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Instrument Flying Handbook
IFR Flight
En Route Procedures

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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

1. At all times:

a) When vacating any previously assigned altitude
or flight level for a newly assigned altitude or
flight level

b) When an altitude change will be made if operating
on a clearance specifying VFR-on-top

c) When unable to climb/descend at a rate of at least
500 feet per minute (fpm)

d) When an approach has been missed (Request
clearance for specific action (to alternative
airport, another approach, etc.))

e) Change in average true airspeed (at cruising
altitude) when it varies by 5 percent or ten knots
(whichever is greater) from that filed in the flight

f) The time and altitude upon reaching a holding fix
or point to which cleared

g) When leaving any assigned holding fix or point

NOTE - The reports in (f') and (g) may be omitted
by pilots of aircraft involved in instrument
training at military terminal area facilities when
radar service is being provided

h) Any loss in controlled airspace of VOR,
TACAN, ADF, low frequency navigation
receiver capability, GPS anomalies while using
installed IFR-certified GPS/GNSS receivers,
complete or partial loss of ILS receiver capability,
or impairment of air/ground communications
capability. Reports should include aircraft
identification, equipment affected, degree to
which the capability to operate under IFR in
the ATC system is impaired, and the nature and
extent of assistance desired from ATC.

i) Any information relating to the safety of flight.

2. When not in radar contact:

a) When leaving the final approach fix inbound
on final approach (nonprecision approach), or
when leaving the outer marker or fix used in lieu
of the outer marker inbound on final approach
(precision approach).

b) A corrected estimate at any time it becomes
apparent that an estimate as previously submitted
is in error in excess of 3 minutes.

Any pilot who encounters weather conditions that have not
been forecast, or hazardous conditions which have been
forecast, is expected to forward a report of such weather
to ATC.

Planning the Descent and Approach
ATC arrival procedures and flight deck workload are affected
by weather conditions, traffic density, aircraft equipment,
and radar availability.

When landing at an airport with approach control services
and where two or more IAPs are published, information on
the type of approach to expect will be provided in advance of
arrival or vectors will be provided to a visual approach. This
information will be broadcast either on automated terminal
information service (ATIS) or by a controller. It will not be
furnished when the visibility is 3 miles or more and the ceiling
is at or above the highest initial approach altitude established
for any low altitude IAP for the airport.

The purpose of this information is to help the pilot plan arrival
actions; however, it is not an ATC clearance or commitment
and is subject to change. Fluctuating weather, shifting
winds, blocked runway, etc., arc conditions that may result
in changes to the approach information previously received.
It is important for a pilot to advise ATC immediately if he
or she is unable to execute the approach or prefers another
type of approach.

If the destination is an airport without an operating control
tower, and has automated weather data with broadcast
capability, the pilot should monitor the automated surface
observing system/automated weather observing system
(ASOS/AWOS) frequency to ascertain the current weather for
tile airport. ATC should be advised that weather information
has been received and what the pilot's intentions are.

When the approach to be executed has been determined, the
pilot should plan for and request a descent to the appropriate
altitude prior to the initial approach fix (IAF) or transition
route depicted on the IAP. When flying the transition route,
a pilot should maintain the last assigned altitude until ATC
gives the instructions "cleared for the approach." Lower
altitudes can be requested to bring the transition route
altitude closer to the required altitude at the initial approach
fix. When ATC uses the phrase "at pilot's discretion" in the
altitude information of a clearance, the pilot has the option
to start a descent at any rate, and may level off temporarily
at any intermediate altitude. However, once an altitude has
been vacated, return to that altitude is not authorized without
a clearance. When ATC has not used the term "at pilot's
discretion" nor imposed any descent restrictions, initiate
descent promptly upon acknowledgment of the clearance.

Descend at an optimum rate (consistent with the operating
characteristics of the aircraft) to 1,000 feet above the assigned
altitude. Then attempt to descend at a rate of between 500 and
1,500 fpm until the assigned altitude is reached. If at anytime
a pilot is unable to maintain a descent rate of at least 500 fpm,
advise ATC. Also advise ATC if it is necessary to level off
at an intermediate altitude during descent. An exception to
this is when leveling off at 10,000 feet mean sea level (MSL)
on descent, or 2,500 feet above airport elevation (prior to
entering a Class B, Class C, or Class D surface area) when
required for speed reduction.