When it comes to flying an aircraft, there are two set rules: Visual Flight Rules (VFR) and Instrument Flight Rules (IFR). While many factors influence the decision to follow VFR or IFR, the main one is weather conditions. So, what’s the difference?


VMC Chart

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In order to fly VFR certain rules called Visual Meteorological Conditions (VMC) must be maintained. Different airspace classifications will have slightly different rules so when taking Moorabbin Airport “Class D” as an example, the following rules apply:

  • Aircraft must allow for a visibility of 5000 m
  • Maintain a vertical suppression from cloud above 1000 ft and below 500 ft
  • Maintain a horizontal suppression of 600 m

What does all this mean? Basically, you cannot fly through clouds and must keep a safe distance!


IMC Clouds
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Instrument flight rules were called “blind flying” once upon a time and for good reason. In an IFR equipped aircraft and with the proper skills and rating, a pilot can theoretically fly with zero visibility from start to landing! When it comes to IFR certain rules called Visual Meteorological Conditions must be maintained which are anything less than the set VFR. Whether IFR are used is dependant on several conditions from fog, mist rain and night flying.

Knowing the two set flight rules is crucial when it comes to learning to fly and strengthening your knowledge will help you become a better pilot.

If you found this blog interesting, why not check out cloud types and what they mean or five tips to make you a better pilot!