In looking at Garmin Pilot, there is something labeled "Vancouver FIR" which has 3 segments. It's located over the northern Cascades and to the east of the northern tip of Vancouver Island (Canada). What is that "Vancouver FIR"?

Specifically, I'm interested in flying over those mountains at a few thousand feet AGL (in and among the mountains) and am wondering if this "Vancouver FIR" is something I need to worry about.

I'm currently working on obtaining my Private Pilot Certificate in the United States.


FIR stands for Flight Information Region. There is lots of information about these on-line, to the point that it isn't worth regurgitating it here.

However, the FIR should be the least of your concerns at this stage of your training...

If you want to fly "in and among the mountains" of the extremely rugged North Cascades, I would strongly recommend you get your Private Pilot Certificate first, then take a mountain flying course as a minimum before you get any lower than 1000' above the highest peak in a sector, and/or gliding distance from a wide flat valley floor with suitable emergency landing spots.

Narrow valleys and downdrafts on the lee side of ridges are killers.

I live up here in Washington state and have flown in the mountains for years, but they are no place for a beginner on a student solo. Especially this time of year.


Vancouver Center/FIR is the rough equivalent of Seattle Center, with slight differences since Canada (like most of the world) is better about following ICAO rules than the US is. One of those differences is actually naming and labeling the Flight Information Regions correctly on their maps.

How to legally fly to/in/from Canada is a much larger topic, and the slight differences in ATC are trivial in comparison to all the other things you'll need to know and do. Save learning about that for after you pass your PPL checkride, though.

  • $\begingroup$ What is incorrect about how the Vancouver FIR is labeled on the sectional? FYI my Canadian chart does not show a corresponding Seattle FIR. $\endgroup$ Nov 23 '19 at 4:29
  • $\begingroup$ @MichaelHall The issue is on the US side, where FIRs are not labeled as FIRs. $\endgroup$
    – StephenS
    Nov 23 '19 at 17:10
  • $\begingroup$ can you provide a specific example? Because I am looking at the North Cascades area the OP was asking about, and on the VFR sectional, IFR high and IFR low the Vancouver FIR is clearly marked. $\endgroup$ Nov 23 '19 at 19:00
  • $\begingroup$ @MichaelHall Vancouver FIR is on the Canadian side. Seattle FIR is not labeled, at least on US maps. $\endgroup$
    – StephenS
    Nov 23 '19 at 20:20
  • $\begingroup$ Ok, but why does that matter if you are already on the US side? A FIR is only of concern if you are outside of it and want to either avoid it, or come in. $\endgroup$ Nov 23 '19 at 20:56

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