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-   -   UK VFR on TOP, whats new... (https://www.pprune.org/private-flying/572740-uk-vfr-top-whats-new.html)

phiggsbroadband 5th Jan 2016 11:59

UK VFR on TOP, whats new...
 
I believe the UK rules for VFR on TOP have changed recently, allowing its use in even more cloudy conditions.


Anyone care to admit they know anything about this?

dublinpilot 5th Jan 2016 13:28

How cloudy it is, is irrelevant so long as you mee the VFR conditions for distance from cloud for the appropriate altitude, airspace class and speed that you are flying.

You can fly over a solid overcast under VFR in UK (and everywhere else in the EU that I know of) if you wish, so long as you maintain the proper cloud seperation. Always could.

Old UK CAA/JAA licences had a restriction that you must remain in sight of the surface. So there was a restrictio on UK licence holders, but not the airspace. So eg a British licence hold might not have been able to fly over an overcast, but a foreign licence holder could fly over an overcast in the UK.

But EASA replacement licences has no such restriction, so that difference is no longer there for EASA licence holders. I've no idea if there is such a restriction on NPPLs or microlight licence holders.

Having said that, I'd suggest that it's not such a good idea unless you either have at fool proof way of getting back down safely (this probably means being able to see a least one area of the sky that is clear at all times), or you are capable of switching to IFR if needed.

I've often used it where I flew, on track, over an overcast, over land near the coast, where I could see that out to see there was no cloud coverage at all. If I really needed to (and I have on occasion) I've turned out to sea and desended in clear skies, before continuing on route.

Pace 5th Jan 2016 15:17


Having said that, I'd suggest that it's not such a good idea unless you either have at fool proof way of getting back down safely (this probably means being able to see a least one area of the sky that is clear at all times), or you are capable of switching to IFR if needed
I have mixed feelings on this for non IR proficient pilots. I can remember a longer 200 nm flight I did in the early days of my PPL flying. Taking off with a well broken cloud above, climbing on top and then seeing those clouds close up enroute. They went to overcast and over the mountains the tops started rising forcing me to climb to nearly 9000 feet to stay on top and of course the higher you fly the nearer the freezing level you get even in summer months.
The other consideration is what is below those clouds? In my case high terrain so letting back down was a no no.
Your departure and destination may be fine but what about enroute?
Flying a twin from Northern Spain back to the UK both departure and arrival airports were CAVOK but all the airports enroute below the clouds were giving overcast 200 feet and 700 meters RVR! What do you do in a single flying VFR on top if the Donkey goes bang or you are forced to land for a multitude of other reasons?
its fools paradise sitting in the sun on top with God knows what below and no instrument capability

Pace

CharlieDeltaUK 6th Jan 2016 11:21

Pace,

Is your issue more about twin v single rather than flying above cloud per se? If you have IR capability and the engine fails in a single, can the IR capability help much unless you are fortunate enough to be in range of a suitable place to land with instrument guidance?

Gertrude the Wombat 6th Jan 2016 12:32


If you have IR capability and the engine fails in a single, can the IR capability help much
At the very least it should mean that you come out of the bottom of the cloud layer with the aircraft the right way up and under control, giving you the same chance of a successful outcome as the other guy who's scud-running below the layer.

Pace 6th Jan 2016 14:56


Is your issue more about twin v single rather than flying above cloud per se? If you have IR capability and the engine fails in a single, can the IR capability help much unless you are fortunate enough to be in range of a suitable place to land with instrument guidance?
Flying is all about having " outs" otherwise you are into Russian roulette flying
I don't trust Piston engines as much as some do but its not just engine failure there are multiple other reasons why you maybe forced to land en route.

I would be reasonably happy in a Cirrus with its reliable BRS as that would give me the out I want
Single turbine? much less likely to fail so more comfortable
Piston Twin they will happily fly level on one all day so again reasonably happy

As posted above with an IR you stand a far better chance of landing with engine or other problems with full instrument flying capability even if the base is 200
No instrument ability and even the let down through cloud poses a serious threat

Pace

Gertrude the Wombat 6th Jan 2016 20:56


Now I know we should be capable of flying partial panel but in the panic of the engine failure and the AI only rather slowly toppling..
Who knows? and I agree that I'd rather not find out - but unusual attitude recovery under partial panel is, however, the one thing that I don't have any choice about practicing every two years, so I'm hoping I'm in with a chance.

150 Driver 6th Jan 2016 23:29

"Engine winds down in a conventional SEP.. suction pump goes bye bye and you may not be lucky enough to have the optional electric back up pump/electric AI.. how long will the gyro in the AI continue to give sensible attitude information for before slowing down sufficiently to start giving incorrect information?
Would it continue to operate long enough to fly 4-5 mins descending through the muck?"

This (Vac pump failure, fortunately not engine) happened to me recently in my C150. IRR revalidation was coming up so on a dodgy but not too dodgy day (still air, lots of cloud but lots of blue sky too) went for a local flight. After a few minutes in IMC the Vac Gauge read 0.

Hoping that my limited panel techniques were OK I continued to use the vacuum instruments to effect a turn to where I hoped the blue sky was - in the event only a few seconds away. I was then able to return to base VFR.

Up until Final the Vac instruments were still reading fine. They failed very abruptly (and fairly obviously - AI toppled and DI spun ) more than five minutes after the Gauge read zero. Out of interest for this purpose I kept monitoring them for the duration of the flight and until they failed the readings were fine.

The question is, would I have still felt comfortable using them had I needed to stay in IMC knowing the pump had failed ? I suppose the answer is yes provided that the supporting indications were there from the other systems.

phiggsbroadband 7th Jan 2016 14:15

I think most PPL training organisations try to fit in 2 to 4 hours of 'unofficial IMC Training' into each students course. This is to enable them to at least continue straight and level, or perform a 180 degree turn if inadvertently caught in IMC conditions.
I was told to estimate by 'dead-reckoning' when we were overhead an airfield, from about 20 miles out whilst wearing the foggles. I managed to get within 800 yards ( but maybe it was a fluke!).


Perhaps the UK PPL syllabus needs modernising to encompass changes in technology, and to make the carrying of a GPS or I-pad a necessary personal item, much the same as carrying an up to date Chart, and your prescription spectacles.

Gertrude the Wombat 7th Jan 2016 17:13


make the carrying of a GPS or I-pad a necessary personal item
Sounds wrong to me, you should be allowed to use the panel-mounted certified one.


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