There are two sets of rules for flying any aircraft: VFR and IFR.
VFR stands for “Visual Flight Rules.”
IFR stands for “Instrument Flight Rules.”
The weather conditions are usually the determining factor for which set of rules a pilot will choose. There are other factors, but this is an introduction, so for simplicity’s sake, we’ll say it’s the weather that dictates whether you’ll choose to fly VFR or IFR.
If you’re going to fly VFR, Visual Meteorological Conditions (VMC) need to be maintained. Basically, this means you can’t fly through clouds and need to keep safe distances. In some types of airspace, you also will need to see the ground. Under VFR you are responsible for seeing other aircraft and avoiding a collision. Under VFR there is minimum horizontal visibility.
Choose Your Flight Path
When you fly under VFR rules, you’re allowed to choose any flight path you want. Typically this is a straight line from your origin to destination. VFR rules, as you may imagine are reserved for smaller planes flying at low altitude. Because you’re not relying on instruments to guide the aircraft, your options are limited, and restrictions are tighter.
Whenever VMC cannot be met a pilot with the proper training skills, rating, and an IFR enabled aircraft can take flight. IFR rules allow flights to take place in zero visibility conditions from takeoff to landing. If you think that sounds a little nerve-racking, you’re right. It’s the reason why multiple pilots fly larger commercial aircraft.
IFR Is Not Always the Fastest Route
Unlike VFR flights, IFR flights are usually within controlled airspace and require filing a flight plan ahead of time. The routing isn’t entirely at the pilot’s discretion. Establish waypoints and airways have to be used, and the flight altitude is determined by factors like minimum airway altitude, minimum radar vectoring altitude (MRVA) and how heavy the air traffic is.
Are You Ready to Fly with VFR or IFR?
Hopefully, you found this article informative. If you made it to the end, you likely have some interest in flying. Whether you’re looking for a career as a commercial pilot, or just want to fly to fulfill a dream and see the world from the best vantage point possible – you can! Check out what CTI can do for you!