Section 3. VFR-on-top
a. You may clear an aircraft to maintain
“VFR-on-top” if the pilot of an aircraft on an IFR
flight plan requests the clearance.
1. When an aircraft has been cleared to maintain
“VFR-on-top,” the pilot is responsible to fly at an
appropriate VFR altitude, comply with VFR visibility and
distance from cloud criteria, and to be vigilant so as to see
and avoid other aircraft. The pilot is also responsible to
comply with instrument flight rules applicable to the flight
(e.g., adherence to ATC clearances).
2. Although standard IFR separation is not applied,
controllers must continue to provide traffic advisories and
safety alerts, and apply merging target procedures to
aircraft operating VFR-on-top.
FAAO JO 7110.65, Para 2-1-6, Safety Alert.
FAAO JO 7110.65, Para 2-1-21, Traffic Advisories.
FAAO JO 7110.65, Para 5-1-8, Merging Target Procedures.
FAAO JO 7110.65, Para 7-1-1, Class A Airspace
AIM, Para 5-5-13, VFR-on-top.
14 CFR Section 91.157, Special VFR Weather Minimums.
14 CFR Section 91.159, VFR Cruising Altitude or Flight Level.
b. You may clear an aircraft to climb through
clouds, smoke, haze, or other meteorological
formations and then to maintain “VFR-on-top” if the
following conditions are met:
1. The pilot requests the clearance.
2. You inform the pilot of the reported height of
the tops of the meteorological formation, or
3. You inform the pilot that no top report is
4. When necessary, you ensure separation from
all other traffic for which you have separation
responsibility by issuing an alternative clearance.
5. When an aircraft is climbing to and reports
reaching “VFR-on-top,” reclear the aircraft to
CLIMB TO AND REPORT REACHING VFR-ON-TOP,
TOPS REPORTED (altitude),
NO TOPS REPORTS.
IF NOT ON TOP AT (altitude), MAINTAIN (altitude), AND
c. Do not clear an aircraft to maintain “VFR-on-top” between sunset and sunrise to separate holding aircraft from each other or from en route aircraft unless restrictions are applied to ensure the appropriate IFR vertical separation.
MAINTAIN VFR-ON-TOP AT OR ABOVE/BELOW/BETWEEN (altitudes).
“Maintain VFR-on-top at or above one three thousand
“Maintain VFR-on-top at or below one two thousand
“Maintain VFR-on-top at or between six thousand and
one zero thousand.”
d. When, in your judgment, there is reason to
believe that flight in VFR conditions may become
impractical, issue an alternative clearance which will
ensure separation from all other aircraft for which
you have separation responsibility.
IF UNABLE, (alternative procedure), AND ADVISE.
FAAO JO 7110.65, Para 9-3-3, VFR-on-top.
7-3-2. ALTITUDE FOR DIRECTION OF
Inform an aircraft maintaining “VFR-on-top” when
a report indicates the pilot is not complying with
14 CFR Section 91.159(a).
As required by 14 CFR Section 91.159(a), the appropriate
VFR altitudes for aircraft (not in a holding pattern of
2 minutes or less, or turning) operating more than
3,000 feet above the surface to and including 18,000 feet
Magnetic courses 0-179- odd cardinal altitudes plus
500 feet; e.g., 3,500, 5,500.
Magnetic courses 180-359- even cardinal altitudes plus
500 feet; e.g., 4,500, 8,500.
VFR-ON-TOP CRUISING LEVELS FOR YOUR
DIRECTION OF FLIGHT ARE:
more than 3,000 feet above the surface to FL 180:
ODD/EVEN ALTITUDES/FLIGHT LEVELS PLUS
FIVE HUNDRED FEET.