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Flight planning - 1000ft above the highest elevation within 5nm, or a different method?

How can one plan to cross an alpine pass VFR at “MSA plus 1000 feet”? That is “flat country teaching” :-)

The other question would be “what is a safe altitude” as defined in the “other” point of view. Is peak MSA + 1000 “safe” as in “does it guarantee a safe glide to a landing spot”?

I can vouch for SD spot elevations – have tested them again today after a lunch with a co-forumite south of Stuttgart. Allows to weave your way through precip at minimum VFR height knowing in advance whether you have to climb or not. Also allows for picking the appropriate hole in the cloud when VFR on top. Certainly beats reading and interpreting scanned elevation curves if you ask me.

Last Edited by Shorrick_Mk2 at 24 Nov 22:09

1000 ft minimum clearance for every 10 kts of wind works for me in the mountains, that plus generally avoiding areas of well known downdrafts and turbulence.

Peter wrote:

Mine would be that a flight – even VFR – should be planned for a safe altitude.

Absolutely, but “safe altitude” for (day) VFR is something very different from IFR. I’m quite happy planning a day VFR flight with 1000’ ground clearance and about 300’ above obstacles that are not in my direct flight path (obviously SERA requires 500’/1000’ clearance if I fly on top of them) — and that in a corridor which is considerably more narrow then the 8+8 km required for IFR.

ESKC (Uppsala/Sundbro), Sweden

Well, yes. I was always taught to plan every flight as an IFR flight, and if you can see out of the window consider that a bonus.

That is great advice for UK-type hazy summers. 3km vis is IMC horizontally and 1.5k vis is IMC totally except when looking straight down (you barely get visual at 800ft on an IAP in 1.5km).

It is also great advice for anyone aspiring to doing an IMCR or an IR.

It’s also great advice for flying in crap vis e.g. rain/drizzle.

It’s also great advice for flying generally i.e. The Plan should be flyable. You plan for OCAS and you plan for obstacle clearance.

And you want good spot elevations for that.

Obviously for flying around the Alps it’s a different thing. Then you teach people a different set of criteria. You also teach them how to get wx for the canyon cloudbases (most “mountain flying” is done inside canyons) etc.

And for general messing about you just stay above ground That is probably how most people fly, and they use a tablet app to beep when they get near CAS But I would not teach someone to fly like that.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

There have been accidents in Scotland where people flew near cloud level, got into cloud, and hit a hill, when there was good low-level visibility.
CAA Safety Evening hand-outs used to have “Fly Safety Altitude” at the end. One fatal accident was to a low-hours PPL, (but high hours microlight) pilot who had attended an Evening shortly before.

EGPE, United Kingdom

And the main topic for this threads is…?

Johan M

I moved the above posts out to a new thread (this one). Actually it was on my list of jobs from 2300 last night

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

Peter wrote:

However the VFR planning approach I was taught is that you plan the cruise altitude to be at MSA plus 1000ft (the MSA being the highest object within 5nm of the track).

Not always possible Peter. During our PPL training we had to do an Alps crossing flight. No oxygen, so you cannot reach MSA and you have to fly below the tops around you. So our rule is 1000ft above the highest elevation you want to cross (e.g. the top of a pass). These elevations are also marked on the crossing routes on the map. Whenever I cross the Alps I try to go to 10,000ft even if the 1000ft above the pass is lower.

LSZH, LSZF, Switzerland

Peter wrote:

Well, yes. I was always taught to plan every flight as an IFR flight, and if you can see out of the window consider that a bonus.
Fair enough, but that seems excessive to me.

That is great advice for… [lots of things]

Obviously every situation is different.

What I said is the general rule for what minimum VFR altitude I would accept. I usually fly higher and there are situations where my planning minima would be considerably higher.

There are also situations when I plan and execute a flight at 300’ AGL and accept obstacles at or even above that level as close as 1 NM away. (No, I’m not kidding.) It all comes down to flight preparation and weather conditions.

Last Edited by Airborne_Again at 26 Nov 10:32
ESKC (Uppsala/Sundbro), Sweden

I was always taught to plan every flight as an IFR flight, and if you can see out of the window consider that a bonus.

Very interesting concept for VFR.

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