Prior Permission Required - Can I still use a VFR flight plan?

snu164

Filing Flight Plan
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snu164
I am flying into Henderson Executive this weekend (KHND). There's a NOTAM stating Prior Permission is Required. Presumably they are anticipating extra traffic due to the Superbowl. I spoke to the FBO and received a PPR number as well as a "time slot" for when I am authorized to arrive. The FBO employee told me I need to put the PPR number in the remarks section of my flight plan. As I understand it, if I put this number in a VFR flight plan, air traffic controllers will never see it.

Does this mean I need to file an IFR fight plan? I'm rated and current, but I would prefer flying VFR as the IFR routes add a significant amount of time to the flight.

Can I file a VFR flight plan (with the PPR in remarks) and just pick up flight following when I get near Las Vegas Center and still satisfy the NOTAM?
 
What does the text of the procedure document say? I'm not going so I didn't look hard, but I found this, indicating that the reservation system does not apply to VFR, so my guess is they are talking about putting it into an IFR flight plan so ATC knows you are allowed in.

Traffic in the area will be greatly increased. Operators without reservations should expect significant delays in and out of the area.

VFR PILOT CLARIFICATION: The Super Bowl LVII reservation system will not apply to VFR air traffic. However, an airport may have more stringent requirements for itinerants, due to constrained ramp space and resources. Be advised, VFR services will be limited or unavailable within the P50 terminal airspace. Please co​
 
Thanks for the reply midlifeflyer, I hadn't seen that procedure document.

I think you hit the nail on the head. If I fly IFR, I need to have the PPR number in my flight plan for the controller to give me a clearance. If I fly VFR, I'm not putting a load on the ATC system and my PPR only reserves me a parking spot at the FBO.
 
Thanks for the reply midlifeflyer, I hadn't seen that procedure document.

I think you hit the nail on the head. If I fly IFR, I need to have the PPR number in my flight plan for the controller to give me a clearance. If I fly VFR, I'm not putting a load on the ATC system and my PPR only reserves me a parking spot at the FBO.
Don’t forget the part about IFR traffic being heavy enough that they may not be able to accommodate VFR traffic.
 
This is one of those times I might consider filing an IFR flight plan but putting VFR in the altitude so that you're operating under visual flight rules yet have an ATC flight plan and PPR in comments.

Alternatively, you could start your IFR at a point closer to your destination so you don't have to do as much out of the way flying. That said, if you're gonna fly into the Super Bowl, you're gonna get delays IFR or VFR just as part of the arrival or sequencing of all of the traffic.
 
This is one of those times I might consider filing an IFR flight plan but putting VFR in the altitude so that you're operating under visual flight rules yet have an ATC flight plan and PPR in comments.

Alternatively, you could start your IFR at a point closer to your destination so you don't have to do as much out of the way flying. That said, if you're gonna fly into the Super Bowl, you're gonna get delays IFR or VFR just as part of the arrival or sequencing of all of the traffic.
Is this something one should do if they aren't IFR rated?
 
Don’t forget the part about IFR traffic being heavy enough that they may not be able to accommodate VFR traffic.
That's more what I meant by pointing to the document.

Go IFR and get in. Go VFR and good chance you'll be told to "remain clear" of anywhere near it.
 
Is this something one should do if they aren't IFR rated?
That's a debate for the centuries. Personally I wouldn't if I wasn't already rated, current, and flying an IFR capable aircraft.
The "debate" is about "filing" IFR to get in the system, not accepting an IFR clearance (which is clearly verbotten without an instrument rated and current PIC). That debate might be even more interesting than in the past because the Chief Counsel letter talking about it being evidence of intent to violate the regs if someone screws up and you end up being treated as IFR is no longer available on the Chief Counsel website. I have also heard controllers (including AG and RH from Opposing Bases) who think it's a great idea to reduce their workload.

That aside, interesting question whether it would work for this.
 
The "debate" is about "filing" IFR to get in the system, not accepting an IFR clearance (which is clearly verbotten without an instrument rated and current PIC). That debate might be even more interesting than in the past because the Chief Counsel letter talking about it being evidence of intent to violate the regs if someone screws up and you end up being treated as IFR is no longer available on the Chief Counsel website. I have also heard controllers (including AG and RH from Opposing Bases) who think it's a great idea to reduce their workload.

That aside, interesting question whether it would work for this.
Agreed, but short of any official FAA guidance recommending it for the purpose of VFR flight following, I wouldn't file an IFR flight plan with the intent of VFR operations unless I was IfR qualified. Exceptions of course are specific approved cases such as the DC SFRA/FRZ.

While I agree that putting in VFR in the altitude is internal ATC sop for VFR flight following, it's not in the AIM. As we know, AG and RH are controllers and understand Air Traffic, but they are not experts on part 91 operating rules (any more than the rest of us) and are not providing official (or unofficial) guidance. So filing IFR for VFR flight following may be helpful to the controller, it doesn't mean that it's still correct policy.

If the FAA was okay with us filing IFR flight plans for VFR flight following, they wouldn't need to change the regs; they'd just update policy allowing it. So if you do so anyway, it may not necessarily be a violation of the regs, but it is contrary to existing guidance. If I was trying to plea my case before the an NTSB administrative law judge, I wouldn't want to have to defend my actions as justified because I read it on the internet or heard somebody talk about it on a podcast.
 
As we know, AG and RH are controllers and understand Air Traffic, but they are not experts on part 91 operating rules (any more than the rest of us) and are not providing official (or unofficial) guidance. So filing IFR for VFR flight following may be helpful to the controller, it doesn't mean that it's still correct policy.
Of course it's not official guidance. I leave that to my cat (my consulting expert on the regulations).

But while I was definitely in the "don't do it!" bandwagon (and like you, still am), neither the regulations nor the Chief Counsel Goodish letter said one could not. At most, Goodish said, in effect, "Hey! If you do it and there's a deviation because the controller didn't understand, don't claim it was innocent."
 
What direction are you coming from? From SoCal, the approach into HND is stone-simple (but steep, 'cause there be rocks...).

As mentioned, you could file your IFR plan from an enroute location that minimizes your inconvenience.
 
That's a debate for the centuries. Personally I wouldn't if I wasn't already rated, current, and flying an IFR capable aircraft.
I agree with you.

The "debate" is about "filing" IFR to get in the system, not accepting an IFR clearance (which is clearly verbotten without an instrument rated and current PIC). That debate might be even more interesting than in the past because the Chief Counsel letter talking about it being evidence of intent to violate the regs if someone screws up and you end up being treated as IFR is no longer available on the Chief Counsel website. I have also heard controllers (including AG and RH from Opposing Bases) who think it's a great idea to reduce their workload.

That aside, interesting question whether it would work for this.
I'm not rated IFR, and assume VFR weather for this trip. If I file an IFR flight plan for this situation, how would I be able to use it? AFAIK, I can't activate it as I think I would be illegally accepting the clearance. If I don't use it, doesn't it expire after a time period? Am I understanding things correctly?
 
But while I was definitely in the "don't do it!" bandwagon (and like you, still am), neither the regulations nor the Chief Counsel Goodish letter said one could not. At most, Goodish said, in effect, "Hey! If you do it and there's a deviation because the controller didn't understand, don't claim it was innocent."
I’ve gone a step beyond that, and had a discussion about telling the briefer I was IFR when I was doing a VFR flight just to get a reasonable briefing. We determined that probably wasn’t a good idea, either.
 
I agree with you.


I'm not rated IFR, and assume VFR weather for this trip. If I file an IFR flight plan for this situation, how would I be able to use it? AFAIK, I can't activate it as I think I would be illegally accepting the clearance. If I don't use it, doesn't it expire after a time period? Am I understanding things correctly?
You would definitely be illegal accepting an IFR clearance. The theory is, when you call ATC to pull it up, you tell them that you have an IFR plan on file but are VFR and just want flight following. On the ATC end, they pop in a VFR altitude and whatever transponder codes they assign to VFR aircraft. The idea is you decrease workload for ATC because they have all the information they need - N-Number, aircraft type, etc already in the system and only need to make a small change. There's two points of potential error right there.
 
Quite honestly, given the Super Bowl traffic and slots, I would not be surprised if they turn you away if VFR. I could be wrong, but the Super Bowl drives an extreme amount of aviation traffic into a city.
 
Of course it's not official guidance. I leave that to my cat (my consulting expert on the regulations).

But while I was definitely in the "don't do it!" bandwagon (and like you, still am), neither the regulations nor the Chief Counsel Goodish letter said one could not. At most, Goodish said, in effect, "Hey! If you do it and there's a deviation because the controller didn't understand, don't claim it was innocent."

I always thought that you haven't received an IFR clearance unless ATC says "cleared to [destination]" etc., to which my reply would be "[tail #] is VFR," but my non-expert opinion is worth exactly what you paid for it.

That having been said, I won't try it unless and until that procedure is at least published in the AIM. I don't need any new ways to complicate my interactions with ATC.
 
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Quite honestly, given the Super Bowl traffic and slots, I would not be surprised if they turn you away if VFR. I could be wrong, but the Super Bowl drives an extreme amount of aviation traffic into a city.
Unless there's a NOTAM to the contrary, maybe don't ask for flight following? En route, they can't turn you away if you're not talking to ATC, but of course if your destination is class D or higher, they presumably could turn you away at that point.
 
What does the text of the procedure document say? I'm not going so I didn't look hard, but I found this, indicating that the reservation system does not apply to VFR, so my guess is they are talking about putting it into an IFR flight plan so ATC knows you are allowed in.
Traffic in the area will be greatly increased. Operators without reservations should expect significant delays in and out of the area.

VFR PILOT CLARIFICATION: The Super Bowl LVII reservation system will not apply to VFR air traffic. However, an airport may have more stringent requirements for itinerants, due to constrained ramp space and resources. Be advised, VFR services will be limited or unavailable within the P50 terminal airspace. Please co​
And I found this on The Pilot's Place forum:

GYR clarification.jpg
 
I always thought that you haven't received an IFR clearance unless ATC says "cleared to [destination]" etc., to which my reply would be "[tail #] is VFR," but my non-expert opinion is worth exactly what you paid for it.
That's the way it's supposed to be, but that doesn't negate the chance of simple human error on either side of the mic.

Your reply is perfect. I can think of other good responses too. But they depend on a VFR pilot who is not trained to understand the system (70-80% of what instrument training - and especially experience - is really about) realizing what's happening and having the level of ATC comfort to effectively communicate (something even rated pilots can struggle with).

Then there are always the stories about flights being treated the "other" way. In just the past two years I had two. One was on an IFR recurrent training flight. We were "cleared to" and everything, but a controller down the line thought we were VFR. If you think my rated client caught it, you'd be wrong. The other time, I was on a personal IFR flight to visit family where I never heard "cleared to."
 
That's the way it's supposed to be, but that doesn't negate the chance of simple human error on either side of the mic.

Your reply is perfect. I can think of other good responses too. But they depend on a VFR pilot who is not trained to understand the system (70-80% of what instrument training - and especially experience - is really about) realizing what's happening and having the level of ATC comfort to effectively communicate (something even rated pilots can struggle with).

Then there are always the stories about flights being treated the "other" way. In just the past two years I had two. One was on an IFR recurrent training flight. We were "cleared to" and everything, but a controller down the line thought we were VFR. If you think my rated client caught it, you'd be wrong. The other time, I was on a personal IFR flight to visit family where I never heard "cleared to."
My instructor for the PPL taught me to be concise in my communications with ATC, which was presumably driven in part by the fact that the tower frequency where I trained often gets VERY busy.

One could also save the LiveATC recording, to have corroboration that an IFR clearance was not accepted.

The one time I had a controller think I was VFR when I was IFR was many years ago, on a flight from the Portland, Oregon area to my home base in Palo Alto. I had planned a fuel stop at Arcata, but when I overheard an airliner making two missed approaches and diverting to Crescent City, I decided to divert to my alternate at Santa Rosa. This also happened to be a unicorn flight, in that I had strong tailwinds the whole way, and it eventually became clear that I would be able to fly all the way home and still have 1.5 hours of fuel in the tanks on landing! So with two changes of destination, I guess it's understandable that ATC lost track of what was going on, and as I approached San Francisco Bay, the controller asked me if I wanted IFR into Palo Alto, to which I replied, "I am IFR!"
 
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