Maintain VFR at or Above 8000

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  1. #1
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    Maintain VFR at or Above 8000

    A couple of questions about this scenario...

    The other day, I went flying with a CFI who filed an IFR flight plan with the same airport as the departure and destination with a couple of touch and goes along the way. There was scattered convective activity along the way. On the way back, after punching in and out of clouds for more than 2 hours, the controller advises us of some thunderstorm activity at 2 oclock and says "maintain VFR at or above 8000." CFI replied, that it was our understanding that we were IFR. The controller asked if we were IFR qualified. CFI said something like, pilot and aircraft is IFR qualified, and we thought we were still on an IFR flight plan. (We were also level at IFR altitude the whole time) The controller said something like if you think you're on an IFR flight plan, then proceed.

    Clearly there was a mixup, but I'm curious to hear from the controller side. How did this mixup occur? Was it after the landing that we switched to tower, then back to approach/departure (maybe a different controller that didn't get the memo)? We never changed our squawk code.

    It seemed that for a while we were being treated as flight following, but after the initial shock, I found it humorous .... "if you think you're IFR, then proceed." LOL. So from the controller's point of view, is there any functional difference between IFR and VFR on flight following? You just keeping the blips from touching?

  2. #2
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    Re: Maintain VFR at or Above 8000

    Lmao some controller Probly had a ton of deals

  3. #3
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    Re: Maintain VFR at or Above 8000

    Quote Originally Posted by Devil07 View Post
    A couple of questions about this scenario...

    The other day, I went flying with a CFI who filed an IFR flight plan with the same airport as the departure and destination with a couple of touch and goes along the way. There was scattered convective activity along the way. On the way back, after punching in and out of clouds for more than 2 hours, the controller advises us of some thunderstorm activity at 2 oclock and says "maintain VFR at or above 8000." CFI replied, that it was our understanding that we were IFR. The controller asked if we were IFR qualified. CFI said something like, pilot and aircraft is IFR qualified, and we thought we were still on an IFR flight plan. (We were also level at IFR altitude the whole time) The controller said something like if you think you're on an IFR flight plan, then proceed.

    Clearly there was a mixup, but I'm curious to hear from the controller side. How did this mixup occur? Was it after the landing that we switched to tower, then back to approach/departure (maybe a different controller that didn't get the memo)? We never changed our squawk code.

    It seemed that for a while we were being treated as flight following, but after the initial shock, I found it humorous .... "if you think you're IFR, then proceed." LOL. So from the controller's point of view, is there any functional difference between IFR and VFR on flight following? You just keeping the blips from touching?
    id have made a call to the TRACON after that one. When you’re IFR you’re expecting positive separation to be supplied by ATC. When you’re VFR we are more an advisor and are relying on you to maintain separation.

  4. #4
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    Re: Maintain VFR at or Above 8000

    Quote Originally Posted by Devil07 View Post
    "maintain VFR at or above 8000."
    "Unable, we're IMC"

  5. #5
    NovemberEcho's Avatar
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    Re: Maintain VFR at or Above 8000

    Quote Originally Posted by thirtythree View Post
    "Unable, we're IMC"
    i actually gave Traffic to a VFR and this was his response. Took me a min to process but then I was like uhhhh say again? It was night and he had accidentally descended into some clouds

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    Re: Maintain VFR at or Above 8000

    Quote Originally Posted by NovemberEcho View Post
    id have made a call to the TRACON after that one. When you’re IFR you’re expecting positive separation to be supplied by ATC. When you’re VFR we are more an advisor and are relying on you to maintain separation.
    I don't want to get anyone in trouble, so the names and places (and altitude) have been changed to protect the identity of the victims. LOL.

    After thinking about it, I don't think there was much risk. When we were in VMC which was about 80% of the time, we are heads up scanning for traffic as required. And during the times we are in the clouds, I only expect other IFR traffic, which are receiving positive separation. So the only danger would be another aircraft at same altitude who also thinks they are on an IFR flight plan but isn't.... Plus we were level at IFR altitude, which I think provided additional margin of safety.

  7. #7
    NovemberEcho's Avatar
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    Re: Maintain VFR at or Above 8000

    I wouldn’t call to get someone in trouble as to find out how you were mistaken as VFR.

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    Re: Maintain VFR at or Above 8000

    A couple of questions:

    1. You filed an IFR flight plan, did you receive an IFR clearance on the ground or in the air?

    2. No one in the two hours of flying asked you why you were flying at an IFR altitude and not at a VFR one?

    Somewhere along the line you got tagged as VFR and not IFR. A mistake was obviously made.

  9. #9
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    Re: Maintain VFR at or Above 8000

    When you say you did touch and go’s along the way, did you stay in the pattern at any of the airports? If so, after departing the pattern there is room for confusion on whether you are now VFR and need to be recleared. I think this was a debate at my last facility but it’s been several years since I’ve worked approach so I can’t remember.

  10. #10
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    Re: Maintain VFR at or Above 8000

    I have seen something similar happen when a callsign ends in V. For example N236V. The V in the callsign can throw off a busy controller and make them think the aircraft is vfr.

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