Flightaware tracking


Does anyone know if Flightaware can track flights that requested IFR while in the air, or IFR to VFR on top?

If not, how can someone find out if an aircraft flew IFR or not?


flightaware.com/about/faq.rvt#popupifr will answer your question regarding requesting IFR while in the air.

VFR on top is an IFR clearance and Flight Aware will track these kind of clearances since the pilot is on an IFR clearance.

VFR OVER the top (NOT wise in my eyes) is a VFR clearance and not tracked by Flight aware.

Hope this helps!



Are you sure they track IFR to VFR on top? I fly this way a lot, but don’t see my flights posted on Flightaware. Could there be something I’m doing wrong in viewing them on the internet?


Also, if the pilot gets a pop up clearance, gets a local squawk code and never leaves the local controller, there’s a good chance the flight info won’t get into the national database and won’t show in FlightAware. So there’s basically no way to know if the are flying IFR unless you catch them on the radio…


Are you cancelling IFR? VFR on top is an IFR clearance based on all I know and as long as you are on an IFR flight plan, you should be tracked. I believe that even though you are on an IFR flight plan, you still need to maintain the appropriate VFR cloud clearances for a VFR on top clearance.

While I haven’t done VFR on top myself (I love IMC) I have climbed to VFR altitudes (I.E 6500) on an IFR flight to remain clear of rime ice. I was skimming cloud tops and was picking up frost on my wings so I requested 500 feet higher and remained there. I was tracked that entire flight.



Tracking blocked by owner??? Is it your airplane?


I think that Magnetoz is right. I usually request, IFR to VFR on top and cancel once I’m on top. Then request FF to my destination with the same controller. So they give me another squak. None of my flights show on Flightaware.

Needle - yes the plane is mine and it’s not blocked.


Welcome to the forums, purplehz!

So when you’re VFR On Top, you’re VFR On Top!?! …made to squak 1200 and everything, huh? That just ain’t fair. You take a major workload off the guy, and he cuts you off at the knees like that :frowning:

Guess you’ll have to try a flight IFR all the way just to see what happens.


Even though you have a squawk code and are talking to the controller just like you are on a IFR flight plan, I’ve found that FA only gets info from the FAA on a few of those VFR flight following flights once you have cancelled IFR. As they say, YMMV.


Good luck tracking anything now. The FAA appears to be having problems sending data because this site and other flight trackers are having issues. Flight tracking here appears to have stopped three hours ago. Very strange.


Personally I would think the workload is “pretty close” the same? Why even bother cancelling. Either case ATC does not provide seperation.

faa.gov/library/manuals/avia … 3-15-2.pdf Taken from this reference:

ATC does not provide separation for an aircraft operating:

  1. Outside controlled airspace;
  2. On an IFR clearance:
    a. With VFR-On-Top authorized instead of a specific
    assigned altitude.
    b. Specifying climb or descent in VFR conditions.
    c. At any time in VFR conditions, since uncontrolled VFR
    flights may be operating in the same airspace

Other then having to stay on airways in congested airspace on an IFR clearance, down my way there is no benefit to cancelling IFR and going VFR on top as GPS direct is GPS direct.

Just a terminology nit pick, but once you cancel IFR, it’s VFR over the top. This differentiates IFR vs VFR In the air, *it really doesn’t matter *anyway :smiley: whether its on or over, it’s still 1000 feet above the clouds and a 1000 feet is a 1000 feet on or over.

In his case, he requested flight following, so he changed squawk codes (why the change I am not sure) so he probably is not 1200.

IFR = VFR on top (cloud clearance is still the same 1000 above)
VFR = VFR over the top and cloud clearance is 1000 above.

I guess the terminology is made so that VFR, you are assured it’s VFR at both ends thus over the top where IFR “on top”, your departure or destination, it allows you to descend through the white stuff.



Can any of our controllers on this board explain 2c, it has always puzzled me that an IFR clearance would not provide positive separation. The controller may know that general VFR conditions prevail, but that is not the same as a pilot having the ability to see other planes (for example, theoretically, it could be 6000 scattered and you could be flying in and out of clouds with no aircraft separation from ATC).


They provide separation in VFR conditions between IFR aircraft, but not between IFR and VFR traffic in VFR conditions because they have no way of knowing what the VFR traffic is doing, or even if there is any VFR traffic to begin with. ("…since VFR aircraft may be operating in the same airspace")


When operating IFR in VMC, ATC provides seperation between IFR traffic as CFIJames stated. They have also always provided me seperation from all known aircraft (XPNDR equiped) and even advised me of suspected traffic (no-XPNDR). They almost always beat the TCAS if the pass will be close and in my opinion always due more than the rules state they need to.


Just curious then, what is the difference between A and C? Why do they differientate the two since both are conducted in VMC? Is it the altitude asssignment or lack of?




A. You are operating VFR, need to stay VFR or receive amended clearance and thus are responsible for traffic seperation via see & avoid.

c. You are operating IFR and just happen to be in the clear for the moment. ATC covers the IFR traffic and the possiblity of unknown VFR traffic is left to you & your eyes when you are out of the clouds.

The cloud clearance requirments of VFR are suposed to allow time to aquire and miss each other when an IFR aircraft pops out in conflict with VFR and vise/versa. :open_mouth: The VFR rules are meant to keep VFR traffic out of the IFR traffic’s way, but when its CAVU IFR traffic still need to look out because ATC can’t see them all for you.



Ah, got it, it’s not so much the handling, as both are IFR, but how you operate I take it.

Being VFR on top and not having to be rigid on altitude would be the only benefit I take it? I guess I am slightly confused as if I was VFR, so to speak, I don’t have to ask for altitude changes, is that the same for VFR on top with IFR handling. I never did VFR on top myself, but would consider it if I didn’t have to be so stringent on altitude hold.

Bear with me on this one, but how does ATC assure “clearance” with VFR on top if I can climb and descend as I desire WITHOUT a clearance, or is that not a reality? I am IFR traffic?

For simplicity sake, I just file IFR, pick my altitude and let 'er rip. But if there are more “relaxed” standards for VFR on top, I am all for it.



You can decend, climb & turn just so you stay VMC. Yes you are still on an IFR flight plan. Separation is provided by watching your data tag as you are in radar contact. If it is congested they will usually request that you report prior to changing altitudes and it’s a good courtesy to let them know anyway.