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Cancelling IFR - a "bilateral" thing?

OK, here’s the situation: Filed a Y-Flightplan for an IFR training flight to get on top, then let the student do some maneuvers under VFR and finally rejoin IFR for the ILS back to the airport.

When we requested to cancel IFR, instead of the usual ackowledgement the controller first asked us to “stand by” and seconds later cleared us to enter the hold at the waypoint where the SID terminates. I didn’t query the instruction – instead I watched the student struggling with setting up and entering the unplanned hold – but it made me wonder whether it actually takes an “approval” by ATC to cancel IFR or if I can just “declare” it. This was all happening in Airspace E, we were of course in VMC, and approval to cancel came after one turn in the hold.

Friedrichshafen EDNY

From ICAO doc 4444

CHANGE FROM IFR TO VFR FLIGHT
4.8.1
visual flight rules (VFR) flight is only acceptable when a message initiated by the pilot-in-command containing the specific expression “CANCELLING MY IFR FLIGHT”, together with the changes, if any, to be made to the current flight plan, is received by an air traffic services unit. No invitation to change from IFR flight to VFR flight is to be made either directly or by inference.
4.8.2 No reply, other than the acknowledgment “IFR FLIGHT CANCELLED AT … (time)”, should normally be made by an air traffic services unit.
4.8.3 When an ATS unit is in possession of information that instrument meteorological conditions are likely to be encountered along the route of flight, a pilot changing from IFR flight to VFR flight should, if practicable, be so advised.
Note.— See Chapter 11, 11.4.3.2.1.
4.8.4 An ATC unit receiving notification of an aircraft’s intention to change from IFR to VFR flight shall, as soon as practicable thereafter, so inform all other ATS units to whom the IFR flight plan was addressed, except those units through whose regions or areas the flight has already passed.
Change from instrument flight rules (IFR) flight to

EPPO, EPPK

tschnell wrote:

This was all happening in Airspace E, we were of course in VMC, and approval to cancel came after one turn in the hold.

As loco writes, technically there is no need for approval, but what would happen in class B/C/D airspace if the controller doesn’t want to issue a VFR clearance?

ESKC (Uppsala/Sundbro), Sweden

Airborne_Again wrote:

As loco writes, technically there is no need for approval, but what would happen in class B/C/D airspace if the controller doesn’t want to issue a VFR clearance?

In the case of class B, a VFR clearance would be required, but there is no requirement for a VFR clearance inside of C or D airspace, there are just equipment requirements and communication requirements.

KUZA

NCYankee wrote:

but there is no requirement for a VFR clearance inside of C or D airspace,

In Europe – at least in the part of Europe where I am based – there is a requirement for a VFR clearance inside airspaces C and D (A and B we don’t have).

EDDS - Stuttgart

I dont see how a controller could allow you to cancel IFR in CAS without being able to provide an alternative clearance, which might not be convenient or indeed, even possible.

Indeed, I believe the comms vs clearance for B C D airspace is a USA thing, in any part of europe I’ve been in a clearance is required for VFR in B C and D. The only place I’ve been which this doesn’t seem to happen in practice is Portugal where you have to file a flight plan for all VFR flights outside of the local area (I believe that’s the rule) and then you seem to be able to fly more or less as per your flight plan, getting a seamless service between Lisboa info/mil and whoever they transfer you to. I specifically remember flying from Cascais near lisbon to Portimao in the Algarve and when transferred from Lisboa info to Faro Radar who’s class C I needed to enter, they seemed completely baffled at my attempts to request a clearance and never gave me one, just telling me to continue.

Going back to the original question, I believe the rules that loco posted make it fairly clear but I do have quite a lot of experience of the exact same scenario, being told to standby when it was requested – I always did assume the VFR clearance was the cause in this delay. I often did this going to the Ise of Man from SE England and would cancel IFR at WAL VOR near Manchester and more often than not I was told to stand by, and then it would come back as “IFR cancelled at time xx:xx, cleared to leave controlled airspace by descent, maintain VFR”. I assume sometimes this has to do with how in class D IFR is separated from each other but not from VFR so maybe there are considerations about whether the controller can still maintained a properly separated environment within the units own rules.

NCYankee wrote:

In the case of class B, a VFR clearance would be required, but there is no requirement for a VFR clearance inside of C or D airspace, there are just equipment requirements and communication requirements.

Yes, there is. In Europe (this is EuroGA, remember? ) and generally everywhere outside the US as the requirements are in the International Rules of the Air (ICAO Annex II).

Btw: isn’t the term “implied clearance” used in the US for VFR in class C and D?

Last Edited by Airborne_Again at 19 Feb 15:23
ESKC (Uppsala/Sundbro), Sweden

Pirho wrote:

Going back to the original question, I believe the rules that loco posted make it fairly clear but I do have quite a lot of experience of the exact same scenario, being told to standby when it was requested – I always did assume the VFR clearance was the cause in this delay

Except that you do not need a VFR clearance in Airspace E.

I do these IFR-VFR-IFR-Training flights pretty regularly and even during the VFR portion, where I voluntarily stay on the Radar frequency and the IFR squawk, the controllers ask you for headings or min/max altitudes to provide separation to other IFR traffic. So it’s kind of a “hybrid” operation…

Thanks to all who replied!

Friedrichshafen EDNY

I used to fly both IFR and VFR around class E and I know that the controllers absolutely hated it (and I believe successfully campaigned to get it changed to class D). They used to treat the class E as if it was class D (or even C) as far as they reasonably could.

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