IFR/VFR Weather Question?

Got a question, hopefully someone can clarify my confusion. At a Class D airport the ceiling was 800ft and IMC, then the next hour it was 1100ft and VMC. I thought in Class D the VFR mins are 500ft below the clouds and the minimum safe altitude over terrain is 1000ft so therefore it has to be 1500ft to be VMC but if I remember I don't not recall seeing anything like this in the FAR's. Unless the minimum safe altitude is 500ft at this airport because it's not as congested then that makes sense. I guess my question is what are the minimums for the ceiling in Class D for it to be VFR, does it depend on what the terrain is classified as around the airport (i.e. congested, other than congested)?

3 Answers

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    There are two separate regs at work... weather minima and minimum safe altitude

    First, Class D weather minima are the same as for Class C... To be "VMC" in class C or D, the airport must be reporting at least 1000 ft ceiling and visibility of 3 miles.

    VFR flights in Class C or D airspace must have 3 miles flight visibility, and fly an altitude at least 500 feet below, 1,000 feet above, and 2,000 feet laterally from clouds.

    Second, you are responsible for complying with FAR minimum safe altitudes, which apply except for takeoff and landing.

    That means that even though the airport is reporting "VFR", and you could maintain the VFR 500/1000/2000 cloud clearances, if you are unable to maintain the minimum safe altitude requirement you would not be legal....

  • 1 decade ago

    What a tower calls basic vfr,1000 and 3, doesn't mean that you can go fly away vfr. My airport, SBA, is based near the ocean, so if I can do arrive and/or depart over the water then I am ok, as soon as I turn over the congested city then I am not obeying the 1000 foot over a congested area, there for not legal.

    The aiport goes VFR at 1000 and 3, but that doesn't mean you can go fly away vfr, and I have seen it where the tower gives the ok for the touch and go's but that still doesn't mean it is legal to do so.

    To make it legal ask for 'special vfr', one can ask for this even when just staying in the pattern to do touch and go's

    FAR 91.119 gives us some leeway for going below 1000 feet over congested areas for landing and taking off, but I lost the discussion with the FAA guy, about T&G's at 500 feet over the city.

    I just attended a fantanstic FAA meeting where we went over your exact question.

    Good luck

  • 1 decade ago

    Your Class D cloud clearance and the weather required to be VFR / IFR are not the same. Class D airspace is based on VFR condition at "1000' / 3 SM vis" (to answer your question). The reason your Class D went to VFR condition is because the weather improved greater then 1000' / 3SM. The minimums you talked about are correct for operating in the Class D, you as the operator must maintain that seperation from clouds when operating VMC. If you are in Class D under Special VFR condition than you must limit your movement to takeoffs and landing at the airfield. It is not intended for training or pleasure but to faciliate movement to and from the Class D. Your minimums are still in effect unless you are IIMC and then you are on an IFR clearance and they no longer apply. Hope it helps.

    Source(s): FAR/AIM Military Publication
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