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Special VFR

Special VFR conditions - meteorological conditions that are less than those required for basic VFR flight in Class B, C, D, or E surface areas and in which some aircraft are permitted flight under visual flight rules.

Special VFR operations - aircraft operating in accordance with clearances within Class B, C, D, and E surface areas in weather conditions less than the basic VFR weather minima. Such operations must be requested by the pilot and approved by ATC.

Special VFR occurs when basic VFR cannot be maintained, and the pilot requests an SVFR departure or arrival.



1. Authorization


a. SVFR operations in weather conditions less than basic VFR minima are authorized:

1. At any location not prohibited by 14 CFR Part 91, Appendix D. The only ZLA airport that 14 CFR prohibits from SVFR fixed-wing operations is LAX. 14 CFR Part 91 does not prohibit SVFR helicopter operations, however, so those can be authorized anywhere, including LAX.

2. Only within the lateral boundaries of Class B, Class C, Class D, or Class E surface areas, below 10,000 feet MSL.

3. Only when requested by the pilot. A controller must never initiate a SVFR operation himself.

4. On the basis of weather conditions reported at the airport of intended landing/departure.

5. When weather conditions are not reported at the airport of intended landing/departure and the pilot advises that VFR cannot be maintained and requests SVFR.

NOTE-
The basic requirements for issuance of a SVFR clearance apply with the obvious exception that weather conditions at the controlling airport are not required to be less than basic VFR minima.

PHRASEOLOGY-
CLEARED TO ENTER/OUT OF/THROUGH, (name) SURFACE AREA
and if required,
(direction) OF (name) AIRPORT (specified routing),
and
MAINTAIN SPECIAL V-F-R CONDITIONS,
and if required,
AT OR BELOW (tower’s airspace ceiling)

b. SVFR operations may be authorized for aircraft operating in or transiting a Class B, Class C, Class D, or Class E surface area when the primary airport is reporting VFR but the pilot advises that basic VFR cannot be maintained.



2. Priority


a. SVFR flights may be approved only if arriving and departing IFR aircraft are not delayed.

EXAMPLE-
1. A SVFR aircraft has been cleared to enter a Class B, Class C, Class D, or Class E surface area and subsequently an IFR aircraft is ready to depart or is in position to begin an approach. Less overall delay might accrue to the IFR aircraft if the SVFR aircraft is allowed to proceed to the airport and land, rather than leave, a Class B, Class C, Class D, or Class E surface area or be repositioned to provide IFR priority.
2. A SVFR aircraft is number one for takeoff and located in such a position that the number two aircraft, an IFR flight, cannot taxi past to gain access to the runway. Less overall delay might accrue to the IFR aircraft by releasing the SVFR departure rather than by having the aircraft taxi down the runway to a turnoff point so the IFR aircraft could be released first.

NOTE-
The priority afforded IFR aircraft over SVFR aircraft is not intended to be so rigidly applied that inefficient use of airspace results. The controller has the prerogative of permitting completion of a SVFR operation already in progress when an IFR aircraft becomes a factor if better overall efficiency will result.

b. Inform an aircraft of the anticipated delay when a SVFR clearance cannot be granted because of IFR traffic. Do not issue an EFC or expected departure time.

PHRASEOLOGY-
EXPECT (number) MINUTES DELAY, (additional instructions as necessary).



3. Separation


Approved separation should be applied between:

1. SVFR aircraft.
2. SVFR aircraft and IFR aircraft.

Separation between successive departing aircraft may be achieved by use of diverging headings as prescribed in the Topic 5, Resource 3 “Initial Separation of Successive Departing Aircraft.”

NOTE-
Radar vectors for SVFR are authorized on the basis of the FAAO 7110.65 para 5-6-1 “Application,” subpara f.

Since tower only controls the airspace in the immediate vicinity of the airport, local controllers may not be aware of arriving traffic that is being sequenced to final by the approach control. Hence, in order to achieve separation between departing and arriving aircraft, a release from approach control is required. Approach control will grant a release when the separation prescribed in the FAAO 7110.65 Chapter 6, Paragraph 3 “Initial Separation of Departing and Arriving Aircraft.” can be met. The provisions of this chapter require that the arriving aircraft is outside a fix 4 miles from the airport, and the departure’s takeoff direction differs by at least 45 degrees from the reciprocal of the final approach course. Local controllers must ensure that departing aircraft remain on such a heading until leaving the airport surface area. If the departing aircraft is IFR, the assigned departure heading must conform with the vZLA “Assignment of Headings to Departures & Missed Approaches” SOP. If the departing aircraft is SVFR, specify a departure heading or leg that’s closest to the pilot’s direction of flight, and does not penetrate the 45-degree area from the reciprocal of final.

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4. Altitude Assignment


If a situation comes up when vertical separation is more practical, such as with an SVFR overflight, you may use altitude assignments to separate traffic.

Do not assign a fixed altitude when applying vertical separation, but clear the SVFR aircraft at or below an altitude which is at least 500 feet below any conflicting IFR traffic but not below the MVA.

PHRASEOLOGY-
MAINTAIN SPECIAL V-F-R CONDITIONS AT OR BELOW (altitude).

NOTE-
SVFR aircraft are not assigned fixed altitudes to maintain because of the clearance from clouds requirement.



5. Local Operations (Traffic Pattern)


a. Authorize local SVFR operations for a specified period (series of landings and takeoffs, etc.) upon request if the aircraft can be recalled when traffic or weather conditions require.

For example, a pilot may request pattern practice in SVFR. Given the separation requirements between SVFR and IFR, it would be extremely impractical to authorize an SVFR traffic pattern at a busy airport with constant stream if IFR aircraft. At small general aviation airports, however, where IFR is less common, this procedure may be quite interesting for both: the controller and the pilot.



6. Climb to VFR


Authorize an aircraft to climb to VFR upon request if the only weather limitation is restricted visibility.

PHRASEOLOGY-
CLIMB TO V-F-R WITHIN (name) SURFACE AREA/WITHIN (a specified distance) MILES FROM (airport name) AIRPORT, MAINTAIN SPECIAL V-F-R CONDITIONS UNTIL REACHING V-F-R.

EXAMPLE-
“Climb to VFR within Van Nuys surface area, maintain special VFR conditions until reaching VFR.”

NOTE-
On VATSIM, in order to avoid confusion, it’s a good idea to advise the pilot of the extension of the airport surface area, since pilots may not be familiar with them.



7. Ground Visibility Below One Mile


14 CFR Part 91 does not prohibit helicopter SVFR flight when the visibility is less than 1 mile. That means a controller can approve helicopter SVFR in any visibility.

Treat requests for SVFR fixed-wing operations as follows when the ground visibility is officially reported at an airport as less than 1 mile:

a. Inform departing aircraft that ground visibility is less than 1 mile and that a clearance cannot be issued.

b. Inform arriving aircraft, operating outside of a Class B, Class C, Class D, or Class E surface area, that ground visibility is less than 1 mile and that, unless an emergency exists, a clearance cannot be issued.

c. Inform arriving aircraft, operating VFR/SVFR within a Class B, Class C, Class D, or Class E surface area, that ground visibility is less than 1 mile and request the pilot to advise intentions.

PHRASEOLOGY-
(Name of airport) VISIBILITY LESS THAN ONE MILE. ADVISE INTENTIONS.

NOTE-
Clear an aircraft to land at an airport with an operating control tower, traffic permitting, if the pilot reports the
airport in sight. The pilot is responsible to continue to the airport or exit the surface area. 14 CFR Section 91.157 prohibits VFR aircraft (other than helicopters) from landing at any airport within a surface area when ground visibility is less than 1 mile. A pilot could inadvertently encounter conditions that are below SVFR minimums after entering a surface area due to rapidly changing weather. The pilot is best suited to determine the action to be taken since pilots operating under SVFR between sunrise and sunset are not required to be instrument rated, and the possibility exists that flight visibility may not be the same as ground visibility. 14 CFR Section 91.3 authorizes a pilot encountering an inflight emergency requiring immediate action to deviate from any rule of 14 CFR Part 91 to the extent required to meet that emergency. Flight into adverse weather conditions may require the pilot to execute the emergency authority granted in 14 CFR Section 91.3 and continue inbound to land.

NOTE-
14 CFR Part 121 permits landing or takeoff by domestic scheduled air carriers where a local surface restriction to visibility is not less than 1/2 statute mile, provided all turns after takeoff or before landing and all flights beyond 1 statute mile from the airport boundary can be accomplished above or outside the area so restricted. The pilot is solely responsible for determining if the nature of the visibility restriction will permit compliance with the provisions of 14 CFR Part 121.

e. Clear an aircraft to fly through the Class B, Class C, Class D, or Class E surface area if the aircraft reports flight visibility is at least 1 statute mile.



8. Flight Visibility Below One Mile


Treat requests for SVFR fixed-wing operations as follows when weather conditions are not reported at an airport and the pilot advises the flight visibility is less than 1 mile:

NOTE-
14 CFR Part 91 prescribes the visibility for basic VFR and SVFR operations as the official reported ground visibility at airports where provided and landing or takeoff “flight visibility” where there is no official reported ground visibility.

a. Inform departing aircraft that a clearance cannot be issued.

b. Inform arriving aircraft operating outside of a Class B, Class C, Class D or Class E surface area that a clearance cannot be issued unless an emergency exists.

c. Request the intentions of an arriving aircraft operating within a Class B, Class C, Class D, or Class E surface area.

NOTE-
Clear an aircraft to land at an airport with an operating control tower, traffic permitting, if the pilot reports the
airport in sight. The pilot is responsible to continue to the airport or exit the surface area. 14 CFR Section 91.157 prohibits VFR aircraft (other than helicopters) from landing at any airport within a surface area when flight visibility is less than 1 mile. A pilot could inadvertently encounter conditions that are below SVFR minimums after entering a surface area due to rapidly changing weather. The pilot is best suited to determine the action to be taken since pilots operating under SVFR between sunrise and sunset are not required to be instrument rated, and the possibility exists that flight visibility may not be the same as ground visibility. 14 CFR Section 91.3 authorizes a pilot encountering an inflight emergency requiring immediate action to deviate from any rule of 14 CFR Part 91 to the extent required to meet that emergency. Flight into adverse weather conditions may require the pilot to execute the emergency authority granted in 14 CFR Section 91.3 and continue inbound to land.


''{Resources: FAAO 7110.65 7-5 “Special VFR;” 14 CFR 91.157 “Special VFR weather minimums;”
14 CFR Appendix D, Section 3 “Locations at which fixed-wing Special VFR operations are prohibited;” FAA Pilot/Controller Glossary.}''

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