instrument written test

Required Reports When Flying IFR

IFR Reporting Points

There are two types of mandatory reporting points when flying under instrument flight rules (IFR).  Reporting points in RADAR contact and reporting points when not in RADAR contact.  We’ll go over all of the reporting points broken down into the two categories below.

37% of failed IFR checkrides is due to applicants not knowing the required reporting points, or failing to apply them properly in-flight or during discussion on in-flight scenarios.

Mandatory IFR Reporting Points (RADAR Contact)

  • Reporting points specifically requested by ATC (91.183)
  • Any unforecast weather conditions encountered (91.183)
  • Any other information relating to the safety of flight (91.183) and (AIM 5-3-3)
  • When vacating any previously assigned altitude or flight level. (AIM 5-3-3)
  • When an altitude change will be made if operating on a clearance specifying VFR−on−top.
  • When unable to climb/descend at a rate of a least 500 feet per minute.
  • When approach has been missed. (Request clearance for specific action; i.e., to alternative airport, another approach, etc.)
  • Change in the average true airspeed (at cruising altitude) when it varies by 5 percent or 10 knots (whichever is greater) from that filed in the flight plan.
  • The time and altitude or flight level upon reaching a holding fix or point to which cleared.
  • When leaving any assigned holding fix or point.
  • Any loss, in controlled airspace, of VOR, TACAN, ADF, low frequency navigation receiver capability, GPS anomalies while using installed IFR−certified GPS/GNSS receivers, complete or partial loss of ILS receiver capability or impairment of air/ground communications capability. Reports should include aircraft identification, equipment affected, degree to which the capability to operate under IFR in the ATC system is impaired, and the nature and extent of assistance desired from ATC.

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Mandatory IFR Reporting Points (Not in RADAR Contact)

  • All of the required reports when in RADAR contract PLUS these below:
  • The time and altitude of passing each designated reporting point, or the reporting points specified by ATC (91.183)
  • When leaving final approach fix inbound on final approach (nonprecision approach) or when leaving the outer marker or fix used in lieu of the outer marker inbound on final approach (precision approach).
  • A corrected estimate at anytime it becomes apparent that an estimate as previously submitted is in error in excess of 2 minutes. For flights in the North Atlantic (NAT), a revised estimate is required if the error is 3 minutes or more.
  • Pilots encountering weather conditions which have not been forecast, or hazardous conditions which have been forecast, are expected to forward a report of such weather to ATC.

What you need to know

Generally speaking it is difficult to remember all of these off of the top of your head.  One of the easier ways to go about ensuring you know when and how you are required to make a report is to fly with an IFR kneeboard that has the required reporting points printed on it, or have them printed somewhere in your aircraft.

While some examiners on IFR Checkrides will want all of these memorized, many will accept you being able to reference them in some sort of written form that would be easily accessible to you in flight.  To learn more about how to actually apply these reporting points in flight and everything you need to know for your IFR checkride, check out the 2021 IFR Checkride BootCamp.

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