17
$\begingroup$

Do pilots flying under IFR ever have to look outside the plane?

$\endgroup$
7
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ The idea of not looking out the plane when flying seems just... weird. $\endgroup$
    – Michael
    Commented Oct 5, 2022 at 4:50
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Michael it seems very weird to me too, but pilots can fly in zero visibility conditions, which also seems weird, and, at least to a non-pilot, seems equivalent to flying with cardboard over the windows. $\endgroup$
    – Someone
    Commented Oct 5, 2022 at 5:32
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ One flys IFR for reasons other than just visibility. $\endgroup$
    – copper.hat
    Commented Oct 5, 2022 at 22:01
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Michael unless you are expecting nuclear detonations and have the blackout curtains pulled. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 6, 2022 at 3:37
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ @someone For nuclear blasts far enough away not to crash you with shockwave effects, they prevent you from being rendered blind by the flash. The radiation exposure will be a negative prognostic indicator for cancer in the long term, but you'll hopefully not crash your plane, and if it's a "cargo" delivery hopefully you'll get it to the "customer" who requested it. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 6, 2022 at 3:49

6 Answers 6

35
$\begingroup$

In the U.S., "See and Avoid" is the controlling concept. 14 CFR 91.113 (b) states (in pertinent part):

When weather conditions permit, regardless of whether an operation is conducted under instrument flight rules or visual flight rules, vigilance shall be maintained by each person operating an aircraft so as to see and avoid other aircraft.

(emphasis is mine)

$\endgroup$
7
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Esp. in E airspace when flying with clearance and separated under IFR, yet one has still be aware of VFR aircraft at any time $\endgroup$
    – Haukinger
    Commented Oct 4, 2022 at 8:10
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ When conducting IFR certification test flights, would the person administering the test be the official Pilot in Command, and be responsible for watching out for other planes even though the person being tested (who wouldn't be able to see anything but the instruments) would be operating the controls? $\endgroup$
    – supercat
    Commented Oct 4, 2022 at 21:47
  • $\begingroup$ @supercat Interesting question. But, unless the Examiner agrees to act as PIC during the test (or a portion of the test) they are not PIC. See FAR 61.47 law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/14/61.47 $\endgroup$
    – user22445
    Commented Oct 4, 2022 at 22:01
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ But the DPE will act as safety pilot when the PIC is under the hood. $\endgroup$
    – Jim
    Commented Oct 5, 2022 at 19:35
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Jim: That article makes it seem like a reader might find it surprising that a safety pilot need not be capable of doing everything necessary to operate a plane, but it make sense to me: if the person practicing "flying blind" gets disoriented, there needs to be someone on the plane who can maintain flight while the person who was practicing removes the hood and regains situational awareness, but the formerly-hooded person would then be expected to handle any more demanding tasks that might arise. $\endgroup$
    – supercat
    Commented Oct 6, 2022 at 19:51
9
$\begingroup$

Yes. When taking off. When landing. When not in clouds. And when in clouds looking for icing.

$\endgroup$
2
  • $\begingroup$ So then not in clouds, you do look outside just in case there's another plane where there shouldn't be one, but that's unlikely enough that it's safe to fly inside clouds? $\endgroup$
    – Someone
    Commented Oct 3, 2022 at 20:58
  • 14
    $\begingroup$ @Someone That's not quite right. In some airspace, even if you're flying IFR, other aircraft are allowed to be flying VFR, and ATC may not tell you about them. So you have to look outside in order to avoid those aircraft (which are operating completely legally). On the other hand, VFR traffic should never fly inside clouds, so it's considered safe to be in a cloud without looking out for traffic. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 4, 2022 at 12:00
6
$\begingroup$

In the US, pilots flying under IFR are responsible for keeping a visual lookout for VFR aircraft anywhere that those VFR aircraft are allowed to fly (except in Class C or higher airspace, in which case ATC provides separation.) In some cases (Class G airspace) this can include the airspace immediately beyond the edges of the clouds. Obviously this is inherently a bit problematic.

Related: How does 700 AGL class E protect IFR traffic?

$\endgroup$
1
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ True that ATC provides separation between VFR and IFR traffic in B and C, but that doesn't relieve the PIC of responsibility from exercising "see and avoid" while in VMC. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 3, 2022 at 21:33
2
$\begingroup$

The phrase from the comment "pilots can fly in zero visibility conditions, which also seems weird, and, at least to a non-pilot, seems equivalent to flying with cardboard over the windows" reminded me of Aeroflot Flight 6502 crash where the crew had a bet and actually flew with curtained windows. The outcome was 64 passengers + 5 crew dead out of 85 passenger/8 crew. I am not sure if the airport was equipped with any sort of ILS back in 1986.

Ironically, both betting pilots survived, but one later died on his way to hospital. The other one, who actually failed the attempt, was sentenced and served 6 years in prison.

$\endgroup$
2
  • $\begingroup$ More likely NDB and PAR. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 5, 2022 at 20:23
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Probably not PAR or they would be informed about being too high, the report says 30 m too high above the outer marker and 16 too high above the middle NDB/marker (they were called the farther one and the nearer one, always in two). $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 5, 2022 at 20:30
-1
$\begingroup$

Yes. You are required to see and avoid as much as possible. So, if you're in Visual Meteorological Conditions, you need to be looking outside.

$\endgroup$
1
  • $\begingroup$ This adds nothing to what's already been posted, with citations. $\endgroup$
    – Ralph J
    Commented Oct 7, 2022 at 4:19
-3
$\begingroup$

In 2014, Airbus patented an aircraft design which includes a cockpit that has no windows.

I know Airbus has a lot of money, but I don't think they'd go so far as to patent an airplane that would be illegal to fly. I could be wrong.

$\endgroup$
4
  • 7
    $\begingroup$ -1 for a few reasons: this suggests the answer is "no," which is wrong. Granting of a patent does not in any form whatsoever imply regulatory approval, expectation of such, or intent to build or market: patents are about intellectual property only. Finally, the point of Airbus's patent is that the windows are replaced by electronic display screens, so the pilots could still see outside in such an aircraft, as required by current regulations. $\endgroup$
    – TypeIA
    Commented Oct 5, 2022 at 6:20
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ " I don't think they'd go so far as to patent an airplane that would be illegal to fly. I could be wrong." Yes, you are wrong in this. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 5, 2022 at 20:22
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the feedback -- now I'm inspired to ask a question more-specifically about this situation. $\endgroup$
    – Roger
    Commented Oct 5, 2022 at 23:15
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ They might have filed the patent to dead-end the concept. Now nobody can build it for 20 years without Airbus' consent, and they always say no. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 6, 2022 at 3:38

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .