Handling VFR Traffic

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What is VFR

Visual flight rules (VFR) are a set of regulations under which a pilot operates an aircraft in weather conditions generally clear enough to allow the pilot to see where the aircraft is going. Specifically, the weather must be better than basic VFR weather minima, i.e. in visual meteorological conditions (VMC), as specified in the rules of the relevant aviation authority. The pilot must be able to operate the aircraft with visual reference to the ground, and by visually avoiding obstructions and other aircraft.

If the weather is below VMC, pilots are required to use instrument flight rules, and operation of the aircraft will primarily be through referencing the instruments rather than visual reference. In a control zone, a VFR flight may obtain a clearance from air traffic control to operate as Special VFR.

Traffic Pattern

There are 5 legs to the traffic pattern:

Upwind - Aircraft climbs straight ahead from the runway
Crosswind - Aircraft turns left or right 90 degrees
Downwind - Aircraft turns left or right 90 degrees, flying parallel to the runway
Base - Aircraft turns left or right 90 degrees
Final - Aircraft turns left or right 90 degrees descending towards the runway ahead

VFR Circuit.jpg

Position 1 - Aircraft reports on "downwind" leg when abeam upwind end of the runway. Position 2 - Aircraft reports "late downwind" if it is on the downwind leg, has been unable to report "downwind" and has passed the downwind end of the runway.

Position 3 - Aircraft reports "base" leg (if required).

Position 4 - Aircraft reports "Final". Clearance to land issued here.

Position 5 - Aircraft reports "long final" (Between 8 and 4 miles) when aircraft is on a straight-in approach.

Joining the Circuit

Clearance to enter the circuit is issued when the aircraft is still some distance from the airfield to enable the pilot to conform with the traffic circuit. The aircraft should be instructed which leg of the pattern to join. Information concerning landing direction or runway in use and any other necessary instructions are given at the same time.

Aircraft who find themselves on the opposite side of the airfield to the circuit direction should be instructed to join a "standard overhead join". This involves the aircraft routing direct to the overhead at 2000ft. Once they have reported in the overhead, they should route to the dead side of the circuit and descend to the circuit altitude. The aircraft then crosses the upwind end of the runway and positions themselves on the downwind leg on the live side of the circuit.

VFR Clearances

Circuit Clearance

Aircraft wanting to remain in the circuit, will call up requesting taxi to the active runway for departure. The aircraft should be given taxi instructions.

Either during taxi, or as the aircraft reaches the holding point, it needs to be given a clearance for the flight. Clearances for circuit traffic can be given without any interaction with approach control.

"GGD, I have your clearance."

"Pass your message, GGD."

"GBGGD, left hand circuits, not above altitude 1500ft, VFR, QNH1014mb"

"Left hand circuits, not above altitude 1500ft, VFR, QNH1014mb, GBGGD."

"GGD, Correct."

Clearance to leave a Control Zone

Aircraft wanting to leave the zone will call up requesting taxi to the active runway for departure. The aircraft should be given taxi instructions.

Either during taxi, or as the aircraft reaches the holding point, it needs to be given a clearance for the flight. Clearances for aircraft wishing to leave the zone must be coordinated with approach control:

"GGD, I have your clearance."

"Pass your message, GGD."

"GBGGD, Cleared to the southern zone boundary (or VRP), not above altitude 2500ft, VFR, QNH1017mb, squawk 7052."

"Cleared to the southern zone boundary (or VRP) not above altitude 2500ft, VFR, QNH1017mb, squawk 7052, GBGGD."

"GGD, Correct."

Take-Off

When issuing VFR aircraft with a take off clearance, a direction of turn after departure should be specified:

"GBGGD wind is calm, left turn out, runway 33, cleared for take off."

Landing

This is the same as any other landing clearance:

"GBGGD, surface wind 310/12kts runway 33 cleared to Land"

Coordination

Departing Traffic

When issuing a departure clearance to VFR aircraft (except those wishing to remain within the circuit), the clearance must be issued by approach control and then relayed to the pilot via aerodrome control:

"Request clearance, GBGGD a C172 to Bournemouth, leaving the zone to the North-East."

"GBGGD is cleared to the North-Eastern zone boundary, not above altitude 2500ft, VFR, QNH1018mb, squawk 7055, release subject radar."

"GBGGD is cleared to the North-Eastern zone boundary, not above altitude 2500ft, VFR, QNH1018mb, squawk 7055, release subject radar."

"Correct"

Release subject radar means that aerodrome control must request a departure release on the aircraft before it can take off as VFR do not operate on a free flow system.

As the aircraft approaches the holding point, a release should be requested from approach control:

"Request release, GBGGD"

"GBGGD is released"

"GBGGD, Released, Roger"

Once the aircraft is airborne, they should be handed to the approach controllers frequency.

Circuit Traffic

Specific circuit traffic does not need to be coordinated with approach control. The only requirement is that approach control should be informed whenever the circuit is active.

Arriving Traffic

Approach control should coordinate any arriving VFR traffic with Aerodrome control. Approach control should pass an inbound estimate to aerodrome control:

"Inbound estimate, GBGGD, C172 from Bournemouth, estimates the field at 1256Z."

"GBGGD at time 56, Roger"

Once the aircraft informs the approach controller that they have the airfield in sight, or they arrive at a specified VRP, the aircraft will be handed to aerodrome control for circuit joining instructions.

Traffic Information

In a Class D zone:

IFR need Traffic Informtion against VFR VFR need Traffic Information against VFR SVFR need Traffic Information against VFR

IFR must be separated from IFR and SVFR SVFR must be separated from SVFR

Departing Traffic

All departing traffic must be informed of: - Traffic in the circuit - Inbound VFR/SVFR Traffic - Any other necessary traffic

"BAW123, Traffic Information, a C172 in left hand circuit runway 33, not above height 1000ft."

"BAW123, Traffic Information, a Seneca, estimating the field at time 47, not above altitude 2000ft."

Arriving Traffic

All arriving traffic must be informed of: - Traffic in the circuit - Departing VFR/SVFR Traffic - Any other necessary traffic

"BAW123, Traffic Information, a C172 orbiting at the end of the left downwind leg for runway 33, not above height 1000ft, continue approach."

"BAW123, Traffic Information, a C172 departing runway 33 to the south, not above 2500ft."

Special VFR

A special VFR flight is a flight in a CTR in circumstances that would otherwise require compliance with IFR. That could be: - Within a Class A CTR (VFR not permitted in Class A) - In IMC - At Night

Pilots Responsibility

The pilot must: - Comply with ATC instructions - Remain clear of cloud and in sight of the surface - Remain clear of obstructions - Fly within the limitations of his licence

ATC Responsibility

ATC must: - Seperate SVFR from IFR and other SVFR - Inform SVFR aircraft of any weather implications

Class D CTR

If the METAR for the aerodrome indicates a cloud ceiling (BKN/OVC) of less than 1500ft and/or visibility less than 5000m, VFR aircraft (other than helicopters) inside the CTR must: - Be informed of the weather change - Be asked what their intentions are

The pilot may elect to continue VFR or change to SVFR/IFR.

If the METAR for the aerodrome indicates a cloud ceiling (BKN/OVC) of less than 1500ft and/or visibility less than 5000m, VFR aircraft (other than helicopters) inbound but still outside the CTR must: - Be informed of the weather change - Be asked what their intentions are

The pilot may elect to change to SVFR or IFR. A VFR clearance must not be issued. If the pilot is not willing to change to SVFR or IFR they must divert.

If the METAR for the aerodrome indicates a cloud ceiling (BKN/OVC) of less than 1500ft and/or visibility less than 5000m, VFR aircraft (other than helicopters) wishing to take off or land must: - Be informed of the weather - Be asked what their intentions are, as no clearance can be issued.

The pilot may elect to change to SVFR or IFR. A VFR clearance must not be issued. If the pilot is not willing to change to SVFR or IFR, the flight is cancelled.

SVFR clearances must not be issued to aircraft (other than helicopters) to depart an aerodrome if the visibility reduces to 1800m or less and/or the cloud ceiling is less than 600ft.