VFR vs IFR flight

By nepflights
19 Apr 2022

Before we find out the difference between VFR and IFR, let us get to know what are these and where do they come from. VFR stands for Visual flight rules and IFR stands for Instrument flight rules. Both of these terms come under federal aviation regulations or FAR. The Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR) are a bunch of particular aviation rules which are set by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). In addition, FAA manages all aviation activities in the United States. Nevertheless, other countries also follow Federal Aviation Regulations. 


Difference between IFR vs VFR

Here, the difference between IFR and VFR are presented beginning with their definition followed by weather factor.

IFR (Instrument flight rules) takes place when there is zero visibility. 

As the name suggests, in IFR flights the pilot flies the aircraft by only navigating the aircraft’s cockpit instruments. 

VFR (Visual flight rules) are a set of rules a pilot uses to fly using visual references outside the cockpit. 
IFR requires no visibility conditions hence it’s legal and safe to fly through clouds or with zero visibility outside the aircraft.

An aircraft passenger can take IFR while flying to foggy, dusty, or even cloudy areas.

Unlike IFR, for a VFR flight, the aircraft must be out of the clouds. The pilot flying VFR upholds special visual distance and cloud clearance. 

The horizon and the ground should be visible to the pilot, to fly the aircraft under VFR. 

Ceiling of an IFR flight must be less than 1,000 feet above ground level (AGL). Ceiling of an VFR flight must be above than 3,000 feet above ground level (AGL). 
Less than 3 miles of visibility should be unrestricted for IFR flights. At least 3 miles of visibility must be unrestricted for VFR flights.
IFR requires a lot of

quality checks before the flight. Thus the flights are supposed to take time before the take off.

Compared to VFR the quality check requirements are lesser resulting to faster take offs. 


Further information about IFR and VFR:

 Besides, the distinctions between the two are determined by a set of different circumstances one of them being the weather. But at times there occurs conditions where only one kind of flight is allowed. For instance, in Instrument meteorological conditions, such as low clouds, fog, or even smoke only IFR flights are allowed. 

 IFR pilots utilize navigation instruments like a compass, heading indicator, and GPS. Similarly, the IFR pilots are also in regular touch with ATC (Air traffic controllers) who notify the pilots of the need for modifications because of traffic, weather, or other aspects that can influence the safeness of the flight. 

 Moreover, there are 3 categories: ceiling, visibility, and time under which the differences are carried out. Talking about the time difference, because of the visibility comfort in VFR, the preparation of the VFR flight demands less time than the IFR flight. The rest of the differences will be discussed below in the rules subheading concerning ceiling and visibility. 


IFR vs VFR flight rules:

There are a set of rules while flying each type of flight. These rules are based on two aspects: Ceiling and Visibility. 


The ceiling is the distance between the ground and the aircraft. 

IFR mandates less than 1000 feet of the ceiling from the ground level whereas VFR requires above 3,000 feet of the ceiling above ground level.

Besides, according to the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal, VFR requires a horizontal separation of 8 kilometers. Similarly, in the case of VFR, in the city or any crowded area, 300 meters of altitude is a must. Likewise, in the hilly region, the aircraft needs to maintain 600 meters altitude from the ground.

2. Visibility: 

For VFR, no clouds shall appear around the aircraft within 1500 meters horizontally and 300 meters vertically. The visibility requirement is more than 5 miles. 

However, for IFR visibility requirements are less than 3 miles. Besides, the IFR aircraft can fly via clouds.


IFR vs VFR weather minimums:

As per the aircraft weather chart, the weather minimums are divided into four categories: VFR, MVFR (Marginal VFR), IFR, and LIFR (Low IFR). 

  1. VFR requires ceilings of over 3000 feet above ground level and visibility above 5 statute miles. 
  2. MVFR requires a ceiling range of 1000 to 3000 feet above ground level and a visibility range of 3 to 5 statute miles. 
  3. IFR requires ceilings below 1000 feet above ground level and visibility below 3 statute miles. 
  4. MVFR requires a ceiling below 500 feet above ground level and visibility below 1 statute mile. 


Low IFR (LIFR) and MVFR are subcategories of IFR and VFR respectively.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Flight Booking