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Is a VFR flight plan required?

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Hi everyone, 

I am just wanting to know what the rules are on vatsim about submitting flight plans.

If you are flying VFR in the UK and just want to fly without having a set destination or route, do you need to file a flight plan? 

without a flight plan can you land at a controlled airport if they are not expecting you?


if you are doing this without a flight plan, when requesting clearance can you just request clearance " to leave the zone to the east" for example? or do you just request taxi and squak 7000 etc?


Im at the very early stages of a PPL (around first solo time) and i normally fly out of an uncontrolled airfield so i am just getting used to attually talking to a controller lol.

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1 hour ago, dan moody said:

If you are flying VFR in the UK and just want to fly without having a set destination or route, do you need to file a flight plan? 

Technically, no. But how long does it take to file one? a minute or two?


1 hour ago, dan moody said:

Without a flight plan can you land at a controlled airport if they are not expecting you?

I would say apply the same logic as you would in the real world. If you wanted to land at Gatwick in your PA28, you'd have to ring them before (and pay a rather large sum), right? On VATSIM, file a flight plan. This shows the Gatwick controllers your intent of arriving there. When you call up, your "strip" should already appear in their list. All they then have to do is identify you, rather than having to create a flight plan for you. We have no equivalent of "booking out" so I'd recommend that you always file a flight plan. Even if it just includes the most basic bits of info such as type, ADEP and ADES.

As a UK area controller on VATSIM, I'd always rather someone files a flight plan. If I then need to call them, or if they call for a service it's 1000x easier to quickly understand what they want/need. Without a flight plan, I can only guess until they do call up.

Edited by Luke Brown
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Network Supervisor | C1 | P1


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Generally, under VFR you don't need a flight plan although it is recommended, for reasons which Luke has outlined. But if you're starting your flight in controlled airspace you will need to tell ATC your intentions, eg "VFR to the local flying area" and obey the instructions given. Again, the ability to "book out" like that depends on the airfield.

They may have standard VFR routes out of the airspace and if so you will be expected to know the routing. For example, at Glasgow, you might get the clearance to leave the zone at Alexandria on a standard exit for 05 not above 1500 feet. That routing involves a left turn at 500 feet QFE, heading over the Clyde to Erskine Bridge north end, then turning Left and flying North of the Clyde not above 1500 feet to Dumbarton, then right, flying East of the River Level until exiting at Alexandria, reporting as you approach Alexandria.

Once outside controlled airspace you can go where you want while remaining clear of controlled airspace. That includes landing away, after getting permission before entering the airspace of the destination airfield. So they will expect you before you enter their airspace.

Bear in mind that while you are outside controlled airspace horizontally, there may well be controlled airspace above you, so look at the charts before climbing too high.

Good luck with your first solo!

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Alistair Thomson


Definition: a gentleman is a flying instructor in a Piper Cherokee who can change tanks without getting his face slapped.

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From the code of conduct https://www.vatsim.net/documents/code-of-conduct:


B10 - All pilots flying IFR shall submit a flight plan before flight. The IFR flight plan must contain, at a minimum, the aircraft callsign, departure airport, arrival airport, aircraft type, and requested route. All VFR pilots are encouraged, when appropriate, to submit a flight plan.


Tomas Hansson

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As per the CoC mentioned by Tomas above you're encourages to file one. At least with basic info such as your aircraft type, departure and arrival fields and such. Makes it way more easier for us controllers to find you!

Division Director, VATSIM Middle East & North Africa  
VATSIM Network Supervisor, Team 5
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