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Flying in class A without an IR

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Flying in class A without an IR

Old 22nd Jan 2018, 20:34
  #1 (permalink)  
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Flying in class A without an IR

Flying in class A without an IR

Firstly is it possible? Well, actually, I know it's possible as I've had a crossing through class A, but is it possible to fly along an airway without holding any type of instrument rating?

Secondly, for example: say there's a long stretch over water, what would be the advantage to flying in an airway to keeping just outside of it - apart from seperation?

And finally, I guess all airways must have an NDB or VOR to fly to or from?
para_trooper is offline  
Old 22nd Jan 2018, 21:25
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Join Date: Jan 2018
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No, you can't. Well..you "can't"

You must operate IFR inside a class A. however, in the real world you can ask to the controller for permission to enter a class A and maybe they are in a good mood and allow you to enter if you have a good reason but the theory is that you can't.

I have in the past entered in a class A as VFR after asking the controller ( we wanted to get above the MSA to do some engine out exercises, etc...) and he cleared us to the new altitude while maintaining VFR.

In my living area, all the skydiving stuff was performed by planes flying VFR well above the class A MSA and finally, after a lot of years, to allow that operation to be conducted inside the rules, the airspace was modified and 2 new class Bravo were created to allow the skydiving activities.
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Old 23rd Jan 2018, 02:36
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Do you honestly think the controller will ask you if you're instrument rated before giving you clearance?
Controllers have better thngs to do with their lives, however, he might query if you make a balls of it.
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Old 23rd Jan 2018, 05:54
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I always found the information deficit on Class A airspace intriguing. When digging into the source for the false strict limitation being taught, I found that the source may be a sloppy reading of the ICAO definition.

The FAA does excellent work and so they do on this matter:

cite: "Unless otherwise authorized, all operation in Class A airspace is conducted under instrument flight rules (IFR)." Bold marked by me.

AVWeb did a nice article on even VFR required in Class A situations in 2000 and I suggest to read it.
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Old 23rd Jan 2018, 06:19
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'Unless otherwise authorised' used to include SVFR in Class A CTRs. However, under SERA, VFR and SVFR flights can no longer be operated in Class A airspace. Hence, for example, the London CTR is now Class D.
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Old 23rd Jan 2018, 13:36
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The FAA does excellent work and so they do on this matter
True, but only in respect of US airspace and the same goes for Avweb. The OP is in the UK and, therefore, both references are irrelevant. As Beagle points out, SERA.6001 states, "Class A. IFR flights only are permitted." In accordance with FCL.600, operations under IFR are not permitted unless the pilot holds an instrument rating.
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Old 23rd Jan 2018, 15:21
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Interestingly, the UK is slightly ambiguous on the situation described in the Avweb article. For those that have not read the link, it is discussing the specific case of a radio failure in VMC conditions within Class A airspace, where the flight to a suitable landing site can be completed wholly in VMC conditions.

In the US, (something I didn't actually know) is that if you have a radio failure in Class A and can divert to a suitable landing point in VMC, you SHALL (i.e. you must) proceed VFR to such destination, hence you abandon the traditional IFR follow the 'flightplan/last clearance/expected clearance,Minimum Levels' process and fly a VFR descent in Class A and then onto a suitable airport.

In the UK, this is also provided for (so the answer is Yes you can in this very special circumstance fly VFR in Class A in the UK just like you do in the US). HOWEVER, earlier in EN 1.1 it says you should ONLY do this if there is a overriding safety reason. So even if you are in VMC, not a cloud in the sky and above a beautifully suitable airfield, ATC expect you will follow the IMC lost communication procedure. For the purposes of these procedures, ATC will expect an IFR flight following the ATS route structure to adopt the IMC
procedure in paragraph If there is an overriding safety reason, the pilot may adopt the VMC procedure.
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Old 24th Jan 2018, 09:10
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Without going into details there are a number of Letters of Agreement in place in the UK that allow specified organisations access to specified areas of Class A airspace under VFR in daylight VMC as long as the conditions of the LOA are complied with. Generally only parties to the LOAs are aware of the details.
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Old 24th Jan 2018, 10:20
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Thanks for the replys and yes I'm in the UK.

So really, this isn't something I could plan to do without an IR?

What's the advantage for to an instrument rated pilot flying inside an airway en route to his destination, rather than staying just outside? Is it just simply separation?
para_trooper is offline  
Old 24th Jan 2018, 10:38
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the short answer to your question is yes, you need an IR to fly on an airway in the UK. The slightly longer answer is that the advantages of so doing are many-fold, separation, lost comms procedures, terrain clearance and radio aid reception are assured, known traffic environment, leading to instrument approaches. etc etc. The USA is different in that one can fly on airways under VFR as they are class E not A, at least in the lower levels.

Do you have/are you considering an IMC / IR(R) ? that would be the starting point to figure it all out properly. Also - if you want to see the airways and how they are defined, go to skyvector.com and click the world lo button to get the IFR chart up.
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Old 24th Jan 2018, 10:49
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Thanks Custardspc!I'm planning to do the IR, I'd really like to do an IR(R), but doesn't seem worthwhile if I'm intending to do an IR in the next year or two. I've read the pooleys IR(R) book for knowledge, it doesn't mention much about airways, so was curious to how they work and if I could implement them into my VFR flying.

I've have a look at Skyvector now.
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Old 24th Jan 2018, 11:03
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Now I understand your query. It is in fact why not just do a full IR ? do the IR(R) first would be my advice. The IR is a much steeper learning curve at an expensive hourly rate. Learn the basics on an (R) first so you can go into a full IR prepared. To be honest, for UK flying a (R) and recent currency will see you sorted for most of what you would want to do. It will certainly give you more flexibility and relevant experience. Also, nothing like having to calculate your own terrain clearance / negotiate for ATSOCAS etc to make you appreciate the protection an airway gives !
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Old 25th Jan 2018, 11:07
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I am sure that I have got clearance many years ago to fly across what was the A24 airway going down the English / Welsh border. The reason being that up to 3000ft there are mountains, then 3000-6500ft there are clouds, leaving just the airway available for an East-West crossing into Wales. The clearance was arranged via Shawbury, and we did not have Mode S in them days.
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Old 5th Feb 2018, 12:18
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What about gliders in the UK, they used to be allowed to cross airways, which I always thought was utter madness. Is this still the case?
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Old 5th Feb 2018, 12:29
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Gliders could still cross airways with a clearance when I retired from Prestwick Centre 18 months ago, wasn't too much of an issue.

However, we were reminded after one controller had a real brain-fart, that issuing a "not below" clearance to a glider was not the best idea !
The Fat Controller is offline  
Old 5th Feb 2018, 13:15
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Didn't the appropriate rule say that gliders could cross the 'base of an airway' ? which seemed to me to be a poor definition.
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Old 5th Feb 2018, 13:55
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Join Date: Jan 2016
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No, gliders used to be permitted to cross an Airway at any altitude but at 90 degrees to the airway track.

That exemption is long gone and now some gliding clubs have agreements which give them access to Airways in certain circumstances.
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