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3 Answers

IFR 250nm Cross Country Requirement

Asked by: 6432 views Instrument Rating

Hi everyone,

I flew my IFR cross country a few weeks ago-I filed three legs for the flight (Renton->Portland Hillsboro, Hillsboro->Centralia, Centralia->Renton). By the time my CFI and I had gotten to Centralia, we had flown well over 250nm, due to vectoring and approaches, and had already made three types of approaches at Hillsboro and Centralia (ILS and VOR at Hillsboro, GPS at Centralia). Consequently we elected to return to Renton VFR. While 61.65 doesn't say it explicitly, I've heard from some that you have to complete the IFR flight back to the original point of departure. Is this true? In reading the wording of 61.65, one of the things that concerned me was:

61.65(d)(ii)(B) An instrument approach at each airport.

Would "each airport" be each and every airport that's involved in the cross country, including Renton? Or does this statement imply each airport "of arrival", since it's in the context of instrument approaches? 




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3 Answers

  1. John D. Collins on Oct 31, 2012

    The regulation doesn’t require that you return to the departure airport to satisfy the requirement, but it does require an approach at each airport. Since the direct route includes all three airports and is just 247 NM long, you need the leg back to the departure airport as part of meeting the 250 NM route. I think you meet the letter of the regulation by making up the 3 NM by vectors in the terminal area, but you may run into a DE who disagrees. Regardless, you would have had to do an approach at Renton on return as it qualifies as an airport needed to meet your cross country requirement and the regulation says “An instrument approach at each airport”. If you didn’t do the approach back at Renton, you will still have to satisfy the 250 NM cross country requirement and when you do, I recommend that you choose a route that clearly meets the 250 NM requirement so there can be no argument.

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  2. Sam Dawson on Oct 31, 2012

    One thing I have started doing is using Cloudahoy in conjunction with my iPad to track cross country flights. The app is free and gives a history of the flights including approaches that, in addition to be used for debriefs, can be shown to an examiner as proof of a cross country flight (I actually email these to DEs prior to the check ride).
    Personally I am surprised that you would chose to return VFR if you are in instrument training. Not something I would normally do with my students.

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  3. Matthew Waugh on Nov 01, 2012

    I would disagree with John (sort of). I think you can argue that you met the requirements of the regulation. You don’t need to make an instrument approach at the airport you depart, and since you ceased to be “under instrument flight rules” for the VFR leg home you’re not operating under 61.65(d)(2)(ii) at that point.

    You’d need good notes or log the flights separately (and still make good notes) to make it clear what you did.

    However – I can equally see John’s point of view, and ESPECIALLY if you didn’t land at Centralia because it’s tough to argue that you stop one flight in the air and start another – although – the fact that you dropped out of the system changes your status with respect to 61.65(d)(2)(ii).

    Anyway – you probably want to walk through this with your DE BEFORE your turn up for the checkride – because it’s possible they won’t accept the flight and you might as well figure that out before you start the checkride. I think it is very much a DE discretion at this point – you can argue it meets the reg, you can argue it doesn’t, and the DEs opinion is ALWAYS right.

    As to Sam’s question “why you would you return VFR” – I can see that, if the student is over-worked and running out of steam there’s not much learning going on, might as well cancel, pull the hood and take a nice flight home and hopefully re-energise the student for more flying later. Although – if that’s the case you might argue that the student wasn’t ready for the 250NM cross-country at that point. I do believe that doing some VFR looking out the window legs when instrument training is a good idea. Students get totally focused on the instrument training, which can be tough, and they forget WHY they fly and can become de-motivated (in my opinion).

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