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7 Easy-To-Miss Items On An IFR Flight

Flying IFR soon? Make sure you're checking these...


Have you checked the FDC NOTAMs? There could be changes to your approach or enroute chart. FAA charts are updated every 56 days (Jepp charts are every 2 weeks). If there's a change to a procedure before your next update, it'll be published in an FDC NOTAM (learn to read those NOTAMS here).

2) Minimum Crossing Altitudes

It's your responsibility to know where they are along your route, and to be high enough to meet the crossing altitude restrictions.

3) Non-standard Alternate Minimums

If you're planning an alternate, you also need to know if the airport has non-standard alternate minimums. If it does, you need weather good enough to meet the non-standard minimums, in order to file it as your alternate.

4) Compulsory Reporting Points

If you lose radar contact with ATC, you need to notify them when you cross compulsory reporting points. They're depicted as a solid, black NAVAID or fix along a route or instrument approach. When you make the report, you should include (according to the AIM):

  • Identification
  • Position
  • Time
  • Altitude or flight level (include actual altitude or flight level when operating on a clearance specifying VFR-on-top.)
  • Type of flight plan (not required in IFR position reports made directly to ARTCC's or approach control)
  • ETA and name of next reporting point
  • The name only of the next succeeding reporting point along the route of flight, and
  • Pertinent remarks

5) Pilot Controlled Lighting

When you're flying into a non-towered field, you're responsible for turning on the approach and runway lights. If you forget to turn them on, you'll have a harder time seeing the runway, and you might have to go missed.

6) Non-Published Changeover Points

Not all airways have published changeover points. If you're using ground-based NAVAIDs, it's your responsibility to determine the appropriate changeover point by dividing the total distance between the two VORs in half.

7) Random Holds

When ATC assigns you a random hold, you need to enter it correctly, and hold in the correct direction. One simple mix-up could mean holding on the non-protected side.

Live from the Flight Deck
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