VFR Right of Way

November, 2, 2021 by

When flying VFR the appropriate separation between other aircraft is 3nm horizontally and 500ft vertically.

Examples of VFR right of way scenarios

  • Converging Courses: You are heading northbound and another aircraft comes from the right and is about to cross your flight path at the same altitude you are at. To handle this, both pilots should turn right immediately to avoid a collision.
  • Head On: Your flying on a heading of 180 at 3000 and another pilot is on a heading of 270 at 3000. As soon as you see each other both of you should turn right to avoid a collision.
  • Overtaking: Your both on the same heading and altitude however the pilot behind is faster and will overtake the pilot at the front. The pilot behind should turn right and overtake the pilot who was ahead before rejoining their flight path.
  • Overtaking on final: There are 2 aircraft on final. The aircraft behind is going faster than the aircraft ahead. Separation will be lost. The aircraft at the lowest altitude has right of way. Most of the time this is the guy in front however not always. The aircraft behind in this case is at 2000ft whilst the aircraft ahead is at 1500ft. The aircraft behind must go around.

General rule: In converging courses or head on scenarios, both pilots should turn right. If one goes left and the other right it wont work out!

Check out this tutorial on the Official Infinite Flight YouTube account for a more visual idea of what was mentioned here:


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Eoghan Collins is a writer for the IFATC Education Group. He is an IFATC Officer and a member of the IFATC Testing Team. In the real world, he enjoys spending time on the rugby pitch or with his dog.