ended up being a problem on the ATC end of things.  The pilot was given another altitude and a hold for traffic.  He couldnt accept it because of clouds.  Our radar shows only precipitation, not clouds, so it is difficult to see what we can do with you if you cannot enter a cloud.  We ended up having to move multiple airplanes that were there first in order to accomodate this pilot who would only accept direct the airport.  It was a big headache and was not easy for the controller.  We asked FSDO for an interpretation and thats what they said.

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