IFR into VFR airport

501261

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It's kind of quiet here in the FAR forum with Avbug out fighting fires, so I figured I'd throw a question out there for you and see what you think.

1. Can you file an IFR flight plan (and fly it) to a VFR only airport?

2. Can it be done under 135, assuming there is nothing specific in your OPSPECs one way or another?

I have my own opinions about this, but a check airman (biggest idiot I've ever known) had his opinions about this and they where different from my own.

Thanks for the responses; this question has been bugging me for a few years now.
 

Wiggums

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You can file an IFR flight plan to an airport with no published approach procedure, but you have to file an alternate. However, your alternate can also be an airport with no approaches. See 91.169.
 

501261

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Wiggums,

I agree with you, but his response was "well how do you comply with 91.185 lost comm procedures and start an approach?"

I would tend to agree that you can go IFR into a VFR only airport under 91.

Is there anything else out there that might remotely prevent you from going IFR into a VFR airport under 91?

Now how about 135? Can you go into a VFR only airport under IFR 135? Does 135.219 prevent you from doing it?
 

Wiggums

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Ok, here is what I think. In 91.185 it basically says that if the failure occurs in VFR conditions or if you encounter VFR after a failure then you remain VFR and land as soon as practicable. If your flying IFR to a VFR airport then I would assume that conditions are VFR at the arrival airport. Hopefully, even if your radios fail in IFR you'll become VFR before you reach your last fix, allowing you to proceed VFR to the nearest reasonable airport.

I guess one problem would be if you are above a layer, and you were counting on ATC to descend you below the layer so you could go to a VFR airport. These kinds of situations is why there is section 6-1-4 in the AIM. The first thing said there is that lost comm procedures don't cover every possible situation and sometimes you'll need to improvise. In this situation I would descend to the MEA/MORCA, and then if I'm still IFR I would have to shoot an approach at a nearby airport. However, this could have been avoided if I had filed IFR to a nearby airport, and then cancelled IFR when I was below all layers and flown VFR to the VFR airport.

In summary, I wouldn't file IFR to a VFR airport unless I was sure I will be able to see the ground from my cruising altitude near the destination airport.

I've never flown 135 so I can't help you there.
 

cvsfly

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Yes you can fly IFR to a VFR airport under Part 91. The assumption is that you can reach VFR conditions prior to the airport at the MEA or MVA. If you are still IMC at the MEA, ATC is not going to able to do much for you. So your weather (using area forecasts most likely - I have seen a few VFR airports with weather reporting but not many) would have to indicate that you would have the suitable VFR conditions. Having an alternate is certainly a good idea on any flight (a student of mine had to divert once due to an aircraft accident on a one runway airport) but it would not be a requirement unless weather was forcasted < 2000' and 3sm. With weather like that it may be unlikely you would get to a point where you could descend VFR from the MEA/MVA. A good practice would be to file to an intersection or navaid close to your destination to establish a point where you would go from IFR to VFR. Then comes Part 135. 1. You can not conduct IFR operations at an airport without weather reporting. So technically even taking off, you should not get an IFR clearance until you are airborne. Silly - I know. 2. You need to be on some kind of flight plan all the time. Technically if operating IFR to a VFR airport you should file IFR to an intersection or navaid nearby - activate a VFR flight plan and cancel your IFR then cancel VFR on the ground. Practical - no. Safe - no.
 

501261

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CVSFLY, you brought out some very good points.

A couple of things to consider regarding your post.

1. There are a few VFR-only airports that do have weather reporting. Henderson, NV comes to mind as it a control tower, but no approaches. (I think this is what screwed the check airman up, since he was thinking that there can't be weather reporting at a VFR airport, but he was in too deep to admit he was wrong.)

2. Depending on your OPSPECs you can file a company flight plan (i.e. call the boss when you land). Negating the need to open a FAA VFR flightplan after you cancelled your IFR.

3. "So technically even taking off, you should not get an IFR clearance until you are airborne." It's been a long time since I've been a 135 flyer, but can't you take the ground visibility and if it’s above takeoff mins use your own observations?

4. Can you file to an intersection under 135? There's no weather reporting!
 

cvsfly

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Quote:
1. There are a few VFR-only airports that do have weather reporting. Henderson, NV comes to mind as it a control tower, but no approaches. (I think this is what screwed the check airman up, since he was thinking that there can't be weather reporting at a VFR airport, but he was in too deep to admit he was wrong.)
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This is correct. As long as it has wx reporting you can conduct IFR operations. If it doesn't have a published IAP of course you can't do a instrument approach (unless you design one yourself and get it approved for your company to use - I've been told this can be done, although I wouldn't know where to start). Remember a visual approach under IFR is still an IFR operation/clearance. Making a "visual" approach under VFR is really a misnomer even though you hear people refer to that all the time. It is simply a VFR approach or an approach under VFR. I believe 135 is supposed to get some admendments in this area when 91 K gets finalized to even the playing field.
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2. Depending on your OPSPECs you can file a company flight plan (i.e. call the boss when you land). Negating the need to open a FAA VFR flightplan after you cancelled your IFR.
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This is true. Most Opspecs allow for company flight plans.
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3. "So technically even taking off, you should not get an IFR clearance until you are airborne." It's been a long time since I've been a 135 flyer, but can't you take the ground visibility and if it’s above takeoff mins use your own observations?
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You are taking - off in VFR conditions under VFR rules. Visibility should be adequate enough so takeoff minimums should not apply. At an airport without weather reporting you can't conduct IFR operations - this means a visual approach or a departure with an IFR clearance. Of course under VFR you are making your own observations and under IFR the pilot can determine whether he has adequate visibility for landing (wx report was above minimums prior to FAF). Using your own observations is a little more tricky for takeoff. You are supposed to obtain and use the wx report you recieve and if it is an automated report, certain parameters have to be there in order to use it. People make their own observations all the time but if it came down to a legal action it may be hard to argue against the repoting facility, especially if RVR is involved. Of course you can get approval to have an official company wx observer at an airport that normally doesn't have wx reporting. The airlines do this (KHXD for instance), but they can't share that observation with other operators due to the liability issue.
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4. Can you file to an intersection under 135? There's no weather reporting!
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Sure you can. You are not making an instrument approach to an intersection. This is how composite flight plans are done. They aren't done often so you may get a controller who questions what you are trying to do. Going to that "VFR" airport after the intersection you use an area forecast. Not the greatest, but meets the legal requirements for what you are doing. You should consider the ramifications for lost comm - you better be sure you can get to VFR conditions at or before your clearance limit. One way some operators do it is that they file IFR to a nearby "IFR" airport, get into VFR conditions, then cancel and procede VFR to their intended airport (best to use a company flight plan). This solves all the scenarios for having weather reporting and a good plan in the event of lost comm. while still IMC.
 

Speedtree

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my experience

Agree with pretty much everything said previously. I don't fly 135 but we flew part 91 into a vfr only airport, went down to the MVA and could only see the ground directly below us through a mostly undercast layer. Went missed approach (if you can call it that) and headed to our alternate. No big deal.

Keep it simple. You can file to a VFR airport no matter what the weather and just file an alternate where you can get in. We knew the weather was marginal so we knew there was a good chance we would go to our alternate. Same with lost comm. Alternate had ILS if I remember correctly so if you lose radios just head there. I wouldn't reccommend filing a VFR alternate airport.
 

501261

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All right looks like we're all in agreement that you can file IFR to a VFR airport under 91. One of the gotcha's that I told the check airman is that (this is back in 1999) there was a NOTAM requiring slots to file an IFR flight plan into Henderson (a VFR-only airport) over the Millennium celebration (he had not comeback)!

Now I'm still unclear if it can be done under 135.

CVSFLY, you said you can file IFR to an intersection under 135, because you are not going to shoot an approach. Well, why don't I just file to the VFR airport, I'm not going to shoot an approach there either.

For that matter, I thought (it's been a while) that you only needed weather reporting (AWOS 3 or better) to shoot an approach? I thought I used to go into fields with no weather a lot, I just couldn't shoot the approach, was I just lucky not to get violated?
 

cvsfly

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No problem at all. Nothing on the front end to prevent you from filing IFR all the way to that airport (no weather reporting) just not legal to shoot an IAP or conduct an IFR operation (ie visual approach). It's just a little technicality that ideally you should cancel IFR at some point prior (overhead, maybe) and then proceed VFR under an FAA or company VFR flight plan. In reality, I think the "danger" of being off a flight plan while going into a "VFR" airport is minimal, especially when there is radar coverage. The flight plan thing is, of course, to insure that there is search and rescue provisions in place in case you don't show up at your destination as planned. Not very likely that you cancel IFR 5 miles away from an airport and then crash off airport with nobody knowing you are missing - but it has happened I'm sure. In remote/mountaineous (sp?) terrain, stick to proper procedure. Know the regs. Fly with common sense.
 

JBHewlett

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I remember this question

Yeah,

This darn question was on my intrument checkride. I remember it. Basically from what I gathered, you can file IFR to a VFR airport (an airport that has no IAP). However the weather conditions there must be VFR. Well obviously, otherwise you can't land. I was unaware that you were required to file an alternate even if the conditions at your arrival airport are severe clear or VFR. However I don't know everything. Cancellation of IFR while airborne is probably a really great idea considering the availibility of a phone at an airport with no instrument approach. Airports with out instrument approaches (brown airports on the low altitude charts), are generally pretty small fields. Alot of them don't even have fuel. So you better be packing your cell phone if you stay on that flight plan all the way. You may have trouble getting your clearance on the ground at some of these airports as well, so it could easily be said that you could have trouble canceling IFR on the ground at these facilities. You may also be breaking regs if you continue. I would recommend cancellation of IFR in the air and proceed VFR under part 91 to your airport.

Its funny when you think about the "Visual Approach" but that truely is an IFR operation even though its conducted in VMC.

Interesting Stuff
j.
 

cvsfly

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There is no legal requirement to file an alternate going IFR into a VFR airport as long as the weather will allow a VFR descent from the MEA or MVA. Be careful of just calling the forecast weather "VFR" (>3000', > 5 miles). In mountaineous terrain you may need significantly higher weather or CAVU. Of course I would always recommend if not listing an alternate at least have a plan of action to divert to another suitable airport. Also be careful with cancelation of your flight plan in the air. Technically 135 can not cancel a FAA flight plan in the air unless they have a company flight plan in place. This is your insurance policy if something goes wrong short of the runway or even on the runway. You will not be "breaking any regs" if you continue on your flight plan all the way to landing (Part 91) assuming weather or other operational limitations are adhered to. 99% of the time it should be no problem canceling IFR in the air with the airport in sight (within gliding distance, etc.) just be aware of some of the scenarios and pitfalls that might come up. Always leave yourself an out. Fly safe.
 

IP076

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VFR Airport alternate is required by law

Filing an alternate is required if flying IFR to an airport without a published instrument approach procedure. Its also highly recommended if the only IAP at the destination is based solely on GPS. Neither of these are weather dependant.

Maybe this will clear it up:

14 CFR 91.169 (a) says that you must include all the information for a VFR flight plan and an Alternate airport, except as provided in paragraph (b)

Basically this says that you always need to file an alternate unless paragraph (b) is used.

14 CFR 91.169 (b) (We'll deal with other than helicopters here) says that paragraph (a)(2) (The alternate airport thingy) does not apply if:

Part 97 prescribes a standard instrument approach procedure to the airport of intended landing.

and

weather reports indicate within 1 hr of arrival time weather will be at least 2000' ceilings and at least 3 sm visibility

Basically an alternate airport is needed unless 91.169 (b) is met.
 
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