VFR on the top and VFR over the top.. Requirements?
First of all, what is the difference between the two. From what I understand, VFR on the top is when you file IFR then cancel it when above the clouds. and, VFR over the top is flying VFR every minute of the flight, takeoff to landing. Is this correct? Also, if I am only a private pilot and not instrument rated, can I still legally fly VFR over the top?
- 1 decade agoFavorite Answer
Pilots on IFR flight plans operating in VFR weather
conditions may request VFR-on-top in lieu of an assigned altitude. This permits them to select an altitude or flight level
of their choice (subject to any ATC restrictions).
Pilots desiring to climb through a cloud, haze, smoke, or
other meteorological formation and then either cancel their
IFR flight plan or operate VFR-on-top may request a climb
to VFR-on-top. The ATC authorization will contain a top
report (or a statement that no top report is available) and a
request to report upon reaching VFR-on-top. Additionally,
the ATC authorization may contain a clearance limit, routing,
and an alternative clearance if VFR-on-top is not reached by
a specified altitude.
A pilot on an IFR flight plan, operating in VFR conditions,
may request to climb/descend in VFR conditions. When
operating in VFR conditions with an ATC authorization to
“maintain VFR-on-top/maintain VFR conditions,” pilots on
IFR flight plans must:
1. Fly at the appropriate VFR altitude as prescribed in 14
CFR part 91.
2. Comply with the VFR visibility and distance-from cloud
criteria in 14 CFR part 91.
3. Comply with instrument flight rules applicable to this
fl ight (minimum IFR altitudes, position reporting, radio
communications, course to be fl own, adherence to ATC
Pilots operating on a VFR-on-top clearance should advise
ATC before any altitude change to ensure the exchange of
accurate traffic information.
ATC authorization to “maintain VFR-on-top” is not intended
to restrict pilots to operating only above an obscuring
meteorological formation (layer). Rather, it permits operation
above, below, between layers, or in areas where there is no
meteorological obstruction. It is imperative pilots understand,
however, that clearance to operate “VFR-on-top/VFR
conditions” does not imply cancellation of the IFR flight
Pilots operating VFR-on-top/VFR conditions may receive
traffic information from ATC on other pertinent IFR or
VFR aircraft. However, when operating in VFR weather
conditions, it is the pilot’s responsibility to be vigilant to see
and avoid other aircraft.
This clearance must be requested by the pilot on an IFR flight
plan. VFR-on-top is not permitted in certain areas, such as
Class A airspace. Consequently, IFR flights operating VFR on-top must avoid such airspace.
VFR over-the-top must not be confused with VFR-on top.
VFR-on-top is an IFR clearance that allows the pilot
to fly VFR altitudes. VFR over-the-top is strictly a VFR
operation in which the pilot maintains VFR cloud clearance
requirements while operating on top of an undercast layer.
This situation might occur when the departure airport and the
destination airport are reporting clear conditions, but a low
overcast layer is present in between. The pilot could conduct
a VFR departure, fl y over the top of the undercast in VFR
conditions, then complete a VFR descent and landing at the
destination. VFR cloud clearance requirements would be
maintained at all times, and an IFR clearance would not be
required for any part of the flight.
- ShitalLv 44 years ago
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The only reference to VFR OTT made in the FARs is as follows: § 91.179 IFR cruising altitude or flight level. Unless otherwise authorized by ATC, the following rules apply— (a) In controlled airspace. Each person operating an aircraft under IFR in level cruising flight in controlled airspace shall maintain the altitude or flight level assigned that aircraft by ATC. However, if the ATC clearance assigns “VFR conditions on-top,” that person shall maintain an altitude or flight level as prescribed by §91.159. the referenced regulation is the one says if you fly east you fly odd thousands +500', and if you're flying west you fly even thousands +500'. You could also look at FAR 91.153, which lists the requirements for a VFR flight plan (VFR OTT would fall under, I believe), including (5) The proposed route, cruising altitude (or flight level), and true airspeed at that altitude. Therefore, any deviations to your filed flight plan (such as changes in altitude) would have to be reported. If you are Canadian, the regulations are similarly vague, it is all a question of interpretation. The government makes and writes the rules, and tries to enforce them, but sadly they often each have their own interpretation too. In the actual situation, inform ATC. They are happier being in the know, and they will tell you if your extra information annoys them and at what point you should update them again. For exam purposes, your best bet is to talk to other people who've taken the exam or prep classes, or aviation associations and committees who have a hand in designing exams and their questions. They will know what 'interpretation' the exam marker will mark correct.
- Anonymous1 decade ago
Cherokee is absolutely right, but here's how you can make practical use of these operations:
VFR over the top is a strictly VFR operation, so you can legally do it without an instrument rating, but you must be certain you can remain over the top then descend VFR to your destination. I'm ATP rated but have often used it for convenience and expedience, particularly in coastal California where going IFR can be a nuisance and take more time (the object of most flying is saving time). I depart in the clear, fly VFR over a low-lying marine layer knowing it is going to remain "clear and a million" above it, and that my destination will also undoubtedly remain VFR . However, knowing I can file a pop-up IFR clearance if I have to just makes it a safer operation.
When VFR On Top, you're still on a quasi-IFR flight plan, but once you get on top you fly VFR altitudes and maintain VFR cloud clearance requirements etc etc. all theway to your destination. One should not request VFR on top unless you can remain VFR. It's very useful in IFR-congested areas like Los Angeles for getting out of a coastal airport that is IFR under a low ceiling but you are heading to a destination in the desert where it's clear. When you get "on top" you can usually receive a direct routing under your own navigation since you are also responsible for your own traffic separation. This avoids having to fly a full IFR routing at IFR altitudes with mandatory IFR traffic separation, which is often circuitous and time consuming. Again, it's a trick used for expedience and most controllers like it too, since it frees up airspace and reduces their workload somewhat.Source(s): Corporate pilot, CFII, AIGI, 22 years in professional aviation.
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- MaryLv 44 years ago
Once you are told to maintain VFR on top, you are required to maintain a appropriate VFR altitude. If you have a transponder with an altitude readout that had been verified by a controller, you are not required to report your altitude. If you don't have an a transponder or your altitude readout does not match what the controller is reading, you need to tell the controller when you change your altitude so they may give you and surrounding traffic information on your position.
- Anonymous1 decade ago
if you are not qualified for vfr ( visual flying rules ) then you are not qualified to fly ifr either, instrument flying rules are way more advanced and have to take a great deal of training for flying ifr