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Special VFR Class C/D when the airport is reporting VFR

Tired Soul

Plowing at FL370
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Here's something that has me scratching my head.......
I got refused a Special VFR clearance while trying to descent into a Class D airport under a Class C shelf. Controller said no, the field is VFR, I can only give you special VFR if the field is reporting IFR

Here's the conditions:
  • I'm at 3000' in a SE inside Class C
  • I'm above a broken layer with ceilings at 1500'
  • Destination Class D airport ATIS is VFR with 7 SM vis and 1500 BRK
  • There is no way I can descend and maintain VFR
Eventually I end up going 20 NM further North, descend and turn around.After the flight I grab the FARAIM and sit there scratching my head.
So I decide to call the ATC facility, get a very nice controller on the line to discuss and maybe learn. I don't know everything maybe I've been wrong. Who knows.
Anyway we couldn't get to agree and I'm still saying that I'm right.

Here's what I'm thinking:
Special VFR only applies to B,C and D.
I can't get Special VFR to descend from 8,500' to 6,500' through a broken layer out over the boonies in Class E.
This is what the book says:
14 CFR 1.1 Definitions:

Special VFR conditions mean meteorological conditions that are less than those required for basic VFR flight in controlled airspace and in which some aircraft are permitted flight under visual flight rules.

Special VFR operations means aircraft operating in accordance with clearances within controlled airspace in meteorological conditions less than the basic VFR weather minima. Such operations must be requested by the pilot and approved by ATC.

Agreed, but I need to go through an area of less then basic VFR to get to the airport. In this case this area is vertical rather then horizontal.

91.157
(a) Except as provided in appendix D, section 3, of this part, special VFR operations may be conducted under the weather minimums and requirements of this section, instead of those contained in Sec. 91.155, below 10,000 feet MSL within the airspace contained by the upward extension of the lateral boundaries of the controlled airspace designated to the surface for an airport.(b) Special VFR operations may only be conducted--
  • (1) With an ATC clearance;(2) Clear of clouds;
    (3) Except for helicopters, when flight visibility is at least 1 statute mile; and
    (4) Except for helicopters, between sunrise and sunset (or in Alaska, when the sun is 6 degrees or more below the horizon) unless--
    • (i) The person being granted the ATC clearance meets the applicable requirements for instrument flight under part 61 of this chapter; and(ii) The aircraft is equipped as required in Sec. 91.205(d).
(c) No person may take off or land an aircraft (other than a helicopter) under special VFR--
  • (1) Unless ground visibility is at least 1 statute mile; or(2) If ground visibility is not reported, unless flight visibility is at least 1 statute mile. For the purposes of this paragraph, the term flight visibility includes the visibility from the cockpit of an aircraft in takeoff position if:
    • (i) The flight is conducted under this part 91; and(ii) The airport at which the aircraft is located is a satellite airport that does not have weather reporting capabilities.
(d) The determination of visibility by a pilot in accordance with paragraph (c)(2) of this section is not an official weather report or an official ground visibility report.
So you can only substitute flight visibility if the airport has no weather reporting, nothing else.

AIM 4-4-6:

4-4-6. Special VFR Clearances
a. An ATC clearance must be obtained prior tooperating within a Class B, Class C, Class D, orClass E surface area when the weather is less than thatrequired for VFR flight. A VFR pilot may request andbe given a clearance to enter, leave, or operate withinmost Class D and Class E surface areas and someClass B and Class C surface areas in special VFRconditions, traffic permitting, and providing suchflight will not delay IFR operations. All special VFRflights must remain clear of clouds. The visibilityrequirements for special VFR aircraft (other thanhelicopters) are:
1. At least 1 statute mile flight visibility foroperations within Class B, Class C, Class D, andClass E surface areas.
2. At least 1 statute mile ground visibility iftaking off or landing. If ground visibility is notreported at that airport, the flight visibility must be atleast 1 statute mile.
3. The restrictions in subparagraphs 1 and 2 donot apply to helicopters. Helicopters must remainclear of clouds and may operate in Class B, Class C,Class D, and Class E surface areas with less than1 statute mile visibility.
b. When a control tower is located within theClass B, Class C, or Class D surface area, requests forclearances should be to the tower. In a Class E surfacearea, a clearance may be obtained from the nearesttower, FSS, or center.
c. It is not necessary to file a complete flight planwith the request for clearance, but pilots should statetheir intentions in sufficient detail to permit ATC tofit their flight into the traffic flow. The clearance willnot contain a specific altitude as the pilot must remainclear of clouds. The controller may require the pilotto fly at or below a certain altitude due to other traffic,but the altitude specified will permit flight at or abovethe minimum safe altitude. In addition, at radarlocations, flights may be vectored if necessary forcontrol purposes or on pilot request.
NOTE-
The pilot is responsible for obstacle or terrain clearance.
[SIZE=-2]REFERENCE-[/SIZE]
[SIZE=-2]14 CFR Section 91.119, Minimum safe altitudes: General.[/SIZE]
d. Special VFR clearances are effective withinClass B, Class C, Class D, and Class E surface areasonly. ATC does not provide separation after anaircraft leaves the Class B, Class C, Class D, orClass E surface area on a special VFR clearance.
e. Special VFR operations by fixed-wing aircraftare prohibited in some Class B and Class C surfaceareas due to the volume of IFR traffic. A list of theseClass B and Class C surface areas is contained in14 CFR Part 91, Appendix D, Section 3. They arealso depicted on sectional aeronautical charts.
f. ATC provides separation between Special VFRflights and between these flights and other IFRflights.
g. Special VFR operations by fixed-wing aircraftare prohibited between sunset and sunrise unless thepilot is instrument rated and the aircraft is equippedfor IFR flight.
h. Pilots arriving or departing an uncontrolledairport that has automated weather broadcastcapability (ASOS/AWSS/AWOS) should monitor thebroadcast frequency, advise the controller that theyhave the "one-minute weather" and state intentionsprior to operating within the Class B, Class C,Class D, or Class E surface areas.

So why can't I get a Special VFR clearance operating within a Class C trying to descent into a Class D? This airport is obviously not on the list of SVFR prohibited airports. And I didn't call TWR since TWR needs to coordinate with APP so I made my request with the APP controller I was talking to.
Can somebody get me a reference as to chapter and verse of the Controllers Handbook or something where I can look this up?

Since there may be very little cross contamination I've also posted this in the FAR section.
 

rettofly

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The broken layer calls for an IFR clearance for the descent regardless of visibility since SVFR specifies "clear of clouds".

A "broken" layer constitutes a ceiling that presumes you will be unable to meet the "clear of clouds" and "one mile visibility" requirement for SVFR.

Unless you are within the Class B airspace, you need to observe the cloud separation.
 
Last edited:

Tired Soul

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Good point, however;
Without getting into semantics for a VFR descent I need a bigger hole in the clouds then for a "clear of clouds" descent.
For VFR I need a 2000' radius around the airplane to be clear of cloud.
For "clear of cloud" I need wing span. In Bravo or SVFR.
And even in a descent slant range visibility can still be a mile.
So I don't see (no pun intended) why I can't descent through a hole in a broken layer and remain clear of cloud and 1 mile.

I have used SVFR before to descent through a broken layer in a VFR-only airplane, just in that case the airport went 900 BRK and like 6-7 miles visibility.

This case is 1500 BRK and 7 miles.
I am standing by to be educated but I would like a reference and not tribal knowledge.
I hate it when that; ....".... in this office we have always done it that way..."
JFC, show me the reference.:uzi:


I ask you the following question:
A VFR only pilot stuck above a BRK layer during daylight hours in otherwise good VFR has no other option but to declare an emergency to descent into the airport?

Bollocks.......
 
Last edited:

HSDriver

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I think the key to your question is that the controller can only issue a SVFR for airspace that is extending upward from the surface. In other words you were in class c (i'm not sure how far away from your intended airport) trying to descend to class D. Special VFR was not applicaple to your situation because the Class C you were in did not extend to the surface of where you were landing. you were "en route" so to speak. The destination was VFR.



"within the airspace contained by the upward extension of the lateral boundaries of the controlled airspace designated to the surface for an airport."
"b. When a control tower is located within theClass B, Class C, or Class D surface area, requests forclearances should be to the tower."
 

WMUSIGPI

The $100,000,000 Question
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IF the airport (that the airspace in issue ) is reporting weather at least the minimum required for VFR operations, ATC will NEVER issue a special VFR clearance, as it is not required to operate in that airport's airspace. You could operate VFR without it. Your problem was being above a ceiling VFR that you couldn't descend through VFR. That requires you to either, 1 Request an IFR clearance to get below the ceiling to land or, 2 fly VFR above that ceiling to a point you can then descend on your own under VFR to get below it to land.
 

Tired Soul

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Thanks for your replies folks.
I think I'm right, here's the reference:

http://www.faa.gov/documentLibrary/media/Order/ATC.pdf

Psalm 5 verse 7-5-1 (b):


b.
SVFR operations may be authorized for aircraft
operating in or transiting a Class B, Class C, Class D,
or Class E surface area when the primary airport is
reporting VFR but the pilot advises that basic VFR

cannot be maintained.

Unless I'm misinterpreting.
I was in Class C above Class D.
This particular Class D goes from the surface up to 1200' when it reaches the overlaying Class C outer area.
 

Seadogrun

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The broken layer calls for an IFR clearance for the descent regardless of visibility since SVFR specifies "clear of clouds".

A "broken" layer constitutes a ceiling that presumes you will be unable to meet the "clear of clouds" and "one mile visibility" requirement for SVFR.

Unless you are within the Class B airspace, you need to observe the cloud separation.

Ok, so we know that a broken layer is a ceiling. Are you saying that you could never descend through a broken layer VFR?
 

WMUchickenhawk

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Thanks for your replies folks.
I think I'm right, here's the reference:

http://www.faa.gov/documentLibrary/media/Order/ATC.pdf

Psalm 5 verse 7-5-1 (b):



Unless I'm misinterpreting.
I was in Class C above Class D.
This particular Class D goes from the surface up to 1200' when it reaches the overlaying Class C outer area.

I may be misinterpreting it, but if you were in C above D, then you weren't in the Class C surface area, and since you weren't in the D then you weren't in the Class D surface area either and so he wasn't able to give you the clearance. Him replying that the field is VFR so you can't have SVFR is kinda throwing me for a loop though.
 
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