Author Topic: Composite Flight plan confusion  (Read 28113 times)

Offline psmess

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Composite Flight plan confusion
« on: March 08, 2015, 09:27:48 AM »

I am a military pilot and I am wanting to solve something that always is an issue on certain training sortie.  I have a currency requirement to fly 500ft profiles under NVGs in mountainous terrain.  To do this, we need to fly 1+45 north, so we always file a composite flight plan, IFR departure to a fix, usually AHN.  From there we proceed VFR to enter a published low-level route.  The problem we always have is picking up our IFR return leg, the controller always comes back with "I show nothing in the system", which of course always leads to filing in the air.

I've tried the phraseology "Cancel the first IFR Portion of our flight plan and proceed VFR" but that doesn't work.  I guess we could file two flight plans, but that seems unnecessary if we have procedures for composite flight plans.

I am not sure if it is what we are saying or what we are filing.  Should we be calling a FSS somewhere during the flight? Is there anything wrong with the attached flight plan?

Look forward to your inputs, thanks!

Offline 1053857

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Re: Composite Flight plan confusion
« Reply #1 on: March 08, 2015, 03:04:35 PM »
I don't know if this will help for the US (and if it doesn't, it never hurts to learn something new), but in Canada and ICAO it would be inserted in the route portion:

(4) CHANGE OF FLIGHT RULES (maximum 3 characters)
The point at which the change of flight rules is planned, expressed exactly as in (2) or (3) as
appropriate, followed by a space and one of the following:
VFR if from IFR to VFR
IFR if from VFR to IFR
Examples: LN VFR
LN/N0284A050 IFR

And maybe you would file a Y flight plan to begin with, then use the examples shown above as approrpiate?

Offline psmess

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Re: Composite Flight plan confusion
« Reply #2 on: March 08, 2015, 11:17:51 PM »
Thanks for the input 1053857.

I have filed composite 1808s for international flights as well, but the method you describe is not used on US DD175 flight plans.  I believe the way I have filed is correct according to US methodology, the problem seems to be we when want to proceed VFR, our flight plan is dropped from the system.

Curious to know if there is simple phraseology that US controllers prefer so the flight plan is not removed when we switch to VFR.  Maybe "request termination of radar service to proceed VFR"?  I hate tying up radios in busy airspace, especially near Atlanta airspace, when trying to explain exactly what we are requesting.

Offline N/A

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Re: Composite Flight plan confusion
« Reply #3 on: March 09, 2015, 12:12:50 AM »
« Last Edit: June 16, 2021, 04:22:15 PM by None. »

Offline mdb5464

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Re: Composite Flight plan confusion
« Reply #4 on: May 04, 2015, 02:36:27 PM »
I deal with the same problem at my unit. We depart our home station (Class C airport, with significant commercial traffic) on an IFR clearance, and then proceed on an IFR route for about 20 minutes before canceling our IFR flight plan and proceeding VFR for our tactical operations inside a nearby restricted area. About 40 minutes later, when we are ready to return, we contact the servicing TRACON to receive sequencing back into the field. This results in one of two things happening:

1. If the inbound traffic flow is light, and the weather is VMC, they'll provide Flight Following and we will recover VFR.

2. If the weather is lousy or the airspace is saturated with arrivals, they will inquire about our previously filed IFR leg and inform us that they "don't show anything in the system." My guess is that as a result of filing the composite IFR/VFR/IFR flight plan, the entire thing was dumped when we initially cancelled IFR.

Typically, after searching the system and coming up empty handed, TRACON will issue us an abbreviated IFR clearance back to the airport. We've found that in order to prevent the plan from dropping out of the system entirely, it is better to file 2 separate IFR legs. On the outbound leg, the last point in our route of flight is the point that we intend to cancel IFR. In the destination block, we put the airfield identifier. That way, if we are approaching our transition point and the weather is VMC we can cancel IFR. If it is not, we are still on an IFR clearance with our clearance limit fix being the field we departed.

We file an entirely separate IFR leg for our return. It originates at the radial/DME fix we intend to recover from and terminates at the field. We have noticed that filing in this manner seems to work better than the composite method.

Hope this helps. Feel free to PM me for more details.

Offline thaid

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Re: Composite Flight plan confusion
« Reply #5 on: May 05, 2016, 12:51:46 PM »
For you military pilots having issues with composite flight plans I have a few questions

1) How are you filing?  One IFR FP in to your VFR area, and one IFR FP for the return leg?  Or both legs on the same flight plan?
2) are you filing using the domestic format DD175/FAA 7233-1 or the international format? (FAA Form 7233-4)

Offline davolijj

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Re: Composite Flight plan confusion
« Reply #6 on: May 14, 2016, 12:39:46 PM »
Controllers don't have a whole lot of exposure to composite flight plans - at least nowhere I've ever worked.  Have you considered filing the VR route in your flight plan, like you would do on an IR route?  I've seen this done in MS/AR areas and the flight plan will stay in the system even though the controller has terminated radar and dropped the track.  You might try something like...

OMN J45 AMG J46 AHN VR97 AHN J46 AMG J45 OMN BITHO.BITHO.7 (I'm aware the fix/radial/distances aren't correct for VR97, but just as an example)

All controllers know that VR routes are flown VFR but the way most of us handle them is:  You cancel - we terminate and remove strips.

Another option is this...


and then in remarks...

'Delay at AHN for VR97 / Composite flight plan'

You may need to get your FAA liaison busy working out a procedure in a new LOA with ZTL on how these flights are to be handled.  If enough military pilots are dealing with this issue, it sounds like something which needs to be addressed.  Having a fast-moving military aircraft pop out of a VR route into controlled airspace  with no flight plan on file doesn't sound like it's in anyone's best interest.  The quicker the pilot and controller can get on the same page, the better off everyone will be.
« Last Edit: May 14, 2016, 03:52:36 PM by davolijj »

Offline airdrivers

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Re: Composite Flight plan confusion
« Reply #7 on: June 25, 2019, 12:17:50 PM »
I have been out of the USAF for almost 30 years, but I believe, if this is a continuing issue with every flight, you need a letter of agreement between your wing scheduling and the applicable approach control (if you are already in low altitude), so the appropriate controlling agency will know to expect what you are doing and not drop your flight plan. Before going to that extent call and ask how they (the appropriate controlling agency) wants to do it. They will probably be happy to help, because it will make things easier for all concerned.