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Can anybody explain what's the point of this and in what kind of situations a pilot needs it?

ICAO Doc 9432 "Manual of Radiotelephony"

8.3.3 An aircraft may request a clearance to climb or descend maintaining own separation while in VMC, in daylight, below 10 000 feet in airspace classes D and E. The clearance shall include information on essential traffic.

Example:

P: FASTAIR 345, REQUEST VMC DESCENT TO FL 60
C: FASTAIR 345, DESCEND TO FL 60, MAINTAIN OWN SEPARATION AND VMC FROM FL 90 TO FL 70, TRAFFIC WESTBOUND FRIENDSHIP FL 80, ESTIMATING WICKEN VOR AT 07.

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  • $\begingroup$ Possibly related, but US-specific $\endgroup$ – Pondlife Jul 26 '18 at 22:46
  • $\begingroup$ @Pondlife No, that is something completely different $\endgroup$ – J. Hougaard Jul 28 '18 at 19:18
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It would be needed when otherwise the flight path would not be cleared because ATC cannot ensure separation with the conflicting traffic. The pilot agreeing to maintain their own separation in VMC allows the level change to be cleared despite the conflicting traffic.

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In the case of a VMC descent, this frequent request by pilots prevents them from having to be vectored for a formal ILS approach which may otherwise take them many miles (typically 10-30mi but in congested airspace can be closer to 100mi) from the air field. This saves them time, money, and distance.

After a pilot requests this, the controller will often request they report if or when they can navigate to the airport under VFR conditions and switch them to a much quicker and more direct VFR approach.

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  • $\begingroup$ Nope. That's a visual approach, which has nothing to do with VMC climb/descent. VMC climb/descent is specifically used in procedural (non-radar) areas, so it has nothing to do with avoiding radar vectors. $\endgroup$ – J. Hougaard Jul 28 '18 at 19:17
  • $\begingroup$ @ J. Hougaard - The visual approach often comes AFTER the request for a visual descent, read the answer - I explained that. The VMC descent is sometimes used by pilots to signal to ATC that they may be a good candidate for a visual approach but it is not a done deal possibly because of distance or the airport not in sight . $\endgroup$ – jwzumwalt Jul 28 '18 at 19:46

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