I-1 Rating



Fly IFR to/from KSNA and shoot the ILS RWY 20R approach.

Learning objectives

  • understand how to file IFR flight plan
  • understand how to request and copy IFR clearance
  • understand how to brief and execute a precision approach with vectors to final

Flying the Rating

To successfully complete this rating you must accomplish the following tasks:

  • File IFR flight plan from KSNA to KSNA via SLI at 3000 (5000 for turbojet aircraft), including the correct equipment suffix for your aircraft. The route field should not contain any airports.
  • Fly IFR from KSNA to KSNA, receiving vectors to the ILS RWY 20R final approach course
  • Obtain your clearance via voice and without using Datalink (DCL).
  • Inform ATC on initial contact at KSNA that you are performing the I-1 Rating
  • Inform the Socal Approach controller that you’d like vectors for the ILS RWY 20R approach
  • Meet the I Ratings Practical Test Standards

Rating Description

This first IFR rating involves a simple flight from KSNA to KSNA, with vectors for the ILS RWY 20R approach. This is the IFR equivalent of pattern work.

Pilots are often unsure what route to file in cases like this. The most prudent strategy would be to file a route, such that in the event of lost comms, you have a route that is flyable without reliance on radar vectors. In our case, the ILS 20R approach at KSNA is technically flyable from the nearby Seal Beach VOR (SLI), so, let’s file that with an altitude of 3000ft. In fact, in a later rating, the I-6, you’ll be doing exactly that.

Once we get airborne, request vectors to the final approach.

Good luck on your first approach! You’re IFR now, so be sure to listen closely to ATC. If you’re given a heading, altitude, or speed instruction, do your best to adhere as closely as possible with the restrictions.

IFR Clearance Primer (CRAFT)

“N132KT, Cleared to the Palomar Airport, fly heading 175, expect radar vectors V23, OCN, direct, maintain 5000, expect 7000 5 mins after departure, departure frequency 128.10, squawk 1312”

To the uninitiated, it’s a long string of seemingly random instructions. Careful examination, though, reveals a strict, unwavering pattern that makes receiving and copying these clearances a whole lot easier.

IFR clearances are broken down into the following components:

Clearance Limit: This is the airport, fix, VOR, or NDB to which you are being cleared: “Cleared to the Palomar airport…”

Route: This is the series of vectors, fixes, VORs, NDB’s, airways, departures, arrivals, or otherwise named routes that make up the route of flight. “…fly heading 175, expect radar vectors V23, OCN, direct… (clearance limit)”. The clearance limit is implied to be the end of the cleared routing.

Altitude: No surprises here, this is the altitude to maintain. If the filed altitude isn’t immediately available, an initial altitude is given. The ‘expect…’ is actually there for lost communication purposes and won’t be detailed here. Practically speaking, you will be climbed to your final altitude as soon as separation and other airspace related issues allow. “…maintain 5000, expect 7000 5 mins after departure…” The altitude can also be replaced by “climb via SID” if utilizing a certain type of Standard Instrument Departure. This will be covered in a later rating.

Frequency: This is the departure frequency to expect on wheels up. Receipt of a departure frequency does NOT mean you should change to that frequency immediately. It’s simply to let you know who you can EXPECT to talk to on departure. “…departure frequency 128.10…”

Transponder: This is a discrete code that is assigned to you so that you can be uniquely identified in the controller’s airspace on radar. “…squawk 1312.”

‘As Filed’

For brevity, if the cleared route matches what you originally filed in your flight plan, the controller can use the phrase ‘as filed’ instead of reading the full route. In addition, if a Standard Instrument Departure (SID) is being used that contains information about departure frequencies and altitude information, the controller may omit the bulk of the Route, the Altitude and the Frequency portions of the clearance, resulting in the slightly less appealing acronym, CT!

Pro Tip: When requesting an IFR clearance, do not include “as filed” in your request. It’s completely redundant. The term ‘as filed’ is used by ATC when issuing an abbreviated clearance.



CNK301: John Wayne Clearance, Chinook 301 IFR to John Wayne with Kilo..

SNA_DEL: Chinook 301, John Wayne Clearance, good morning. Cleared to the John Wayne Airport via fly heading two two zero, expect radar vectors Seal Beach, direct. Maintain 2000, expect 3000 five minutes after departure. Departure frequency 128.10, squawk 3021.

CNK301: Cleared to John Wayne via heading 220, vectors Seal Beach, then direct. Maintain 2000, expect 3000 in 5 minutes, departure with 128.10, squawk 3021 for Chinook 301.

SNA_DEL: Chinook 301 readback correct.

Swap to Ground frequency.

CNK301: John Wayne Ground, Chinook 301, Executive Hangers for taxi with Kilo.

SNA_GND: Chinook 301, John Wayne Ground, Runway 20 Right taxi via Alpha, Hotel, Charlie, Kilo, hold short runway 20 Left.

CNK301: 20R taxi via Alpha, Hotel, Charlie, Kilo, hold short runway 20L, Chinook 301.

After taxi is complete. Ground might advise you to contact tower as you approach the holding point, or you might have to prompt them upon arrival at 20L.

SNA_GND: Chinook 301, contact tower 126.80.

CNK301: over to 126.80, Chinook 301.

Swap to 126.80.

CNK301: John Wayne Tower, Chinook 301, short of 20L at Kilo, ready for IFR departure.

SNA_TWR: Chinook 301, John Wayne Tower, cross runway 20 Left, runway 20R at Kilo, cleared for takeoff.

SNA_TWR: Chinook 301 wind 220 at eight runway 20R at Kilo cleared for takeoff, traffic is a 757 on a 4 mile final.

CNK301: Cleared for takeoff 20R and check the traffic, Chinook 301.

Shortly after we cross the departure end of the runway…

SNA_TWR: Chinook 301 contact Socal Departure..

CNK301: over to departure, Chinook 301.

Swap to 128.10.

CNK301: Socal Departure, Chinook 301 1200 climbing 2000.

Socal: Chinook 301, Socal departure good morning, radar contact. Climb and maintain 3000, John Wayne altimeter 29.94, say approach request.

CNK301: up to 3000, vectors ILS RWY 20R, full stop, Chinook 301.

Socal: Chinook 301, turn right heading 010, vectors ILS RWY 20R final approach course.

CNK301: Right turn heading 010, Chinook 301.

Socal: :Chinook 301 turn right heading 120.

CNK301: Right heading 120, Chinook 301.

Socal:Chinook 301, 4 from from SNAKE, turn right heading 170. Maintain 3000 until established on the localizer, cleared ILS RWY 20R approach.

CNK301: Right heading 170, 3000 till established and cleared ILS 20R for Chinook 301.

Socal: Chinook 301, maintain 150 knots to LEMON, then contact John Wayne tower 126.80

CNK301: 150 knots to LEMON then over to tower, Chinook 301

Swap to 126.80 at LEMON

CNK301: John Wayne Tower, Chinook 301 ILS 20R.

SNA_TWR: Chinook 301, John Wayne tower welcome back. Traffic 11 on left base for 20L is a Skyhawk, wind 220 at 8 runway 20R cleared to land.

CNK301: Traffic for the parallel and we’re cleared to land 20R, Chinook 301.

SNA_TWR: Chinook 301, Exit left at Echo, and contact ground 120.80.

CNK301: Left on Echo and 120.8 for Chinook 301, Have a nice day.

Swap to ground after exiting runway.

CNK301: Ground Chinook 301 on Echo for the Executive Hanger.

SNA_GND: Chinook 301, John Wayne Ground, Taxi to the ramp via Alpha

CNK301: To the ramp via Alpha for Chinook 301 thank you.

Required Materials

  • SNA Airport Diagram
  • SNA ILS RWY 20R approach plate

Related Materials

PilotEdge Workshop: IFR Departures Demystified
Workshop covering IFR departures, including Obstacle Departure Procedures