VFR flight rules[PDF]


Visual Flight Rules (VFR) are a set of regulations under which a pilot operates an aircraft in weather conditions generally clear enough to allow the pilot to see where the aircraft is going. Using the VFR flight rules, the pilot must be able to operate the aircraft with visual reference to the ground, and by visually avoiding obstructions and other aircraft.

VFR weather minima or Visual Meteorological Conditions (VMC)

Except when operating as a special VFR flight, all VFR flights shall be conducted in VMC conditions of visibility and distance from clouds equal to or greater than the minima presented in the table described in the VFR Minima documentation.

Except when a clearance is obtained from an air traffic control unit, VFR flights shall not take off or land at an aerodrome within a control zone, or enter the aerodrome traffic zone or traffic pattern:

  • when the ceiling is less than 450 m or 1500 ft
  • when the ground visibility is less than 5 km

VFR Level restrictions

Minimal altitude

All VFR flights shall not be flown except for take-off, landing or except by emission from the appropriate authority:
  • At a height less than 150 m (500 ft) above the ground or water.
  • At a height less than 300 m (1 000 ft) above the highest obstacle within a radius of 600 m from the aircraft over the congested areas of cities, towns or settlements or over an open-air assembly of persons.
Some countries adopt a minimum height above 1000ft over natural parks and reserves. Some countries also make a minimum height of flight between 1000ft to 5000ft over cities.

Maximal altitude or flight level

Unless authorized by the appropriate ATS authority, VFR flights shall not be operated:
  • above FL 200;
  • at transonic and supersonic speeds
VFR flights above FL 290 are forbidden in RVSM airspace.
The maximum VFR flight level is ICAO defined. According to your national regulation (AIP), it may be different.

For military aircraft, please consult Special Operations Department for HQ rules or your Special Operations rules of your division to have the exact limitations.

Cruising flight level

Except where otherwise indicated in air traffic control clearances or specified by the appropriate ATS authority, VFR flights when operated above 900 m (3 000ft) from the ground or water shall be conducted at a flight level/altitudes appropriate to the track as specified in the following levels :
  • VFR flights use flight levels ending with the number 5: FL 45, FL 55, …
  • VFR flights use altitudes ending with the number 500: 4500ft, 5500ft, …
The cruise altitude (flight level) for VFR flights must be chosen using these assigned rules and must follow the semicircular rules depending on the heading of the aircraft. Check VFR cruise altitude documentation in order to have the full table with explanations including semi-circular rules.

Air traffic Controlled Areas

An air traffic control clearance shall be obtained prior to operating a controlled flight or a portion of a flight as a controlled flight:
  • When operating in class B, C and D airspace
  • When forming part of aerodrome traffic at a controlled aerodrome
  • When operating as special VFR
In those cases, an aircraft operated as a controlled flight shall maintain continuous voice communication and establish two-way communication with the appropriate air traffic control unit.
Note that in IVAO, the pilot must use text mode if the voice communication is not possible.

Change Flight Rules to IFR

An aircraft operated in accordance with the visual flight rules which wishes to change to compliance with the Instrument Flight Rules shall:
  • communicate the necessary changes to be effected to its current flight plan
  • submit a flight plan to the air traffic services unit and obtain a clearance prior to proceeding IFR when in controlled airspace

Special VFR (SFVR)

In a controlled aerodrome, the air traffic controller can issue a special VFR clearance to an aircraft, which is below the VMC minima in his controlled zone, in order to let him reach a new zone where the weather conditions are in line with the VMC rules.
Special VFR clearance use depends on your local regulation (ATS authority): This type of clearance can be forbidden in some countries or at some airfields. Flight visibilities reduced to not less than 1500m (clear of clouds) is permitted for special VFR flights at speeds that give adequate opportunity to observe other traffic or any obstacles in time to avoid collision.

Night VFR (NVFR)

The night VFR flight – called NVFR sometimes – is a VFR flight which is partly performed during the aeronautic night.
In some countries or airfields, night VFR flights are not allowed. Please consult your national and local regulations.

See also


  • ICAO documentation Annex 2 - Rules of the Air - 10th Edition July 2005


  • VID 150259 - Author
  • VID 531824 - Wiki integration
  • VID 150259 - Update September 2019


  • 20:26, 15 November 2019


  • This documentation is copyrighted as part of the intellectual property of the International Virtual Aviation Organisation.


  • The content of this documentation is intended for aviation simulation only and must not be used for real aviation operations.