When are you officially IFR after departing VFR?

Discussion in 'Cleared for the Approach' started by Mike21380, Nov 29, 2018.

  1. Mike21380

    Mike21380 Filing Flight Plan

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    Hi all- just a quick question about departing IFR from uncontrolled airports. As a low time IFR pilot, the few times I've departed IFR from an uncontrolled airport I picked up my clearance on the ground via my cell phone from the local TRACON, usually while sitting in the airplane just before starting the engine. After copying and verifying the clearance the controller always asked how I'd like my release. I always said that I'll call back on the same phone number while holding short just before take-off. During this second call I got a release into the system and my void-if-not-off times, then departed via the ODP within my window, knowing all the while that I'm in the system and free to enter the clouds. Once high enough, I contacted departure and away I went...

    That's all well and good, but what if there's unlimited visibility and say 4000' AGL ceilings, with no troublesome obstructions nearby? Rather than tie up the uncontrolled airport with my IFR departure, couldn't I get my clearance from TRACON on the ground, depart VFR, and activate my IFR flight plan when comfortably aloft. How does this work? What would I say to ATC on initial contact? Would they know that I already have my clearance and I'm just looking to get into the system? Would I squawk 1200 on departure (since I'm departing VFR) and switch to my assigned code after making initial contact? And how would I know that I am officially IFR and legal to enter the clouds?

    And finally, what if I was further away from busy airspace, taking off from a sleepy uncontrolled airport in unlimited visibility and 4000' AGL ceilings, and opted to get my full clearance while airborne after departing VFR (maybe because cell reception was poor on the ground and there was no good way to get the clearance over the radio while on the surface)? When am I officially in the system and legal to enter the clouds? Is it as soon as ATC confirms my read back? Is it as soon as they tell me to squawk the IFR code?
     
  2. Larry in TN

    Larry in TN Cleared for Takeoff

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    If you receive your clearance, and release if a non-towered field, you are IFR from the beginning of your takeoff roll which means you must comply with the instrument flight rules (91.167-91.199) and are provided IFR separation.

    If you receive your clearance airborne, you are IFR when you hear "Cleared to [clearance limit] via ..."
     
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  3. frfly172

    frfly172 Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    If you are able to depart VFR,you can call in the air,ATC will tell you to remain VFR,until., they issue your clearance and a squack code. You can also use the 800 number on the ground.
     
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  4. Ryanb

    Ryanb Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    "Podunk Approach, Bugsmasher 123AB, just off XYZ looking to open our IFR to ABC."

    Clearance will be read to you and then you copy it back and bingo, you're now IFR and can penetrate those big puffy white things in the sky.
     
  5. genna

    genna Cleared for Takeoff

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    I've never thought about taking off VFR without telling controller after receiving clearance on the the ground. I do not think you can do it as you are now(after accepting clearance) under ATC control and need to make them aware of your action. As said above, you can tell them that you will depart VFR and contact departure freq in the air. Or you can just depart VFR and pick up clearance in the air.
     
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  6. James331

    James331 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Depends, was it class G?
     
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  7. Mike21380

    Mike21380 Filing Flight Plan

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    I’d certainly let the controller on the ground who gave me my clearance known that I’d prefer to depart VFR and activate my IFR when airborne- in response to their question “how would you like your release”. It’s just I can’t seem to find anyone online who mentions this as an option. It seems so reasonable- get the long clearance on the ground so you’re not tying up a freq, but request a VFR takeoff (if it’s clearly VFR and safe) so as to not tie up the airport, and get your IFR release while airborne. Just not sure if you’d take off squawking 1200, or squawk your IFR code and just call up departure when aloft. In retrospect, I guess I could just straighten all this out with the controller over the phone on the ground when I get the clearance in the first place.
     
  8. Mike21380

    Mike21380 Filing Flight Plan

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    Class G under class E starting at 700’, within 10 NM of the outermost boundary a major class B terminal area.
     
  9. luvflyin

    luvflyin Final Approach

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    I remember something like this happening once. I had given a clearance with a void time. Pilot didn't get off. I was waiting for the phone call from him to explain why and looking for another clearance and void time. A few minutes later he's in the air calling on the radio, said he missed the time but was able to depart VFR. He was squawking VFR which I thought was good thinking on his part but really not necessary. The airspace along the assigned route must be sterilized for 30 minutes after the void time until you hear from them saying they didn't get off. I don't remember exactly what I said but it was words to the effect of squawk that code I gave you and you are cleared to wherever it was via that route I already gave you, Climb and Maintain ###.

    If you're intent is to depart VFR but you want to get the clearance you are going to get once airborne while you are still on the ground so you don't get to busy, it would just be a matter of negotiating it. That should work if you are talking directly to the ATC facility controlling the sky there and you're talking with someone who can a think a little out of the box. I don't know of any "procdedure' that covers this scenario.

    EDIT: turns out there are some 'procedures' about this. see post #61
     
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2018
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  10. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Yes, squawk VFR. Your strip is already waiting (30 min prior to ETD) for you. The controller will reach over, grab your strip and issue discrete squawk to get radar. Once radar contact is established “Cessna 12345, radar contact 5 miles north Podunk, cleared to....” Once you hear cleared to with your altitude, you’re good to go in the soup.

    Now, if you’re below their MIA, you might get after radar contact “Cessna 12345, are you able to maintain your own terrain and obstruction clearance until reaching XXXX (MIA)?” If you’re very familiar with the area and you feel confident that you can avoid Mother Earth and antennas while climbing through the goo to the MIA, then answer in the affirmative. If yes, then “Cessna 345 is cleared to...” If no, then “Cessna 345, maintain VFR and say intentions.”
     
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2018
  11. midwestpa24

    midwestpa24 Cleared for Takeoff

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    I would say this is splitting hairs and making something more complicated than it has to be. If its VFR, I would just take-off VFR and pick up in the air. The readback in the air is usually simpler anyway. If its IFR, get your clearance then takeoff. I see no reason to create a scenario in between.
     
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  12. genna

    genna Cleared for Takeoff

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    So. The scenario where I get clearance on the ground with a squawk and request to depart VFR. Why use 1200? You’re already given the code. Seems like it’d be easier to take off with it for everyone
     
  13. Checkout_my_Six

    Checkout_my_Six Final Approach

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    you are IFR as soon as you accept the clearance. :confused: VFR and IFR are mutually exclusive....I think you mean VMC vs VFR.
     
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  14. genna

    genna Cleared for Takeoff

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    ^ by the way. I’ve done it once or twice due to IFR traffic in the pattern. So not to wait for it to cancel IFR. And few more times I got rebuffed by CD for asking to do it
     
  15. luvflyin

    luvflyin Final Approach

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    Yeah. There'd be no need to do that. ATC assigned you the code and is expecting you. If you 'surprised' them by departing VFR after they had given you a Clearance and were expecting you to depart IFR it could save them a couple missed heartbeats
     
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  16. luvflyin

    luvflyin Final Approach

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    If CD is not right there in the same room in shouting distance of the Departure Controller it then creates coordination that can get tedious if either of them is busy. In this scenario just launching VFR squawking 1200 and then telling the departure controller what your up to could work out without to much hassle. But you could get a Controller who throws a hissy fit. Things like this would probably tend to work out better at the 'home drome' where you have some experience with their tribal knowledge there.
     
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  17. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    The OP is talking about departing a non towered field without contacting ATC, not departing VFR from a towered field on a descrete code and then get a clearance after departure.

    It’s not hard. Call them while airborne, they give you your assigned code, they issue your clearance. I’ve issued dozens of those clearances. It’s easy on the controller and easy on the pilot.

    At this point is where Levy would attach the file on the Beechjet crash off Rome, GA in 1991 and give you a word of caution in departing in MVFR. So, don’t depart into busy airspace, in MVFR and mountains around, looking to pick up your IFR. There...you’ve been warned.;)
     
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2018
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  18. Palmpilot

    Palmpilot Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Not to mention half of Reba McEntire's band late one night in San Diego.
     
  19. SbestCFII

    SbestCFII Line Up and Wait

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    In the situation given (4000 and great vis.), if you've filed IFR, just depart VFR and open with approach control in the air. I do that all the time. When I depart a remote airport, I file the flight plan, taxi to the departure runway, do my run-up, the call for my clearance on the GCO/RCO or by phone and tell them I'm ready for immediate departure on RWY X. In the majority of my flights, I'll get my release immediate with a 10-20 minute void time. Having done the run-up, I'll check traffic, announce my departure and take-off. Occasionally, I'll get a "hold for release" and have to call back, but that's not too common.
     
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2018
  20. Mike21380

    Mike21380 Filing Flight Plan

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    Yeah- I think that’s more in the spirit of what I’m used to, except I’m used to making two calls- one to get the full clearance (before starting up and taxing), and a second for release right when I’m ready to go (at the hold short line, runup complete). The second call is my release, with the void time- which is easy to comply with since I’m on the line ready to go anyway. Every time I’ve ever called NY TRACON for the initial clearance they always ask when I plan to call back for the release. I guess I’m just wondering why I never read that this is a norm (I’ve flown with multiple instructors and it’s always this two call process), and in retrospect, was wondering why I couldn’t just get the clearance on the ground, and if things are clear with high ceilings, depart VFR and get the IFR release when airborne. Maybe it’s just a New York thing given the busy airspace? I rarely hear anyone getting their clearance after departing VFR- and it’s no wonder, given what things are like around the NYC bravo during peak times.
     
  21. RussR

    RussR Cleared for Takeoff

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    Also realize that clearance in the air are usually much shorter than clearances on the ground. There will be no "enter controlled airspace heading XXX", they don't need to give you the departure frequency (since you're already on it), there will be no "maintain 3000, expect 10,000 10 minutes after departure", and the route may be simplified as well. Obviously this depends on how busy your airspace is.
     
  22. Mike21380

    Mike21380 Filing Flight Plan

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    Good point- it didn’t occur to me that the clearance would be simpler anyway...
     
  23. asicer

    asicer En-Route

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    BTW a VFR climb on an IFR flight plan is a useful tool for when you can't meet the 200ft/NM standard or SID/ODP climb rate (e.g. high density altitude). The somewhat related VCOA (visual climb over airport) is another tool you might want to keep in mind.
     
  24. flyingcheesehead

    flyingcheesehead Touchdown! Greaser!

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    That's what I was going to say, but then there's the third scenario, where the pilot has already picked up a hold-for-release clearance on the ground, and has departed VFR rather than getting the IFR release.

    Once the plane is airborne, is it really being "released" any more? @Velocity173 @Radar Contact and any of the other controllers out there, how would you handle this particular scenario?
     
  25. midlifeflyer

    midlifeflyer Final Approach

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    AIM:
    Hold for Release. ATC may issue "hold for release" instructions in a clearance to delay an aircraft's departure for traffic management reasons (i.e., weather, traffic volume, etc.). When ATC states in the clearance, "hold for release," the pilot may not depart utilizing that IFR clearance until a release time or additional instructions are issued by ATC. (my emphasis)​

    Based on that, I'm going with, if you are held for release and, instead of staying put, you take off VFR, you are not on an IFR clearance until you contact ATC and they say you are cleared.
     
  26. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    If I were on position, with an aircraft on a “hold for release” I’d want 1) verification that they’d be departing VFR and 2) I’d make darn sure the previously issued clearance was canceled. If not, you’d have pilots departing without letting approach know they are now VFR and a possible loss of separation with an inbound IFR. Now, if they’re tired of waiting and can’t get ahold of ATC to let them know, then at least depart on a 1200 code, then get recleared after departure.
     
  27. aterpster

    aterpster Pattern Altitude

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    But, not for hire, the ODP is optional if not included in the clearance.
     
  28. flyingcheesehead

    flyingcheesehead Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Without a doubt... But that wasn't really my question. I'm just not sure what ATC would say in that scenario.

    So, as a controller, there isn't anything you can do but give the full clearance again? Such as "N12345, cleared to *limit* via previously cleared route" or somesuch?

    As @Fast n' Furious always said, rocks don't care what part of the CFR you fly under...
     
  29. luvflyin

    luvflyin Final Approach

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    See my post #9 above. I suppose it could happen that a controller could say ok, you’re released.
     
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  30. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    I’ve never seen “via previously cleared route” phraseology used in that type of instance. It would be confusing for the pilot also, especially if given in a previously issued clearance “when entering controlled airspace, fly heading...” Is the pilot now suppose to fly that initial heading from the previous clearance? Also, you’d have to ad “altitude” to that statement as well. Might as well just treat them as a VFR departure and use standard pop up IFR phraseology. Only takes a few seconds to issue a CAF clearance.
     
  31. midlifeflyer

    midlifeflyer Final Approach

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    Dunno. I'd guess one of two things.

    1. "Cleared to" or some equivalent because they can fit you in; or
    2. "MaintaIn VFR" because they can't.

    You are basically just another pop up VFR aircraft looking to get their clearance in the air.
     
  32. Radar Contact

    Radar Contact Cleared for Takeoff

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    I agree with what he said. The third scenario as you said is the curve ball. If you received a hold for release and depart anyway with an IFR code, you are still VFR and as the controller I wouldn't care. The snitch machine might go off and you'd (the controller) would have to explain what happened. I have no idea what, if anything, the FSDO would say about it. I think the prudent thing to do is to put 1200 in before you do that and call the controller airborne saying you opted to depart VFR and want to pick up the IFR when they are able. Preferably to this is that you call the facility before you depart and tell them you are doing this.

    Some facilities have a local solution to this by not giving the code as part of the clearance until the radar controller releases the aircraft. Seems to work well.
     
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  33. flyingcheesehead

    flyingcheesehead Touchdown! Greaser!

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    So it sounds like, in this instance (departing VFR), there is really no point to trying to pick up the clearance on the ground as opposed to on frequency in the air.
     
  34. midlifeflyer

    midlifeflyer Final Approach

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    Im not sure. I think it whether there is an advantage or not depends on the circumstances. I wouldn't bother but, "hold for release" and responding, "we'll depart VFR and pick it up in the air" might at least has the advantage of letting ATC know you are actually coming their way. That might smooth the transition a bit.

    More generally, I can still see advantages to an in-air pickup. My home base is in the cusp between RDU and FAY. It's also on the RDU approach/departure path. A flight northbound is often going to get you a hold for release. If conditions permit, a VFR departure until you are clear is likely to get you faster service.
     
  35. genna

    genna Cleared for Takeoff

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    The way I figured, the situation where you get the clearance on the ground and then want to depart VFR is specific to airport, departure, and controller. As I mentioned before, I did it at least once during my training with a CFII. We were watching an IFR traffic land and called the controller to tell them that it landed and we could take off. Because that plane has not canceled IFR, they could not release us. But they were ok with us taking off VFR. IIRC, we departed with IFR squawk. Our airport is not generally in the way of any approaches to other places.

    I tried to do the same thing once on my own(as i was watching a landing plane turning off the runway) and got a stern "call back in 5 minutes".

    This is definitely a non-standard procedure and I would only use it for this type of situation. Picking up clearance in the air is my preferred method if clouds or airspace are a non-issue.
     
  36. bkspero

    bkspero Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I've read the thread and didn't see an answer to what I think the OP is asking (if I missed it, I apologize). If he/she gets an IFR clearance on the ground but coordinates with clearance delivery to depart VFR and activate that clearance in the air, when does his/her flight status change from VFR to IFR? I think the answer is when the controller advises radar contact.

    When I did this for the first time I, too, was uncertain whether I should depart VFR squawking 1200 or the assigned code, so I told clearance delivery that I would be squawking the assigned code and asked if that was ok. He said it was. I confirm that every time I do this same thing, and the answer is always the same...depart VFR but squawk the assigned code.

    In NY TRACON airspace where I, and I think the OP, fly, I don't recall ever hearing someone getting their full route clearance in the air. Radio time is pretty much filled just keeping the traffic moving smoothly (or at least separated).
     
  37. Radar Contact

    Radar Contact Cleared for Takeoff

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    Saying "radar contact" does not make an aircraft IFR. What if you depart VFR and contact approach at 2500 with an IFR aircraft 500 above you, should the controller not radar identify you? They will radar ID you and if you're on your IFR code, tell you to maintain VFR. When they have approved separation, they will then issue you your IFR clearance. What you got on the ground was your route or expected clearance. If you were told to hold for release or not given a release then you are VFR (uncontrolled airport, takeoff clearance at a towered airport is automatic IFR when you have received your clearance on the ground).

    From the 7110.65:
    "Treat an aircraft planning VFR for the initial part of flight and IFR for the latter part as a VFR departure. Issue a clearance to this aircraft when it requests IFR clearance approaching the fix where it proposes to start IFR operations. The phraseology CLEARED TO (destination) AIRPORT AS FILED may be used with abbreviated departure clearance procedures."

    "If clearance is to destination airport, the phraseology CLEARED TO (destination) AIRPORT must be used."

    So, you get your "clearance" on the ground with the route, altitudes, freq, code, etc but not an IFR release and depart VFR, you are VFR. The controller Radar ID's you, you are VFR. When you request your clearance and the controller can legally issue it to you (traffic/mva/etc), the controller then will say, "N12345 cleared to Nashville airport, as filed...direct holly, direct molly, then as filed... etc climb and maintain 5000 expect 7000 in 10." Then and only then are you IFR.

    Just my $0.02...If I'm wrong, I'm sure I'll hear about it. :)
     
  38. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Like RC said, you still need to get a clearance in the air. What ever clearance you had on the ground is void because you weren’t released IFR. Since it’s a VFR departure, you would still have to pick up your clearance airborne just like if you never called them to begin with.

    The squawk and radar contact have nothing to do with being IFR either. As RC said, the squawk might send off the “snitch patch” but if the pilot was told that the clearance was canceled and to maintain VFR, the controller shouldn’t have too much explaining to do. Until you hear “cleared to...” you’re not IFR.
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2018
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  39. aterpster

    aterpster Pattern Altitude

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    You're right. Radar contact has nothing to do with it.
     
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  40. Larry in TN

    Larry in TN Cleared for Takeoff

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    Most of the airspace around the earth does not have radar coverage. We are spoiled by the good coverage we have over the US. Being in radar contact has no bearing on a flight's IFR vs VFR status.