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Author Topic: cancel IFR  (Read 21926 times)
The Hoffspatcher
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« Reply #15 on: August 29, 2006, 08:49:49 PM »

From what I know, the MAIN reason IFR is cancelled in the air is the pilot enters uncontrolled airspace (usually when the airport tower is not currently operating because IFR requires radar services)


"Leave controlled airspace on (approach) no traffic outside controlled airspace, change local traffic 120.6 call me on the ground or missed approach 125.1 good night"

Ben Hoffman; BAv, ADX
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« Reply #16 on: August 29, 2006, 10:50:53 PM »

w0x0f, obviously based on the last explanation, I'm not reading too much into this... in the air control world there is very specific phraseology for everything, and if cleared visual approach and cancel IFR, were one and the same (or one implied the other) then there wouldn't be two different phraseologies for them and people wouldn't be doing it one way at a controlled airport, and another way at another... Montreal and Quebec City are both controlled airports, both with their own terminal controls, and both within the same Montreal control centre, so they use the same procedures and phraseology (albeit in french or english... pilot's choice...)

I never said that "cleared visual approach" and "cancel IFR" were one in the same.  Your first post in this thread put them together.  Your original question confused several different things 1. Whether a pilot is on an ILS,GPS,NDB, VOR or visual approach to a tower controlled airport,  his IFR flight plan cancels automatically when he lands.  He does not have to close the flight plan.  Jason gave a very good explanation of how this works. 

Then KSYR-pjr added this post which confuses matters more.


In the US, a pilot accepting a visual approach also relieves the controller of protecting the airspace, as the pilot becomes responsible for terrain and traffic separation.  This is same as if the aircraft were VFR.  I also suspect (based on what I have seen with my IFR flightplans on FlightAware.com) that the approach controller will cancel the IFR flight plan upon acceptance of a visual approach, however I cannot confirm this.  Perhaps a controller here will....

Edit:  One other point:  At least in the US, I don't believe there practically is the option to request a "visual approach" for an IFR aircraft landing at an uncontrolled airport.    Perhaps there is technically, but in reality, the pilot would simply cancel IFR with the approach controller if he desired a visual approach into an uncontrolled airport, then proceed visually just as a VFR aircraft would.

1. Approach controllers do not cancel IFR flight plans.  Pilots may request to cancel as zla_ms states in his post in the air at controlled airports without radar   
This does create an operational advantage since the tower cannot provide radar separation between the IFR arrival and IFR departure.  Another option here would be for the approach controller to say "visual separation approved" between the IFR arrival and IFR departure which would not require the IFR arrival to cancel.

2.  A visual approach most certainly is an option at an uncontrolled airport.  The pilot does not have to cancel IFR to receive a visual approach clearance into an uncontrolled airport as stated in the above quote.  The pilot could actually wait until he landed and called FSS or used a remote frequency to cancel IFR.

I agree with you about the cancelling bit, but if they cancel automatically on the ground, then there must be a reason why they're cancelling early in the air.... and if they cancel early in the air, then if they execute a missed approach, they've already cancelled, so your post doesn't really make any sense...

Now that we know the radar at the tower was not working, this helps to explain a lot. zla_ms gave an excellent explanation of why an aircraft would cancel into a nonradar tower .

My earlier post about missed approaches did not say anything about a prior cancellation of IFR.  I was attempting to answer your question about what happens on a missed approach.  If he did not cancel, then his IFR flight plan is still active and depending upon traffic would either be worked by the tower into the sequence or handed off to approach control.  If the pilot had cancelled IFR and then did a go around (there is a difference between a missed approach and a go around) then if he could maintain VFR conditions, then he would not need his IFR flight plan.  If he was unable to maintain VFR conditions, then he would need to be given an IFR clearance back to the airport.

So if you go back to the original post, you will see how your original question was confusing several things together.  It then morphed into a few other items as we attempted to separate the different items from your question and give you some answers.  I hope you have a better understanding of how this all works.  Knowing that the tower was nonradar helped to explain why things were happening as you said they were.

« Reply #17 on: August 29, 2006, 11:38:09 PM »

also in canada in the eyes of an IFR controller the tower doesnt take control of the aircract when he touches down.  Legally the rule states that control of the IFR a/c is transferred upon landing but the IFR unit has no way of confirming this.  In Canada the tower controller actually needs to call the IFR a/c down (ex Terminal, tower, Mesaba 3223 is down)  Its a pretty stupid rule as the tower controller is right there watching but there are quite a few controlled airports without radar down to the ground.  Since the a/c will drop off radar somewhere on final in most cases, the a/c could very well be going around.  IF the tower guy is busy at the time he might not be able to get to the hotline fast enough to let the IFR unit know.  

There are occasions when the tower and center will have agreements in place where under certain weather conditions at a certain distance from the field (always within the control zone) the control transfer will be done automatically.  The tower doesnt actually control IFR airplanes though.  Although seamless to the pilot, when control transfer is accomplished to the tower before the airplane has landed, the airplane is basically a VFR airplane on an IFR flightplan.  Once the airplane gets passed the agreed upon point the tower can do whatever they want.  including breaking the a/c off for a different runway, speed control, and altitude assignment but does not have to provide ifr separation.  If the a/c were to go around, instead of flying a published missed approach the tower controller would just fit the a/c into the traffic pattern (circuit)  "Tower Mesaba 3223 is in the overshoot."  "Mesaba 3223 roger start a right turn to join the right downwind." The only time an IFR flight plan is cancelled in Canada is if the airplane is called down.. or the a/c cancells it in the air.  It is not the same as cancelling IFR.  Cancelling IFR only allows the IFR unit to stop providing IFR separation.  When an a/c cancels IFR with a unit in Canada we are required to ask if the a/c is also terminating his alerting services.  If not the IFR unit is responsible for holding onto the strip and making sure that the a/c lands safely.  

Cancelling IFR at a unit with agreed upon control transfer points doesnt really help the tower controller that much.  In the case of the learjet sitting on the ground while the cessna completes the DME Arc the Lear would have no problem getting a release.  THis is because there are auto transfers at the airport and the IFR unit assumes that the airplane is the towers control (read, for all purposes.. vfr) at that point and is allowed to base his separation on it..   It gets tricky when the approach begins say well south of the airport.  and the SID off the airport requires a southbound turn due noise abatement.  You would need the cessna to cancel or be at a point on the approach where letting the lear do his turn would not cause a loss of sep.

The one biggie scenario where cancelling IFR helps is in the eyes of the pilot!  

I am both a controller and a commercial multi ifr pilot.  If there is one thing I know about people in this industry its that we are lazy!!! hahah.  Alot of published approaches take you miles and miles away from the airport especially airports in mountainous areas.  This means that you need to fly the whole approach wasting alot of time if you have no other options.  Great answer is cancel the IFR and make a beeline for the threshold saving a ton of time!

You may ask why not just ask for a visual approach...

Well this normally happens during periods of minimal traffic.  Consider an a/c 30 miles southeast of his home airport with rwy 04 active.  He knows the area like the back of his hand.  Visual approach rules dictate that the pilot either needs to see the aiport, or the traffic he is following in order to get the visual approach.  30 miles SE for rwy 04...  Not a good chance of seeing either the rwy or the traffic to follow.  Cancel IFR and balls to the wall.  Quick way to be the first one to the tavern.. Wink  Especially if you are trying to beat company in (last one there pays the tab)

hope that helps to clarify...

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« Reply #18 on: September 06, 2006, 09:22:22 PM »

Actually, that really helps quite a bit...
w0x0f, I know I may have confused some matters, and you're right, I did neglect to mention that the tower's radar was down... but the last point really clarified everything for me... I guess things are just slightly different enough between the way you guys control in the US and the way they control here, to have gotten me right confused! hehe... anyway... thanks for taking the time to try and explain this to me... but for a while there I just thought everyone was fixating on the wrong things... I know visual approach and cancel IFR does not go hand in hand... (and I know a go around and a missed approach are not the same either... I may be Navy controller, instead of a civvy controller, but that doesn't make me dumb! hehe...)

Anyway, thanks for the effort...
dontsayuhuoh, are you an IFR or VFR controller here?
« Reply #19 on: September 12, 2006, 02:41:06 PM »

Im a VFR controller  (tower)
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« Reply #20 on: September 18, 2006, 08:37:01 AM »

Is that you JM?
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