Light-Duty IFR


If you have only one choice when it comes to an IFR platform, like the fog-shrouded 152 above, thats the plane youll be flying. As recent events (Air France Flight 447, AirAsia Flight 8501, etc.) demonstrate, no airplane is immune to all the weather Mother Nature can conjure. If your chosen IFR platform isnt ideal, youll have to accept some limits on when and where you can reliably operate it. Here are some things to consider.

Few of the flivvers we fly are certified for known icing, but even those with such capability have their limits. In some areas, not having the capability means youll be grounded many times during winter. You either need to accept that limitation or trade up.

None of us have any business in a thunderstorm, but trying to get around them or outrunning them in a slow airplane eats up time, fuel and patience. If youre on a schedule and storms are in the forecast, leaving early in the day can help, but a little extra cruising speed never hurt a thing in such situations.

Even 20 knots on the nose for a slow airplane can mean an en route fuel stop. Many times-e.g., widespread low IFR at your destination-carrying extra fuel can be a very good thing, but an additional approach/landing/takeoff cycle can increase risk and make for a long day.

Especially with all the seats filled and/or on a hot day, just getting to your single-digit cruise altitude in a simple airplane can be agony. And once youre there, youll have to contend with the worst weather, frequency congestion, no-entry airspace and more traffic. Being able to go higher often is much better.

Few things induce sleep better than a slow, noisy airplane. Its speed may not be something you can easily change, but a high-quality noise-canceling headset can make a big difference in how you feel at the end of the day. So can oxygen.

Flying IFR in slow, simple airplanes is easily doable as long as terrain and weather cooperate. When they dont, youll be wishing you were someplace else, which can be the airport you just overflew. While youre waiting for conditions to improve, pick up that copy of Trade-A-Plane in the FBOs lounge and start thinking


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