Separation in VMC under IFR flight plan

Flyvne

New Member
My captain and I got into a debate about the legality of keeping our own separation on an IFR flight plan. Here is what happened:


We were level at 11,000 in a CRJ700 above a broken layer in VMC at night.
Controller: “Traffic 11 to 12 o'clock left to right 12,000. A 757.”
We said: “Traffic in sight”
Controller: “Roger. Maintain visual, climb to 17,000 when able direct JERRE”


Not sure if the “when able” was for 17,000, direct JERRE, or both. I assumed both. I also assumed we were to climb when we were clear of traffic. We were to maintain our own visual separation. Direct JERRE would pose no conflict as we were under the 757.


The captain claims that climbing immediately would cause a TA or an RA (which is true) and that the controller cannot give use a climb clearance in this scenario. He assumed that the “when able” was for “direct JERRE” and not the altitude. She could, he claims, give us a direct to a point and ask us to maintain our own separation but not altitude changes.


So can a controller give you an altitude change instruction and ask you to maintain your own separation in VMC with visible traffic on an IFR flight plan?
 

Sunburn

Well-Known Member
Yes, he can have you maintain visual separation in VMC conditions. He may do this so he doesn't have to worry about the hockey puck around you guys (1000/3) and any wake turbulence separation is on you, the pilot as well. As far as the "Climb 17,000, when able direct JERRE", I would have asked him to verify if he wanted you to climb at pilot's discretion or when able turn direct JERRE.

My 2 cents.
 

davolijj

New Member
Not sure if the “when able” was for 17,000, direct JERRE, or both. I assumed both. I also assumed we were to climb when we were clear of traffic. We were to maintain our own visual separation. Direct JERRE would pose no conflict as we were under the 757
....

So can a controller give you an altitude change instruction and ask you to maintain your own separation in VMC with visible traffic on an IFR flight plan?
Yes, the controller is then putting the monkey on your back to separate you from the traffic. The when able was for the fix (which I'm assuming you were /L or /Q, plus its not a navaid, so it's not really necessary since you're able immediately.) I'm sure the controller didn't expect you to climb immediately and set of an RA but he also should have issued traffic to the 757 so as not to scare the hell out of him if you did start climbing...something like:

"DAL1203 traffic 1 o'clock and 4 miles northbound a CRJ7 at 11 thousand, has you in sight will be climbing through your altitude."
 

Flyvne

New Member
This is what I thought. The Captain was so sure that the controller was wrong that he was yelling and cursing. I know I am new to the part 121, but I did just get done teaching this instrument stuff a year ago. Some captains forget this and think they are the master of all flight knowledge.
 

boondr

Penalty Vectorer
As a controller if I give an instruction like the one in the example I am expecting you to climb and maintain 17,000 but with the understanding that you may delay that climb in order to comply with the maintaining visual separation. Remember as the pilot(s) you have the ability to tell us that you will be unable to comply with the maintaining visual separation.
IMO opinion the "When able" was for the whole thing. The captain is wrong in saying that a climb clearance can't be given in this case, it can because there is legal saparation maintained throughout (visual), however like I said before you can inform the controller that you will be unable to maintain separation and then it resorts back to standard separation. As a controller I usually use visual separation to give one aircraft or another a shortcut standard separation won't allow so if the pilot informs me they are unable to maintain the visual separation I accept it and work around it.
In the described case I would have added a "Caution Wake Turbulence" as well because it was a B757.

also I don't know if it was just an omission or it is an actually verbatim quote but if the controller only said "maintain visual" and not "maintain visual separation" he/she is setting themselves up for trouble.

I don't know the regs on TAs/RAs for you guys but if you have the conflicting traffic in sight and are maintaining visual separation (or you are told the other aircraft is) are you still required to comply with the TCAS instruction?
 

HiDef

New Member
As a controller if I give an instruction like the one in the example I am expecting you to climb and maintain 17,000 but with the understanding that you may delay that climb in order to comply with the maintaining visual separation.
:yeahthat:
 

JDE

Well-Known Member
Do controllers give those clearances in Class A airspace? It seems like we've had them before, but it's rare for some reason (at least from what I've experienced). I wish we would get clearances to climb/descend and maintain visual separation more often.
 

HiDef

New Member
Do controllers give those clearances in Class A airspace? It seems like we've had them before, but it's rare for some reason (at least from what I've experienced). I wish we would get clearances to climb/descend and maintain visual separation more often.

a. TERMINAL. Visual separation may be applied between aircraft under the control of the same facility within the terminal area up to but not including FL 180, provided:

Unfortunately for you, no. By the way, how are the cabinets coming? Need any help???

HD
 

JDE

Well-Known Member
a. TERMINAL. Visual separation may be applied between aircraft under the control of the same facility within the terminal area up to but not including FL 180, provided:

Unfortunately for you, no.
:(

By the way, how are the cabinets coming? Need any help???
I'm "working" on the counter tops at the moment - I may just hire someone to come do them so I don't screw them up, I haven't decided yet. You should stop by and give me your expert opinion :D.
 

davolijj

New Member
Most likely what you got in class A airspace was the "passing or diverging" method. It's not quite the same as visual because it is allowed above FL180 and the aircraft involved must be on opposite courses.

7110.65S Chapter 5 said:
5-5-7. PASSING OR DIVERGING

b. EN ROUTE. Vertical separation between aircraft may be discontinued when they are on opposite courses as defined in para 1-2-2, Course Definitions; and

1. You are in communications with both aircraft involved; and
2. You tell the pilot of one aircraft about the other aircraft, including position, direction, type; and
3. One pilot reports having seen the other aircraft and that the aircraft have passed each other; and
4. You have observed that the radar targets have passed each other; and
5. You have advised the pilots if either aircraft is classified as a heavy jet/B757 aircraft.
6. Although vertical separation may be discontinued, the requirements of para 5-5-4, Minima, subparas e and f must be applied when operating behind a heavy jet/B757.

EXAMPLE-
"Traffic, twelve o'clock, Boeing Seven Twenty Seven, opposite direction. Do you have it in sight?"

(If the answer is in the affirmative):

"Report passing the traffic."

(When pilot reports passing the traffic and the radar targets confirm that the traffic has passed, issue appropriate control instructions.)
 
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