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I understand that there is cross-country flight of "a distance of at least 250 nm along airways or ATC-directed routing" requirement for the IFR rating, but I'm not sure if understand what the second part of that sentence means.

Do I have to follow Victor airways? Will obtaining flight following from ATC be sufficient?

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14 CFR 61.65(d)(2) says:

(ii) Instrument flight training on cross country flight procedures, including one cross country flight in an airplane with an authorized instructor, that is performed under instrument flight rules, when a flight plan has been filed with an air traffic control facility, and that involves—

(A) A flight of 250 nautical miles along airways or by directed routing from an air traffic control facility;

(B) An instrument approach at each airport; and

(C) Three different kinds of approaches with the use of navigation systems.

The wording is saying that you must follow airways or a route given by ATC. But since the flight must be under IFR, you'll get a route from ATC in your clearance anyway so I don't know why the FAA has the airways reference in there.

(As a complete guess it may be left over from a time when there was less radar coverage and the FAA wanted to make sure that instructors weren't taking any shortcuts.)

I don't know what flight following has to do with this because that's VFR, and the flight must be IFR.

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  • $\begingroup$ OK. I guess, I didn't noticed that (A) is a subsection of (ii). I thought I can use one of my VFR long x-country to satisfy this req. I guess, not... I do have to pay the instructor for this, too... oh, well. $\endgroup$ – Piotrpaw Apr 19 at 18:57
  • $\begingroup$ @Pondlife Don't you think that it means the flight needs to be planned on published airways, but it is simply giving the exception that if ATC needs to deviate you it won't bust your ability to count the flight for the rating? A pilot's choice to file RNAV does not default it to being ATC-directed simply because they approve your plan with a clearance, therefore the default is along airways to meet this requirement. Just my opinion. $\endgroup$ – Ryan Mortensen Apr 19 at 20:31
  • $\begingroup$ @RyanMortensen I see what you mean but I read it as "airways or ATC". I believe the key word is "or" because that means that either option meets the requirement. I'll dig some more when I have more time, though. $\endgroup$ – Pondlife Apr 19 at 22:35
  • $\begingroup$ @Pondlife I see what you're saying there. If I think of it that way though, then it's also possible that it could be interpreted as published airways or ATC vectors, but not RNAV. $\endgroup$ – Ryan Mortensen Apr 19 at 22:43
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No, you must file a flight plan, and fly the route you are cleared to, or as directed by ATC (such as for traffic clearance).

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