Instrument Flying (IFR) FAQs – top questions this week

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As part of Sporty’s  IFR Month, a four week focus on the challenges and rewards of instrument flying, Sporty’s CFI team is answering a series of IFR-related questions, or FAQs. Questions are answered daily on the IFR Month homepage. Top questions for the week include:

What are the cumpulsory IFR reporting points?

cumpulsory reporting pointCompulsory IFR reporting points on FAA, as well as Jeppesen, charts are indicated by solid triangles. Pilots are able to discontinue reporting compulsory points when informed by ATC that the aircraft is in “radar contact.”

Additionally, a pilot should report any of the following events::

  • When vacating any previously assigned altitude or flight level for a newly assigned altitude or flight level (AIM 5-3-3)
  • When an altitude change will be made if operating on a clearance specifying VFR-on-top. (AIM 5-3-3)
  • When unable to climb/descent at a rate of at least 500 feet per minute.(AIM 5-3-3)
  • When an approach has been missed. (AIM 5-3-3)
  • Change in the average true airspeed (at cruising altitude) when it varies by 5 percent or 10 knots (whichever is greater) from that filed in the flight plan. (AIM 5-3-3)
  • The time and altitude or flight level upon reaching a holding fix or point to which cleared. (AIM 5-3-3)
  • When leaving any assigned holding fix or point. (AIM 5-3-3)
  • Any information relating to the safety of flight. (AIM 5-3-3)
  • The time and altitude of passing each designated reporting point, or the reporting points specified by ATC, except that while the aircraft is under radar control only the passing of those reporting points specifically requested by ATC need be reported. (FAR 91.183)
  • Any other information relating to the safety of flight. (FAR 91.183)

What to do if communications are lost under IFR?

If unable to communicate with ATC during Instrument flight, first try to reestablish contact via multiple methods:

  1. Try to contact ATC on the previous frequency.
  2. Try using another COMM radio if you have one installed.
  3. If another aircraft is on the frequency and can hear you, It may be possible to communicate with ATC through this other aircraft.
  4. Check your chart or GPS for the nearest ATC frequency.
  5. Try calling ATC over the emergency frequency: 121.500.

Approaches, holding and tracking are all required for IFR currency.

How do I stay IFR current?

  • Six instrument approaches
  • One holding procedure and tasks
  • Intercepting and tracking courses through the use of navigation electronic systems.

These tasks must be performed and logged within the previous six calendar months in order to stay Instrument Current. In the timeline below, the pilot will lose instrument currency on September 1st due to the previous six calendar months including four approaches rather than the needed six.

What’s the difference between VFR, MVFR, IFR, and LIFR weather?

These four categories of flight classify four separate weather conditions. Each is defined by varying ceilings and visibility. They stand for Visual Flight Rules, Marginal Flight Rules, Instrument Flight Rules, and Low Instrument Flight Rules.

  • VFR = Ceilings greater than 3,000’ AGL and visibility greater than 5 miles
  • MVFR = Ceilings between 1,000’ and 3,000’ AGL and/or visibility between 3 to 5 miles.
  • IFR = Ceilings between 500’ and 999’ AGL and/or visibility between 1 and 3 miles.
  • LIFR = Ceilings below 500’ and/or visibility less than 1 mile.

To view all of the IFR FAQs, visit

weather table

Flight Training Central Staff
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