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VMC Minima for EASA PPL holders

Whilst revising for my Air Law exam the other day (I have since taken the exam and passed!) I came across this question on the PPLquiz site:

What is the absolute minimum flight visibility that a PPL (A) holder can operate when outside controlled airspace who does not hold an IR rating or an IMC rating?
a) 5km
b) 1500m
c) 1000m
d) 3km

I selected D, which was marked wrong – apparently A is the correct answer.

This confused me as it differed from what’s in my AFE Air Law book. So I’ve been doing some digging around and have found this:

CAA’s VFR guide, on the first page, says:

The VMC minima are determined by class of airspace, altitude and airspeed; however, the pilot licence
privileges notified at Schedule 8 of the UK Air Navigation Order (ANO) may impose more stringent
requirements on PPL/NPPL/BCPL holders.

In the UK Air Navigation Order on page 265 in Schedule 7 (Schedule 8 seems to be unrelated?!) it says:
(for a PPL Aeroplane holder):

unless the licence includes an instrument rating (aeroplane) or an instrument meteorological conditions rating (aeroplanes), fly as pilot in command of such an aeroplane:
(i) on a flight outside controlled airspace if the flight visibility is less than three km;

So, am I right in thinking the correct answer should be 3km (and I should get the PPLQuiz guys to update their database) or have I missed something?

[URLs fixed – Peter]

Last Edited by Peter at 11 Nov 15:32
EGBP / EGBJ, United Kingdom

Your link to the CAA guide didnt work (I think its the way the CAA site presents links sometimes), but I used this Link, and on page 6 it says that the minima outside controlled airsapce, below flight level 100, and also below 3000 ft is “5 km visibility”. I think it’s been this way since I started flying 8 years ago, and presumably your AFE book is up to date.

There has been some switch over to EASA harmonised rules so I am not 100% sure if the minimum remains at 5km, but I have an IMCr so I am not all that concious about that requirement, but in practical terms I generally wouldnt fly in less than 5km vis without some of these a) use of some instruments if I needed them, b) a GPS, c) a traffic radar service d) an option to try and go higher and be in better visibility air where I have better ability to see something else flying towards me.

[link fixed – there is an issue on the site whereby the URL “grabs” an extra character at the end – Peter]

Last Edited by Peter at 11 Nov 15:39

@PiperArcher, thanks for your reply!

Yes, we’re looking at the same CAA doc. Thanks for fixing the link, Peter.

I see what you mean on page 6. However if you look at the next bullet down, it says "for fixed wing aircraft at 140 knots or less, 1500m flight visibility is required.

But then we have the ANO’s PPL restriction of 3km, so instead of 1500m it’s 3km when 140kt or less?

Nothing in aviation seems to be clear or simple!

I totally agree with you though that legal != safe and wouldn’t dream of flying in such low vis.

EGBP / EGBJ, United Kingdom

I am certain the current EASA VFR absolute min vis is 1500m, as of April 2012.

Look at my VFR-Europe presentation slides I did in early 2012 – here.

Look on page 46.

Before that it was 3000m – per JAR-FCL – unless you held the IMC Rating or an Instrument Rating in which case it was 1500m.

1500m is also the minimum for an FAA PPL holder, unless the airspace in question sets a stricter figure.

Last Edited by Peter at 11 Nov 16:41
Administrator
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

I see what you mean on page 6. However if you look at the next bullet down, it says "for fixed wing aircraft at 140 knots or less, 1500m flight visibility is required.

I’d agree with you there. I remember when I was reading Air Law that this was the single most complicated part of it, and it looks like it hasnt got much clearer. I guess I got away with not knowing because I fairly quickly got my IMC rating, and when I didnt have it, I probably didnt fly then with less than either 5km, 3km or 1500m. Good question.

Maybe it is actually 1500m. It does appear that way. What did the AFE book say it is ? So maybe the PPL question is wrong, or they havent qualified it properly in expecting the 5km answer. Does anyone else have any views on this?

Before that it was 3000m – per JAR-FCL – unless you held the IMC Rating or an Instrument Rating in which case it was 1500m.

Peter – that last figure is only for take off and landing though and not in flight visibility which the original question refers to?. And then the IMCr is still 1800m, maybe the IR is less at 1500m?

The IMC Rating requires 1800m surface visibility for takeoff or landing if you are flying under its privileges i.e. IFR.

Yes it is a bit bizzare that a pilot could do the same thing under VFR down to 1500m

Obviously the min vis for enroute IFR is zero.

The min vis for takeoff or landing with the full IR is potentially much lower, and is the subject of much debate for private pilots. It is about 550m to land, subject to having an autopilot with certain specs and having high intensity runway lighting. I am not sure what the takeoff minimum is. It used to be zero, especially for an N-reg, but that was changed recently.

Administrator
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

This poster from the CAA website is copyright 2008 and shows 1500m, if you hunt down the asterisk.

Last Edited by DavidS at 11 Nov 17:18
Booker EGTB, White Waltham EGLM

Yes, 1500m is the basic ICAO figure, but there was a JAR-FCL PPL license limit of 3000m – unless you held the IMCR or the IR.

That 3000m figure was removed in April 2012.

Administrator
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

yes, Germany too – 1.5 km in airspace G. And that’s really very very little. I did it only once…

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