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About real life...

Postby Matuchkin » Thu Feb 23, 2017 6:49 pm

I was wondering, if you own a plane, would it be possible to just take off and fly around by yourself (within safety and etiquette limits)? Or do you always have to follow a departure route/ course specifically set for you by ATC, only being able to enter and use your plane if prompted or if the need arises, and being penalized for not doing so? If you, say, have your own private airstrip, do the same limits apply? I mean, you're flying a plane, an accident-prone piece of technology with transport as its only true purpose. Also, wouldn't you be heavily disrespecting the pattern and order set by ATC centers in your vicinity if you fly with no purpose other than pleasure?
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Re: About real life...

Postby CaptB » Thu Feb 23, 2017 9:10 pm

It depends on many factors such what kind of flight it is (VFR or IFR), airspace classification(controlled/uncontrolled) and finally on the aerodrome and any procedures it may have published.
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Re: About real life...

Postby ludomotico » Thu Feb 23, 2017 10:00 pm

Remember you can fly under two different set of rules: VFR or IFR (https://www.pea.com/blog/posts/vfr-ifr-mean/). Most private pilots flying for pleasure use VFR rules. The description that follows assumes that you are flying under VFR rules.

The main difference between privately piloting an aircraft or driving a car is the concept of airspaces (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Airspace_class) As a very brief and inaccurate summary:

- You don't need to contact any ATC in an E, F or G airspace (in fact, it won't be any ATC available in a G airspace) You can do whatever you want, whenever you want. You must follow the air rules, of course, but these rules are even simpler than driving rules. You are STRONGLY advised to notify the flying authorities about your route just in case of an emergency, but it is not really mandatory. E, F and G airspaces are around small-size airfields without a tower, or nearly everywhere in the countryside.
- You must notify the ATC about your intentions in a B, C or D airspace class at least 30 minutes before departure or arrival. You can cross B, C or D airspaces without prior notification, but you need to ask for clearance to the ATC. B, C and D airspaces are usually around medium-size airports or around the next class of airspace, the A airspace.
- If you are flying under VFR rules you CANNOT enter an A airspace. This airspace class is usually around busy airports, big cities or nearly everywhere above 10,000ft.
- Finally, there are some special areas without a specific class where no one is allowed to enter, such as military areas, natural parks, nuclear power plants...

As a pilot, you MUST ALWAYS KNOW IN WHICH AIRSPACE CLASS YOU ARE. The authorities and private companies (Jeppesen, for example) publish maps of the airspaces classes, advanced GPS system also show the airspace class you are at the moment, and you can also check webs like http://www.skyvector.com

Regarding where you can land or takeoff, it is extremely regulated. Even if you own a field, it must be registered as an airfield, the authorities will check if it is inside the correct airspace class and the surrounding area is suitable for flying operations.

If you fly using IFR rules, as most commercial pilots do, you must inform and follow preset routes and you usually stay inside A, B or C airspaces, always under the control of an ATC. Most pilots flying for pleasure do not fly under IFR rules, except if they are planning a really long route or crossing borders.
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Re: About real life...

Postby D-ECHO » Fri Feb 24, 2017 4:52 am

Very nicely summarized, ludomotico :D
One thing to add to your last sentence:
Most pilots flying for pleasure do not fly under IFR rules, except if they are planning a really long route or crossing borders.

The thing is that for IFR-flying, you will need to have an IFR-rating as well as an IFR-certified aircraft. Usual one-engine-piston-sportplanes are not IFR-certified. Also, it is not necessary to fly IFR when flying very long routes or when flying over borders (-> but you'll most of the time need to file a flightplan), though, if you have an IFR rating, IFR gives you more freedom (in terms of weather) on those routes.
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Re: About real life...

Postby ludomotico » Fri Feb 24, 2017 10:08 am

Thanks D-ECHO for your addenda. I completely agree with your comment, of course. In order to fly under IFR rules, the pilot needs an additional (and expensive) rating and an aircraft certified for IFR operations.

Funny fact: usual one-engine sportplanes are NOT certified for IFR operations, but many of them DO have the required equipment (two NAV, ADF, DME...). IFR certification is an expensive process, and since most leisure-time pilots will never fly under IFR rules, they do not IFR-certify their aircraft :)
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