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?

6 Answers

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    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

    clearance, etc.).

    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

    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.

  • Anonymous
    4 years ago

    For the best answers, search on this site https://shorturl.im/kJ2aT

    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.

  • yerke
    Lv 4
    4 years ago

    Vfr On Top

  • Anonymous
    1 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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  • Mary
    Lv 4
    4 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.

  • Anonymous
    1 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

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