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Instrument Flying Handbook
IFR Flight
Conducting an IFR Flight

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Instrument Flying


Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Human Factors
Chapter 2. Aerodynamic Factors
Chapter 3. Flight Instruments
Chapter 4. Section I
Airplane Attitude Instrument
Using Analog Instrumentation
Chapter 4. Section II
Airplane Attitude Instrument
Using an Electronic Flight

Chapter 5. Section I
Airplane Basic
Flight Maneuvers
Using Analog Instrumentation
Chapter 5. Section II
Airplane Basic
Flight Maneuvers
Using an Electronic Flight

Chapter 6. Helicopter
Attitude Instrument Flying

Chapter 7. Navigation Systems
Chapter 8. The National
Airspace System

Chapter 9. The Air Traffic
Control System

Chapter 10. IFR Flight
Chapter 11. Emergency

VFR Over-The-Top
VFR over-the-top must not be confused with VFR-on-
top. VFR-on-top is an IFR clearance that allows the pilot
to fly VFR altitudes. VFR over-the-top is strictly a VFR
operation in which the pilot maintains VFR cloud clearance
requirements while operating on top of an undercast layer.
This situation might occur when the departure airport and the
destination airport are reporting clear conditions, but a low
overcast layer is present in between. The pilot could conduct
a VFR departure fly over the top of the undercast in VFR
conditions, then complete a VFR descent and landing at the
destination. VFR cloud clearance requirements would be
maintained at all times, and an IFR clearance would not be
required for any part of the flight.

Conducting an IFR Right

To illustrate some of the concepts introduced in this chapter,
follow along on a typical IFR flight from the Birmingham
International Airport (BHM), Birmingham, Alabama to
Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport (GPT), Gulfport,
Mississippi. [Figure 10-18] For this trip, a Cessna 182
with a call sign of N1230A will be flown. The aircraft is
equipped with dual navigation and communication radios, a
transponder, and a GPS system approved for IFR en route,
terminal, and approach operations.

The success of the flight depends largely upon the
thoroughness of the preflight planning. The evening before
the flight, pay close attention to the weather forecast and
begin planning the flight.

The Weather Channel indicates a large, low-pressure system
has settled in over the Midwest, pulling moisture up from
the Gulf of Mexico and causing low ceilings and visibility
with little chance for improvement over the next couple of
days. To begin planning, gather all the necessary charts and
materials, and verify everything is current. This includes en
route charts. approach charts, DPs, STAR charts, the GPS
database, as well as an A/FD, some navigation logs, and the
aircraft's POH/AFM. The charts cover both the departure
and arrival airports and any contingency airports that will
be needed if the flight cannot he completed as planned. This
is also a good time for the pilot to consider recent flight
experience, pilot proficiency, fitness, and personal weather
minimums to fly this particular flight.

Check the A/FD to become familiar with the departure and
arrival airport and check for any preferred routing between
BHM and GPT. Next, review the approach charts and any
DP or STAR that pertains to the flight. Finally, review the en
route charts for potential routing, paying close attention to the
minimum en route and obstacle clearance altitudes.

After this review, select the best option. For this flight, the
Birmingham Three Departure [Figure 10-2] to Brookwood
VORTAC, V 209 to Kewanee VORTAC, direct 10 Gulfport
using GPS would be a logical route. An altitude of 4,000 feet
meets all the regulatory requirements and falls well within
the performance capabilities of the aircraft.

Next, call 1-800-WX-BRIEF to obtain an outlook-type
weather briefing for the proposed flight. This provides
forecast conditions for departure and arrival airports, as well
as the en route portion of the flight including forecast winds
aloft. This also is a good opportunity to check the available

The weather briefer confirms the predictions of the weather
channel giving forecast conditions that are at or near
minimum landing minimums at both BHM and GPT for
the proposed departure time. The briefer provides NOTAM
information for GPT indicating that the localizer to runway
32 is scheduled to be out of service and that runway 18/36 is
closed until further notice. Also check for temporary flight
restrictions (TFRs) along the proposed route.

After receiving a weather briefing, continue flight planning
and begin to transfer some preliminary information onto
the navigation log, listing each fix along the route and the
distances, frequencies, and altitudes. consolidating this
information onto an organized navigation log will keep the
workload to a minimum during the flight.

Next, obtain a standard weather briefing online for the
proposed route. A check of current conditions indicates
low IFR conditions at both the departure airport and the
destination, with visibility of one-quarter mile:

06/05 A2994 RMK A02 SLP140

METAR KGPT 111156Z 24003KT 1/4 SM FG OVC001 08/07
A2962 RMK A02 SLP033

The small temperature/dewpoint spread is causing the low
visibility and ceilings. Conditions should improve later in
the day as temperatures increase. A check of the terminal
forecast confirms this theory:

TAP KBHM 111156Z 111212 VRB04KT ¼SM FG VV004
TEMPO1316 ¾ SM OVC004

FM1600 VRB05KT 2SM BR OVC007 TEMPO 1720 3SM