View Full Version : quick vfr question
06-04-2002, 05:37 PM
probably a dumb one but ill ask anyway....when during a VFR flight you can request a "flight following" is that the normal procedure? or is it just some sort of safety net to make the pilot feel like he is not cut off from the rest of the world? if someone could give me a little explanation id love it. i just thought of this one, too....are all airline flights filed as IFR no matter what and then the pilot can request a visual approach if it is clear enough at the destination? thanks a lot for your help...
06-04-2002, 05:41 PM
My understanding is that a pilot flying under VFR conditions can request flight following anytime but the controller accepts only as workload permits.
I don't have an answer on your airliner IFR question.
06-04-2002, 05:44 PM
You can (in the U.S., anyhow) request flight following anytime that you can talk to an ATC radar facility. In terminal areas you will usually talk to approach control, while most other places you would talk to Center.
06-04-2002, 05:46 PM
>>I don't have an answer on your airliner IFR question.
Yes, all commecial airline operations operate under IFR. You can do a visual approach under IFR - just because you're filed as IFR does not mean weather conditions are bad. Under IFR, ATC can & needs to keep close track of every plane in the sky at all times. Plus, anytime you are in class A airspace ( over FL180 ) you need to be under IFR.
Hope this made sense - perhaps a real world pilot could elaborate
06-04-2002, 05:53 PM
thanks a lot for the good and quick answers. this place is great. admittadly, i dont post on the site very often--only when im confused about something and i cant figure it out on my own. so thanks again for making it so easy on the sticky ones. i should probably hold my own for a bit--at least until Project AI busts out (whenever that is)--that should supply plenty of questions for me to ask. thanks again...
06-04-2002, 05:55 PM
LAST EDITED ON Jun-04-02 AT 05:56PM (EDT)[p]"ATC radar facilities routinely provide traffic information to IFR aircraft. As a pilot of a VFR aircraft, you may request radar traffic information service, also called VFR radar advisory service, which is intended to alert you to air traffic relevant to your flight. This service is often referred to as flight following."
An IFR flight plan is filed, but visual meteorological conditions may exist. All flight in class alpha airspace, at or above 18000 MSL, is IFR. Once the destination airport is visually acquired, a visual approach and landing is usually made.
06-04-2002, 06:02 PM
A brief clarification. A visual approach is IFR procedure, the only thing is that ATC puts you on the hook for separation. You are told either to follow another airplane or report the airport insight. If you lose sight of either, ATC is back on the hook to bring hyou around for another shot.
If hyo cancel IFR and then land, you are on your own the whole time.
06-04-2002, 06:04 PM
Thanks for the explanation. I knew that airliners always operated IFR but I wasn't sure about their ability to request visual approaches.
06-04-2002, 09:13 PM
To do a visual approach you need basic VFR conditions, or the ceiling has to be 500ft above the controllers minimum vectoring altitude. You can't do it in the game but in real life you can do a contact approach if it the weather is below VFR.
There is a gotcha to canceling IFR before landing. If the airport is below VFR minimums and you cancel IFR and land, guess what....busted!
Flight following in the real world is also not available at all altitudes. If they can't see you on radar you can't get flight following. You are also pretty low on the totem pole so it doesn't relieve you of looking around for traffic.
06-04-2002, 11:22 PM
I hear airlines always requesting to close their IFR on approaches on good days. I know some commercial airlines don't fly IFR on some short hops, but ALWAYS file a flight plan.
06-04-2002, 11:45 PM
Most airlines, will file IFR flight plans, They will not switch to vfr while en-route. Airlines may not use a presicion approach but they will use an insturment approach. An insturment precision approach for instance would be ILS, a non-precision approach is for instance an VOR approach which is still and insturment approach. Airlines will use IFR all the time...You can not exceed FL180 unless you are on an IFR flight plan.
In regards to the last post, it is just flat out incorrect. I am a pilot which most of you know, and I don't want to start an arguement, however that information is. For instance I worked for trans world express out of KJLN (Joplin Mo.) we had jetstreams 31/41 as well as saab 340's coming in and out. Not once did any of those a/c come in on a vfr flight plan and they never left on a vfr flight plan. Commercial aircraft in MOST cases will be IFR, and that has nothing to do with IMC, or clear weather...Hope this sets the record straight for ya, I just wanted to jump in because I saw you getting a lot of conflicting answers.... :)
06-05-2002, 02:28 AM
thanks a lot for all the answers--especially the in-depth ones. i definitely have a greater grasp for these particular ATC concepts now. so thanks again...next time i need help ill be back :)
06-05-2002, 02:50 AM
I don't know of any airlines closing their IFR flight plan and switching to VFR in busy areas. I remember PSA Flight 182 in 1978 went down in San Diego after they switched to VFR and slamming into a Cessna.
Rick - KPDX - Private Pilot
Dual XP1800's - 1G RAM - ATI-8500DV
06-05-2002, 07:04 PM
I've never heard the term 'flight following' in the RW within UK airspace. Just to be clear, is this the exact US equivalent of Radar Information/ Advisory at a LARS (Lower Airspace Radar Service), or do we do a service called "flight following"?
In other words is it those Yanks attempting to rewrite the English language again? ;-)
06-05-2002, 07:26 PM
PSA 182 never switched to VFR. There is no rpt no part 121 air carrier that ever rpt ever flies vfr on a revenue flight. Do not confuse VMC (visual meteorology conditionas) with VFR (visual flight rules). Flying in VMC under IFR is not the same thing.
PSA 182 had the 172 pointed out to them as traffic, said they had it -- which put the avoidance on them -- but they had another 172, not the one that hit them.
06-05-2002, 07:29 PM
Yes and Yes. :)
06-05-2002, 09:58 PM
LAST EDITED ON Jun-05-02 AT 10:23PM (EDT)[p]LAST EDITED ON Jun-05-02 AT 10:22 PM (EDT)
I disagree..... PSA did switch to VFR because they wanted to cut the pattern short instead of the normal route that takes them all the way down to Mt. Miguel, then turn right to line up for Rwy 27. If you listen to the tape, the controller asks "How far are you going to go".... the pilot responded with something like "4 or 5 miles". He was controlling where he was going to turn, not the controller.
Yes, they were confused as to which plane the controllers were talking about.
Three of my good friends were PSA captains and explained to me exactly what happened on that flight. Read #4 "allowing the controllers to authorise visual separation" .... and #8 from the report.
1. The primary cause of the disaster was that the crew of PSA flight 182 lost sight of the Cessna and did not tell San Diego ATC that they had done so.
2. The controllers failed to appreciate that PSA 182 had lost sight of the Cessna, or even that there was some confusion as to its position. This should have been obvious from the radio transmissions recieved from the 727.
3. The possible presence of a third, unidentified and unauthorized aircraft may have confused the crew of PSA 182 as to the position of the Cessna.
4. ATC procedures were confused and poorly coordinated, allowing the controllers to authorise visual separation procedures when a radar service was available.This would have been safer, giving lateral and vertical separation between both aircraft.
5. The controller failed to advise Flight 182 as to the direction of the movement of the Cessna.
6. The pilot of the Cessna didn't maintain his assigned heading of 070 or inform ATC that he was diverting from his course. Had he maintained his position the accident would never of happened.
7. San Diego Approach Control had failed to react to the conflict alert warning (both visual and aural). No warning was passed to either pilot.
8. San Diego Approach Control did not restrict Flight 182 to a minimum height of 4,000ft while it was within the Mongomery Field traffic area. Had it done so, the collision would not have occured.
Rick - KPDX - Private Pilot
Dual XP1800's - 1G RAM - ATI-8500DV
06-05-2002, 11:23 PM
Doesn't matter if you are VFR, IFR or getting flight following with VFR, if you are in Visual Met Conditions, it is the pilots responsibility for separation.
Now, that said, it is tough in the real world to pick out a light plane at 5 miles even when you know where to look. Compounding the problem is the general lousy shape of most plexi windscreens, and most airliner cockpits are not designed with visibility in mind. For obvious reasons, your chances of a midair go up as the weather gets better.
06-06-2002, 01:22 AM
Flight following is done automatically, when you file a VFR flight plan with a Flight Service Station. It is the best and least expensive insurance that a pilot can get. To make it work though, the pilot must make VFR position reports that are recorded by the Flight Service Specialist, and in the event of misfortune a search can be initiated without delay. Without position reports, the search would have to start at the point of departure. So you can see that PX reports are very important.
To answer your question about airlines. No, not all scheduled airline flights are IFR. Many are VFR. If a pilot wants to file IFR and change to VFR, he must cancel the IFR flightplan with ATC and file a VFR flight plan with FSS. In order to make a VFR approach, the file must first cancel the IFR portion of his flight.
it is too bad that FS2002 doesn't also use the FLIGHT SERVICE STATIONS as well as ATC towers for a more realistic airport environment. Probably 90% of airport "towers" are staffed by FSS personnel. These towers are more properly refered to as a CAB and FSS do not control, but rather they are an advisory function. SEE AND BE SEEN is the VFR enviroment. Most ATC towers are VFR controllers and the IFR aircraft are handed off to the Tower controller just as they are handed of to the FSS at airports where there is no tower. This is greatly simplified and there is a lot more to it than that, but I hope it helps.
06-06-2002, 03:37 AM
LAST EDITED ON Jun-06-02 AT 03:52AM (EDT)[p]Jesse, it would seem you have many excellent answers to your Flight Following question - this forum has some wonderfuly experienced people - I learn something every time I visit.
I just want to add some things about 121 VFR operations.
There is nothing in the FARs that forbids a pilot from operating VFR. In fact there is nothing in the Air Transport Association (ATA) agreements to prevent it either.
In some cases it might be expedient to use VFR in the terminal area - the ATA agreements allow for this due to traffic backups and ATC delays. The only thing that would prevent a pilot from using VFR would be his/her company's Operating Policy Manual (OPM) - if the OPM allows it and incorporates ATA agreements, then the FAR's support it. In special situations (radio failure) you can legally fly VFR in Class A. But, like the Flying Griffin implied, it is much safer with ATC providing separation and traffic advisories - part 121 or not
Finally, to reiterate what BobLee stated about visual approaches, you can still be on an IFR plan and do a visual approach (such as follow the river into DCA). I mention this because sometimes new pilots misunderstand the "Visual" part of flying IFR.
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