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Current legal situation to depart / approach IFR across Europe

I have never done a DIY IFR approach and have no intention of doing so.
@Ibra may I remind you that circle to land is IFR in VMC and protection is taken into account in its design. Same as a visual approach.
I do wonder about a take off from a VFR field.
I get the 1.5km vis take off, and although 50ft height into IMC would be rare, should you not be out of the traffic circuit either laterally or vertically before entering cloud, as it is the airfield which AIUI sets minima etc?


should you not be out of the traffic circuit either laterally or vertically before entering cloud, as it is the airfield which AIUI sets minima etc?

There are ceiling minima in Golf airfields for takeoff? do you have an example? (IFR, VFR, AIP, CAP, Private…), I know few (5 airports max) but there are not that many? the rest operate Golf VMC but have mandatory circuit joins & heights for arrivals

No you fly takeoff just as you do when departing VFR, straight-in on runway axis untill 1kft-2kft agl, why you wanna go freestyle laterally? I don’t expect anyone to be landing on long final with tailwind while I am taking off on long departure into wind but I am happy to find out I am wrong one day when weather is bad the main risk you are mitigating is terrain, there is rarely anyone flying and you have to accept uncontrolled mid-air collision risk in clouds (to mitigate hitting terrain), anyway aircraft are tiny objects to hit and hard to spot under low cloudbase, the only mitigant while IFR is increasing 3D volume beanneth (also applies for VFR)

You may delay takeoff if you see a traffic on TAS or hear on RT other than that, the risk is acceptable: more dramatic in consequences but in occurances are about bird strikes at Night or IMC, they fly but not in meaningful numbers…

Last Edited by Ibra at 23 Nov 19:15
Paris/Essex, United Kingdom

I think you have misunderstood. I wasn’t saying there were ceilings but AIUI the traffic circuit belongs to the airfield and they set circuit minimum altitudes even in VFR .
When you take off on 27 and want to take a heading of 090° you may want to climb in the circuit, which would be safer than flying out of the circuit in a straight line as the circuit at circuit altitude has been regularly tested for obstacles. Anything out of the circuit has not.
You ask about leaving a circuit laterally. It is the phrase I used because any IAP is with at least lateral guidance. So when you leave a circuit straight out rather than straight up you are leaving the circuit laterally. Leaving a VFR field you have no vertical guidance and no protected area past the traffic circuit boundary.
There are many airfields with quite high obstacles eg cranes or wind turbines just the beyond the airfield circuit. I think most of us agree that the transition of eyes outside to eyes inside is stressful if you hit a white out immediately after lift off. Its easy to maybe overlook that you haven’t retracted the gear or the flaps, so maybe you are not picking up speed or height as rapidly as you would normally do.Or maybe you’ve let the nose dip a little to pick up speed. It may only be for a matter of seconds or so it seems. Also VFR fields tend to be shorter than a normal IR field so actual lift off has been much nearer the DER than a normal field. For some reason as soon as you flew into that cloud the engine seemed to sound different. Where are you going to put down if the engine fails. The stress begins to mount. You’ve done this take off hundreds of times in VMC but you’ve never entered IMC immediately after lift off before. Why does everything seem different? Just follow the magenata line you’ll be ok.How far exactly are those wind turbines? How high are they actually? Is that AGL, AAL or Altitude? Did I check my altimeter was on QFE or QNH? I should have planned this better. Why did I not wait for the fog to clear a bit? Am I still climbing? Where are those wind turbines, mountains? The GPS says I’m heading straight for them, shall I turn left or right? Shall I pull up? Oh God I’ve still got the flaps and gear down…..
A lot to think about, a lot of stress. It may be legal but is it worth it?

Last Edited by gallois at 23 Nov 20:02

Of course I am not talking about takeoff from Lugano, most airfields I fly from have clear paths to MSA on straight-in but yes only applies at flat land

I don’t think it’s worth thinking much about SEP engine failures and IMC, remind me where does one breif for fields on IFR departures from Brest or LaRochelle? or better on ILS? you tighten staps, keep wing level and fly sensible speeds, what else you would do?

It’s easy to get swamped in “statisticakky meaningless risks” when thinking about IMC flying, like MAC, EFATO…if an IR pilot just avoids VFR scud running, CFIT, LOC, he will do just fine !

How do you deal with obstacles on twin departures with one engine, don’t you have to calculate flight paths to fly? or just depart and avoid visually?

Last Edited by Ibra at 23 Nov 20:29
Paris/Essex, United Kingdom

Brest and La Rochelle ha ve reasonably long runways and if one uses the threshold one could normally put back on the runway with EFATO immediately after take off, fail a bit later SEP on rwy 27 and you’re in rhe water. On the other hand with a light twin like the DA42 you would be positive climb at about runway centre point and could bring rhe the gear up you ciuld then do a OEI low level circuit to land back on 27.
If you don’t use all the runway for T/O in the twin you wouldn’t get as far as rhe water you would have a close encounter with some rarger large boulders which probably wouldn’t move enough for you to end in the water.
Brest similar but no water, but some obstacles which you would have trouble avoiding.
Both have ILS and therefore make a pretty good t/o alternate.
Obstacles are avoided in the twin with the protections given by the procedure designers. Still a bit of a shock hitting a total white out seconds after rotation when you haven’t lowered your eyes yet to the instruments. The brain turns to clag along with the visibility, espeicially the first time you encounter it. But its rare and cannot eadily be practiced for outside a simulator and its just not the same feeling.


Make sense ILS runways are long but once you are in some height band there is no circuit nor land in remaining runway, besides you have to land on the turf or trees once with engine failure in SE in cruise anyway (unless you fly a PC12 at FL240 with their enhanced engine failure planning & glide clear software)

Also, just wondering how do you usually fly on Y-FPL to VFR airfields with/without weather data? there has to be some “method”, weather just don’t become VMC at Y-transition on the filed cruising level, you divert?

Last Edited by Ibra at 23 Nov 22:22
Paris/Essex, United Kingdom

On a Y FPL it will depend on the weather and on the airfield. Normally you can get a pretty good idea of what it is going to be like from nearby TAFs METARS, SIGMET etc. I use Aeroweb so I can have a look at satellite images and I like to look at a frontal chart. Aeroweb has it all for France anyway, which would normally be the destination of a Y plan for me.
There can of course still always be something over the field when I arrive and the charts will give me.a.good idea how long it will last so I might just bimble in the area for 5 mins or so or if I think its going to take longer I divert and sit it out over a coffee.
If the whole area is overcast with a ceiling of say 1000 ft I will do an IAP at a suitable nearby field and either cancel IFR going missed or tell ATS if there is one that I’m diverting and will cancel IFR when in sight. Sometimes you leave App for the cloud break and then pick them up again on the way to the VFR field, still IFR if necessary until field in sight. This of course is when the VFR field is on the edge of an approach zone and you do not have legal VMC in class D.
Each flight to a VFR field will differ depending.on so many things. But with GNSS going it at so many small unmanned airfields these days I find I’m normally on an I FPL and going IFR all the way. Also SIV and nearby ATCs and their radar are so good that for many VFR fields you can usually dip through clouds over the airfield and cancel IFR once you have the field in sight.
Generally I find ATS friendly and helpful. There is of course the odd one or 2 who think they know the rules better than anyone and have no idea that their job is to facilitate safety, and good traffic flow management.


I do the same on Y-FPL, cloud break on ILS with ATC and always talking to FIS in Golf, they are always helpful and flexible, especially in France !

you can usually dip through clouds over the airfield and cancel IFR once you have the field in sight

It does work with freestyle descent when I am doing “IFR du beau temps” (ceiling higher than 3kft & 10km vis) or Radar ATSU nearby (you can guess coverage from MVA charts), it’s in other situations than this where I still I need a good plan if going to my MSA and few feet’s bellow to land (had an ILS 10min earlier now it’s GPS)

Last Edited by Ibra at 24 Nov 22:46
Paris/Essex, United Kingdom

There are some situations which always need that extra bit of planning. They are the ones that are always debated and argued about in the clubhouse and you never come away with a clear cut answer about how things should be done. Instead you get a load of opinions usually based some rule which appears to be contradicted by another.
I have a tendency to the old fashioned ways, plan something and then keep asking the question " what if?" until I am happy in my own mind. I know there all sorts of apps and gizmos that can do the planning much quicker but If I use these I still ask the question “what if?”
I liked Cobalt’s rule number 1 “Don’t crash”.


gallois wrote:

There are some situations which always need that extra bit of planning. They are the ones that are always debated and argued about in the clubhouse and you never come away with a clear cut answer about how things should be done

I think you need to get the “50 shades of grey split” when debating this,

  • 1) Can you legally descend/climb under IFR at radar MVA or airways MEA?
  • 2) Can you legally descend/climb under IFR to your cruise route/sector min altitudes (grid MORA or route MSA +1kf/2kft on +/-5nm)?
  • 3) Can you legally fly IFR to “VFR airfields” if you takeoff/land VFR at “VFR airfields” and join VFR circuit at MSA?
  • 4) Can you legally descend/climb under IFR to your circling min 2D altitudes (ellipsoid & straigh-in +MOC on flat surface) with min 400ft-600ft DH?
  • 5) Can you legally descend/climb under IFR to your striagh-in min 3D altitudes (straigh-in with xdeg path MOC) and min 200DH?
  • 6) Are you allowed to land/takeoff IFR in “VFR airfields” with 400m departure and 200ft DH landing?

I come across pilot who says 1) is illegal vs pilots who say 6) is legal, of course it depends on country & airports…

For VFR/IFR uncontrolled takeoff, they are both legal if visibility > 1.5km with ground in sight, if you hit IMC you climb above your MSA

For IFR/VFR uncontrolled landing, in my own opinion

  • 3) is always legal, you are always entitled to join IFR at cruise MSA/MOC & join VFR circuit
  • 4) is legal, but you have to stick to PBN specs and associated MOC obstacle clearances (RNAV5 with 1kft/2kft MOC, RNAV1 with 500ft MOC, RNP0.3 with 300ft MOC), if this seems puzzling, view it as “IFR to MSA” for intermediate or final approach then circling
  • 5) is illegal for landing unless you have coded DIY IAP with combined RNAV1 & RNP0.3 specs in your GPS and straigh-in is allowed
  • 6) is illegal unless it’s your backyard and you have coded DIY IAP in your GPS with all annunciations and regularly update it & test fly it

PS: I am just rounding MOC numbers fro CatA/B aircrafts, as 295, 246, 492…reads well like 300 & 500 on my altimeter

Last Edited by Ibra at 26 Nov 10:03
Paris/Essex, United Kingdom
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