Visual Meteorological Conditions

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Visual meteorological conditions (VMC) is an aviation flight category that allows visual flight rules (VFR) public and private flights. This basically means that the pilot of an aircraft can fly according to their visual ability versus relying on their instrumentation.

This term is the opposite of Instrument Meteorological Conditions (IMC). And the criterion that separates the two conditions are defined by:

  • Visbility
  • Cloud clearances
  • Cloud ceilings (during take-offs and landings)

These conditions can change due to the type of airspace, time of day (whether it’s night or day) and regulations specific to each country.

Typically, VMC requires greater visibility and cloud clearance in a controlled airspace versus an uncontrolled one. In uncontrolled airspace, there is less of a risk of a IFR aircraft emerging from a cloud colliding with a VFR one.

Flight Plan Considerations

Before a pilot can depart on private flights, the pilot must determine the visual meteorological conditions at the airport. Because private jets are smaller than their commercial counterparts, they face higher weather standards and must plan their trip accordingly.

Pilots have a clear understanding about what comprises VMC and commit to a strategic 180-degree turn in the unlikely event that they can no longer fly using visual references.


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