Yes, a VFR pilot can file IFR.
There is absolutely nothing in place that will stop a VFR pilot from filing an IFR flight plan. However, in order to get clearance for that flight plan then you will need to be instrument rated. Without this qualification then you will never be able to act on your IFR flight plan if you are a VFR pilot.
But, just because there is nothing stopping a VFR pilot from filing an IFR flight plan, some airlines do not look favorably on this practice. Some companies think that the act of filing an IFR flight plan shows the intent of completing this flight which you are unable to do without being instrument rated.
So it is always best to check the fine print before you file an IFR plan as you don’t want to get into trouble for this.
It is also worth noting that there is some danger with filing an IFR flight plan without being instrument rated.
In the past there have been cases where IFR flight plans designed by VFR pilots have been given clearance, despite the fact that they are not instrument rated to complete this flight.
So while a VFR pilot can file an IFR flight plan, it is generally accepted that you shouldn’t do so.
Can I file IFR if not current?
Technically speaking, yes you can file an IFR flight plan, even if you are not current. However, there is really no point in doing this. In fact, there is no point in filing an IFR flight plan at all, unless you will be accepting clearance should it be granted.
If you are not current, then you are not legally allowed to accept clearance (just like you cannot if you are not instrument rated), so there is really no point in filing the plan if you are unable to actually complete the flight.
As a pilot, it is your responsibility to ensure that you always remain current. In the same way, it is your responsibility to know all the legalities surrounding IFR clearance.
As we have said previously, there have been cases where a pilot who is not instrument rated, or not current, have been granted clearance for an IFR flight plan they have submitted. This is because the status of the pilot is not always checked before clearance is granted.
So while you can file an IFR even though you are not current, you shouldn’t ever do this.
Can a VFR pilot file an IFR flight plan?
Yes, a VFR pilot can file an IFR flight plan if they want to. However, they will only be able to act on that flight plan if they are instrument rated.
This is very important to remember as sometimes IFR flight plans are granted clearance even if the pilot submitting the plan is not instrument rated. If the person is not instrument rated then they cannot legally complete the flight, even if they were previously instrument rated and are simply no longer current.
This is because instrument rating is required to complete any IFR flight plan. A person can only become instrument rated once they have completed this qualification, and without that they will not be able to carry out any IFR flight plans.
It is important that you are aware of this, because some people might assume that they are allowed to carry out the flight simply because the clearance has been granted.
But this isn’t the case. Even if clearance is granted for an IFR flight plan you have designed, you still cannot complete this flight unless you are instrument rated and current.
What is an IFR flight plan?
The ‘IFR’ in an IFR flight plan stands for ‘instrument flight rules’ and it is because of this that all pilots who complete IFR flight plans must be instrument rated.
There are plenty of flights that you can complete without this qualification, but IFR flight plans are a lot more advanced which is why pilots require this qualification in order to complete them. However, you only need this qualification to complete the flight itself, and there is nothing stopping you from drawing up the flight plan even if you do not have this qualification.
When it comes to aircraft flights there are generally two types, these are VFR and IFR. VFR flights are the more basic type, and it is these which you can complete without needing to be instrument rated. As we have said, IFR flights are slightly more complex, hence the need for this qualification.
Most pilots will be trained up in both styles of flying as different types of weather will call for different types. But generally speaking, an IFR flight plan is a flight plan which requires the pilot completing the flight to be instrument rated.