Changes to Check-In and Flight Following

Whether tuning in to Departure or entering Center’s airspace, you’ve likely found yourself wondering what to request! To simplify and stay true to real world practices, we have now separated the meaning of Check In and Flight Following to communicate intentions of proceeding IFR or VFR. While the IFATC has implemented these procedural changes today, you’ll notice helpful guidance on the pilot communication interface coming in 20.2! Pilots are also encouraged to adopt these changes immediately.


CHECK IN = IFR

Check In is a request for IFR service from ATC. Pilots are expected to follow their filed route in the absence of ATC-assigned headings, altitudes, and speeds. ATC is responsible for aircraft separation from aircraft and terrain.


FLIGHT FOLLOWING = VFR

Flight Following is a VFR service that can be requested by a pilot with or without a flight plan. Pilots are expected to see and avoid other traffic and may be subject to ATC altitude and heading assignments. VFR aircraft with a filed flight plan are expected to follow it.


Effectively immediately the use of Check In will only be for IFR flight and should be used as it previously was with the appropriate radar facility. The Flight Following request will be reserved for VFR flights only. If flying VFR with a flight plan you can request the specific destination that is auto-populated or you can transmit “Flying VFR” if maneuvering without a route or destination.

On initial contact you only need to transmit one or the other. Do not Check In and request Flight Following. Doing so may result in a warning from ATC. This change helps reduce the amount of incorrect Flight Following requests after a Check In and better aligns with real world practices for VFR operations.

For more, check out our Infinite Flight Guides where you’ll find a specific section for both pilot and ATC procedures regarding the use of Check In and Flight Following:

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Finally no more check in + flight following, love it.

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This looks amazing! Thank you for this new feature!

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Thanks for this Tyler, as always keeping everything current and most efficient as possible.

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Great change, will make things much more efficient will and easier on pilots and ATC. Thanks Tyler!

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Thank you for this change Tyler! It will certainly help out with the large amounts of traffic and ATC chatter.

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How can you fly VFR with a flight plan? As far as I know VFR flying means you fly visually all the way from point A to point B…

Even for VFR flying you would normally have a FPL as it’s important that ATC knows where you’re going IRL. Also this ensures that some kind of pre-flight planning has been done by the pilot.

Flying VFR does just mean you can’t fly (only) based on instruments, but you rather have to be actually able to look outside. Hence there are certain VFR weather minima established.

Please correct me if wrong, but I am pretty sure it’s that way (at least in Germany).

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I’m so confused. Why exactly do you have a FPL then? By “FPL” do you mean that you have the destination airport set as your only waypoint?

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You can add more waypoints if needed. Flying VFR can be hand-flown or LNAV flown but you usually have to have a sight outside of the aircraft.

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Basically tracks/headings you want to fly and how long you expect to be flying as well as a fuel calculation including final reverse fuel.

Shows that you have planned enough fuel, which is also a legal issue amongst other things.

So basically you’re using instruments. I thought VFR was you just fly around using VOR’s and NDB’s and your eyes.

Well yes, you should always use the instruments.

You are correct but also remember that

. Just because you are legally - and I know this is a sim but ‘legally’ is the best word I can think of - flying VFR, you can still practice using IFR procedures, i.e. a hold or ILS/GPS APP.

. Also, remember what FPL stands for: a flight plan. Keep in mind that it is just as much for you to look at as it is for the controller. In fact, it’s more important for you than it is for ATC. All the FPL in IF is is basically a line between WPTs. The resource is there, use it. It will help you. It’s there to help you.

. Also, side note: remember you can use your aircraft’s autopilot when VFR! Don’t think you must manually fly at all times :)

if anybody with real-world experience wants to correct me, please do

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Hey Philippe, flying VFR from A to B is a little bit like making a road trip with your car. But when flying you have to check weather reports, AIP’s, NOTAM’s , make fuel and wind calculations , time ticks when passing reference points, check different zones you may cross (with or without ATC, military, prohibited, etc…) with all its restrictions and file a FPL on the ground or in the air for ATC or S&R purposes.

Sure you can hop in your airplane and make a cross-country flight following VOR, NDB, GPS and all the beautiful technology there is at the moment but keep your eyes outside the cockpit when flying VFR! You could be surprised what’s up there even in “calm” airspace! 😉
Last but not least, be prepared because better safe than sorry!
Cheers Stef

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Great change, definitely unclogs the frequency a large amount. Thanks, Tyler.

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Do I have to tune into IFATC when flying VFR in a class E airspace? Since flight following is optional, does it mean that I don’t have to request one?

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In IF you should still tune into ATC if they are active, and request the appropriate service.

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Thank you! This makes soooo much more sense now!