Why would a scheduled air service be flying VFR in this weather?

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CpnCrunch
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Why would a scheduled air service be flying VFR in this weather?

#1 Post by CpnCrunch » Wed Feb 07, 2018 9:17 am

4SM BR VCFG SCT008 BKN015 OVC050

EDIT: While it looks potentially VFR, the problem was that there was an overcast layer at 800ft just beyond the airport, in their flight path (presumably this was the SCT, which can mean up to half the sky is overcast...in this case it was in their flight path and was visible from the airport). The low overcast layer was obscuring low hills, and they were flying through the bottom of this overcast layer in and out of the ragged ceiling.

They took off in this weather in a Navajo, in and out of cloud, and flew VFR at 2000ft. Clouds at destination were higher (FEW007 FEW030 BKN054) but still seems a somewhat odd decision to be flying VFR in these conditions to save a few minutes of time when you have fare paying passengers. I don't think this is a known shitty operator, but it's sometimes hard to keep track.
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Last edited by CpnCrunch on Fri Feb 09, 2018 8:22 am, edited 1 time in total.

dogfood
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Re: Why would a scheduled air service be flying VFR in this weather?

#2 Post by dogfood » Wed Feb 07, 2018 9:56 am

What was the temperature maybe he didn't want to pick up ice. Maybe it was just a quick flight sometimes it's easier to just stay under it
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NotDirty!
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Re: Why would a scheduled air service be flying VFR in this weather?

#3 Post by NotDirty! » Wed Feb 07, 2018 9:59 am

Why wouldn't they, it was legal VFR. Were you a passenger, or watching from the ground? BKN015 is 1500 AGL, and if they flew at 2000 ASL, as long as the ground level is at least 500 ASL, that altitude would have been below the ceiling, not to mention the ceiling measurement is not always exactly accurate. Maybe they didn't have enough fuel for IFR, and maybe they couldn't take enough and be under MTOW.

Maybe I'm in the minority here, but I don't see anything wrong with going VFR when it's 1500 and 4. This is a far cry from the 300 and 1 that some operators can do by ops spec, which was discussed here ad nauseum a while back!
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Re: Why would a scheduled air service be flying VFR in this weather?

#4 Post by CpnCrunch » Wed Feb 07, 2018 10:03 am

dogfood wrote:
Wed Feb 07, 2018 9:56 am
What was the temperature maybe he didn't want to pick up ice. Maybe it was just a quick flight sometimes it's easier to just stay under it
Mixed moderate icing above the freezing level (7500ft). If IFR they would have been at 5000ft for an 11 min flight (perhaps 2-4 mins longer if IFR). You could do that safely IFR in a 172 never mind a Navajo.
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Re: Why would a scheduled air service be flying VFR in this weather?

#5 Post by dogfood » Wed Feb 07, 2018 10:06 am

If it was a 10 min flight I'd be questioning why they went ifr
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Re: Why would a scheduled air service be flying VFR in this weather?

#6 Post by CpnCrunch » Wed Feb 07, 2018 10:27 am

NotDirty! wrote:
Wed Feb 07, 2018 9:59 am
it was legal VFR.
No it wasn't. Read my original post again and you'll see they definitely weren't VFR.
watching from the ground?
Yes.
BKN015 is 1500 AGL, and if they flew at 2000 ASL, as long as the ground level is at least 500 ASL, that altitude would have been below the ceiling, not to mention the ceiling measurement is not always exactly accurate. Maybe they didn't have enough fuel for IFR, and maybe they couldn't take enough and be under MTOW.

Maybe I'm in the minority here, but I don't see anything wrong with going VFR when it's 1500 and 4. This is a far cry from the 300 and 1 that some operators can do by ops spec, which was discussed here ad nauseum a while back!
It was broken at 1600ASL. I saw them climbing or level at 1000ASL in an out of cloud 2 mins after takeoff. There was fog below them up to about 400ft, and they were flying in and out of light cloud at 1000ft (presumably the scattered stuff).
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Re: Why would a scheduled air service be flying VFR in this weather?

#7 Post by BeaverDreamer » Wed Feb 07, 2018 10:54 am

Is popping a few "light clouds" VFR really more dangerous than hard IMC just because you didn't file? Often on days with wx similar to what you describe it's much easier to stay VFR below the true ceiling and even inside the lower wisps you can still see ground below and in front. I'd rather pop through them than swerve all over the place with a ho full of pax. All assuming the "IMC" is a few seconds max of course which it often is in these conditions, and it is 100% clear a return to VMC is imminent.
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Re: Why would a scheduled air service be flying VFR in this weather?

#8 Post by CpnCrunch » Wed Feb 07, 2018 11:14 am

BeaverDreamer wrote:
Wed Feb 07, 2018 10:54 am
Is popping a few "light clouds" VFR really more dangerous than hard IMC just because you didn't file? Often on days with wx similar to what you describe it's much easier to stay VFR below the true ceiling and even inside the lower wisps you can still see ground below and in front. I'd rather pop through them than swerve all over the place with a ho full of pax. All assuming the "IMC" is a few seconds max of course which it often is in these conditions, and it is 100% clear a return to VMC is imminent.
It wouldn't have been "HARD" IFR. In fact they could have filed at 3000ft and likely just been in the clouds for a few mins IFR, rather than flying through the "wisps" VFR. The reason they did it was to save time, which is worrying for me as a potential passenger.

I'm not sure if you fly IFR, but there is never any "swerving all over the place" if you're doing it right.
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Re: Why would a scheduled air service be flying VFR in this weather?

#9 Post by CpnCrunch » Wed Feb 07, 2018 11:35 am

That was actually the METAR 30 mins before they took off. The METAR 30 mins after takeoff was "1 1/2SM BR VCFG OVC007". When they took off that 700ft layer was somewhere between scattered and overcast, and was obscuring the tops of the nearby hills (which they were flying alongside). Definitely not little wisps.
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Re: Why would a scheduled air service be flying VFR in this weather?

#10 Post by dogfood » Wed Feb 07, 2018 12:07 pm

Even with that its still vfr I fly 300-1 all the time it ain't that bad
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Re: Why would a scheduled air service be flying VFR in this weather?

#11 Post by BeaverDreamer » Wed Feb 07, 2018 12:13 pm

CpnCrunch wrote:
Wed Feb 07, 2018 11:14 am
BeaverDreamer wrote:
Wed Feb 07, 2018 10:54 am
Is popping a few "light clouds" VFR really more dangerous than hard IMC just because you didn't file? Often on days with wx similar to what you describe it's much easier to stay VFR below the true ceiling and even inside the lower wisps you can still see ground below and in front. I'd rather pop through them than swerve all over the place with a ho full of pax. All assuming the "IMC" is a few seconds max of course which it often is in these conditions, and it is 100% clear a return to VMC is imminent.
It wouldn't have been "HARD" IFR. In fact they could have filed at 3000ft and likely just been in the clouds for a few mins IFR, rather than flying through the "wisps" VFR. The reason they did it was to save time, which is worrying for me as a potential passenger.

I'm not sure if you fly IFR, but there is never any "swerving all over the place" if you're doing it right.
I was referring to going VFR and swerving around the wisps as opposed to just popping through them if they're thin/isolated. With that updated METAR it changes things a bit, at 1.5 I would likely file IFR. With the METARs you initially posted for destination and arrival I probably would have gone VFR for such a short trip but it is impossible to say for sure without having been there.
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Re: Why would a scheduled air service be flying VFR in this weather?

#12 Post by SuperchargedRS » Wed Feb 07, 2018 12:23 pm

dogfood wrote:
Wed Feb 07, 2018 10:06 am
If it was a 10 min flight I'd be questioning why they went ifr

That.

I don't see a problem ether, unless this was a 500nm night flight or some something.
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Re: Why would a scheduled air service be flying VFR in this weather?

#13 Post by CpnCrunch » Wed Feb 07, 2018 12:31 pm

dogfood wrote:
Wed Feb 07, 2018 12:07 pm
Even with that its still vfr I fly 300-1 all the time it ain't that bad
By definition it's not VFR if you're actually in the clouds.

I notice there was a SPECI just after takeoff. Here is the wx:

SPECI .... 071545Z VRB02KT 1 1/2SM BR VCFG OVC007 06/06 A3032
RMK SF8 CIG RAG SLP269=
METAR .... 071500Z 00000KT 4SM BR VCFG SCT008 BKN015 OVC050
06/06 A3032 RMK SF3SC2SC3 SLP269=

Takeoff was at 1533, and conditions were similar to the SPECI. Looks like they had a look at the METAR, thought it looked ok, and didn't realise conditions had deteriorated.
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Re: Why would a scheduled air service be flying VFR in this weather?

#14 Post by dpm » Wed Feb 07, 2018 3:56 pm

OK with freight; not OK (morally, at least) with non-pilot pax. They're not capable of understanding the significantly-elevated risk of a flight like this vs other kinds of scheduled operations, even if it will usually turn out OK. A non-crew pilot passenger can evaluate for herself, and give informed consent to going along.
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Re: Why would a scheduled air service be flying VFR in this weather?

#15 Post by Donald » Wed Feb 07, 2018 4:04 pm

dpm wrote:
Wed Feb 07, 2018 3:56 pm
OK with freight; not OK (morally, at least) with non-pilot pax. They're not capable of understanding the significantly-elevated risk of a flight like this vs other kinds of scheduled operations, even if it will usually turn out OK. A non-crew pilot passenger can evaluate for herself, and give informed consent to going along.
Makes no difference to me what is behind the cockpit.

The most valuable thing on board, is me.

Fly the same way, to the same limits, everytime.
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Re: Why would a scheduled air service be flying VFR in this weather?

#16 Post by SuperchargedRS » Wed Feb 07, 2018 4:30 pm

Donald wrote:
Wed Feb 07, 2018 4:04 pm
dpm wrote:
Wed Feb 07, 2018 3:56 pm
OK with freight; not OK (morally, at least) with non-pilot pax. They're not capable of understanding the significantly-elevated risk of a flight like this vs other kinds of scheduled operations, even if it will usually turn out OK. A non-crew pilot passenger can evaluate for herself, and give informed consent to going along.
Makes no difference to me what is behind the cockpit.

The most valuable thing on board, is me.

Fly the same way, to the same limits, everytime.
^That
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Re: Why would a scheduled air service be flying VFR in this weather?

#17 Post by CpnCrunch » Wed Feb 07, 2018 4:38 pm

Spoke to CP who spoke to captain. He leveled off at 800ft shortly after takeoff due to the cloud, then climbed to 1500 shortly after and had ground in sight at all times. (I was more concerned about hitting the obscured hills). CP says this captain is consciencious about safety.

I don't know what the pilot saw out the window, but I didn't think it looked suitable for VFR from the ground and I wouldn't be happy with my family flying VFR in a Navajo in those conditions. Anyway, I've given him my 2c and will leave it at that.
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Re: Why would a scheduled air service be flying VFR in this weather?

#18 Post by SuperchargedRS » Wed Feb 07, 2018 4:49 pm

CpnCrunch wrote:
Wed Feb 07, 2018 4:38 pm
Spoke to CP who spoke to captain. He leveled off at 800ft shortly after takeoff due to the cloud, then climbed to 1500 shortly after and had ground in sight at all times. (I was more concerned about hitting the obscured hills). CP says this captain is consciencious about safety.

I don't know what the pilot saw out the window, but I didn't think it looked suitable for VFR from the ground and I wouldn't be happy with my family flying VFR in a Navajo in those conditions. Anyway, I've given him my 2c and will leave it at that.
His biggest decision making problem that I see was entertaining that line of questioning.
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Re: Why would a scheduled air service be flying VFR in this weather?

#19 Post by Maynard » Wed Feb 07, 2018 4:57 pm

What the heck is the point of this post? Are you trying to get someone in trouble? Why are you bothered by it so much if it doesn’t involve you? Maybe call up the carrier and talk to the PIC. I see you did. Wow. Can you tell us why this particular flight struck your nerve so hard? I’d of told the CP to tell you to pound sand.
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Last edited by Maynard on Wed Feb 07, 2018 5:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
I guess I should write something here.

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Re: Why would a scheduled air service be flying VFR in this weather?

#20 Post by '97 Tercel » Wed Feb 07, 2018 4:59 pm

You "spoke to the CP"? Why?
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Re: Why would a scheduled air service be flying VFR in this weather?

#21 Post by dogfood » Wed Feb 07, 2018 5:06 pm

As if this guy went to the CP.

He kinda sounds like an instructor I'd put money on that
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Re: Why would a scheduled air service be flying VFR in this weather?

#22 Post by dpm » Wed Feb 07, 2018 5:06 pm

Donald wrote:
Wed Feb 07, 2018 4:04 pm
dpm wrote:
Wed Feb 07, 2018 3:56 pm
OK with freight; not OK (morally, at least) with non-pilot pax. They're not capable of understanding the significantly-elevated risk of a flight like this vs other kinds of scheduled operations, even if it will usually turn out OK. A non-crew pilot passenger can evaluate for herself, and give informed consent to going along.
Makes no difference to me what is behind the cockpit.

The most valuable thing on board, is me.

Fly the same way, to the same limits, everytime.
That's what I mean by informed consent. You understand the risks (even if this were actually legal scud running) well enough to decide not to do it. Another pilot might make a different decision.

But non-pilot pax can't make the decision, because they can't evaluate the risks. They just assume a certain level of safety/risk from scheduled air service (probably making allowances for "little planes"), then it's the PIC's responsibility to meet that threshold or cancel the flight.
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Re: Why would a scheduled air service be flying VFR in this weather?

#23 Post by shimmydampner » Wed Feb 07, 2018 5:45 pm

Let me ensure that I am understanding this correctly. The departure aerodrome weather was 4sm visibility and 1500’ ceiling. The destination weather was 5400’ ceiling (visibility unspecified.) The en route time was 11 minutes. Based on the information provided, this is a no-brainer to go VFR. I’m at greater risk of having a stroke due to the ridiculousness of this being questioned than there was to the crew and passengers involved in the actual flight.
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Re: Why would a scheduled air service be flying VFR in this weather?

#24 Post by CpnCrunch » Wed Feb 07, 2018 6:30 pm

shimmydampner wrote:
Wed Feb 07, 2018 5:45 pm
Let me ensure that I am understanding this correctly. The departure aerodrome weather was 4sm visibility and 1500’ ceiling. The destination weather was 5400’ ceiling (visibility unspecified.) The en route time was 11 minutes. Based on the information provided, this is a no-brainer to go VFR. I’m at greater risk of having a stroke due to the ridiculousness of this being questioned than there was to the crew and passengers involved in the actual flight.
No, it was scattered to overcast at 700ft and the plane was in and out of cloud below the tops of hills obscured by cloud.

Anyway, I guess the response here is somewhat predictable.
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Re: Why would a scheduled air service be flying VFR in this weather?

#25 Post by AuxBatOn » Wed Feb 07, 2018 7:02 pm

CpnCrunch,

From your prespective (ground) he was in and out of clouds. From the ground, it may seem like an airplane is in and out of clouds when in fact, it is above and your sight of the aircraft is obscured by small, non-dense clouds below the aircraft's altitude.

I would really just let it go...
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