Special VFR for Sport Pilot?

Paul Hamilton is one of the first persons to become a DPE (Designated Pilot Examiner) for sport pilots. As a full-time author and sport pilot expert, he writes books and produces DVD's for Aviation Supplies and Academics (ASA). Now Paul has graciously agreed to answer your questions here. Thanks Paul! For more information about Paul, please visit www.Paul-Hamilton.com and www.Sport-Pilot-Training.com.

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tu16
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Postby tu16 » Wed Dec 08, 2010 7:53 pm

Paul Hamilton wrote:It is hard for anyone to determine whether or not the checkride should have been failed or not since we were not there. There are many different aspects. But anytime the examiner has to take the controls the checkride is failed. For good of for bad. This is an absolute. Does not matter now.


Totally agreed. I assume the DPE is not in a habit to grab control just for fun and unlike me has thousand times more experience to hone his judgements - if if he felt the intervention was necessary for a safety of flight, he is by all means right and I have failed.

Even if I, looking from the left seat while trying to squeeze the last authority from the right rudder, felt we're flying far enough (~25ft) from the left edge of runway to create a safety hazard, - this feeling understandably was not shared by DPE who probably couldn't see the left edge of runway in low flight from his right seat position in a low wing airplane and could assume the worst. The bottom line is that directional control on a takeoff was not maintained, PTS not met - and that is the end of it. Will train more to avoid scaring my passengers - whether this is my wife or DPE. :) Thankfully this time it was DPE :) Never again....

Getting back to initial topic - Paul what do you think regulations are saying about circumstances of SVFR for SP? Did we arrive here to right conclusion?

Thanks!

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Paul Hamilton
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Postby Paul Hamilton » Wed Dec 08, 2010 10:50 pm

That is a really nice thought Brian and maybe this would be helpful. Suggesting it here does little to change it. Send your suggestion into the FAA and maybe they will adopt it. Never hurts to try.
Paul is a Sport Pilot CFI/DPE and the expert for ASA who writes the books and produces the DVD's for all pilots flying light sport aircraft.
See www.SportAviationCenter.com www.Sport-Pilot-Training.com and www.BeASportPilot.com to Paul's websites

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Change REQUIRED to SUGGESTED

Postby bryancobb » Thu Dec 09, 2010 6:53 am

I should have said "I think the FAA should SUGGEST that all Sport DPE's ride along on a couple of Commercial checkrides.

I'll bet the DPE's would enjoy it. They are obviously flying enthisiasts. I thoroughly enjoy being in the back seat anytime, watching and learning from others.

I was always SCARED to take my initial CFI ride with THE FEDS. Never did do it. Let my medical lapse and doing the Sport Thang now. I accompanied a friend of mine doing his Initial CFI Ride with the feds.
Now I wouldn't be nervous at all. If that one was the norm, they are as easy on the applicant as any DPE I have ever been to.

Now that my blood pressure is under control, I may consider trying to get my medical renewed, and go Subpart H.
Bryan Cobb
Sport Pilot CFI
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tu16
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Postby tu16 » Wed Jan 05, 2011 1:48 am

Just to close my little random offtopic of my failed checkride accidentally brought up here :) Worked for another 8hrs with my CFI to tighten up tolerances in my flying and took a re-test yesterday with the same DPE. Both me and DPE left the cockpit smiling :) I'm very grateful to the DPE for failing me the first time! :) This helped me to focus on , to appreciate and to enjoy the precision in flying. Now the "wings" felt earned and that was truly a happy feeling. And all is good in a sky... :)

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Congrats

Postby bryancobb » Wed Jan 05, 2011 7:16 am

Congratulations on conquering your weaknesses and gettin' er done! :lol:
Bryan Cobb

Sport Pilot CFI

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Paul Hamilton
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Postby Paul Hamilton » Wed Jan 05, 2011 11:26 am

tu16,
Simply being able to get basic precision in flying is nice. Congratulations.
I think this is a good example how failing a checkride is not that bad and in retrospect the best for all. I think you have proven an important point.

This is also a good example of why NOT too bad mouth/second guess sport pilot DPE's overall and say that failing a checkride is rare or unusual. This really does not accomplish anything but fuel failed checkride applicant’s humiliation. There is plenty of other discussion on passing/failing checkrides in topics specifically on this subject. As CFI’s and industry leaders let’s all try and stay on topic as much as possible to make this a useful tool to people.

To close this topic out, as far as Special VFR for sport pilots, I understand, believe, and have been told by OK City FAA that there is no special VFR for sport pilots. 61.315 over rides any other regulations for sport pilots.
Paul is a Sport Pilot CFI/DPE and the expert for ASA who writes the books and produces the DVD's for all pilots flying light sport aircraft.

See www.SportAviationCenter.com www.Sport-Pilot-Training.com and www.BeASportPilot.com to Paul's websites

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tu16
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Postby tu16 » Wed Jan 05, 2011 8:01 pm

To close this topic out, as far as Special VFR for sport pilots, I understand, believe, and have been told by OK City FAA that there is no special VFR for sport pilots. 61.315 over rides any other regulations for sport pilots.


Thanks, Paul and Brian for congrats! :) I also feel honored to get the certificate signed by somebody who flew in "Blackbird" for living...

Also - Thanks, Paul, for getting to my initial question!

However, this statement alone cannot close this topic as that exact statement was the topic starter and a source of the question :) (I did buy and own your very well written checkride book - and was familiar with the stated position above - before posting the question)

The point is that if, in FAA opinion SP cannot request SVFR under no circumstances, it would be nice if FAA could put that in writing into the FARs, rather than letting pilots relying here on a hearsay.

Nowhere in 61.315 it is stated that SP cannot ask for SVFR. It only confines SP to 3SM visbility requirement and visual reference to a ground.

As I mentioned above there can be situations when pilot does have 3SM visibility but cannot enter controlled airspace when ceiling below 1000'.

For example, a VFR pilot approaches from class G with 3SM visibility and clear of clouds an airport with class E surface extensions with ceiling just shy of 1000' at airport. How can SP land there? Legally and w/o endangering IFR flights? According to 91.155(c) - only with SVFR from controlling agency.

Which makes total sense and contributes to safety of all and follows intentions of class E surface extension and is a point of a 91.155(c).

Not to let SP in this situation to request SVFR clearance and safely land within protected clearance window - would endanger everybody potentially and/or directly involved. And that doesn't make any sense to me at all. Nor I could find anything in FARs that would prohibit SP to request SVFR in this case...

I wish the statement made in your book about SVFR for SP had some more substantive references to FAR than just referring to 3SM visibility SP limitation, which appears to me not having direct bearing to concept, intentions and legality of SVFR.

Thanks!
Alex.

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What might happen

Postby bryancobb » Thu Jan 06, 2011 6:51 am

Alex,
I am not 100% certain because I have not been in the situation you describe, but using your common-sense and safety arguments, pertaining to SVFR, I opine as follows:
1) When a field goes IFR, the rotating beacon is turned on to let pilots know.
2) A VFR pilot (private or sport) who approaches a towered field that has gone IFR due to weather that is AT OR BARELY BELOW VFR MINIMUMS, will probably be allowed to land (if traffic allows) without anyone mentioning SVFR. I would bet the controller has the discretion to let the pilot be responsible for the cloud clearances apropriate to their rating, and let them in.
3) There must however, be a POINT where the weather has gotten so bad that the tower controller is ABSOLUTELY FORBIDDEN from letting any VFR folks in.

I DO KNOW THAT THE PHRASE "AT THE DISCRETION OF ATC" IS USED TO GIVE CONTROLLERS AUTHORITY TO ISSUE SVFR CLEARANCES.

The best place to ask this quesion and get it answered by an expert, is on an Air Traffic forum, and more specifically a TOWER CONTROLLER forum.
Bryan Cobb

Sport Pilot CFI

Commercial/Instrument Airplane

Commercial Rotorcraft Helicopter

Cartersville, Ga

bryandcobb@att.net

3Dreaming
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Re: What might happen

Postby 3Dreaming » Thu Jan 06, 2011 9:58 am

bryancobb wrote:Alex,
I am not 100% certain because I have not been in the situation you describe, but using your common-sense and safety arguments, pertaining to SVFR, I opine as follows:
1) When a field goes IFR, the rotating beacon is turned on to let pilots know.
2) A VFR pilot (private or sport) who approaches a towered field that has gone IFR due to weather that is AT OR BARELY BELOW VFR MINIMUMS, will probably be allowed to land (if traffic allows) without anyone mentioning SVFR. I would bet the controller has the discretion to let the pilot be responsible for the cloud clearances apropriate to their rating, and let them in.
3) There must however, be a POINT where the weather has gotten so bad that the tower controller is ABSOLUTELY FORBIDDEN from letting any VFR folks in.

I DO KNOW THAT THE PHRASE "AT THE DISCRETION OF ATC" IS USED TO GIVE CONTROLLERS AUTHORITY TO ISSUE SVFR CLEARANCES.

The best place to ask this quesion and get it answered by an expert, is on an Air Traffic forum, and more specifically a TOWER CONTROLLER forum.


Bryan, Alex is talking about class "E" airspace. No control tower, but it still has the 3 mile and 1000 foot restriction to the surface. Like Alex said there is no mention of NSVFR for sport pilots. It is one of those things that has been stated form the begining for sport pilot, but it is not backed up by the regs.

Also having flown in situations like you brought up when the weather is reported below VFR you have to ask for the SVFR to get in. When the weather goes IFR the controller will ask what are your intentions. That is your key to ask for special VFR. The controller will not mention SVFR you have to ask for it. The only latitude the controller has is if they are doing the weather observations instead of automated. Then the field might stay VFR just long enough for the VFR aircraft to land then go IFR.

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Re: What might happen

Postby bryancobb » Thu Jan 06, 2011 10:40 am

3Dreaming wrote:Bryan, Alex is talking about class "E" airspace..


I thought BY DEFINITION, SVFR is a set of minimums that ONLY APPLY in Towered Class D or SURFACE AREA Class E, or as the old folks remember, in CONTROL ZONES.

SVFR minimums can't be applied in any other controlled airspace "E". A pilot must go by basic VFR minimums.

Is my memory bad or am I confused? I'll go back and read Alex's question again.

Bryan
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A.I.M. 4-4-6. Special VFR Clearances

Postby bryancobb » Thu Jan 06, 2011 12:22 pm

After reviewing the A.I.M. I am correct that there is no such thing as SVFR if you are outside the dashed blue or dashed magenta circle around an airport.

I was wrong however, about the airport needing a tower. Some (very few) uncontrolled airports have Surface Area Class E, which is a dashed MAGENTA circle, which means that ATC provides separation inside the dashed circle. I guess SVFR can be applicable inside the dashed circle at these uncontrolled fields. I think these are all airports that have an FAA Flight Service Station on the field.

THE CLASS E THAT IS NOT ASSOCIATED WITH AN AIRPORT BEGINS AT 700 OR 1200 AGL. THERE IS NO SVFR AVAILABLE THERE FOR ANYONE.
Bryan Cobb

Sport Pilot CFI

Commercial/Instrument Airplane

Commercial Rotorcraft Helicopter

Cartersville, Ga

bryandcobb@att.net

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tu16
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Postby tu16 » Thu Jan 06, 2011 4:17 pm

I was careful in my example to talk about class E SURFACE airspace. There're many satellite non-towered airports with class E surface extensions and IFR procedures underneath larger airports class B etc. airspace, whose facilities serve as a controlling agency to issue SVFR and IFR clearances to these airports. For example: KPWT and KSEA.

I think part of a confusion here is due to the fact that many tend to consider SVFR as some kind of special guilty privilege created for VFR pilots and one somehow has to be "worthy" of it and SP somehow is not "worthy", because FAA put a higher visibility requirement on SP.

In reality when VFR pilot requests SVFR, all what happens while you're instructed to remain VFR outside of surface controlled airspace is that ATC controllers will make sure that there will be no conflict with IFR traffic in the time window they are going to assign in this pilot SVFR clearance. That's it. This is still a VFR flight, doesn't assume any special training or any demonstration of special pilot prowess or IFR skills. It is simply a matter of helping with safe separation of IFR and VFR traffic in conditions when low ceiling OR visibility make this separation imposiible to enforce for VFR "see and avoid" pilot.

And that's why the very thought that ANY VFR pilot can be deprived from requesting SVFR per FAR while flying legal VFR for its category is counterproductive for safety of flight. There're large and busy airports that have NSVFR status - for the very practical reason that it is even less safe to scramble to clear their skies from busy IFR heavy jet traffic every time when some small plane wants to go land there on SVFR.

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Postby 3Dreaming » Thu Jan 06, 2011 5:21 pm

Bryan, nothing you said in your last 2 post is incorrect, but as Alex stated he was talking about class "E" airspace to the surface for an airport. That is what I was reffering to.

) A VFR pilot (private or sport) who approaches a towered field that has gone IFR due to weather that is AT OR BARELY BELOW VFR MINIMUMS, will probably be allowed to land (if traffic allows) without anyone mentioning SVFR. I would bet the controller has the discretion to let the pilot be responsible for the cloud clearances apropriate to their rating, and let them in.
Bryan, this was from one of your earlier post. The controller has no latitude to do this. If the weather is being reported IFR then you must request a SVFR. The same would hold true for an automated system at an airport with surface class "E" you would have to ask the controlling agency for SVFR. I've been talking to tower before when the weather went below VFR minimums. Tower stated that the conditions were now below VFR minimums and ask what are your intentions. I requested a SVFR, and tower then cleared me to land.

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Thanks 3D

Postby bryancobb » Thu Jan 06, 2011 7:56 pm

Thanks for reporting what was FACT by your experience. I stand corrected. As I said, I had never found myself in that situation. I was a little too optomistic I guess about the lattitude a controller has in this instance.

Bryan
Bryan Cobb

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Postby 3Dreaming » Fri Jan 07, 2011 10:24 am

Bryan, I am not stating FACT by experiencce. The facts come from the regulations that the pilots and controllers have to follow. With automated weather reporting and audio recordings of the communications you don't think a controller would let someone in VFR if the weather is reporting IFR without asking for a SVFR do you?


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