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Discussion in 'Cleared for the Approach' started by Ventucky Red, Apr 23, 2019.
I was wondering that as well.
Not that familiar with VFR-on-top but isn't such a clearance incompatible with doing random VFR work, say in a practice area, unless ATC was calling the shots, which I infer they were not once you began "IPC stuff". Would it not have been appropriate to file IFR to VFR-on-top then cancel the IFR when you are in an area appropriate to random headings and altitudes. Seems you did cancel IFR given you "asked for a pop-up clearance to XXXX RNAV-Y full stop" when you were done. It seems, to me, ATC intended to give you the requested clearance but misworded it. Your instructor, at the minimum, should have insisted you clarify.
I’ve done exactly what you’re asking about and remained on a clearance the entire time. In my situation I’ve requested a clearance to climb to VFR on top for maneuvering in the local practice area. When my student and I were ready to return to the airport we just let the controller know and we started getting vectors for an approach.
This is likely only a realistic option in lower traffic areas with willing controllers though.
I had that happen to me a couple of weeks ago. Solid IMC from 2000 to 6000 feet, I'm flying at 5000 descending to 3000. ATC - "Traffic 1:00, 2 miles, not talking to them" Me: "Negative contact, I'm in the clouds". Then, when I broke out at 1000 feet at destination, there was a guy doing pattern work...
ADSB came in handy in the clouds
This is a problem specifically with Mugu Approach, who I'm assuming you were talking to for the RNAV Y 26 into CMA. They aren't happy to handle you IFR until you are basically right over the approach, even if you were VFR on top doing maneuvers. They should clear you if spacing is adequate, or not vector you onto the approach and down toward the clouds. It actually sounds like they may have just misspoken and given you a VFR practice clearance instead of an IFR clearance, and it may have been simply that they do so many practice approaches there that they forgot to clear you IFR.
The “maintain VFR until established” phraseology leads me to believe the approach controller thought the OP was requesting a practice approach under VFR. But, their phraseology should have been simply “maintain VFR”. The “until established” part implies that once they are established on the approach, OP didn’t have to be VFR anymore....confusing at best. If I was the approach controller and QA listened to this, I’d be filling out an ATSAP on it.
The controller the OP was dealing with is DOD/Navy, not FAA, which is part of the issue. The approach control he was dealing with is really a mixed bag - some fantastic and some who kind of make their own procedures.
I have worked with some former military controllers who came to the FAA. Some of them have had....interesting phraseology and techniques.
That’s not a Navy / DOD issue though. They’re all FAA certified controllers and 90 % of what they do is inline with FAA policies.
You could have the same problem at an FAA or contract tower facility. I’ve got friends in the FAA who complain about the quality of CTI grads and “off the street” new hires. ATC is no different than any other job. You’ve got rockstars and then you have people that you wonder how they’ve gotten to where they are.
Based on what you stated above, you never received an IFR clearance. So what made you think you were IFR? If in doubt, you should have requested a clarification. My guess is that they didn't hear you asking for an IFR clearance. They probably assumed you wanted a practice VFR approach.
This sounds like an overwhelmed controller who didn't actually give an instrument clearance but implied one (maintin VFR UNTIL ESTABLISHED). Personally, I would be hounding the controller for a proper clearance limit and approach clearance just to have 0 doubt, but I don't think what happened here is going to get followed up with the faa.
He was flying IFR all through the flight if you take him at his word. The approach clearance include "maintain VFR until established." Note the UNTIL. Presumably, they got on some aspect of the approach course before entering IMC.
OP is going to prison. Let us know when you figure out why its called the Pokey...