IFR and VFR Rules: What is the Problem in Being “Called on the Carpet” by the FAA if You Deviate

I recent wrote an article on how to prevent exposure to the “government” especially when we fly. One of the major problems is when we are thrown into governmental control and we are operating under a tighter set of rules.  An example of this is when you are flying under Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) rather than Visual Flight Rules (VFR.)

It must be remembered that what we want from ATC is “safety.”  We want to be notified of any other traffic, and ATC has a duty to separate IFR traffic from us when we are under flight following.  The safety is there. They keep us separated in weather.

When you are under instrument control you are “watched like a hawk” for anything right or wrong.  Your procedures must be exact as dictated under the rules.  In other words, under instrument rules it is easier to get in trouble if you “deviate.” The FAA hates someone who “deviates.”  

So, you are in a VFR environment, and you are under a IFR flight plan.  Can you get to the airport visually but under IFR control?  Maybe yes but you want to stay with ATC through the visual approach.  Are you being watched closely, and can you be judge for minor “deviations?”  Absolutely.

So, let’s say you are ten miles from the airport, under an IFR flight plan but you are in VFR weather condition and see the airport, is it wise to continue IFR?  Maybe you are. Your choice but if you cancel IFR and stay with the controlling authority for traffic (if they have traffic notification ability) then you fall under a lesser set of rules that could keep you from getting the “call us after you land” notification.  Your ability to “deviate” under VFR conditions is basically your call where on the other scenario of being IFR it is controlled by ATC and the “charts.”  The problem is you have raised the awareness on your part to comply exactly as told or listed on the charts.  The slightest thing you do wrong or YOUR ALLEGED OF DOING WRONG, shifts the role of the government to go after you for the “deviation.” 

I am not telling you to cancel IFR when you are in tight weather conditions, but do you really know what three miles visibility looks like?  Most pilots don’t.  I used to take new pilots up on three miles visibility and a thousand feet ceiling and they would be shocked how bad it looks.  But it is legal.  So, if you are in three miles visibility and “clear of clouds” with the airport “environment” in sight you have the call.  Yes, the only problem is if you have to “miss.”  

This article is about getting the Feds off your back in weather that you can manage.  Every minute you stay with them on an approach or under IFR conditions is one step closer to getting the “copy this number and call me.”  If you want to know further how we teach handling the FAA on “notices” take the course from us at AST.  We cover items like this.  As one pilot told us after one of our classes, “you need to write all of this governmental mess in a book!”  Better yet, sign up for one of our courses.  The odds of getting the “you need to copy a number and call us” while taxiing the aircraft is extremely high at controlled airport while under controlled environments.

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