IFR in VFR with only Tower

i am an experienced IF pilot and also one in meatspace. When approaching a Class Bravo field on an IFR STAR with active tower, I am often asked to “say intentions,” and then wind up getting my thumbs wrapped when I ask the controller to standby. Recently, I was flying 737-9 with bobby k, a fine controller, at the helm in the tower.

I was on a left downwind course at 6,000 when asked for intentions. In a Class B in meatspace, The Class D jurisdiction is 3-4000 ft and 3 miles from the airport. I was on an initial approach to the IAF and then planned a turn to the final course, where my intention was to chime into the tower that I was on the ILS for 19L.

Bobby told me to enter left downwind even though I was IFR. I wanted to alert him to my IFR status by selecting “On the ILS,” but Ive done that before, and gotten my knuckles wrapped.

Calling “inbound on the ILS” would be correct for a call more than three miles out on the final approach course. That would be proper approach procedure for meatspace. The tower has no jurisdiction at 6,000 ft, even in a Class B. Your thoughts here

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Real world procedures aren’t always practical in IF, and sometimes IFR traffic is given VFR instructions on tower as there’s no alternative. See here for more info:

Also note that 'Inbound on the ILS is exclusively for when you’ve been cleared for the ILS approach by an approach controller if there is one present.


i think they are, a command for the pilot could be “inbound on IFR plan” which then highlights the flight plan for the controller. then the controller could respond “report Final Approach Fix.”

In IF, tower should be contacted 25NM out and below 10,000ft if there is no approach as you are saying. Tower has no alternative instructions in this case to give IFR aircraft, so the use of enter downwind is required. Keep in mind IFATC can’t say whatever they like, they’re restricted to certain commands which sometimes limits the amount of realism they can provide. If you think something like you are suggesting is practical and could be added, search to see if there’s something similar. If not, by all means create a feature request.

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If you are IFR and fly into a field that is VMC expect to be sequenced into the field for a visual approach. There is no need to fly a instrument approach into a field that you have full visibility for. So if you are not with approach vectoring you in. Just do what the tower controller says.


Problem is IFR/VFR aren’t taken into consideration in the sim unless there’s a radar faculty unfortunately. When there’s no approach on and you enter into towers airspace you might as well think of yourself as a 172 flying vfr coming into a class D and even though you might be in imc


Hi @Kelly_EM,

Sorry to hear there was some confusion.

With Infinite Flight, our “on-guard” region for inbounds extends to 25NM and 10,000ft AAL for Tower, so I’m required to be controlling you within this area.

I believe I remember you but I’ll take a look at my replay just to make sure everything is correct. I’m still controlling so my apologies that it will take a little while.

Please let me know if you have any further questions or confusion and I’ll be happy to chat it out with you. :)

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thats true, usually, but some airlines always do instrument procedures. If I said on the visual, that would still be a potential knuckle rap.

After getting cleared number 1, I started to do a visual approach turn to final (it reminded me of the sorts of deft maneuvers one needs to do when getting the commercial license), but then was instructed to extend downwind…

Nothing like a power off 180 right?

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Airspace is in the works for now they are all treated the same for the most part though. It will get better in time.

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Could you please tell me your callsign and the Time (UTC) when this happened?

Southwest 2759 I think,… Hi Bobby, thanks for being ATC. It’s a great skill. About two hours ago. I want to confirm that I was not criticizing your fine work. The goal here is to understand what to do…

And also suggest some possible technical answers for a possible feature suggestion.

Thanks again!


You were absolutely correct. Now that I know that tower has such a wide berth, what to do is entirely clear.


Could you have been Southwest 1259 (display name “Topic 3”)? Not seeing 2759.

Yes, that was me.

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Good stuff.

If you take a look at this screenshot from my replay, this is the moment I issued the extend downwind command. The reason I did this was to keep spacing between you and the fighter on final. The fighter, needing more speed on final, would travel a greater distance than you in the same interval of time.

Because 19L and 28 intersect, I wanted to avoid having to send someone around because you got too close on final approach. Once I believed you would have enough spacing, I instructed that you could turn and continue with your approach. :)


I saw him too and knew why you did what you did and it was the right call… these kinds of things happen in the real world all the time!

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Indeed they do! And once again, thanks for reaching out and asking for clarification. And next time if you’re inbound and get on-guarded (without Approach), just call inbound for landing and then request a runway if you wish to do so. Tower will then instruct you where to fly.

Thanks for coming out and flying tonight! Let me know if you have any more questions.

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Here is a good read on how to call in for landing on IF.

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