Question For Jack About VFR Pilot Filing IFR

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Nomore767
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Re: Question For Jack About VFR Pilot Filing IFR

Postby Nomore767 » Wed Nov 13, 2013 5:37 pm

Merlinspop wrote:The only purpose of what Jack suggested is to improve your odds that the initial controller will say yes and give you radar advisories.


Huh? Radar advisories are simply ATC pointing out traffic, if they have the time. The onus is still on you so I don't see the advantage. The odds aren't really improved since ATC may or may not actually call out traffic if they're busy. VFR means the onus is on you to see and avoid unless the pilot feels that traffic spotting duty has been handed over to ATC!

In fact it could be worse if a bunch of VFR guys file IFR in order to get a heads up on getting advisories such that ATC nixes it…due to traffic!

Doesn't ATC get a strip on each IFR flight and has to have it ready as the flight enters the system? So instead of getting ATC interested in helping you it might do the opposite.
Also when providing advisories ATC can suddenly decide to drop you due to traffic so you're back to square one.

If you file IFR you have to list the name of the PIC who has to be IFR qualified and current.
If you file VFR then the named PIC must be appropriately qualified.
If you plan to enter the SFRA on an IFR flight plan then you file IFR as per normal.
If you plan to enter the SFRA VFR then, procedurally, you file IFR requesting a VFR altitude and the flight will be considered VFR within the SFRA. In fact the only time you file the special SFRA flight plan IS when you're VFR otherwise your on an IFR flight plan.

Trying to game the system is not a good way to go, in my view.

Cheers, Howard.

Merlinspop
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Re: Question For Jack About VFR Pilot Filing IFR

Postby Merlinspop » Wed Nov 13, 2013 7:23 pm

Nomore767 wrote:
Merlinspop wrote:The only purpose of what Jack suggested is to improve your odds that the initial controller will say yes and give you radar advisories.


Huh? Radar advisories are simply ATC pointing out traffic, if they have the time. The onus is still on you so I don't see the advantage. The odds aren't really improved since ATC may or may not actually call out traffic if they're busy. VFR means the onus is on you to see and avoid unless the pilot feels that traffic spotting duty has been handed over to ATC!

Nowhere did I ever even suggest that "see and avoid" doesn't rule supreme for a VFR pilot, whether or not they are receiving advisories, whether the controller entered the data or or it was already there.

In fact it could be worse if a bunch of VFR guys file IFR in order to get a heads up on getting advisories such that ATC nixes it…due to traffic!

Traffic where? In the computer system, or in the air? The flight plan doesn't show up unless the controller pulls it up, so traffic in the system is a non factor. Traffic in the air? Don't we want people to fly?

Doesn't ATC get a strip on each IFR flight and has to have it ready as the flight enters the system? So instead of getting ATC interested in helping you it might do the opposite.

Not when "VFR/x500" appears in the altitude block, so I have been told.

Also when providing advisories ATC can suddenly decide to drop you due to traffic so you're back to square one.

Of course.

If you file IFR you have to list the name of the PIC who has to be IFR qualified and current.

See my earlier statement that I did not know whether Jack's suggested method was FAA/ATC approved. If this statement is indeed true, then FFF has his answer for his follow-on question.

If you file VFR then the named PIC must be appropriately qualified.

Duh, when did I suggest otherwise?

If you plan to enter the SFRA on an IFR flight plan then you file IFR as per normal.

Of course! This is a beautiful advantage of having an IFR rating in this area.

If you plan to enter the SFRA VFR then, procedurally, you file IFR requesting a VFR altitude and the flight will be considered VFR within the SFRA.

But you just said I have to be IFR and current! Oh, wait, there are procedural exceptions. Only this one? Are you positive? I don't know.

In fact the only time you file the special SFRA flight plan IS when you're VFR otherwise your on an IFR flight plan.

Again, duh! Did I suggest otherwise? Correction... You're on an IFR clearance. The flight plan just started the process to get the clearance.

Trying to game the system is not a good way to go, in my view.

You never file one route knowing the system will accept it and then request direct or a reroute once you're on your way? Isn't that gaming the system, too? How about taking off VFR to avoid waiting a long time for your clearance and picking up an IFR clearance once airborne?

Again, I'm NOT advocating this process, and I have yet to confirm whether it is approved (although I have inquired). All I was doing was explaining it. If you don't see any value in it, then don't use it. I know people who claim it works. Would they have gotten FF anyway? Don't know. Probably.
- Bruce

FlyingForFun
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Re: Question For Jack About VFR Pilot Filing IFR

Postby FlyingForFun » Wed Nov 13, 2013 7:46 pm

Delete
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Merlinspop
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Re: Question For Jack About VFR Pilot Filing IFR

Postby Merlinspop » Wed Nov 13, 2013 7:54 pm

FlyingForFun wrote:It's funny how these discussions frequently morph into arguments. The power of the internet.

Guilty. My apologies to you and Howard. I think this same effect has amplified the current toxic political environment. It's too easy to get swept up.
- Bruce

FlyingForFun
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Re: Question For Jack About VFR Pilot Filing IFR

Postby FlyingForFun » Wed Nov 13, 2013 8:06 pm

Delete
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Merlinspop
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Re: Question For Jack About VFR Pilot Filing IFR

Postby Merlinspop » Wed Nov 13, 2013 8:20 pm

That's the idea at least. My FSS contact said he's never filed such a plan for anyone in the 7 years he's been at Flight Service. The question has been passed to another group that includes Potomac TRACON controllers.
I'm genuinely curious as to whether this is sanctioned.
- Bruce

Merlinspop
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Re: Question For Jack About VFR Pilot Filing IFR

Postby Merlinspop » Wed Nov 13, 2013 8:24 pm

With computer systems and bureaucracies, "good ideas" often are impossible. Hoping for a reply soon from the other source.
- Bruce

Nomore767
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Re: Question For Jack About VFR Pilot Filing IFR

Postby Nomore767 » Wed Nov 13, 2013 9:48 pm

Bruce,
No arguments from me! Nothing was directed personally!

My comments were posted to provide a counter view. hey, we're all her to learn and grow and understand.

In case I may have misunderstood what you said, for clarification:-

"Traffic where? In the computer system, or in the air? The flight plan doesn't show up unless the controller pulls it up, so traffic in the system is a non factor. Traffic in the air? Don't we want people to fly?"

If you're talking about an IFR flight plan then it goes into the system and generates a strip about 30 mins prior to planned departure time. The controller gets the traffic as the strips become active and takes the hand-off. Bear in mind the system is creating the planned path based on the filed route and altitude as the starting point and is what they will assume the flight will do under lost comm.
If several pilots all file IFR but plan to ask for FF advisories the system doesn't know this so assumes this will all become IFR traffic. If 6 of us all did this together at one airport then ATC will see 6 IFR flights and start putting them into the system and perhaps expect not be able to provide advisories on a traffic permitting basis and so it could be counter productive, in my view.

"If you file IFR you have to list the name of the PIC who has to be IFR qualified and current."

The person who 'files' the flight need not BE the PIC, but…once filed into the system, the PIC is on record, and should be IFR qualified and current.

"If you plan to enter the SFRA VFR then, procedurally, you file IFR requesting a VFR altitude and the flight will be considered VFR within the SFRA.

But you just said I have to be IFR and current! Oh, wait, there are procedural exceptions. Only this one? Are you positive? I don't know."

If you file a VFR flight plan it doesn't go into the 'system' and generate the strip. For the SFRA checking the IFR box puts it into the system (like filing IFR) but procedurally it's not an IFR flight plan. It's the procedure for allowing a VFR flight to operate in the SFRA. A true IFR flight files as it would anywhere.

"In fact the only time you file the special SFRA flight plan IS when you're VFR otherwise your on an IFR flight plan.

Again, duh! Did I suggest otherwise? Correction... You're on an IFR clearance. The flight plan just started the process to get the clearance. "

Not sure what you mean here..but the SFRA procedure is for VFR traffic since IFR traffic filed a full, normal, IFR flight plan.

"You never file one route knowing the system will accept it and then request direct or a reroute once you're on your way? Isn't that gaming the system, too? How about taking off VFR to avoid waiting a long time for your clearance and picking up an IFR clearance once airborne?"

Yes you FILE a route and you might EXPECT to be able to request direct or re-route but…the filed route is what you and ATC agree you will do if say you lost ATC comm immediately after take-off. In the air you can get direct or re-routed but if you then lose comm you and ATC will expect you to fly the remaining route and altitudes as per your revised clearance and/or your last clearance.
Taking off VFR to avoid a delay is fine but once you pick up your IFR clearance you're now bound by it, in this case your route clearance for the flight under IFR that you just picked up.

Just my opinions and I'm probably wrong.

Jack Tyler
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Re: Question For Jack About VFR Pilot Filing IFR

Postby Jack Tyler » Thu Nov 14, 2013 5:35 am

Golly, I go away for less than a day and look at all the discussion! A few of you asked via PM for the small article I did for our local EAA newsletter and I've sent that on, but perhaps it makes sense given all the dialogue above to paste it here as well. Before I do, a couple of summary points:
-- Bruce did an excellent job of summarizing my reason for mentioning this in his first post, early in the discussion
-- This has nothing to do with flying 'in the system' or accepting an IFR clearance; it's only about filing an IFR flight plan to aid ATC
-- Jack is not 'advocating' anything, just pointing out it is an option that is a) legal throughout the NAS and b) preferred by some ATC facilities due to workload, and
-- I did vet this with or read statements from three ATC controllers before writing the article. Here 'tis:

Should VFR Pilots File IFR?

Can a non-instrument rated pilot legally file an IFR flight plan? Is there a reason to do it, given the flight will be in VMC weather? And would ATC think this is permissible, let alone in some cases preferred? Interestingly, the answer to all three questions can be ‘Yes’.

It’s probably best to first revisit the fact that - when a VFR flight plan is filed on-line, from an iPad app, or by calling FSS – that flight plan goes into the FSS system, not the system supporting ATC (Center and Approach) facilities. ATC computers simply don’t see those VFR flight plans. However, IFR flight plans appear in the NAS ATC system 30-60 minutes before the stated departure time and remain for two hours thereafter (when they then expire and hit the Bit Bucket). Why this matters for the VFR pilot relates to obtaining Flight Following service, which we’ll get to in a moment.

What about the FARs? As one Controller recently explained: “It's perfectly legal to file [an IFR flight plan as a VFR pilot]. It would just not be legal to accept an IFR clearance. See FAR 61.3 (e) which says you need an instrument rating to act as PIC "...under IFR or in weather conditions less than the minimums prescribed for VFR." But if you are filing for the purpose of obtaining Radar Service (aka: Flight Following, Radar Advisories, etc.) on a VFR flight, you won't be soliciting or accepting an IFR clearance. So the FARs do not restrict this option for the VFR pilot.

How is this helpful? With ATC having access to your flight plan ‘strip’ in the computer, you don't take up their time passing your make & model, your destination and route, and the other needed info. Instead, on request and assuming the Controller can accommodate the work load, s/he just pulls the strip, codes you on the ATC display and issues you the squawk. In fact, some ATC facilities actually prefer this option and recommend it as a way to smooth workload. Is this something new, perhaps a quirk due to a computer upgrade somewhere? As one Controller stated: “ATC has been forwarding flight data on VFR aircraft exactly this way for some forty years. The only thing that's relatively new is that pilots can now enter the data themselves. The output to the controller does not indicate how it was entered.” Just keep in mind that FF can also be discontinued by ATC at any time, if their workload becomes a factor.

OK, that’s the ‘what’ and ‘why’. Now let’s get some clarity on the ‘when’ and ‘how’. I’m told my iPad has more capacity than some ARTCC’s Flight Data Processing computers. VFR pilots could probably swamp that system if they all filed IFR plans for their hops within the local radar airspace. On the other hand, this could suit a longer flight nicely, when Flight Following could be more important to you and you’d like to stack the deck in favor of getting that service. How far should your flight take you for this option to best suit ATC? A Jax Controller stated it this way: “Filing this way is an option best used for flights that will depart the origination radar airspace and transition THROUGH another. So e.g. in a FHB~FMY scenario you would exit TPA's radar airspace southbound, so that would work well, but FHB-TPA wouldn't.”

Here is the ‘how’ which is pretty simple:
· Check the ‘IFR’ box (which sends the flight plan to ATC) but reference a VFR altitude, following the normal hemispheric rule (so e.g. 055).
· Include your planned route of flight (e.g. CRG OCF FMY) in the Route box. As a Jax Controller explained: “The routing is particularly helpful because direct routing…might process in the NAS as a handoff [from Jax] to Daytona whereas filing over OCF will process to TPA, ensuring better ability to hand off the flight to the proper facility without interface issues.”
· Add a comment in the ‘Remarks’ box along the lines of: “VFR Flight Following only”
· Tell the controller on initial call-up something like "you'll have a flight plan in the NAS computer for me, VFR Flight Following HEG to FXE, I'd like to pick up".

Here’s one additional benefit of this option – and this is for you instrument rated pilots. One Controller pointed out: “Additionally, with all of the correct info provided by the pilot as per an IFR flight plan, transition to IFR is simple and 100% accurate if needed due to weather.”
Jack
Flying in/out KBZN, Bozeman MT in a Grumman Tiger
Do you fly for recreational purposes? Please visit http://www.theraf.org

Merlinspop
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Re: Question For Jack About VFR Pilot Filing IFR

Postby Merlinspop » Thu Nov 14, 2013 11:54 am

Nothing back from anyone in an official/current FAA capacity on the other venue, but one gentleman who is a retired Supervisor at a Class B said if he had seen a pilot do that when he was there, he would get the FSDO involved.
- Bruce

FlyingForFun
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Re: Question For Jack About VFR Pilot Filing IFR

Postby FlyingForFun » Thu Nov 14, 2013 2:41 pm

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Nomore767
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Re: Question For Jack About VFR Pilot Filing IFR

Postby Nomore767 » Thu Nov 14, 2013 5:11 pm

Had an interesting call with a bud who is now with a FSDO.

His take…before you do anything like this, be sure that you can show the FAA the FAA document, rule or procedure that sanctions this. He doesn't know of one but is open to being told where it is. In the event of an incident, violation or accident the FAA will want to know the why and where, and INTENT of the PIC.

He was very interested in the idea and could see how some VFR pilots could potentially gain a 'kind' of advantage, and why they might want to do it. He just wants to see where the FAA approves it. He said it was possible some pilots are confusing different procedures such as the SFRA and TFRs which requires a specific procedure, flight plan and squawk in order to legally operate in the airspace.

He said it's all about INTENT…there may not be a general procedure but for sure in some areas certain operators may have an agreed procedure, written and signed by both, to operate a certain way with mutual understandings. e.g.. a hospital helicopter may require quick access to a MVFR or IFR flight and by following an agreed to procedure can expedite things.

This guy is a good guy but very 'procedure oriented'…in that "Show me where it says…", or "here's the FAA sanctioned procedure that allows me to do this".

To him it might be legal to "file" an IFR flight plan as a VFR only pilot BUT the PIC must be IFR qualified, current and so must the airplane be fully IFR compliant with transponder, pitot-static, etc checks. He said it's a muddy water if the VFR pilot takes off and attempts to get ATC to immediately amend his filed IFR flight plan because asking the controller to accept the request for VFR FF could be construed as illegally accepting an IFR clearance/modified IFR clearance. You can argue it but again, can you argue with the FAA when there's no procedure to quote which allows you to do what you just did? Many pilots have been busted for similar.
He said if a particular ATC area is used to doing something like that it 'might' be okay but again, he'd want to see the FAA rule that sanctions or authorizes the procedure. There 'might' be a 'procedure' in one TRACON but nothing written, maybe.

For him, asking for FF once airborne isn't difficult and will only be approved on a workload basis anyway. He agreed with the point I made earlier in the thread that if several VFR pilots in the area attempted to file at the same time there would be ramifications, some operational, some legal. Operationally, the controller sees multiple flights that are asking for slots in the system and he must prepare separation, spacing, squawk codes from the strips generated. This is increasing his workload such that airborne requests for FF are now declined due to workload, which is counterproductive.
Legally, and he was quite serious about this, there is a potential impact to flow control and if caught the pilots attempting to game the system this way, and contribute to flow control issues, could be prosecuted.
He cited several cases of VFR pilots who filed IFR and attempted to fly IFR, even though it was good VFR weather, and somehow got to the attention of the FAA. These pilots were dealt with pretty severely. Not saying that this is what this thread is about but that it was not dissimilar.

He said it was an interesting question and the more we talked about it the more he said he was interested and was going to ask around amongst his FAA and ATC buds and see what they knew or had heard of.

In the end he said he reiterated that he was a procedures guy. If you want to fly IFR be qualified and current, in a qualified plane. You can file all the time and always choose to cancel and continue VFR if it was quicker and more efficient.
If you're VFR only then simply ask for FF and follow the procedures for that. ATC either will or won't give you FF on a workload basis and even if they did under VFR you are simply getting an extra pair of eyes to look for traffic, although it's always your responsibility.
Under IFR ATC provides spacing, separation and traffic advisories and will allocate airspace for you if you file. Once filed and the strip is produced, and then you decline it and just ask for FF they 'could' question you about your INTENT and things could get worse, especially if they ask for the documentation that 'approves' what you're doing.

If I hear more sometime I'll post it here.

I don't know if this helps!

Cheers, Howard
Last edited by Nomore767 on Thu Nov 14, 2013 6:26 pm, edited 3 times in total.

Jack Tyler
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Re: Question For Jack About VFR Pilot Filing IFR

Postby Jack Tyler » Fri Nov 15, 2013 5:43 am

Two thoughts:
-- It's a bit disappointing to hear the emphasis being placed on 'Where is it written that it's approved?' My response is where is it prohibited? Let's be careful about handing over control of what we choose to do in the air when it's in compliance with the FARs as they stand.
-- When an experienced, FAA employed Tracon supervisor tells me the procedure is both allowed and used, why would I need to check with a FSDO? (That's a rhetorical Q).
Jack
Flying in/out KBZN, Bozeman MT in a Grumman Tiger
Do you fly for recreational purposes? Please visit http://www.theraf.org

Nomore767
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Re: Question For Jack About VFR Pilot Filing IFR

Postby Nomore767 » Fri Nov 15, 2013 9:51 am

Jack,

If you re-read what I wrote, FSDO guy isn't saying NO per se, he's just an inspector/supervisor who works with pilots and ATC. He's a good guy and pro-pilots.

"His take…before you do anything like this, be sure that you can show the FAA the FAA document, rule or procedure that sanctions this. He doesn't know of one but is open to being told where it is. In the event of an incident, violation or accident the FAA will want to know the why and where, and INTENT of the PIC." And I would say, they will ask where this procedure is. They would probably interview the controller too and ask the same thing.

An admitted 'procedures guy' he, like me, could see a host of pitfalls, if one pilot did what he'd heard another say he could do and screws up somehow and they have to talk with him. If they can point to a written procedure which he was following then he's fine with it and is all about pilots getting greater utility from the system. On the other hand they should be careful is all.
Procedure is what we all fall back on when it goes wrong.

When you say this procedure is 'in compliance with FARs' his response was a VFR only pilot cannot file an IFR flight plan listing himself as PIC (and the plane has to be in IFR compliance too) then take off and contact ATC and discuss the resulting clearance. His point, could accepting the clearance but amending it to VFR FF (otherwise it's IFR or declined) be construed as being a violation? One controller may be okay with it and he sees that, but another might not, or if there is an incident and the whole flight is reviewed how would this 'procedure' be viewed? Is the controller assuming that the pilot he's talking with is IFR rated but is just now asking for VFR FF? I mean, that's his assumption based on the fact that this pilot filed IFR.

When you mention the TRACON supervisor who says its an 'approved procedure' FSDO guy is just saying well let me see it an if it's accepted and approved by the FAA then he's okay with that. He did say that some TRACONS may indeed have an arrangement/agreement to do something, he's just pointed out that the FAA usually has that written down somewhere. What he IS saying too is that there is a gray area, which you may dispute, in 'accepting' an IFR clearance ( filed by a VFR only pilot, flown by a non-rated/current pilot) in the sense of asking ATC to activate it but now as a VFR FF flight. Or is he not accepting a clearance but just asking for FF? In which case why bother? They've had pilot busts for this although some may have got through via the controller. If it could go either way then for ME I think pilots should think twice.

Hey, not knocking what you're saying, I'm sure you're right. It was just an interesting conversation and I thought I'd pass along another view from someone more in the know than I am.

Cheers, Howard

VL Roberts
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Re: Question For Jack About VFR Pilot Filing IFR

Postby VL Roberts » Fri Nov 15, 2013 10:48 am

I am retired from ATC ( Center), and my experience with the discussed technique is that very few pilots would use this method, and when they did no one really cared, nor did it cause any concern. Any VFR operating in the ADIZ is actually required to file a FP into the IFR system like VFR SFRA flight plans now.

With improvements in automation, controllers no longer manually enter a FP for a VFR, so filing a FP prior to requesting FF is no longer a big labor or time saving technique. All the controller needs is type aircraft and destination.

The only disadvantage of this method I can think of is if you are flying in heavily travelled area like the east coast where there are a lot of IFR preferential routes. If your filed route doesn't match the preferred route, once your FP is activated , the ATC computer will apply the pref route and the FP will be processed to the wrong sectors unless the controller manually over rides it.

It should be noted that FF, even with a FP filed with the IFR box checked will not activate SAR procedures.


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