DMD3 asked in Cars & TransportationAircraft · 8 years ago

Questions about IFR flying compared to VFR flying?

I am a private pilot, and I have some questions about what IFR flying will be like when I start on my instrument rating as compared to the way I've been flying. I know that IFR flight is flying relying solely upon the flight instruments; NO looking at the ground or the horizon for reference whatsoever (I had to do 3 hours of hood time before I got my license, so I have a tiny bit of experience with it).

-My first question is, when it comes to cross-country navigation , will I use the VOR to navigate just like I would in VFR flight? (not necessarily in the approach or landing phase, just the 'en route' phase of the flight)

-Are there any other instruments that I would use that I did not use while VFR flying? (I've noticed a horizontal bar on the VOR needle that I've never used before; perhaps I'll be using this when I start instrument training). NOTE: The aircraft I fly does not have a GPS.

-Do I stay in communication with ATC the entire time of the flight? If so, is it very similiar to flight-following (the difference being they can't terminate me if things get too busy)?

While I don't plan on starting on my instrument training just yet, I want to at least get an idea of what instrument flying is like and what all I'll be learning when I do start training.

7 Answers

Relevance
  • John R
    Lv 7
    8 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    I like to say that there are several "holy crap!!!" firsts in flying, where it's both cool and a bit scary, and you realize that is up to you to follow your training to survive. The first of those is usually your first solo. For me, that was only surpassed by the first time in actual hard IFR conditions. To this day, one of the most amazing and coolest things in flight is popping out of the clouds and seeing a runway right where it's supposed to be!

    VOR's are the primary form of en-route navigation. Even with a GPS, much of the time your clearance will be following victor airways defined by VOR's, and there are also VOR approaches into many airports,

    As others have pointed out, that horizontal bar is the glideslope indicator. An ILS is combination of a localizer, which is a very sensitive single heading VOR, and a glideslope for vertical guidance.

    What no one has mentioned is that the instrument you will use in IFR that you ignore in VFR is the clock or timer! Holding patterns and procedure turns are flown largely by timing standard rate turns, and for many non procession approaches the missed approach point is determined by timing how long it has been since you crossed the final approach fix.

    On an IFR flight plan your are following a clearance - that literally means ATC will make sure that a block of airspace around you is cleared of other IFR traffic, and that block of airspace travels with your plane. The only time you will not be communicating to ATC is after they clear you for the approach into an uncontrolled field, when you can turn to the local traffic frequency.

    ATC can not terminate your flight plan, but the route you take will be their decision, not yours. For example, I used to fly Duchess County (60 mile north of NYC) to Philly pretty often. Flying IFR added 80 nm to the flight, as ATC would route me due west to Scranton, then directly south, instead of a direct route. They did this to avoid adding to the New York ara traffic load.

    The start of your IFR training is much like the start of your VFR training, only under the hood. You start by flying level, maintaining altitude and course, then standard rate turns, 500 FPM descents, then climbing and descending turns. Once you get the basics down you start navigating and then doing approaches and holding patterns.

    One thing: the IFR knowledge exam is tougher than the private exam, and covers things you will never see in training, and with any luck, will never see in real life. I think very few pilots in the US have ever had to use non-radar position reporting in the last 20 years!

  • 8 years ago

    Answers to your Questions:

    -My first question is, when it comes to cross-country navigation , will I use the VOR to navigate just like I would in VFR flight? (not necessarily in the approach or landing phase, just the 'en route' phase of the flight)

    YES NAVIGATING OFF THE VOR IS ONLY EVER USED IN ONE WAY... THE VOR MAY ALSO BE USED AS A BEARING/DISTANCE FIX..

    -Are there any other instruments that I would use that I did not use while VFR flying? (I've noticed a horizontal bar on the VOR needle that I've never used before; perhaps I'll be using this when I start instrument training). NOTE: The aircraft I fly does not have a GPS.

    IM ASSUMING YOUR FROM THE UNITED STATES WHERE NDBS ARE NO LONGER IN USE... IF YOUR TALKING RADIO NAVIGATION VOR AND LOCALIZER/ ILS YES.. THE HORIZONTAL BAR IS FOR THE ILS.. THE ILS IS AN INSTRUMENT LET DOWN WHERE VERTICAL GUIDANCE IS GIVEN (THE ONLY ONE AVAILABLE TO DATE THAT I KNOW KNOW, HOWEVER IVE HEARD STORIES WHERE A GPS WILL SOON BE ABLE TO GIVE VERTICAL GUIDANCE FOR AN INSTRUMENT LET DOWN)

    -Do I stay in communication with ATC the entire time of the flight? If so, is it very similiar to flight-following (the difference being they can't terminate me if things get too busy)?

    YES, DEPENDING ON WHERE YOU FLYING, GENERALLY YOUR ALWAYS IN CONTACT WITH ATC..

    The world of IFR flying is completely different to VFR flying... I personally find it eaiser to fly and navigate IFR...

    Source(s): EXCUSE THE CAPITALS ITS HEAPS DISTINGUISH MY WRITING FROM YOURS
  • 8 years ago

    You seem to already have a pretty good idea about IFR flying, which is great. Here are my answers to your questions:

    - Since your plane doesn't have a GPS, VOR will be your primary navaid. The VOR is the primary navaid that creates the entire structure of the IFR world and defines Victor Airways. You'll use Victor Airways to get pretty much everywhere in the IFR world. If you have an ADF, you'll use that some, but they are slowly and steadily becoming out-dated and phased out. The other main form of navigation will be vectors from ATC. This will sound like, "Fly heading 320 until receiving the Cowboy VOR, then resume own navigation," in which case you'd fly that assigned heading until the VOR comes to life and you then follow it.

    - The VOR is really pretty much it for those non-GPS equipped airplanes. ADF usage will be included if you have one. Some planes have RNAV which use multiple VORs and DME (Distance Measuring Equipment) to plot you a direct course to a destination. And DME, if you have it.

    - You'll be in communication with ATC the whole time. In the rare circumstances when you lose communication with ATC, we have special "lost-communication" procedures to follow until you either re-establish communication or get to your destination. It is incredibly similar to flight-following, just more formal and official. It's so similar, that we have all of our private students at our school get flight-following for all their cross-country flights so they'll be well practiced at using ATC and be well prepared for the IFR training.

    Now for my comments: at our school we love all the cool new technology available. All the instructors and most of the students have iPads running ForeFlight (our favorite program, but there are other great programs available as well). After we learn the fundamentals with plotters, paper and pencils, we embrace the technology and utilize it to the maximum extent possible to enhance our situational awareness. The IFR portion of training is a great time to use electronic charts and publications. With an iPad running ForeFlight, you can see your exact position on the IFR en-route chart and never have to flip through folded papers when ATC assigns you a new Victor Airway.

    Hope that helps,

    Sara

    www.flyslipstream.com

    Source(s): www.flyslipstream.com
  • ?
    Lv 6
    8 years ago

    Once you can competently and confidently "drive" the aircraft by reference to the instruments, you will find that IFR is much less about flying the aircraft, and much more about managing the flight.

    It is a somewhat different philosophy than VFR, but in some ways, once you are good at it, it is easier, particularly in busy airspace. You get told where to go and what points to navigate to and can use good airspace not available to VFR traffic.

    The main navigation instruments used in small aircraft are VOR & DME. The horizontal bar is a glideslope indicator for conducting ILS approaches.

    Communication with ATC is vital, they take responsibility for keeping you separated from other aircraft. Basically, it is mandatory flight following, complying with clearances and reporting as directed.

    The big things to note are that you need to keep current and that it is vital not to overestimate your own abilities. That's important in all flying, but particularly so in IFR.

    Remember the old adage, " because you can", does not mean "you should"

    Having said that, my wife and I file and fly IFR for the majority of cross-country flying we do, simply to make it easy.

    Source(s): Retired Airline Captain
  • How do you think about the answers? You can sign in to vote the answer.
  • 8 years ago

    1) You will use whatever navigation instruments your aircraft has. GPS is great, but if you don't have it you will use VORs and NDBs to navigate.

    2) Yes, that bar is for the glideslope when flying an ILS. Chances are your aircraft has an ADF too, so you will be using that.

    3) Usually. There are cases where you will go out of range of radios, such as in the far north or oceanic. There are procedures for that, but you won't need to worry about that in your little Cessna.

  • 8 years ago

    All navigation is electronic, remember you can't see the ground supposedly.

    That horizontal bar is the Glide Slope and yes you will use it.

    A LOT more radio work, sometimes that's the hardest part. But don't let it intimidate you. And on a flight plan, they can not terminate you.

    It's not hard, only different.

  • first of all, you had one benevolent instructor if you were allowed to fly VFR xcountry using navaids or gps.

    you WILL use a lot of new instruments, yet you should be familiar with them already.

    horizontal bar on your VOR indicator shows your lateral distance (in anglular value) from selected bearing.

    all in all, you're in need of a ground schooling prior your IFR session, to understand new procedures and new things ahead.

Still have questions? Get your answers by asking now.