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Let's say I fly with my safety pilot while under IFR plan (I recently earned my IR). I cancel IFR in air since I can maintain VFR for the last, say, 20nm of the journey (assume there was just some weather necessitating the rating earlier on enroute).

In the VFR phase, I don my hood and conduct 1 or 2 practice instrument approaches at or near destination.

First of all, is this ok? Passenger (since right seat sits VFR only pilot) "evolves" into safety pilot?

Second, if legal, how would one log this flight for purposes of currency?

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  • $\begingroup$ I added the FAA regulations tag because it seems likely that you're asking about US regulations. Please always tell us which country or regulations you're asking about. If you aren't asking about the US, you can just edit your question to add the correct information. $\endgroup$
    – Pondlife
    Aug 16, 2020 at 16:05

2 Answers 2

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Yes. This is all perfectly in accordance with the regulations.

You personally conducted the IFR flying through IMC, as an instrument rated pilot on a filed IFR flight plan. Check.

You cancelled the IFR flight plan midflight with a plan to continue VFR. Check.

In VMC, your VFR-rated pilot friend assumes the responsibility of acting as safety pilot while you undertake practice IFR approaches in simulated IFR. Check.

When logging the time, you would log the total time as PIC for yourself. Your friend was acting as a necessary crew member, but NOT necessarily as PIC. Nevertheless, his name and certificate number should be logged in your book as well. You would record the portion of your flight that was through IMC as ‘actual IFR time’ and your time under the hood as ‘simulated IFR time’. You would record your practice approaches and count them toward your required six-in-six as long as they were performed according to the required standards.

I found this article at Pilot Workshops that can provide you with more detail.

Clear skies!

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    $\begingroup$ For completeness, the VFR-only friend would log SIC time for the portion of the flight where he was a safety pilot. He was a passenger for the rest of the flight; he couldn’t have been acting as PIC due to the IFR segment. $\endgroup$
    – StephenS
    Aug 16, 2020 at 15:57
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    $\begingroup$ @StephenS That's one option although the OP said that they cancelled IFR and the safety pilot acted as safety pilot only under VFR. In that case, they could have agreed that the safety pilot would also become the acting PIC, allowing both pilots to log PIC time. Assuming the safety pilot was qualified to act as PIC of the aircraft, of course. $\endgroup$
    – Pondlife
    Aug 16, 2020 at 16:13
  • $\begingroup$ The safety-pilot certificate number is not required by the FAA. "§61.51 Pilot logbooks. (b) (v) The name of a safety pilot, if required by §91.109 of this chapter." $\endgroup$
    – JScarry
    Aug 16, 2020 at 16:22
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    $\begingroup$ @StephenS See the definition of PIC in 14 CFR 1.1 (emphasis mine): "Has been designated as pilot in command before or during the flight; " $\endgroup$
    – Pondlife
    Aug 16, 2020 at 19:35
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    $\begingroup$ @AaronHolmes Yes, that's my understanding too. We have quite a few questions on this site about logging time with a safety pilot in various combinations of VFR/IFR and VMC/IMC and who can log what. $\endgroup$
    – Pondlife
    Aug 16, 2020 at 19:39
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First, congratulations on getting your IR!

On the assumption that you already know the requirements for having a safety pilot while you are under the hood, why would it be any different than if you took off under VFR?

I think you are overthinking this. The fact that the first half of the flight was under IFR is largely irrelevant. Your co-pilot is either an appropriately rated safety pilot, or not. They don't start out as a mere "passenger" and then "evolve" into something else depending on the rules you are operating under.

And you should log it the same way you would performing any practice approach under simulated IFR. Just don't forget to log the safety pilot's name, I recently read of a guy getting a violation from a FSDO for this...

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  • $\begingroup$ I think the OP took off under IMC conditions using his IFR rating. So no safety piot was required. When he entered VMC and donned a hood, the passenger evolved (his word) into a safety pilot. $\endgroup$
    – JScarry
    Aug 16, 2020 at 16:25
  • $\begingroup$ Precisely @JScarry. The purpose of this question is to address a long XC my safety pilot and I would take (he flies there, I fly back and we reverse roles as left seat occupant). In the event of below VFR weather at the end of the day, I would be the one filing a plan, taking off, flying through the IMC part en route, and (presumably) emerging into VMC conditions at the later stages of the voyage. $\endgroup$
    – saigafreak
    Aug 16, 2020 at 17:13
  • $\begingroup$ I understand that. My answer is based on the scenario you describe. The reverse holds true as well: If the VFR pilot was flying a leg and the wx forecast went to IFR, the IR pilot could get an airborne clearance and take over as PIC. No need to formally “declare” who the PIC is, just log what you actually did. $\endgroup$ Aug 16, 2020 at 18:05
  • $\begingroup$ P.S. at least I THINK I understand that... I am open to constructive criticism if I have misunderstood your concerns, but in the absence of any requirement to declare safety pilot ahead of time it is clear to me that a crew could make these decisions on-the-fly as long as they log it correctly afterwards. Rated pilots swap controls regularly, right? This shouldn’t be any different. $\endgroup$ Aug 16, 2020 at 19:36
  • $\begingroup$ The one caveat I will add is that if the VFR pilot’s name is on a VFR flight plan and you later need a pop-up IFR clearance the IR pilot isn’t associated with the new clearance. It could get sticky if there was an incident, but I don’t think there is anything illegal about it. $\endgroup$ Aug 16, 2020 at 19:40

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