Filing IFR for a VFR Flight?

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by SkyHog, Dec 29, 2017.

  1. SkyHog

    SkyHog Touchdown! Greaser!

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    i seem to recall a thread a bit ago that detailed how one could file a VFR flight plan by actually filing an IFR flight plan and putting something in one of the fields that made it VFR only and therefore activatable without the IR.

    Can’t find the thread. Was I imagining it? Has anyone done this?
     
  2. Clark1961

    Clark1961 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Just put 'VFR' in the altitude field when filing IFR. The flightplan goes to the ATC facility with responsibility for the airspace at the origination and a strip will be automajically generated for them.

    The only problem is that the FAA has determined that filing this way might be considered intent to fly IFR (don't ask how) so the pilot must be IFR rated. It's a big can of worms and I have filed this way many times. I am IA rated so it isn't a major problem for me.
     
  3. SkyHog

    SkyHog Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Is that determination official (in other words, as a non IR pilot, can I not do this?)

    If not, how does one activate the flight plan? Just a simple call to center with “I would like to activate my flight plan?”
     
  4. Clark1961

    Clark1961 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    The call is simple. Request flight following and mention that there should be a strip. As for the determination it's in the administrative case law crap. I think most ATC facilities have no trouble with the filing but if somebody gets a burr up their butt then they have a way to burn you.
     
  5. mscard88

    mscard88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    What is the reason for doing this? For flight following?
     
  6. Clark1961

    Clark1961 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    If'n ya wanna talk about it I can give you a call or we can talk at the (to be decided) bbq.
     
  7. SkyHog

    SkyHog Touchdown! Greaser!

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    One reason is to ensure that the flight gets entered into the NAS so that flightaware tracks it. But another is that I hate hate hate VFR flight plans. So much so that I never file them.
     
  8. SkyHog

    SkyHog Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Sweet! BBQ it is. It will give me yet another reason to go!
     
  9. Clark1961

    Clark1961 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    VFR is mostly a pain anymore since they don't do flight tracking, only closeouts.

    If ya really wanna be tracked get ADS-B out. FAA, Flightaware and flightradar track all flights that are squitting and uating (that sounds dirty). No flightplan needed.
     
  10. mscard88

    mscard88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    So you're filing an IFR flight plan but intending to fly VFR because you don't want to file a VFR flight plan. Seems risky to possibly violate the intent of filing IFR. What happens if the controller issues you an IFR clearance, how ya going to handle that? Seems to me you're leaving yourself open for a violation.
     
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  11. Clark1961

    Clark1961 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    The deal is that the letters 'VFR' are entered in the flightplan altitude block so it is clear that an IFR clearance is not requested. A simple 'unable' deals with the IFR clearance if it is offered. Heck, I've turned down IFR clearances and requested flight following after I've filed IFR. It isn't a big deal in the real world. A lawyer on the other hand will find a way to pick nits and attempt to justify their existence.
     
  12. mscard88

    mscard88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Yeah that's what I'd be concerned about, the lawyers getting wind of it. As a former controller I personally wouldn't GAS, heck I'd already have a strip on you.
     
  13. GRG55

    GRG55 Final Approach

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    Seems like a fun way for the kids to experience VFR into IMC without leaving the ground...:rolleyes:
     
  14. Clark1961

    Clark1961 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    To me the point is that the strip is generated and the whole thing is easy for the pilot and the controller. And in the real world it works. Admins and lawyers seem to see it a different way.
     
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  15. mscard88

    mscard88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I'd be hesitant myself, of course I have an instrument anyway, but I still would be hesitant if I didn't.
     
  16. mscard88

    mscard88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Maybe so, I have never seen that done that way but I stopped controlling in '88.
     
  17. Clark1961

    Clark1961 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Denver approach and Denver center don't seem to have a problem with it. Only worked it with other centers a few times with mixed results. Kansas City seems to have a little bit of trouble...I suspect that has to do with large sectors but dunno...
     
  18. mscard88

    mscard88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Well maybe the FAA lawyers don't read POA. ;)
     
  19. Clark1961

    Clark1961 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Naw. If they really cared they would block the use of letters in the altitude field when filing a flight plan.
     
  20. midlifeflyer

    midlifeflyer Final Approach

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    The theory is that it guarantees or at least increases the likligphood of receiving flight following since you are in the system. I kind of doubt it really does much of anything.

    But that aside, there is a Chief Counsel opinion frowning on the practice. Without coming out and saying it's a violation, it ends up saying it's evidence of "clear intent" to violate 61.3

    I guess that means, if the controller misunderstands and treats you as an IFR aircraft, it's on you. If you cause a problem and face enforcement action, don't expect to get the benefit of filing a NASA report, claim honest mistake or get any other kind of consideration given to those who make honest or unintentional errors.
     
  21. SkyHog

    SkyHog Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I haven’t done it yet. But I’d imagine “unable” would work here. You don’t have to accept any offered clearance, unless I’m mistaken.
     
  22. dmspilot

    dmspilot En-Route

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    Don't bother. I tried it and my flight still didn't show up on Flightaware.

    To answer the original question, you file an IFR flight plan and in the altitude box, you put "VFR" or "VFR/XXX" where XXX is a VFR altitude in hundreds of feet. It might also be helpful to put "VFR FLIGHT FOLLOWING ONLY" in the remarks section.

    You do not open the flightplan. You do not activate the flightplan. Simply the act of filing the flight plan causes a flight strip to be printed out for you at the appropriate ATC facility. You contact the ATC and request flight following as you normally would, and tell them they should have a strip for you so they don't enter you into the computer again.

    The one time I tried this, I did not see any benefit.

    To answer the other question you raised, it does not replace a VFR flight plan. It does not provide S&R service except for that provided by flight following itself.
     
  23. mscard88

    mscard88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Yeah that's what I was saying above. And there's certainly a paper trail. A bit risky to me IMO.
     
  24. SkyHog

    SkyHog Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Well damn.

    Is there a way to ensure that The flight will be tracked? It’s a bit annoying that it works sometimes. That leads me to believe that there is something that ATC is not doing that causes the flight to not show up
     
  25. mscard88

    mscard88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    No, you don't have to accept a clearance, but a declining a clearance on the ground is not the same as declining a clearance once airborne. But if it got to enforcement action the FAA would have a paper trail on you even if you state "unable".
     
  26. midlifeflyer

    midlifeflyer Final Approach

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    Yeah, I answered the question without seeing your post but apparently the Chief Counsel agrees with you.
     
  27. Clark1961

    Clark1961 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Local transponder codes do not go to the national system and will not show up on flightaware. National transponder codes show on flight aware. I've never requested a national code from ATC. Usually when the controller understands that you are crossing a boundary they will get a national code. Sometimes they don't and expect the other center to clean up their mess.
     
  28. SkyHog

    SkyHog Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Today’s flight had me go from Denver Center to Albuquerque Center. Shortly after takeoff, I was given a squawk. Then, while still with Denver Center, I was given a different code. Then about 30 minutes later, I was handed to Albuquerque Center on the same code.

    None of this showed up on FlightAware. Ugh
     
  29. Shawn

    Shawn En-Route

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    VFR Flight Plans and VFR Flight Following are two completely separate services that have zero bearing on each other FYI. You are asking about filing an IFR Flight Plan which would be entered as flight following information with ATC...that is not a VFR Flight Plan. For VFR Flight plans, those go though FSS. ATC does not handle VFR Flight Plans (generally speaking). Although both IFR and VFR use the same "flight plan" term, they are not in any way the same product or service.
     
  30. SkyHog

    SkyHog Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Lol. I know. Nothing I’ve said so far has countered that.

    But the S&R feature of a VFR flight plan is way overshadowed by the annoyance of filing one, opening one, and then closing one.

    The point is to have a flight plan to ensure entry into the NAS system for flight tracking purposes. Not for search and rescue (although, plummeting from the sky on flight following would likely trigger a search and rescue anyway).
     
  31. Clark1961

    Clark1961 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    No telling what happened. The Denver controller may have talked to the Albuquerque controller and given you one of their codes. I've had all sorts of things happen with Denver and Albuquerque. Even IFR it's pretty hit or miss on the southern border of DEN. On the other hand no one cares much about altitude or course deviations because there is absolutely nothing happening along the way...

    On the other hand when things start with DEN approach then the flight usually goes into the national system as long as there is an agreement on the handoff to DEN center. I used to get dumped regularly on the northwest side of Denver but that changed about the time the ADS-B build-out finished. Dunno about COS approach - just haven't had many flights originate with them.
     
  32. Shawn

    Shawn En-Route

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    Gotcha...your post appeared to conflate the two as it was worded.

    Yeah, after my first few calls forgetting to close I never file anymore but I am always talking with ATC on every flight either IFR or VFR FF.
     
  33. Vance Breese

    Vance Breese Line Up and Wait

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    I have not found difficulty in filing a VFR flight plan and in my opinion it has value for search and rescue.

    Please help me understand how filing an IFR flight plan for VFR is different and what the benefits are compared to filing a VFR flight plan for a VFR flight.
     
  34. Rykymus

    Rykymus Line Up and Wait

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    That's cuz you weren't squitting and uating. (God I love the way that sounds.)
     
  35. SkyHog

    SkyHog Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Well, an IFR flight plan is opened by the same person you’re talking to anyway, and Not through an antiquated system that I never call anyway (FSS). Also, if you’re running late on arrival, you don’t need to call anyone to stave off the inevitable search operation. Then, when closing, you don’t have to remember to make a phone call to FSS, the controller you’re already talking to can do it for you.

    It’s just a more intelligent process that would go hand in hand with flight following if it worked that way.
     
  36. Vance Breese

    Vance Breese Line Up and Wait

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    Thank you for your help. I have not had a problem with opening or closing a VFR flight plan.

    A few times when I could not reach Flight Service on the radio and I didn’t have cell service I have had a tower close my flight plan. For example from Taft (L17) I called Fox Field (WJF) 65 miles away and they closed my flight VFR plan.
     
  37. Plano Pilot

    Plano Pilot Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Do you have "Position-Only Flights" selected under your account settings in FlightAware? It is option 6. If not select it and your VFR flights will probably show up.
     
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  38. midlifeflyer

    midlifeflyer Final Approach

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    Maybe, maybe not. You might have to make a phone call to both open and close an IFR flight plan. And both types can be cancelled in the air.

    Despite some of the issues, I learned to appreciate VFR flight plans when I flew in the Colorado mountains, often too low for flight following. And rarely made a phone call to cancel. I typically did it on the radio.
     
  39. ghogue

    ghogue Pre-takeoff checklist

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    For anyone who wishes to look it up, it's the Goodish letter from 2008.
     
  40. Clark1961

    Clark1961 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Given the nature of the IFR filing system and the fact that the FAA could easily prevent entering ‘VFR’ in the altitude field, do you think the opinion would stand up to a serious challenge?

    My opinion is that this particular opinion is groundless.