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9 Hazards Unique To Flying IFR

Getting your instrument rating will make you a safer, more confident pilot. But there are a few hazards unique to flying under IFR that you should be aware of...

1) Greater Risk Of Pilot Deviations

With so many specific regulations and tight standards, you don't want to get off altitude, heading, and course under IFR. Something as simple as copying a clearance incorrectly could lead to a pilot deviation and phone call to the FAA.

Boldmethod

2) Traffic You Can't See

It goes without saying, but when you're in the clouds you obviously can't see the traffic around you. ATC will provide traffic separation for you, but that doesn't help much if there's a VFR pilot breaking cloud clearance requirements nearby.

Corey Komarec

3) Icing Conditions

Flying in the clouds means you'll need to pay extra attention to icing conditions. Make sure you know the certification standards of your airplane and if you can legally fly into known icing.

4) Vestibular Illusions

No visual contact with the horizon means you're much more at risk of experiencing a vestibular illusion and becoming disoriented. Scan your instruments and follow their indications no matter what your body feels!

matthewpiatt

5) Clearance Confusion

Did you copy that IFR clearance correctly? If you have questions or concerns, you should ask ATC right away. Don't start your flight unsure of what's expected of you.

Swayne Martin

6) You Don't Recognize The Waypoints And Procedures

Once you get out of your local area, there are fixes and procedure names that you'll be unfamiliar with. If you can't find them quickly on a chart or map, ask for a spelling.

7) "Climb Via / Descend Via"

"Climb via" and "descend via" clearances can get confusing if you haven't practiced them recently. Learn how to fly a STAR here.

8) Making The No-Go Decision

Fuel emergencies are no joke in IMC. If you have to go missed on an approach, have a clear idea of when you need to divert due to fuel requirements.

GolfCharlie232

9) Do You Know How To Read Different Charts?

Different manufacturers provide charts that depict the same procedures differently. If you're unfamiliar with one brand, don't go flying using those charts or graphics until you're well versed in what to look for.


What are other hazards you'll find flying under IFR? Tell us in the comments below.

Swayne Martin

Swayne is an editor at Boldmethod, certified flight instructor, and an Embraer 145 First Officer for a regional airline. He graduated as an aviation major from the University of North Dakota in 2018, holds a PIC Type Rating for Cessna Citation Jets (CE-525), and is a former pilot for Mokulele Airlines. He's the author of articles, quizzes and lists on Boldmethod every week. You can reach Swayne at swayne@boldmethod.com, and follow his flying adventures on his YouTube Channel.

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