Request IFR Clearance to Climb to VFR Conditions

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  1. #1
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    Request IFR Clearance to Climb to VFR Conditions

    Assume, I'm flying along VFR, receiving flight following, at 2000 ft and there is strata with a ceiling at 3000 ft that is about 500 ft thick. (Plane & Pilot are IFR current). If I want to climb through the layer, then cancel when I'm in VFR conditions and keep flight following, what is the best least confusing way to request this clearance? I understand this is not a "VFR on Top" clearance.

    Considering I'm already in the system, with flight following, can I simply say "...request IFR Clearance to climb to VFR conditions?" Or should I state the desired final VFR altitude? Can you give a IFR clearance to climb to a VFR altitude? Can I request an IFR clearance to "VFR Conditions" or do I have to identify a fix? Are there any other issues or considerations that I should keep in mind in a situation like this where I just want to pop through a thin layer and resume VFR?

    What would be the response that I should expect, I'm guessing something like "Cleared IFR, maintain current heading, climb and maintain xxxx, report VFR...?"

  2. #2
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    Re: Request IFR Clearance to Climb to VFR Conditions

    Great answer, thanks! It really explains the other side of the story. I didn't realize (or had forgotten) a clearance limit could be an altitude. So in my scenario, I only needed to climb to 4500. I could have just asked for an IFR clearance to 4500. Just as background:

    My scenario is based on a flight I did a week ago, where I was just out for a short VFR Sunday flight (literally and figuratively) to an uncontrolled airport about 50 miles from my home airport (also destination was totally clear). Visibility was great, but there was a thin layer at 3000. I was enjoying flying at 2000, but then I got over some unpleasant terrain (unforgiving swampy alligator infested terrain with zero options for emergency landings) I thought about asking for IFR clearance to a higher altitude so that I would have a larger glide radius in the event of engine failure, but since I hadn't planned to do any IFR work, I hadn't prepare for it before hand and wasn't sure how to ask for it. I'm current, but not too proficient, so I try to plan everything ahead of time and do research on the ground before I do any IFR. On this particular day, I had another easy option, which was just to fly a 10 miles west of my course so that I always had dry land within gliding distance.

    I think next time I'm that situation I'll ask for the IFR clearance to climb to a specific altitude, and that I'll cancel once I'm back in VFR.

    BTW, to your question about "Why not VFR-on-top?" It was just that I hadn't prepared for an IFR flight, and I remember that with VFR-on-top I have to follow both VFR and IFR rules, so I figured it would be simpler for me to climb then cancel IFR. I figured, the fewer rules I have to follow the lower my chance of breaking a rule. But as I get more IFR experience (and confidence) under my belt I'll be doing more.

  3. #3
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    Re: Request IFR Clearance to Climb to VFR Conditions

    It's super easy, just use plain language.
    "center/approach, DEVIL07 is requesting an IFR clearance just to get through this cloud layer and then I'll cancel IFR when I'm above it...4000 feet should be plenty."
    "DEVIL07, cleared to point/airport via radar vectors, fly present heading, climb and maintain 4000, just advise when you'd like to cancel IFR."
    "DEVIL07 above the clouds, tops 3500, I'd like to cancel IFR"
    "DEVIL07, IFR cancellation received, maintain VFR and resume own navigation."

    Very common occurrence at places I've worked...if it's an approach controller you may get a new squawk code that provides minimum safe altitude warnings when you pick up the IFR, and then a change back to a VFR code...but there's a simpler way to do it if the controller knows the keyboard entries.

  4. #4
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    Re: Request IFR Clearance to Climb to VFR Conditions

    Stinger, awesome! I might try that this weekend.

  5. #5
    Jax
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    Re: Request IFR Clearance to Climb to VFR Conditions

    Yeah, like Stinger said it's not uncommon to issue a local IFR for a VFR aircraft looking to go through a cloud layer and then continue VFR. Like he said, just mention what you're looking for in the request.

  6. #6
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    Re: Request IFR Clearance to Climb to VFR Conditions

    Follow up question, if I'm on with approach or on flight following and I have a lengthy request like @Stinger suggests above, should I just make the full request, or should I get the controller's attention first by saying something like "Devil07 request", just in case the controller is busy with something else? I learned that sometimes just because my frequency is quiet doesn't mean the controller isn't busy doing something else.

  7. #7
    Stinger's Avatar
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    Re: Request IFR Clearance to Climb to VFR Conditions

    Either way is fine...if you can hear the controller making lots of transmissions, it'd probably be better to say you have a request...or if you know it's going to be fairly lengthy and you'll tie up the frequency for a bit.

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