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IFR Radio
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Contents
...IFR Communications the Way It Ought to Be; ...IFR Communications; ...Required FAR  Communications; ...Malfunction Reports; ...Differences in IFR Communications; ...Procedures; ...Preset Radios; ...Preflight Plan for Lost Communications; ...Negotiated Clearances; ...Usage Rules; ...Radar Reporting; ...AIM Advisory Reports; ...Not on Radar; ...Procedure Turn Outbound; ...Required Reports No Contact; ...Other Reports Required: ...Required FAR Reports; ...AIM Reports are...; ...Altitude Reports; ...Reporting the Marker; ...Lost Communications; ...Fly the Route; ...Fly the Altitude; ...Fly the Altitude Problems; ...Fly the Approach; ...Expect Further Clearance; ... Re: Required by Regulations vs. A Good Operating Practice; ....Transponder; ...ATIS; ...Position Report;Non-Radar Position Reports; ...Type of Flight Plan; ...IFR Radio; …Ground Communications Outlet (GCO); ...What Gives With Clearance Delivery? ...Basic IFR Communications; ...300# Gorilla Flying IFR; ...All of IFR Radio Briefly; ...In the Beginning;(13 sub-topics) ...Filing IFR Flight Plans;(3s-t's) ...On Our Way;(10 s-t's) ...Departures;(1) ...En Route;(20 s-t's) ...Arrival;(17 s-t's) ...Expecting the Unexpected;(11 s-t's) ...

IFR Communications the Way It Ought to Be
--
Your pilot competence shows through your communications. Don’t use unnecessary phrases or politeness.
--Learn the standard FAA phraseology and use it.
--Use standard phraseology for all altitudes, headings (3 digits), frequencies (point for the decimal), and call signs.
--Use telegraphic brevity. Give ALL the required information only.
--Learn to anticipate ATC requirements. Listen to what happens to other aircraft on the frequency.
--Learn when it is appropriate to supply ATC with information.
--Learn the standard procedure for an initial call-up and use it.
--Anticipate that ATC is required to make an altimeter check with you. Make the check before he asks.
--Anticipate that you will need the ATIS and have it ready before ATC gives it for you.
--Use ‘request’ as the last word of a required communication so ATC can come back to you when he’s ready.
--Acknowledge all ATC (RADAR) instructions with a readback. (It’s nice if you can correct any clearance mistakes in the readback.
--Readback all frequencies, X-ponder codes, and headings. Include the the direction of the turn to the heading just to be certain. Occasionally the turn is required to take the long-way-around for spacing. Query ATC if in doubt.

IFR Communications
What we say and the way we say it make aviation communications unique. It is precise and when correctly performed is designed for clarity and understanding. Even so it is capable of being misunderstood, hence the readback procedure as insurance. Be prepared to query if you have any doubts as to what you may have heard. The use of excess verbiage greatly reduces clarity. Say what is needed for understanding. Be aware that in some areas and below certain altitudes communications and navigation ability can be lost. Oakland Flight Watch has a dead zone in the vicinity of Modesto.

Required IFR Communications
--
Continuous listening watch
--Report as soon as possible on frequency
--Time & altitude at reporting point
--Un-forecast weather
--Safety information
FARs
91.183 IFR radio communications.
The pilot in command of each aircraft operated under IFR in controlled airspace shall have a continuous watch maintained on the appropriate frequency and shall report by radio as soon as possible-
(a) The time and altitude of passing each designated reporting point, or the reporting points specified by ATC, except that while the aircraft is under radar control, only the passing of those reporting points specifically requested by ATC need be reported;
(b) Any un-forecast weather conditions encountered; and
(c) Any other information relating to the safety of flight.
=========================================
AIM 5-3-3. Additional Reports
a. The following reports should be made to ATC or FSS facilities without a specific ATC request:
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 a least 500 feet per minute.
(d) When approach has been missed. (Request clearance for specific action; i.e., to alternative airport, another approach, etc.)
(e) Change in the average true airspeed (at cruising altitude) when it varies by 5 percent or 10 knots (whichever is greater) from that filed in the flight plan.
(f) The time and altitude or flight level upon reaching a holding fix or point to which cleared.
(g) When leaving any assigned holding fix or point.

NOTE-
The reports in subparagraphs (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.

NOTE-
1. Other equipment installed in an aircraft may effectively impair safety and/or the ability to operate under IFR. If such equipment (e.g. airborne weather radar) malfunctions and in the pilot's judgment either safety or IFR capabilities are affected, reports should be made as above.
2. When reporting GPS anomalies, include the location and altitude of the anomaly. Be specific when describing the location and include duration of the anomaly if necessary.
(i) Any information relating to the safety of flight.
3. When not in radar contact.
(a) When leaving 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 anytime it becomes apparent that an estimate as previously submitted is in error in excess of 3 minutes.
c. Pilots encountering weather conditions which have not been forecast,
or hazardous conditions which have been forecast, are expected to forward a
report of such weather to ATC.


Radar environment
--
Leaving an altitude
--Missed approach
--Entering/Leaving holding pattern
--10 Kt variation in speed
--Malfunction of equipment
--Weather problem

When convective turbulence makes it difficult to maintain a selected IFR altitude request a block altitude which can allow altitude excursions limited only by ATC clearance restrictions. Makes possible better airspeed control. Much turbulence is pilot induced. Because of the one second human reaction time the pilot will always be out of sync.

Malfunction Reports:
--Communication or Navigation ability
--Aircraft identification
--What happened
--Loss of capability involved
--Desired assistance

One area of IFR training that poses the most instructional difficulty is use of the radio. The VFR pilot may not have made improvement or seen the need for changes for many years and hundreds of hours of flying. When you move into the IFR world you must resolve to upgrade your radio work as well as your flying. Poor radio procedures is an embarrassment to others in the system. Old habits can be broken and your IFR performance will be improved.

Controllers can discern from the pilot radio technique the probability of a pilot's ability to comply with instructions. Much of the difficulties encountered by ATC is the integration of competent pilots with those not so competent. What you say on your initial callup will often determine your operational choices. Standard phraseology is absolutely necessary to avoid a misunderstanding. The safest, best way, to read back a clearance is exactly as given. This takes expert listening.

With experience you learn to anticipate the 90% of IFR communications that are of routine format. The standard phraseology used in the system allows the pilot to pick out the essentials of frequency, altitude, heading and traffic. Simulators do not duplicate the real ATC communications system. The pilot who has difficulty understanding the radio is most likely the one who is unfamiliar with IFR procedures.

By listening to the communications you can allow a high cost jet a departure preference before your C-172. You can often cancel an IFR approach and fly it in VFR conditions thus allowing an IFR departure to avoid a five minute wait. IFR through a TCA to an underlying airport can be canceled and you automatically get a VFR TCA clearance. See the AIM.

When used with ATC instructions, "when able", gives the pilot latitude to delay compliance until a condition or event has satisfied the pilot. On the other hand, if the pilot has a request for any deviation, it is important to make the request for deviation as soon as possible. When requesting an IFR departure from an FSS be ready for departure. ATC often has unpublished frequencies or corrections for published frequencies. Ask.

Communications is a two-way street between pilots and ATC. This street has some potholes. One is that pilots are reading back wrong numbers and the controllers are not picking up on the mistakes. There are four major areas for readback/hearback mistakes.
--Pick up on the existence of similar aircraft call signs. When you know there is a similar call sign situation always use your full call sign with emphasis on the similarity conflict.
--Most IFR cockpits, even in single engine aircraft, are two pilot aircraft. Be very careful if only one pilot is listening on the ATC frequency. Have the other pilot bring you up to date.
--One-zero followed by ten-thousand and one-one followed by eleven thousand are ways to say altitudes that will overcome slips of the mind and of the tongue. Watch were to, too, two, can be crossed in meaning and interpretation. Consider, turn to, two, two, zero, too.

With experience you learn what to expect from ATC. Your mind may be spring-loaded to react to the situation and miss completely an unexpected ATC communication. This loading of the mind may be with regard to such things as traffic, altitudes, restrictions, deviations, runways, and clearances. If you have not yet had all of these problems, fly long enough and you will.

In IFR there will be a mix of readback/hearback problems caused by inexperience, and distraction. There are a number of precautions and cautions that should be part of your IFR communications procedures.
--Do not accept "silence" as an ATC authorization. Always ask for ATC verification.
--If one pilot goes ‘off frequency’ make a point to bring him up to date as soon as he is back.
--Always use standard communications procedures and terminology. This is especially true when reading back clearances.
--It is very easy to pick up a stray ATC altitude reference as an instruction. always ask for ATC verification is there is any doubt.
--Protect yourself by using full call sign when aircraft are on the channel with similar call signs.

Differences in IFR Communications
--
Some airports, but not all of them, expect the pilot to contact clearance delivery prior to contacting ground for taxiing instructions.

--General Aviation airports usually combine Ground Control and Clearance delivery. If any part of your taxi clearance or IFR clearance is not clearly understood, demand clarification until it is understood.

An aircraft at an uncontrolled airport may need to get a clearance through a FSS or from another ATC server by phone or radio relay. This type of clearance has a void time that becomes unusable if ATC contact is not made in 30 minutes. An attempt to get a clearance in the air may not work unless you know the altitude limitations placed on the radar facility for issuing such a clearance. ATC may suggest an intersection departure. Any such departure reduces your emergency options.

Any very first contact with an ATC facility having radar should be only:
1) The name of the facility,
2) Your identification, and
3) ‘Over’ this gives the controller time to finish work that preceded your call

If you have been handed off from another facility, your call should begin
1) Name of facility,
2) Your full aircraft identification, and
3 Your altitude (s) as level, climbing to, descending to, as well as any ATC speed restrictions.

Position reports should follow the standard format of
1) Facility name,
2) Your identification,
3) Position or ETA to next position, along with altitude(s) involved. Advise each controller if your routing is other than a published route. Anticipate that your routing may require a holding pattern at any clearance limit. Get the hold assignment well before the limit by making your request early.
4) Read back all instructions and clearances in the sequence given.

ATC is required to give you the altimeter setting at least once while in his sector. Read it back. It is easier to give the readback in the order received if you put your aircraft identification at the end. When handed-off to a new radar sector always state present altitude, altitude climbing or descending to and assigned heading if being vectored. Read back heading and altitude assignments. Altitude reassignment readback should include mandatory report of "leaving" prior altitude. "Cleared for the approach" should be read back since that automatically includes the heading and altitudes as depicted on the approach chart. Being cleared is not, repeat not, an authorization to descend below any altitude shown on the charted route. Any airspeed change of five or more knots different than filed requires that ATC be advised. Any fuel situation or deviation for collision avoidance or other reason must be identified to ATC.

Procedures
Initial IFR contact will be with either ground control or clearance delivery to obtain your clearance or engine start time. If your filing was at an uncontrolled airport by phone you will have a clearance void time. This means your clearance must be canceled or activated within 30 minutes of that time. Otherwise, rescue operations are set in motion. You are required to read back all hold short instructions, all runway assignments, runway hold short and takeoff clearances. ATC should be advised if any delay exceeds one hour. Only IFR flight plans at towered fields are closed automatically.

Initial ATC radar facility contact requires full aircraft identification and "over". This will be followed by aircraft type, present position or route data, and altitude. If you are taking a handoff you need only to give the name of the new ATC facility, your aircraft identification, altitude and any unpublished routing.

Use your identification before giving any readback of altitudes, vectors and restrictions such as for speed exactly as they are given. Any time you are approaching a clearance limit be sure to request ATC for any holding instructions unless they are charted. always read back all clearances containing vectors and altitudes.

Practice approaches should be so identified both as to sequence and expected termination. Advise when last approach is commenced and ask for additional clearance if desired. Always advise ATC if you are going to make any maneuver that cannot be expected by ATC.

Request clarification for any uncertainty in your hear back of a clearance or instruction. Remember any change in aircraft speed of five percent or 10 knots on a flight plan requires notification of ATC. You can refuse speed adjustments for safety reasons. Notification also includes such things as hazardous weather and fuel situation.

ATC must be notified about any altitude change and when such a change will not be at least 500 fpm. Advise ATC as the FAF, when making a missed and why, when reaching a holding fix or clearance limit, leaving a holding fix, any loss of navigational capability, any adverse safety factor, and time and altitude at any specified reporting points.

ATC needs to know if you cannot fly the approach in use. An uncontrolled airport should be advised on the CTAF frequency when you are at the FAF and your intentions as soon as ATC hands you off. Advise ATC your intentions regarding acceptance or rejection visual approaches and if unable to continue an accepted visual approach. Asking for a contact approach assumes you are clear of clouds and have one mile visibility, advise ATC if conditions deteriorate.

Preset Radios
S
ome ATC facilities are not monitored. This means if they are not working ATC will not know until someone tells them. This becomes a good reason whey you should always positively identify every navaid you intend to use. It's a good idea to keep the ident volume of a navaid you're using for an approach at a sufficient level so you can tell if it fails. Monitor identifiers throughout the approach. Flags have been known to fail. Be concise on the radio. You don't need to name the facility. Use of the facility name is a wake-up call that is most often unnecessary.

Preflight Plan for Lost Communications
1. Where are the cloud tops and which way to nearest VFR.
2. What is destination weather and alternate.
3. Trouble shoot com
a. Stuck microphone
b. Unplug and adjust squelch.
c. Check audio selector
d. Confirm frequency
e.. Try another radio
f. Reduce electrical load
g. Squawk 7600
4. Stay on published airways, transitions at published altitudes.
5. Lost communications is an emergency under IFR conditions. You can deviate as necessary to resolve the problem.

Negotiated Clearances
A pilot should believe that ATC is there for his convenience and safety. You want to manipulate the system to ensure that you have a safe and comfortable flight. Don’t hesitate to ask ATC for flight weather information that may only be available from other aircraft. Sometimes ATC will reject a request. This is probably due to restrictions from a Letter-of-Agreement. I have had this happen only to have the controller get back to me saying that he could now approve the request. He had contacted another controller and swung the request. Again the next controller might ask me how I ever got to where I was because he had not been briefed during a shift change. It happens.

Our intent is not to bend the rules so much as augmenting the possibilities. If procedures can be bent to your advantage why not and, if so how? And, if how, why? and, if not me, then who. Consider borrowing an overheard clearance to give you an idea of what is coming. Write down the frequency changes of the guy up ahead and preset your radios. Controllers and facilities use the same rule book but the way they follow the rules is not uniform.

Usage Rules:
1. Ask ATC for what you want. If you are refused make an alternate suggestion.
2. Every ATC clearance is just an opening for negotiation. If a change would be better for you,
make a suggestion.
3. If ATC refuses, be persistent. see what you can get from the next controller.
4. If unable, so advise, make a counter offer.
5. Give ATC a reason for your request.
6. Don't hesitate to take command, don't be intimidated. If you need, can't get it, take it with your
command right given by FAR 91.3.
7. Pilot compliance is expected immediately with ATC direction or clearance using the word
"immediately".
8. Pilot discretion is available only when ATC specifically states "at pilot’s discretion". In the absence of these two quotes the pilot should proceed ‘promptly".

There are times when negotiating won’t work. You can file anything but you won’t get it. Some of this you learn by actually flying the routes. If the route is different than as filed, don’t depart until you have worked out the routing.

Not all preferred routes are listed. Ask if another route is available. Take what you are given and as soon as you pass the first major fix start making requests. Alternatively, depart VFR and do a pop-up to be effective at a relatively distant fix. Don’t argue if you don’t get what you want. Be suggestive, give alternatives. It is often well to make a phone contact prior to departure. I did this once in the L.A. Basin and got a direct departure through without having to fly all the way around as is often the case. On the far side of the Class B the controller asked me how I had arrived there.

The best of negotiated clearances is done by requesting ‘direct’. This allows you to save time, money, and speed up the system if five of six things occur in manageable sequence.
1. You must be in an area that has radar coverage.
2. You must not be in conflict with other traffic.
3. You must have a cooperative controller.
4. You must be at or above the minimum vectoring altitude.
MVAs are not published so you have no way of knowing. MVA may have higher requirements than
MEA which is good only for four NM each side of the airway.

Radar Reporting
Except when in radar contact, compulsory position reports are required at points depicted as solid triangles. Report identification, position, time, altitude, flight plan type, ETA to next report and name of the still next point + remarks related to flight safety.
FAR 91.183 Mandatory reports are:
--Time/altitude at designated reporting point
--Requested reports by ATC
--Un-forecast weather

AIM Advisory Reports...
--
Leaving an altitude 5-5-5
--Unable 500 fpm climb/descent 5-5-5
--Missed approach as well as the reason for the missed. 5-5-5 (d)
--10 kt change in airspeed 5-5-9
--Time/altitude reaching holding fix 4-4-3e6 and 5-3-7f
--Leaving holding fix or point 4-4-3e6 and 5-3-7f
--Any loss of navigation or communication capability FAR 91.187(a)
--DME failure above 24,000’ FAR 91.205(e)

Not on Radar:
--Leaving final approach fix inbound
--Corrected time estimate if off by three minutes
--Time and altitude passing designated ATC reporting points.
--Any safety of flight information FAR 91.183(c)
--Any report requested by ATC

Procedure Turn Outbound
Failure to use AIM recommendations even though not an FAR has been considered a violation of FAR 91.13(a) as careless or reckless operation. A procedure turn is a required maneuver except when:
--As a holding when depicted in lieu of a procedure turn. The holding distance and time must be observed. (AIM 5-4-8
--NoPT is shown
Arriving at the NoPT sector by vectors or by an airway means that you do not need to do the procedure
turn.
--Where radar vectors are available
--When holding pattern is published in lieu. Implication is that the holding pattern must be flown as depicted when charted. (Consider visiting the radar facility and requesting course reversal instead just to see what happens.)

Required Reports No Contact
--
Any report requested by ATC
--FAF inbound
When a radar handoff is made to the tower, the controller specified for you to report the FAF. He does this
so that he (sans radar) will know your position on the approach. He needs to know this because of potential
traffic conflicts in the pattern. Failure to report the FAF, especially when the tower has required it, is cause
for an FAA hearing.
--Position at compulsory reporting points
--Over 3 minute error in ETA
--Procedure turn inbound
--Final approach fix
--Missed approach

Other Reports Required:
--
Unable to fly approach in use. AIM 5-4-4b
--Advise position and approach and FAF at uncontrolled airports AIM 5-4-4(c)
--Traffic advisory reports at FSS airport if unable to contact FSS.
--Advise ATC if maneuvers are required to follow traffic. AIM 4-3-5
--Read back any hold-short instructions AIM 4-3-11a7 and 5-5-2
--Not to change frequency until advised by ATC to contact ground. AIM 4-13-14b
--Request braking advisory and give ATC report afterwards AIM 4-3-8d
--To decline visual approach when being used. AIM 5-4-20f and 5-5-10
--When unable to follow aircraft ahead on visual approach AIM 5-5-11a5
--Unable to follow charted visual procedure AIM 5-5-21k
--Unable to continue contact approach. AIM 5-4-22a and 5-5-3
--Ask ATC if vector is across final approach course AIM 5-4-3b
--Pilot has right to refuse excessive or unsafe speed adjustments AIM 5-5-9a2
--Close all flight plans not closed automatically AIM 5-1-13ef and FAR 91.169(d)

Required FAR Reports...
--Leaving an altitude
--altitude change when VFR-on top
--Unable 500 fpm climb/descent
--Missed approach
--Failed nav unit
--Changed TAS 5% or 10 kts.
--Time/altitude entering hold
--Time leaving holding fix
--Procedure turn inbound
--Leaving FAF inbound
--ETA error off by 3 minutes
-- un-forecast weather
--"Radar contact lost," position

...There are 10 reports required at all times and two more when not in radar contact. FAR 91.183 (1991)now lists only three mandatory reports.
1. Time and altitude of passage over designated point.
2. Reports requested by radar ATC
3. Unforecast weather or safety of flight information.

AIM Reports Are:...
--Failure to make AIM reports comes under FAR 91.13 (a) as careless and reckless operation.
--Deviating from an ATC clearance as in an emergency (91.123(c)
--Time and altitude over designated reporting point when not on radar. 91.183(a)
--Encountering unforecast weather; 91.183(b)
--Safety of flight information 91.183(c)
--Com/nav malfunction
--DME failure above 24,000' 91.205(e)

On radar, points or fixes must be reported only if requested by ATC

If you are having equipment problems which make it difficult to locate fixes along approach, call upon radar to 'call' distances, intersections or markers for you.

If told to fly to a compass locator when you do not have an ADF be sure to advise the controller of your inability to perform. You are IFR in controlled airspace and the #1 VOR (only one with glide slope and localizer capability) fails. #2 has no ILS capability. You should report the malfunction immediately. FAR 91.187

When IFR an emergency requires deviating from your clearance you must notify ATC of the deviation as soon as possible. FAR 91.123 ATC has standards of separation between aircraft that may prevent you from making a weather deviation. Your declaration of an emergency allows ATC to ignore certain standards of separation which would allow the weather deviation. Don't let ATC fly you into a thunderstorm.

Every initial contact with a radar facility requires a "Mode C validation. This means that if you do not include your present altitude to ATC they are obligated to query you as to your altitude. The ;most efficient way for you to do this is in your contact where you give all the pertinent information. Just include your altitude and if climbing include the altitude you are climbing to; if descending report leaving and what you are descending to. Nice, but not required to report reaching altitudes as well. VFR you can make most any change you wish as long as you tell ATC. Just be sure to include the altitude you are going to. Basic procedure is to always advise ATC when you are leaving an altitude. The Mode C must be within 300’ of your reported altitude to be valid. Beyond 300’ you may be asked to use standby or Mode A.

You may be advised of traffic conflicts by ATC radar services but you are still responsible to see and avoid. VFR advisories do not include vectors unless specifically requested by the pilot. Once you have confirmed seeing traffic you have relieved ATC of any further responsibility. (Consider not seeing traffic so you can continue getting radar service.)

Make a practice of including your altitude with every new ATC frequency. I like to teach giving altitude on every non-tower call except when reporting pattern position. All radio calls to a controlled airport include altitude except those actually in the pattern.

Altitude Reports
--
Present altitude
--Present passing altitude and assigned altitude
--On reaching an altitude if not with Mode C or radar contact.
--Any ATC requests
--Always when leaving an altitude
--Don’t say "With you...it is redundant.

Reporting the Marker
Pilots tend to forget to report the marker because of procedural overload. It is up to pilot to devise a checklist, visual reminder, or other system to make sure that the marker is reported and frequencies are selected and changed appropriately. Use the 1000' AGL point as an all-the-time reminder.

ATC has several ways of putting the report to the pilot. ATC may tell you to contact the tower at the marker. This means you should not change frequency until the marker. You may be told to change frequencies it will be up to the next controller to call for the marker report. Regardless of when the frequency is changed, the marker must be reported.

Lost Communications: NORDO (No radio)
Best option may be to declare an emergency to yourself and fly to VFR or do an approach to the nearest airport using your GPS even though not IFR certified. Squawk 7600 or even 7700. Transmit in the blind what your intentions are.

In case of lost communications, a pilot is expected to hold at a fix located at the destination airport on the inbound course at the aircraft’s altitude. ATC will protect airspace and altitude.

ATC supposes that you are where you are supposed to be. ATC clears the airspace along your route giving you a large block of airspace from which other aircraft are excluded.

Remember MEA
M EA
E xpected
A ssigned

Fly the Route
--
If VFR or reaching VFR, remain VFR and land as soon as practicable (FAR 91.185b)
--As last assigned by ATC; (If departing on a SID you follow SID unless VFR) (FAR 91.185 c); or
--If vectored, direct to fix, route, airway given in vector clearance; or
--In absence of assigned route by route advised, expected; or
--As flight planned.

  Fly the Altitude
Highest of: (FAR i85 (c) (2))
--As last assigned; or
--Minimum in FAR 91.121; or
--Altitude expected from ATC.
Cautions: No climbing to a MEA until at fix requiring MEA
--MCA and MRA must be reached by anticipatory climb
--MOCA gives VOR signals only within 22 nm.

Fly the Altitude Problems
--
Overshoot/undershoot
--Misinterpreted by pilot or ATC
--Readback/hear back similarity problems
--Too many or similar numbers
--FAR 250/10,000 anticipation/mindset
--Not questioning the unusual
--Distraction/cockpit management
--Non-standard radio technique
--Not getting confirmation of doubts
--Not familiar with area or local procedures
--38% of IFR altitude read-back problems relate to 10,000 and 11,000 interpretations.

Simplified--
Route:
What you got, what you were told to expect, what you filed.

Altitude: Highest of: the clearance, the minimum IFR, or what ATC gave you to expect.

Since ATC routinely clears aircraft to an airport rather than to a fix, the airport is the clearance limit. Part 91.177(c)(3) does not apply. In a radar environment ATC will keep other aircraft clear. Refer to FAR 91.185 and 91.3. IFR pilots must be prepared for loss of communications and learn the procedure before they are needed.

Fly the Approach
Requires knowledge of FAR 91.185 and AIM 4-43, 5-31, 6-31, 32, 33. These rules were designed for 'normal' IFR which means before radar.

In event of two-way radio failure in IMC follow FAR 91,185. ATC will keep all IAF (initial approach fixes protected until 30 minutes after ETA. A clearance limit should be given in the clearance. Being cleared as filed to an airport contains no "clearance limit". Your IFR clearance is to a given airport. Enroute you lose radio communication. You now have a series of "if" options. In today's radar ATC the clearance limit is usually the destination airport in which FAR 91.185 (c) (3) does not apply. Just fly your route, complete the approach, and land. ATC considers the approaches to be extensions of the airport.

1. If two-way com failure occurs in VMC (visual meteorological conditions) you should continue in VFR and land as soon as practicable. FAR 91.185
2. If IMC and at IAF early (FAR 91.185 (c)3). If without EFC(expect further clearance), hold only until you have enough time left to fly the approach and touchdown at your ETA.
3. If the clearance limit you are holding at is a fix that is not one from which the approach begins (IAF):
a. If you have an EFC , so you should depart the holding fix at the EFC time. Far 91.185 & AIM
Para 470
b. If you do not have an EFC, upon arrival you depart to a fix from which an approach begins and
commence descent or descent and approach as close as possible to the ETA as calculated,
filed or amended for the estimated time enroute (ETE).

Per FAR 91.185(c)3. Hold at IAF until EFC time. If an EFC has not been given, leave the hold when you have only enough time to fly the published approach and land at your ETA.

Expect Further Clearance
As part of your clearance sheet you should have the word 'Expect'. The 'expect" is the pilot's protection against radio failure. A pilot problem is to interpret 'expect' as the clearance. A controller can delete the 'expect' from a Standard Instrument Departure (SID). If radios fail before 'expect' occurs you are not required to continue the flight under FAR 91.185. You can exercise emergency authority under 91.3 and land where ever.

ATC cannot give conditional clearances. The 'expect' option is a way around this restriction. As a pilot you must distinguish between the 'expect' and 'clearance'. 'Expect' is a look into the future that may or may not turn into a clearance.

 Re: Required by regulations vs. A Good Operating Practice...
To Bob Gardner
AIM Paragraph 6-4-1 c(3)b appears to differ with your interpretation. Altitude selection applies to the route segment, not the entire route.
Kris K

(b) Altitude: At the HIGHEST of the following altitudes or flight levels FOR THE ROUTE SEGMENT BEING FLOWN:
(1) The altitude or flight level assigned in the last ATC clearance received;
(2) The minimum altitude (converted, if appropriate, to minimum flight level as prescribed in 14 CFR Section 91.121(c)) for IFR operations; or
(3) The altitude or flight level ATC has advised may be expected in a
further clearance.

NOTE -
The intent of the rule is that a pilot who has experienced two-way radio failure should select the appropriate altitude for the particular route segment being flown and make the necessary altitude adjustments for
subsequent route segments. If the pilot received an "expect further clearance" containing a higher altitude to expect at a specified time or fix, maintain the highest of the following altitudes until that time/fix:
(1) the last assigned altitude, or
(2) the minimum altitude/flight level for IFR operations.

Upon reaching the time/fix specified, the pilot should commence climbing to the altitude advised to expect. If the radio failure occurs after the time/fix specified, the altitude to be expected is not applicable and the pilot should maintain an altitude consistent with 1 or 2 above. If the pilot receives an "expect further clearance" containing a lower altitude, the pilot should maintain the highest of 1 or 2 above until that time/fix specified in subparagraph (c) Leave clearance limit, below.

EXAMPLE -
[1] A pilot experiencing two-way radio failure at an assigned altitude of 7,000 feet is cleared along a direct route which will require a climb to a minimum IFR altitude of 9,000 feet, should climb to reach 9,000 feet at the time or place where it becomes necessary (see 14 CFR Section 91.177(b)). Later while proceeding along an airway with an MEA of 5,000 feet, the pilot would descend to 7,000 feet (the last assigned altitude), because that
altitude is higher than the MEA.
From: "Kris Kortokrax"

Transponder
When in IMC (Instrument meteorological conditions) you have two-way com failure. If you MUST exercise emergency authority, you should set the transponder to 7600. This transponder code is changed as of 1-1-93. Continue on the assigned, expected or filed route and altitudes as assigned, published, or filed. AIM Para 470 & 471

ATIS
Changes are usually made at 45 after the hour. It make take several minutes to get it right and over ten minutes to get it to the FSS as an sequence report. Rapid changes in conditions may change this schedule. Consider calling destination airport ATIS number to get a jump on instructor and to plan your approach airspeed. You will have a close approximation of ATIS when you arrive.

Position Report
The items on a position report differ when given to ARTCC and a FSS. Items are:
--Identification
--Time at present
--Position, (named)
--Type of flight plan,
--Altitude,
--ETA at next (named),
--Reporting point,
--Name of still next reporting point.

Non-Radar Position Reporting
Along airways without radar required reporting points are where intersections or VORs have a solid black or blue equilateral triangle inside, the pilot is expected to give a position report containing the following information is an exact sequence: Call sign, position, time, altitude, ETA and name of the next fix, name of the next fix without ETA and finally any remarks.

Type of Flight Plan
Type of flight plan is omitted when reporting to ARTCC. Your transponder code reveals the type of plan and possibly
destination.

Canceling IFR
If while en route, you are above clouds when it is time to descend, you will have no choice other than to utilize ATC and MVAs to get below the clouds. You should not cancel IFR until you are able to proceed VFR. Should you cancel IFR after breaking out at one airport with the intention as then proceeding to the second airport as your final destination, you have no weather guarantees. This situation can cause a pilot to fly into IFR conditions while on a VFR flight. Where electronic guidance is available, a pilot is well advised to use it especially at night.

IFR Radio
The most universal of FSS frequencies is 122.2 but because it is nearly universal it is heavily used. Were Flight Service Stations are located on uncontrolled airports the frequency will be 2l123.6, 123.62 or 123.65. Since such airports are disappearing so are these frequencies.

The Airport/Facility Directory is the best source of all FSS and ATC frequencies. The use of FSS receive only frequency at 122.1 and receiving on the associated VOR was in the process of being decommissioned five years ago but as of the year 2000 more are coming back into use. Some FSSs have frequencies followed by T from which they can only transmit. I have never seen one

Recommended Procedures
1. Never leave an ATC frequency without notifying then that you are going to FSS and will report back.
2. Listen before talking on an FSS frequency.
3. Give complete aircraft identification and frequency used on initial call-up.
4. If you fail to make contact, consider that up to 12 frequencies may be in use. Wait.
5. Always give a PIREP
6. Use Flight Watch for weather information on 122.0
7. Initial Flight Watch call-up must include name of nearest VOR
8. Give Flight Watch your altitude, route destination and if IFR capable.
9. HIWAS is a continuous server weather forecast of alerts, SIGMETS convective segments, AIRMETS and urgent PIREPS.

Ground Communications Outlet (GCO)
When departing IFR from an airfield that requires using a Ground Communications Outlet (GCO) to contact the ARTCC, FSS, or facility to get a weather information, close a flight plan or clearance as explained in the AIM. The GCO system is intended to be used only on the ground. You must use one second long mike switch clicks four times to make automated voice advise you that it is dialing a specific ATC facility. Six such clicks will connect you to an FSS.

What Gives With Clearance Delivery?

Problem
Please tell me how 'clearance delivery' works?

Advice:
If an airport has clearance delivery, call them up first (before you start the engine) and tell them the basics: Oakland clearance, Cessna 123AB, <where you are>, VFR on course heading xxx, <altitude>, with information <whatever>. They'll give you the squawk code, initial altitude, and departure frequency.

Then, contact ground and tell them: Oakland ground, Cessna 123AB,<where you are>, taxi for takeoff with clearance and information <whatever>. They'll then give you a taxi clearance.
Philip D. Turner

Advice
Actually, here in Oakland clearance delivery doesn't want to talk to you if you are VFR. I trained at Oakland, and had the impression that that's the way it worked everywhere.
VFR: call ground for taxi, squawk, etc.
IFR: call clearance delivery for clearance, then ground for taxi
Stephen Kearney

Advice:
No, each airport seems to have its own convention. Recently at Buffalo NY (BUF), I was departing VFR and "forgot" to call clearance delivery, and just called ground with a "ready to taxi, VFR departure to the south". They "reminded" me of my oversight, and then proceeded to handle everything.

My suggestion ($0.02, less inflation): if a clr. del. frequency exists, call it. The worst that can happen is that you will be asked to contact ground control. In my experience, clr. dev. and gnd. are usually two separate people, whereas ground and tower are often the same person transmitting on both frequencies simultaneously (they still prefer you to use the correct frequency to avoid congestion, however).
John Stephens

Advice:
And of course, listen to ATIS first. Sometimes the ATIS broadcast will tell you who to call for your initial clearance, and how specific your information needs to me (i.e.: an exact heading and altitude rather than
a compass direction). Part of what determines whether clearance wants to hear from VFR flights is whether or not the airport has a radar center. In my limited experience, a place with its own radar (such as Rockford, IL) will want everyone (VFR too) to get clearance from the clearance frequency. But this is NOT a cast-in-stone rule, only a general observation.
William LeFebvre

Advice:
I'd alter that recommendation to call CLC DEL first if you are in an TCA/ARSA/TRSA. Otherwise, I'd just call ground for a VFR departure. I associate CLC DEL as getting a squawk code for RADAR services. (IFR, TCA, ARSAs, etc.)

Traveling between San Jose, CA (SJC) and Reid-Hillview (RHV) which is about 5 miles away, the tandard squawk is 1200, and the local procedure is to call ground only. If you want to exit the ARSA in any other way, you call CLC DEL to get a code assignment.
OAK is weird in that VFR traffic contacts ground to get a squawk code.
Palm Springs is weird in that it is a TRSA, but they act like a TCA.Z
Everybody wants to be a little different.
Kerry Kurasaki

Advice:
A number of folks have responded with the appropriate calls to Clearance Delivery, and stated that its use varies from facility to facility. The bottom line is that you should listen to ATIS and do what it says. Many airports have a Clearance Delivery freq., but only use it at certain times (depends on available staff in the tower and number of departures); ATIS should tell you whether to get your clearance from CD or ground.
Mark Joseph

Advice:
<ATIS should tell you whether to get your clearance from CD or ground.>

That's not foolproof either. Dulles never mentions clearances on the ATIS, and they do expect you to use clearance delivery. My rule is that if I'm departing VFR into someplace where I need a clearance (like a TCA) I go to clearance delivery. If I just need clearance to taxi and takeoff I go to ground first (barring explicit information to the contrary).
Ron Natalie

Advice:
Just some random data points...
LAX (TCA) - must *always* call clearance delivery
OAK (ARSA) - only call clearance delivery if IFR (on North Field)
SBA (ARSA) - must *always* call clearance delivery
BUR (ARSA) - call clearance delivery if IFR or if planning to penetrate the outer circle of the ARSA (but ground if inner circle only)
PSP (TRSA) - *always* call clearance delivery
Nice and consistent, eh
Brian Horn

Advice:
Clearance delivery provides routing and communications information for aircraft departing an ARSA or TCA. You're supposed to call them first to get this information, and then call ground for your taxi.

I believe that all ARSA and TCA primary airports have clearance delivery positions. However at some (at least at certain times of day) this position may be "combined" with ground control. That is, the same controller is performing both functions. In this case, the controller receives and transmits on both frequencies.

Now Oakland is a special situation. This airport can almost be thought of as two airports, the North and the South, which share an ARSA. The listed clearance delivery frequency is really for the South field, and if you call them up from the North side, they will politely tell you to go away. The clearance delivery for the North side is "combined" with ground control. So..
You: N12345 VFR to _____ with Bravo.
North GC (acting as clearance delivery): N12345 fly heading 330 at or below 2000 feet. Squawk 4231. Advise ready to taxi.
You: Roger, fly heading 330 at or below 2000; squawk 4231, N12345;and I'm ready to taxi.
North GC: N12345, your readback is correct, taxi to Rwy 33.
Terry Hayes & Richard Urena

Advice:
Clearance Delivery is something you call up before you depart:a) If the airport you are departing has it AND
b) they require VFR flights to use it.

Here at Rochester, the ATIS says "All VFR departures please contact clearance delivery with requested on-course heading and altitude". And when you call them up "Rochester Clearance, Cherokee 38290 departing VFR at 270 degrees and 3,000 feet with Charlie", they give you a squawk code and departure frequency. Alternatively, you can call them up "Rochester Clearance, Cherokee 38290 departing VFR at 270 degrees and 3,000 feet with Charlie, requesting flight following to Niagara Falls" and they'll give you a different squawk code. But they seem to want you to have filed a flight plan if you're going to do that.

Paul Tomblin

Advice:
If there is one publicised and there isn't any notation (ATIS, whatever) to the contrary, I always call CD first. The worst that ever happens is that they tell you to go make your request with ground. In the case of Class B and C airports you almost always need to go to CD first.
Paul Tomblin

Advice:
But not at non-towered airports. GAI has a clearance delivery frequency, but it's an RCO to Baltimore clearance delivery, for the convenience of us instrument rated folks.
Reece R. Pollack

Advice:
That's pretty much it. If you're flying out of a Class-C (or B, for that mattter) airport, you just call up clearance delivery after getting the atis and give them the usual 3-W routine -- who you are, where you are, and what you want to do:
"Galactic Clearance, Cessna 123XY, with bravo, vfr to the northeast at 5500".
They'll come back with something like this:
"Cessna 3XY, Galactic Clearance, fly runway heading until 1000 feet [MSL is implied here], then proceed on course. Maintain at or below 2500 until advised, departure frequency will be 120.55, squawk 4003, contact ground 121.8 when ready to taxi"

There may be a lot of stuff to copy, but if you know what to expect, it'll be easier to understand. Basicly, you're copying a watered-down IFR clearance, and they always have the following components, always in the following order:
Clearance Limit
Route
Altitude
Frequency
Transponder

lThe acronym to remember this being CRAFT. You won't have a clearance limit (that's strictly an IFR thing), so maybe you better make it RAFT (like in life raft).

A trick to copying clearances is that they all follow the same pattern:
Clearance Limit, Route, Altitude, Frequency, Transponder. The acronym to remember this is CRAFT (for a VFR clearance out of a Class C airport, you won't have a clearance limit, but the other parts will still be there in the right order). What I like to do when copying a clearance is to write on a piece of paper:
C
R
A
F
T

Just like that down the left-hand margin. Then, as the clearance is read to me, I fill in the blanks. You can write it out in full, or use shorthand, or whatever, as long as you can figure out what you wrote. In your case, I'd end up with something that looked like:
C
R rwy hdg
A =< 2000
F xxx.xx
T yyyy
Roy Smith

Advice:
I believe that clearance it mandatory at class C and B. Why? Well I suppose that due to the volume in the airspace clearance allows ATC to assure that you are on a particular heading and altitude. Tower cannot give you the alt and heading since they are as a rule very busy. Like you I have only delt with clearance once, during my solo cross country.

Actually, at my home field, FXE (Ft. Lauderdale executive) the tower is quite busy on weekends. We dont have clearance delivery. Why? I guess cause it is still class Delta.
in8@gate.net

Advice:
I flew dual to a Class Charlie first time. Clearance delivery was complicated. He said "Cessna--------" ,runway heading maintain at or below 2000,departure freq.----, Squawk------. Then you write it down and read it back. I'm still not sure what "runway heading maintain means.

Modification:
Perfect if you are presuposing an experienced controller. The tower at LGB was a training tower and sometimes youd get a clearance and have to say "Say Again". Hey we all have to learn somehere, Pilots and Controllers alike. If you have a "Fly A Controller" program going on give em a ride. Most controllers are not pilots and giving them a ride shows them the work load that you carry while thhier ammending your clearance during an IFR flight, makes em a lot more understanding when you ask for moment before you copy.
HLAviation

Modification:
I'd also second the emotion on "when in doubt, ask". My first time out of Class C, I forgot to call departure and contacted ground instead. I was directed to the departure frequency, where I got a short but very polite and complete tutorial on Class C departure and what to expect. Those controllers in the Des Moines, IA airport were the best!
Bill Lattimer

Basic IFR Communications
--Ultimate basic is to tell ATC who you are, where you are and what you want.
--The best aid to ATC is to get all the appropriate information from other sources. (ATIS, other aircraft, etc.)
--If you do not have ATIS, the controller is required to read it to you.
--A request for a pre-filed clearance over 30-minutes early requires that the controller be so advised.
--If your 'pre-filed' clearance is not in the computer, it must be re-filed with an flight service station.
--If your 'pre-filed' clearance is more than two hours old it may have been timed out and need re-filing.
--In certain situations you might want to get your clearance before starting your engine.
--Stating to ATC that you are ready to taxi, means just that. Be ready.
--When advised to 'monitor' an frequency, don't speak on the frequency, just listen.
--If time permits monitor the ATIS for any changes between initial ATC contact and takeoff.
--In busy situations, be as succinct (brief but complete as to type, position, intentions) as possible.
--In some busy situations just moving the aircraft may be considered an acknowledgment.
--Listen up to the ground frequency for clearance changes, frequency changes, or even runway changes.
--Other aircraft may be cleared for takeoff before your 'turn' (hold for release) due to a different routing.
--On handoff to tower give type, number, approach type/runway, will report marker and type of landing.
--Advise tower sooner rather than later if unable to comply with any landing restrictions.
--Leaving the runway ends all things IFR. Give ground a comprehensive call-up for taxiing.
--Center controllers are not allowed to accept a pilot's visual contact with traffic to allow altitude changes.
--Towers and approaches are allowed to accept a pilot/s visual contact with traffic to allow altitude changes on request..

300# Gorilla Flying IFR
---Knowledge of military flights is something you need to know about
---UHF is military, VHF is civil and one doesnít always hear the other
---ATC talking to military will be like your hearing one side of a phone conversation
---Situation is similar when ATC controller is using both local and ground radio
---To find military traffic ask ATC
---UHF emergency is 243.) MHz and is called GUARD
---VHF emergency is 121.5 KHs and is called GUARD
---9/11 orders require all aircraft monitor GUARD
---If you violate a TFR you will be commanded to, "Come up on GUARD" can kill you
---An IFR flight of USAF aircraft is a MARASA in which only one of several will have an active x-ponder
---Finding one military aircraft is not enough during MARSA operations
---Recommendation is always use your transponder with Mode C
---ATC will give military operations preference over civil operations
---Military operations at night use night vision devices with minimum night aircraft lights or none at all
---Night vision can cause an aircraft to fly into IMC without knowing it.
---The TACAN part of the VOR system gives the military one button DME and Nav capability

All of  IFR Radio Briefly
In the Beginning
CRAFT of Clearance
This is the most useful mnemonic in IFR if use is the criteria of value. You are Cleared to a destination by way of a Route climbing to an initial Altitude as assigned with expectations later. The Frequency for departure is given to initiate the after takeoff communications along with the Transponder code for the flight.. With this information you are ready to contact the Tower

Making the Clearance Fit the Route
Donít be in a hurry to give the readback if you are in an unfamiliar situation. Use all the time it takes to compare your plates and charts with the clearance to make sure you understand what you are supposed to do. I once had a student take nearly ten minutes before he was ready to give the readback at Paso Robles CA.

Checklist/Cockpit Organization
Regarding the forgoing final remark, had my student had his charts laid out in order ahead of time we could have cost him less in ground engine time. He had extensive checklists as well but found them cumbersome to use. We figured out the rather intricate clearance and read back the clearance. No sooner had we taken off than we were handed off to approach. Immediately approach negated all the work we did on the clearance as we were immediately vectored across a military restricted area to intercept an airway on the other side.

This is not to suggest that you should not work out just what the clearance expects of you. You might get lucky as we did and get an easy way out of a complex situation. Had they not done it for us we could have tried negotiating for an easier routing/

Requesting the Clearance
After you have the aircraft all prepared for departure you then contact ground and request the clearance. Alternatively you at some airports you might taxi to the runup area via a ground clearance and then get your route clearance from clearance delivery along with a readback before contacting tower. The procedure varies tower to tower.

Copying the Clearance
The cockpit is expected to copy the clearance in its entirety, confirm that it can be flown by your aircraft safely as presented. Using the CRAFT format and a personal form shorthand or abbreviations of the clearance.

Reading Back the Clearance
Before you read back the clearance you must perform a clearance check to see that everything on the clearance can be performed by the aircraft. Once you have checked the clearance and have found it can be flown by your aircraft, you are ready to read it back.

The readback should be word for word as it was given to you. If you have any part of the readback in which you are uncertain, say so and ask for a repeat. If the specialist detects any defects in your readback you will be given the correction and told to readback the correction as given. Once the readback is accepted by either ground or clearance delivery you will be told to contact tower or to told short and monitor tower for takeoff clearance. Once again procedures do vary according to the composition of the tower personnel.

Finding IFR Frequencies
The AF/D is the best single source of frequency information. When prepared for the approach the frequency information on the plates, has the best sequence arrangement with frequencies in order. IFR charts have ARTCC frequencies scattered throughout but sometimes they are not located along your route. With a little time you will get better at finding chart frequencies.

It is often faster just by asking ATC or an FSS for the proper frequency in a given area. I often call a tower to get a local facility frequency. There is some confusion as to whether a radar facility should be called approach or departure. They serve a dual use but general practice is to call a facility a departure if you are leaving an airport and approach if you are coming into an airport.

Military facilities often fill into areas where FAA facilities would overlap. In my region Travis AFB has such a facility that serves my home field, Concord CA as both a departure and arrival radar service and approach facility. When overseas operations take priority there is a noticeable change in the quality of the replacements. As always, it is the pilotís responsibility to protect him from the incompetence outside the aircraft.

ARTCC or Air Route Traffic Control Centers cover hundreds of miles of radar communications facilities that extend above the much lower routes between urban areas. They also take over when the spaces between the urban areas become excessive. Oakland Center is my ARTCC. It extends halfway across the Pacific Ocean, nearly to the Oregon border, halfway across Nevada and down California Central Valley to
below Bakersfield.

Below this huge web of airways lies a lower level tower en route system that permits IFR flights to be conducted from metro area to metro area. In California this is called after several name changes NorCal Approach. All the former urban approach facilities such as Oakland, Monterey, Sacramento, Stockton and Fresno have been unified in one facility near Sacramento. In Southern California we find SoCal Approach.

Getting the ATIS is important in VFR flight but in IFR flight it is essential. The ATIS tells which approach is in use at the airport and any restrictions the IFR flight may expect due to airport limitations. The ATIS exists at towered airports and is amended hourly with an alphabetical name along with the time and tower name. Changes are made as well when weather changes make it appropriate. Getting the ATIS is expected of all arriving aircraft. That you have the ATIS is an expected part of your radio work with an approach facility. When the tower is closed as AWOS may be transmitted on the ATIS frequency.

AWOS/ASOS are slightly different forms of the ATIS. They are automated digital voice weather reporting systems that give changes as they occur every minute. When arriving at an airport with either AWOS or ASOS you are expected to get the information and from that information relating to the wind select the runway most favored by the wind as your runway of choice for landing. An IFR flight to an AWOS/ASOS equipped non tower airport should advise ATC as having the one-minute-weather.. Any aircraft on having the automated weather should advise traffic that based on the "one-minute-weather" you have selected a specific runway for landing.

Clearance Delivery
Clearance delivery is a tower position that can be performed by one person or any combination of specialists in the tower. A pilot who has previously filed a flight plan with DUAT or a flight service station can, after completing pre-takeoff can contact clearance delivery and request his clearance to be read for him to study and readback.

CTAF
The Common Traffic Advisory Frequency is used at non-controlled airports as the handoff frequency for an approach facility to send a pilot/aircraft to. More often than not the pilot will not be given the frequency

since the pilot is supposed to have it available as a part of his planning.

Where the airport has AWOS or ASOS the pilot is expected to have this one-minute-weather and plan his approach. When other traffic is using the airport, the arrival of an IFR Flight can create problems if the approach runway is not the active (other traffic) runway.

FSS
Every IFR pilot is expected to have all the current weather, notams, and TFR information prior to every flight. No flight should be planned into forecast icing or forecast thunderstorms. The Flight Service Station of today is totally automated and paperless. I visited one with a student today 11-14-04 and it is surprisingly quiet and all the specialists seem younger. People are as friendly as ever and extremely helpful. Living in fear that the FSS will be privatized. Wonder what will happen to Flight Watch that I one of the very first users out of Oakland in 1970 or thereabouts.

Ground
For IFR flights is quite the same as for VFR except if you let them know you are previously filed IFR they will be sure to send you to an IFR runway. You know--the one with the big markings. May act as clearance delivery at many airports.

Tower
The IFR procedure for the tower is different only in that the specialist will hand you off to the approach facility where ordinarily you might just leave the airspace.

Filing IFR Flight Plans
With the advent of DUAT your flight plans can be filed via the Internet. The system requires you to register as a pilot and uses a password system that I keep forgetting or losing. Not all experiences with this method have been satisfying. The traditional phone in method seems to be the preferred method for filing flight plans.

A flight plan can be filed by air by radio to an FSS frequency as well. Just a week ago I was on a flight out of the Las Vegas TFR existing at that time. After the first call up to the FSS regarding air filing, the specialist is Reno, asked if we had filed any time in the past week. On the affirmative response we were told to stand by. A minute later she had our previous flight plan information and we had only to update certain parts of the plan. Saved a great deal of time and effort.

Tower en Route
In the event that requested clearance has not been pre-filed the pilot can request of ground a tower en route clearance just by giving the destination desired. The tower en route is a Ďcannedí clearance that, if saved from a previous flight will be exactly the same. The tower en route gets you from here to there below the ARTCC structure between urban areas. The tower en route is my preferred IFR flight planning method since I have learned how easy it is to amend the plan.

Pop-up with Radar Facility
I am always surprised when flying with relatively new IFR pilots to find that they know nothing about how to get a pop-clearance. I have used this several times when in very unfamiliar territory and found it extremely useful.

Here you are flying along into gradually deteriorating weather until you can no longer proceed. Hoping for better conditions failed again. I get on the radio to the nearest facility, state my problem and ask for a clearance. Usually I am below their radar coverage. In this case I am told to fly to conditions that they think will give coverage. At that point I am given vectors to an airway and then cleared to a destination of my choosing. Easy as pie.

On Our Way
Pre-taxi
Before we start to taxi we get any one of the three weather services weather data, AWOS, ASOS, ATIS. Once we are ready to move we confirm that our expected frequency selection is complete and available,

Getting Clearance
Getting the clearance by phone on the ground requires that we get what is called a void clearance time. This means that you are expected to takeoff and contact the radar facility within the restrictions of the clearance by a certain time. This procedure can tie up a considerable amount of airspace and airway time. I have had a void clearance time cancelled before I had even started the engine because of the problem created by airspace congestion.

RCO from Ground
Some non-tower airports have Remote Communication Outlets that allow direct contact with an FSS while on the ground. I know one such exists at Truckee CA. I have never tried a clearance from there but now that I have the new chart of 1 866 numbers for all the FSS in the U.S. Iím ready to try a void time clearance from there.

Clearance Delivery
Getting your clearance from clearance delivery is the standard at most mid-size towered airports. You contact clearance delivery after you have completed your preflight ablutions and ask for your clearance previously filed. If you have judged your timing correctly it will be available and waiting for you. Otherwise they will make a call to find it.

I have, on occasion opted to make a VFR departure with a plan to pick up my clearance in the air. If again it canít be found in the computer system I will ask that they accept a pop-up. No matter what happens I will be able to get a clearance.

I have, when encountering adverse weather while on a VFR flight plan. I requested a quick frequency change from a facility frequency to contact the FSS. Made the contact and asked that my VFR flight plan be converted to IFR with the appropriate change in altitude.

Unacceptable Clearances
I will list some of the ways a clearance may be considered unacceptable. The time may be too soon or late considering the weather changes forecast. The required climb rate and time to expect higher may be beyond my aircraft performance. For health reasons an assigned future altitude may out of reach. A radio frequency may exceed my avionics design. I may have an equipment deficiency that eliminates certain procedures. (More)

Preferred Route Clearances
The FAA has, in its effort to streamline the entire airways system, selected some routes as being preferred. This means any pilot who tries to go his selected way to a destination may find that the system refuses to give him his desired clearance and gives him the preferred route clearance instead. I once ran into this in Southern California when I got a clearance that would have flown me for forty-five minutes away from my destination before sending me where I wanted to go.

I was able to evade this by calling the facility and asking to talk to a routing specialist. I was put in touch with a specialist where I could explain that my fuel limitations would not permit such a preferred clearance. I donít know what he did but when I called for my clearance I was cleared right through the basin. It was not until I talked to a shocked controller near Van Nuys who asked how I was able to get where I was that I realized that I had foxed the system. It can be done.

In another situation going to Monterey from Concord the preferred routing is as far east as Stockton and as far south as Panoche VOR. Quite a roundabout route. I evade this preferred route two ways. One is to file to San Jose where I know I am vectored far south of San Jose before turning in on the approach. At some point I request an amended flight plan destination to Monterey. They give it to me, knowing I have evaded the preferred routing. Another way is to get NorCal approach behind Mt. Diablo to give me a vector nearly to Los Banos allowing me to intercept another airway going to Salinas hence to Monterey.

Tower en Route
In my IFR instruction I much prefer the time saved by getting Tower en Route clearances. Much of the reason for this is the economy of motion where the tower en route will often give you a vector nearly direct to where you are going while avoiding airways that are VOR based and usually take you out of your way. It is only by flying much IFR via tower en route that I have learned of the shortcuts possible.

Amended Clearances
In several instances I have sought amended clearances either to destination or route in which the IFR airways are too crowed or conflicted with my route/altitude than ATC is unwilling or unable to allow the amended clearance. My out has on some occasions related to weather avoidance to just cancel the IFR. I do this when I see a VFR out in one direction or another. I will not let ATC fly me into a black cloud.

Interrupted Clearances
I have had only one interrupted clearance that I can recall. I was flying at about 8,000 when I had a passenger indicate that he had a severe kidney problem and had to be landed immediately. I advised ATC and requested vector to the nearest airport with an immediate descent. I also stated my intention of landing and immediately climbing back up to the airway. My request was granted and in less than 15 minutes I was once again on the airway with my same clearance.

Roy Smith wrote:
In theory, you should be able to file a single IFR flight plan that covers your entire flight, with delays at each intermediate point. I just filed the following with DUATS:
1 Type of flight plan: IFR
2 Aircraft tail number: N25629
3 Acft type/special equip: P28A/U
4 True airspeed: 130
5 Departure point: HPN
6 Departure time: (UTC) Mon Dec 6 20:00
7 Altitude: 30
8 Route of flight: CMK V3 HFD IJD/D0+05 HFD V3 CMK 4104/07342
9 Destination: HPN
10 Estimated time en route: 0400
11 Remarks:
12 Fuel on board: 0500
13 Alternate destination(s):
14 Pilot's name: ROY H SMITH
Address: XXX
Phone no.: 999-555-5555
Aircraft home base: HPN
15 Number aboard: 1
16 Color of aircraft: WHITE/BLUE
17 Dest contact name:Phone no.:
and the computer accepted it. The "IJD/D0+05" means "delay for 5 minutes at IJD". I suppose for a touch-and-go, I could have made it "IJD/D0+01".

Oddly enough, when I first entered the flight plan, it said "Inserting lat/long (4104/07342) for HPN to ensure ARTCC flight plan acceptance", and generated a remark (field 11), "..4104/07342.. IS HPN". I never changed that field, but by the time I filed it, the field somehow got cleared. No clue why.

In practice, however, I think you will find it simpler to just file a separate flight plan for each leg. It seems to be what ATC deals with best (at least around here). My guess is if I actually called up the tower to get my clearance, I'd just get a clearance to IJD and be told I'd get the rest once I got there.

As you said, when you request your approach clearance, just tell the controller that your intention is to fly the published missed then pick up your clearance to XXX.

Void Time Clearances
A void time clearance is one in which you make an arrangement through an FSS with an radar facility that you agree to takeoff and climb to a certain altitude to get into the IFR system as cleared. If you can takeoff and climb to meet the requirements of the clearance within the time limit you can be on your way. If you are not going to meet the terms of the agreement you must get back to where you started or find another way to get where you are going.

Departures
A departure from an uncontrolled airport to en route altitude is usually by a void time clearance but it may be conditional that you are able to climb to an altitude that will allow you to get a clearance similar to the pop-up.

Handoff by Tower
Shortly after liftoff from a towered airport ATC should give you a handoff to a departure frequency. If it doesnít happen it is up to you to ask for it. Do not change a frequency without letting them know what you are doing.

IFR departure procedure for your flight is given as part of your clearance. The clearance begins with the name of the airport and a number. The number is the number of revisions that have been made in the clearance. This will be followed by a transition of which there may be several. Usually named for a VOR or intersection close by. Included in the clearance will be an initial altitude and possibly an altitude to expect in a certain amount of time. Then you will be given a transponder code or be told to expect for it to be given prior to takeoff. Expect every airport to have slightly different variations from every other.

Every takeoff under IFR has an expectation that you will be able to maintain a specific minimum rates of climb given as feet per mile where your rate of climb instrument gives you rate of climb per minute. This means that you need to make a conversion. Failure to make the conversion in unfamiliar airports is the primary cause of the number of CFIT (controlled flight into terrain) accidents. If in doubt, donít.

It is the rare airport that does not have some oddball tower or other obstacle in the vicinity. At night this is an even greater problem because many obstacles are not lighted. Obstacle clearance is an on-going problem with many towers having unconfirmed altitudes. Look at the S.F. Sectional down around the Lemoore NAS for a good example of unconfirmed tower altitudes.

My personal good weather practice when flying in good conditions in the areas I usually fly in to see what I can confirm as my minimum safe obstacle clearance altitude. Then the next time I fly in poor visibility or night I have a positive reference to use for safe flight.

En Route
All the airspace of the ATC airways system is divided into sectors as you fly along an airway you will from time to time move from one sector to the next and so on. You can learn to anticipate the sector change and the next frequency. The beauty of this is that the vast majority of the frequencies remain in place for years even the facility may change its name.

The transition from one sector to the next is a multi phase operation that when the pilot get into the act is seems instantaneous. Visualize as you walk from room to room of your house at night the lights go off and on as you progress. Essentially this is what happens along the airways be they high or low.

When your aircraft approaches the edge of a controllers sector he will push a button that will cause your radar data display on his screen to flash repeatedly. As soon as your enter the next sector the specialist there will stop your radar target display from flashing. This is his way of telling the first specialist that he has your display and is ready to talk to you on the radio. Now the first sector specialist will tell you to contact the next specialist along with the name of the facility if it should change and the required frequency.

Now it is the pilotís turn to participate. The pilot will readback the instructions and frequency given by the first sector specialist, change his radio frequency and make his call-up. The call up consists of the name of the facility, his full aircraft call sign and his altitude. Every radar specialist is required to obtain an aircraftís altitude at least once so most want to do it on first contact. If you do not give your altitude on your call-up they will ask for your altitude. You must request any change of altitude you want and you must acknowledge any change in altitude given you by ATC

A fairly recent change in the way altitude changes are said on an aircraft radio has taken place in the past several years. Take a situation where you are told by ATC to climb to 4000 feet. You might respond, " "36X out of three for four-thousand." For and four are said exactly the same and sound the same just as does all the two, too, to. The change in this confusion of for/four, and two/too/too is that you will include in your broadcast the words climbing or descending as the case may be. With a bit of practice you can make the change work for you.


Advisories
Advisories are not always a given in IFR flight. The IFR pilot is supposed to know the weather for the flight. He is supposed to know the best altitude to fly for a good tailwind. It would be normal to expect the ATC to give a pilot the best available flight information just as he would safety warnings.

ATC has ways to help a pilot on a flight and much of this help is dependent upon how the pilot works with the system. Years ago I visited an ARTCC and heard the specialists joking about a particularly rude pilot who was boastful about his aircraft performance along with other unpleasant remarks. They left him flying into a high velocity headwind.

Vectors
ATC will give your vectors when they see a safety need. When given a point out and unable to find anything it is always a good option to indicate that you are willing to accept a vector. In some facilities they, as a matter of course, give vectors to a filed aircraft so that an airway route of considerable length can be bypassed. A pilot who can see where a vector would be more economic should not hesitate to request a vector that will save time and money.

When on an approach and for some reason ATC finds that required separation is going to be lost, they may give you a vector through an approach course and successive vectors to bring you back around to the course from the other side. Also ATC may vector you in too close and too high to the FAF. I have found it always advantageous to get low early simply because getting down and slowing down at the same time can be difficult in slick high-performance aircraft. If vectors are going to bring you in high, ask for lower while on the vector.

Request Vector
If you know your location and can see where a vector would help your situation, ask for it. You can ask for a delaying vector if you are having difficulty preparing for an approach. Such a vector is easier to fly than is a holding pattern. Request a vector to avoid traffic that you cannot locate, such as an overtaking aircraft at six oíclock. When having difficulty locating an airport, request a vector. More importantly, always request avoidance vectors if you are unable to determine just where a TFR (temporary flight restriction) is relative to your position.

Changing Altitudes
Once you are established at an assigned IFR altitude you cannot change that altitude without a clearance to do so. You can ask for a climb or descent to a specific altitude and you may or may not get the change. I once asked for a change of direction because of weather. It was refused because of traffic. I then asked for higher or lower and any change was refused for the same reason. I saw the ground and cancelled IFR and 
descended. I will not let ATC fly me into a thunderstorm.

When you are changing altitudes for any change of over 1000 feet ATC expects the change to be at a rate of at least 500-fpm except for the last 1000 feet. You must always readback a clearance for a change in altitude stating the altitude leaving, the final altitude and use the words descending and climbing as appropriate.

Rate of Climb
In IFR the rate of climb can be a critical factor in many phases of a flight. All the airways have minimum obstacle clearance altitudes listed. IFR departures have a minimum climb required beginning at 35 feet over the departure threshold of 200 feet per nautical mile. Many of the intersections along airways have minimum crossing altitudes that may apply to either obstacles or radio reception. Of all the situations the most critical is that that occurs during the missed approach. A failure to maintain a pre-assigned rate of climb during a missed approach is the cause of a high percentage of accidents.

Descent
When making an IFR descent you are expected to descend at 500 fpm until within 1000 feet of you selected altitude. In many approaches the traditional step-down procedure has been overlaid with a constant rate descent angle on the side view of the approach.

One of the greatest IFR problems with descent is the failure to stop the descent before reaching the MDA.  One of the reasons for not delaying your descents outside the FAF is that to do so means that inside the FAF you will be faced with a greater than planned rate of descent. Much better to execute an early missed.

Variations of Climb or Descent
A pilot early in his IFR training should learn all the power settings and speeds needed for making vertical-S

maneuvers. This is where you select a speed like 90 knots. Then you climb at 90 knots for one minute, level off for one minute, descend for one minute and make a chart of your configuration, power setting and the process for making the changes.

This is one of the first IFR flying skills I like to teach. My mantra is that you should not start IFR until flying the aircraft is removed as a part of the problem. Depending on the performance of the aircraft the vertical-S can be practiced at most any airspeed.

Changing Heading
IFR turns are made at a standard rate of three degrees per second. This rate of turn is a variable that depends on airspeed. The pilot should practice turns at various speeds and calibrate the turn coordinator for each speed by making a timed series of two minute turns left and right. Learn your turn coordinator and then transfer the readings (mentally) to the attitude indicator.

What this does is simplify your scan. You can use the attitude indicator to set a bank for the airspeed and then check the turn coordinator to confirm the accuracy of the bank. The speeds you need to confirm should be no more than four or five depending on aircraft performance.

Readbacks
In IFR flying you should make it a practice to readback everything ATC says to you. When you have difficulty be prepared to skip some and start writing again. You can then ask ATC to read back everything between two parts of the clearance or instructions. As a preliminary, you might tell ATC that you are classified as a slow listener (student or unfamiliar pilot) and ask for a slow reading of the clearance to the alternative of saying it over several times.

You need to develop early on your own brand of shorthand that will enable you to improve your readback skills. Take a tape recorder and record all the clearances you can on an IFR day. Then take the recording and play the clearances over and over as you develop your shorthand that conveys the meanings you must readback. By doing this at nearby towered airports you will soon have everything organized so that there will be no difficulty getting clearances which are more alike than different using the CRAFT profile or order.

Position Reports
Like clearances position reports have a historic order than has never changed for many years. Make a copy of the position format with some blank spaces to fill in information than changes. Put the form on the back of a 6 x 22-inch lapboard. The position report is not used often but your IFR competence is reflected in how well prepared you are to give an unexpected position report.

Negotiating Route Changes
Once on an IFR flight across the L. A. Basin, I was given a route to fly that promised to turn an 80-mile flight into one of over 200. I kept getting handoffs from controller to controller and each time I was turned down in my negotiation efforts. At one point I was even asked to slow down my C-172. Finally I got a controller who would give me a short cut. Moral of the story: Keep trying.

Requesting Direct
Any time you are in a position when requesting direct would be a desirable choice you can do it even if in IFR conditions and while using a handheld GPS or non-IFR Loran so long as the direct route is under radar watch. I have even had a direct routing off airways given to me by vector and finding the destination intersection using VOR cross radials.

One-Minute Frequency Changes
Any time you are in contact with a radar frequency where you feel the flight is so under control that you could leave the frequency to take care of some other business all you need do is ask. In your request you should indicate that you will report back on frequency. The asking consists of saying to what frequency or place you will be going. You can go to the FSS to extend a flight plan, ask for some weather or winds aloft information. You can call an UNICOM to order a taxi, check fuel available or ask them to call a friend. The field is wide open.

PIREPS
A pilot report is the best weather information you can get. It tells you just what a pilot saw and did. As a pilot it is your obligation on any flight to forward to an FSS or to Flight Watch any weather or significant flight condition that may be significant to the safety of flight. It is also acceptable to report good conditions. Your lapboard should also have the format for making a PIREP on it.

Block Altitudes
Occasions arise in IFR flight that is normally flown at level altitudes will not work because of weather conditions. I have flow in such. What you do is ask ATC for a block altitude. What this means is that you are given a range of altitudes that you are expected to remain within. I was given between eight and ten. I used every bit of it occasionally but I did not fight to do much more that keep wings level and heading in the general direction I wanted to go. Only lasted half an hour. Wife did not like it.

VFR-on-Top
You file an IFR flight plan and request VFR-on-top it means that you expect to climb to VFR conditions while intending to cancel IFR once VFR on top. You must obey both IFR and VFR FARs. May or may not be flown following the IFR flight planned route. Ask for on top reports. Donít take the clearance if you canít make the altitude before reaching your clearance limit. Whenever you are in VFR conditions on an IFR flight and IFR traffic conditions restrict your ability to climb or descend, ask for VFR on top. You are responsible for traffic avoidance while giving IFR position reports and following clearances. All altitude changes must be reported. Any vectors must be above MVA and IFR minimum altitudes. Ends when the pilot cancels IFR or returns to the original flight plan at
a waypoint on that plan.

IFR / VFR Routes
You can file a flight that takes you relatively close to a VFR non-radar destination as an intersection and then proceed VFR with the requirement that you close your VFR flight plan on arrival with an FSS. Been there done that.

New Destination
I have flown through the S.F. Class Bravo on an IFR flight and changed destinations as a ruse to avoid being routed all the way around the bay area. I am not that familiar with the L. A. Class Bravo but it should work down there as well. Will have to try it next time.

Required Reports
Airways have a large number of intersections. Some few of then are designated as required reporting points. They become required reporting points only if radar has a failure problem or made required by ATC for your flight.

Arrival
Planned Descent
Much of my flying consists of crossing mountain ranges at right angles so both my climbs and descents are planned. IFR routing tends to keep you at altitude much longer than is required for VFR but with some planning you can get across the Sierras at 11,000. Still on the other side Reno is quite close so you must set up a 1000 fpm descent to make either a VFR or IFR arrival.

Going from Reno back to the Bay Area VFR works well if you set up a 200-fpm descent. IFR is more difficult because it requires for you to climb away from Reno to gain sufficient altitude for the IFR routes.

Once over the Sierras it is usually my desire to change altitude for airspeed. I usually ask for a cruise descent that will get me to Sacramento just above the Class C airspace. When I get it, it works fine. If I donít get it I can usually cancel IFR.

Requesting Lower,
I usually ask for lower from an approach facility. The en route flying is well defined with minimum altitudes. The metropolitan areas have charted preferred altitudes for arrivals and departures that must be maintained. It is only in the outlying airports when you are flying the assigned routes and know just when you are going to be given an altitude to descend to for the approach. This is a planned precision approach arrival and you are usually ready for every change in altitude.

In the non-precision and stepdown approaches I find that the less experienced controllers tend to keep you high. I donít like to be high. My preference is to get down to the outside of the FAF altitude and to speed as soon as possible. Therefore, I usually request lower sooner rather than later.

AWOS, ASOS, ATIS
When in actual conditions and you are relatively free from communications I like to listen in on all of the three local weather reported conditions to keep an eye on my IFR what if situation. I very much enjoy IFR when I have a two-thousand foot ceiling below me at the nearby airports. As a part of my flight planning I put down the frequencies from a sectional of all the one-minute-weather frequencies as well as the occasional ATIS. Havenít needed it yet but itís cheap insurance.

STAR
Havenít had an occasion to file or fly a STAR. No comment.

Cruise Clearance
The use of a cruise clearance is for getting via IFR to airports without an IFR procedure. You must have a current sectional. You cannot file for a cruise clearance. But still descend to the airport even at night if within a half mile of the airport. The process is over a small area with one controller getting mandatory reports if without radar.

Pilot is responsible for knowing or finding IFR minimum altitudes. The clearance is hand filed by ATC and gives a block altitude from the IFR minimum up. It will get you to an airport without using an IFR approach. From an upper altitude but you must cancel IFR when going below IFR minimum altitude.

You can descend all the way down to the airport and make a VFR arrival. If Ďthroughí is in your clearance you can go back up as necessary but you cannot go back to any altitude reported as leaving.

Refuse the clearance if you don't know minimum altitude. ATC knows..

Vectors
When ATC gives a vector the pilot is expected to make the required turn to a heading by the shortest arc unless told to turn long way around. As he is turning he should say both the direction and the assigned heading as a readback. Do it and argue later. When time permits the specialist will tell you the purpose for the vector. Purposes can be for avoidance, spacing, sequencing, interception or alignment.

Holds
A hold is a way of parking an aircraft to make time for other aircraft. A hold can be used to turn an aircraft around so as to go towards a runway for the approach. A hold can be used as a means of descending an aircraft in steps behind and in front of other aircraft making the same steps. The aircraft are all at the same location but at differing altitudes.

Approach
In the cockpit there are numerous variations of what must be done on and during the approach. The following is just a briefing that has nothing to do with the actual flying of the aircraft.

--Ident approach frequency and set volume so that you if it is functioning.
--Set the missed approach navaid frequency and verify required course
--Confirm heading indicator is set with compass course and heading bug set
--Verify altimeter setting and FAF altitude
--Confirm altimeter bug is set for glide slope altitude at FAF
--Review place as to when missed point is reached and when to turn to where
--Determine decision altitude and minimum visibility required for landing.
--Time every aspect of the flight from FAF to MAP
--Do the visual descent point (VDP) math to confirm if a normal landing is possible.
--At or just before FAF confirm there are no flags on instruments or gauges
--Verify that cockpit belts, harness and otherwise items are secure
--Set flaps and gear for landing
--Set propeller power, mixture and airspeed for approach

The Missed
--Verbalize the changes required for executing the missed.
--Pitch aircraft and add power
--Gear and flaps in sequence required
--Confirm required climb rate on missed approach
--Verify just when to execute turns and course of missed approach
--Radio tower that you are executing the missed approach

Clearance
On the missed your clearance will be to fly as published to the missed approach to a specified altitude and hold at an intersection awaiting further clearance.

Vectors
At any points in the missed approach you may expect vectors depending on whether you want to try again or intend to fly to an alternate.

Turning Around for an Approach
There are several ways an aircraft may be turned around to line up for an approach. The most common in a radar environment is the use of vectors. The procedure turn is a reversal that depends on timing the outbound 45-degree leg for one minute and then turning back to intercept the approach course. Some procedures use a holding pattern both as a descent and changing direction as the case may be. The course reversal is now accepted by the FAA as a way to change direction.

Circle to Land
Airlines do not usually authorize circle to land approaches because of the higher altitudes required and visual contact with the landing runway at all times. I have never made a circle to land approach except in practice and find them unpleasant in IFR conditions. My preference is to make a SVFR arrival instead.

Visual and Contact Approaches
Go to my web site and read up on the procedures and requirements. Page 7.62

Wind Check
At any point you can and should ask the controlling facility for a wind check. There are areas where winds can make significant changes due to terrain features and such a wind check is most necessary.

Practice Approaches
A practice approach can be requested from an ATC facility most any time. The ATIS will indicate if practice approaches are not available or your request may be refused. Refusal usually occurs where there is conflict between the wind direction and the instrument runway. In this situation VFR traffic is in conflict with instrument approach traffic. Not a good thing.

Canceling IFR
Any time you are in VFR conditions and able to maintain VFR you are able to cancel IFR. On three occasions I have cancelled IFR. All three occurred when ATC would not give me avoidance vectors around what I considered dangerous cloud formations likely to contain thunderstorms. My other alternative would have been to have declared an emergency and avoid the weather on my own.

There are occasions when you are doing ATC a favor by canceling. When inbound on an approach in good conditions and you are aware of an aircraft on the ground awaiting your arrival for an IFR departure

you are helping your fellow pilot by canceling. When on an approach into an uncontrolled airport and ATC tells you to report canceling IFR. What is happening is that you are keeping a block of airspace closed to other IFR traffic that is waiting for you to get out of the system so they can get going. ATC is giving you a hint to cancel. You will be helping the system work better if you cancel conditions permitting.

Landing
Non-towered airports can have IFR approaches. The future says that every airport can have a GPS approach.

Towered airports all have approaches when the tower is operating.  approaches will exist when the tower is closed as well but different requirements exist.  You must cancel IFR before leaving approach or call in the cancellation to an FSS after landing..

LAHSO means land and hold short procedures in progress. This is where a towered airport has intersecting runways. Your aircraft can be cleared for a LAHSO landing if you accept the condition that you will be able to stop short of the runway intersection. I would not do this at an unfamiliar airport under any conditions. There are too many imponderables that could cause a runway incursion.

Expecting the Unexpected
Changed Route
The failure of a navaid or a radar facility may make a route change necessary. Regardless any such failure will require position reports where otherwise they would be unnecessary. The controller may offer you a route change with vectors as a time or weather option. You can ask for any change you desire. The worst thing that can happen is to hear NO.

Emergency
I have never heard of a pilot getting into FAA difficulty for declaring an emergency. The only judge at the moment as to the existence of an emergency is the pilot. The FAA can only second-guess. My advice is, "When in doubt do it". Waiting will only make the situation worse.

Minimum fuel is a radio call a pilot should make to ATC when he doubtful as to whether he has enough fuel to go past his destination and possibly not enough to get to the destination and do an additional approach in IFR conditions. Never fly past a refueling opportunity if you become aware of your fuel gauges. I have had low fuel situations three times and on two of the occasions I turned back to a closer airport to get fuel. The third time I got on the ground with four gallons aboard. Just call me lucky.

Void time clearance is a method of departing an uncontrolled airport. Getting a clearance before departure that allows you to enter the IFR system. Entry is conditional that you are able to get airborne at altitude and in radio contact before a certain time.

Other Word for Near Emergency 
When in contact with ATC, pilots can use the word "immediately" to avoid an imminent situation.  

Lost Radios
VFR loss of radios is not an emergency. Under IFR there is an entire program for dealing with not having radios. It gives you how to select your altitudes and what you are supposed to do. The accident record of IFR flight continuing without a full deck of cards is not good. In my opinion you are much better off to head for VFR if you can.

Years ago when I was in IFR training we lost our radios and never even knew it. We had accidentally turned down the volume so we could not hear anything. This was before transponders. We flew the airways back to our home field and only when we entered downwind and worked with the knobs did we realize the radios could be made to work.

Several years ago we had unusually cold weather for California. Our transmitter would not work as we later found out because the transmitter relay had frozen. We returned to CCR and could hear ATC telling the tower that we were squawking 7600. We got light signals clearing us to land. I kept trying to transmit and only on short final did it work when I acknowledged our clearance to land.

Use of Transponder to Communicate
On another occasion in the same aircraft we lost our transmitter. When we could not respond to ATC transmissions, ATC asked us to ident if we could receive messages. We then played a game of twenty questions where we would only ident if the answer was yes. In the end ATC knew that we intended to return to our home airport via airways at 7000 feet and shoot the LDA into CCR.

Loss of Navigation Radios
Time was many of the 600 FSS facilities had direction finding capability. Today with near universal radar at altitude you can climb to an airway en route altitude and get vectors to where you want to go. What will we do in ten years when all that is left is GPS?

No Gyro
The no gyro approach presumes that the aircraft has no compass or heading indicator. In this situation all turns are executed at half-standard rate. Once the aircraft is established at a beginning approach altitude the pilot is instructed to "Turn right", "Stop turn" as the ATC specialist guides you toward the runway with occasional altitude changes along the way. The pilot needs to be very proficient in light touch on the controls. Something that could/should be practiced during training.

GCA
The ground-controlled approach now seems to exist only at Naval Air Stations. It allows a dual azimuth radar system to make it possible for specialists giving heading and altitude instructions to bring most any aircraft down to a safe landing. It is a very labor-intensive system and is probably not longer for this world.

Transponder Failure
There are several alternatives open to both the pilot and ATC when encoded responses from the transponder do not exist. ATC can still track you as a primary target during which time you will be required to give altitude reports.

I have departed a Class C airport without an operating transponder by hooking up with another aircraft as a flight to two. You can get into and out of some non-radar-controlled airports by making prior arrangements as to your route and reporting points.

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