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VFR question

Jonas Koch

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Hey guys.
I've been flying a lot on vatsim, only IFR. I want to get in to VFR as well, I just think it's hard to find information(unlike IFR). I am planning to start out in Denmark. I have read the published material on AIP Denmark, and I did find the map with reporting points etc. and the procedures when exiting and entering the control zone. So my question is does anyone know where to find the basic information? I mean like traffic patterns(hight, entery/exit procedures) and so on. 

Thanks in advance!

Cheers Jonas  

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Antti Komulainen

Hi Jonas, I will do my best to answer you.

There are many things different in VFR than IFR flying. It is difficult to find detailed rules and guides. Most of it is very legal text, eg. you could try if you can find SERA and OPS M1-1, which give guidelines on EASA level.

Traffic patterns are good to start with. Once you master them, you can fly around the control zone and eventually make longer VFR navigation trips.

So traffic patterns are usually flown as left-hand circuits. My understanding is that this is because pilot flying usually sits on the left-hand seat and thus has better visibility on left- than right-hand circuit. Some traffic patterns are right hand, but this is an exception usually dictated by terrain, noise abadement, parachuting activity or other traffic considerations. Usually circuit height is somewhere between 500-1000 AGL, so if airport elevation is 200 ft, 1000 or 1200 ft is quite common. The traffic circuit is built up of four parts, crosswind-, downwind-, base- and final legs. Usually when you join a traffic circuit, you are expected to join downwind. Sometimes I have joined directly to base or long final when there is no other traffic, but downwind is the official way... On downwind you maintain circuit height, do pre-landing checks, you have a chance to inspect the runway and situation at the airport (especially if it is a remote and uncontrolled one). On base leg you reduce engine power, commence descend and start configuring the aircraft, eg. flaps and gear. On final leg you deploy the last flap, do final checklist and focus on the landing itself. Communication wise, it is mandatory to report final leg, then ATC gives you the clearance to land. Downwind is also mandatory, very important for ATC and other traffic to know you are located there. Then there are three things you can do when landing. You can make a full stop landing, which is traditional one for parking. You can make stop and go, which is land, roll on rwy, set flaps to takeoff and accelerate again to the circuit. Stop and go is quite similar, except you stop the wheels on the runway and then again take off. It is common some aircraft fly even six circuits in one go, and it is very important to relay in advance what you are doing to ATC and other traffic.

Leaving and entering the airspace is done as per reporting points as you mentioned. Usually you report when inbound/outbound of that point. When inbound give your estimate for the downwind and the ATC has to clear you to join downwind. Once you leave the airspace, you are free to change the frequency. It is very important to pay attention to the altitude restrictions of the CTR. It can be as low as 900 ft, level bust is a very bad thing as there might be IFR traffic above.

VFR navigation is a long topic itself, but few guidelines. So you use a VFR navigation chart, usually 1:200 000 or 1:500 000. Before the flight you draw your route with lines, write down the tracks, apply magnetic deviation and wind correction. Convert your IAS to TAS to GS, then you have times for each leg and ETA for your navigational waypoints. When flying you constantly search for features which are similar to the chart and confirm your position. Of course sometimes the wind forecast is not correct, you get lost or low clouds are approaching. Then you have to make some tough decisions, eg. declare to ATC you are lost or divert to another airport. Of course these days weather forecast, GPS and navaids can save you. When VFR flying you have to maintain VMC, which is clear of clouds, in sight of ground surface and visibility of 5km. There are variations to this in airspace and thing called special VFR, but this is the general guideline when you can go fly or not.

Finally in the attachment is AIP Finland EFKI LDG chart. That gives you bit of an idea what the circuit looks like. So VAC is the "arrival" chart to the circuit and LDG is the circuit chart itself. VFR navigational charts are usually hard to come by. IRL they cost +50 euros and are only valid for one year because of the constant obstacle, magnetical and airspace changes. However I have heard that Estonia is the only country which publishes their VFR navigational chart online free of charge. Probably can be found in the AIP. So you can train VFR navigation there if you want to.


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Hello Antti.

Thank you a lot! For such a great and detailed answer. That certainly answered many of my questions. I can't wait to try it out. It's going to be a nice break from the big birds. 


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