Reduced/Low Visibility Operations Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. What are reduced visibility operations?
  2. What is a Reduced Visibility Operations Plan (RVOP)?
  3. What are low visibility operations?
  4. What is a Low Visibility Operations Plan (LVOP)?
  5. Are LVOP and RVOP required?
  6. Who is responsible to establish the level of service for reduced or low visibility operations at an aerodrome?
  7. Where is the level of service published?
  8. How are producers of aeronautical information like Jeppesen being informed of reduced/low visibility levels of service, restrictions and procedures?
  9. Where is information on reduced/low visibility operations published for air operators and pilots, and what standards control publication requirements?
  10. Why are RVR limits being published in the CFS, AERODROME/FACILITY DIRECTORY, RWY DATA section for runways that are not equipped with RVRs?
  11. Are RVOPs/LVOPs published?
  12. Where are the reduced/low visibility specific restrictions and procedures required by air operators and pilots published?
  13. For the purposes of reduced/low visibility operations, what is the aerodrome operating visibility?
  14. Can pilots determine the aerodrome operating visibility?
  15. En plus de la visibilité opérationnelle d’un aérodrome, quelles autres exigences réglementaires régissent les opérations par visibilité faible ou réduite menées par les exploitants aériens et les pilotes?
  16. Where does a pilot find information to determine the aerodrome operating visibility?
  17. What happens if the visibility drops below the aerodrome operating visibility after the aircraft has started to taxi or is taxiing after landing?
  18. When is an aircraft considered to have commenced taxi for take-off?
  19. In a situation where an aircraft has commenced taxi for take-off and the visibility falls below the published level of service for the runway of intended operation, can the aircraft continue to taxi and legally take-off when the visibility is below the published level of service for that runway?
  20. In a situation where an aircraft has commenced taxi for take-off and the visibility falls below the published level of service for the runway of intended operation, can the aircraft continue to taxi to a runway other than the originally intended runway of operation? For example, an aircraft received a taxi clearance to a specific runway, but while en-route to the runway the visibility dropped below the aerodrome operating visibility requirements and the operator-specific takeoff visibility requirements. At the time, however, another suitable runway at the aerodrome is available, where the visibility is being reported above take-off visibility requirements but below aerodrome operating visibility requirements. Can the aircraft continue to taxi to the more suitable runway where the visibility meets take-off requirements?
  21. Are aircraft taxiing on the maneuvering area subject to the aerodrome operating visibility limits?
  22. How does an aerodrome with multiple runways operate in reduced/low visibility when there are different levels of service published for each runway?
  23. At an aerodrome with more than one RVR sensor installed, and with a reported ground visibility [including Automatic Terminal Information Service (ATIS)], which visibility report will govern for the purposes of taxiing in reduced/low visibility conditions?
  24. At an aerodrome with no RVR sensors installed, what visibility report will govern for the purposes of taxiing in reduced/low visibility conditions?
  25. Will a lower ground visibility report take precedence over a runway visibility report?
  26. At Sites with no active control tower (ATC) and with regard to visibility hierarchy, which states that the 'lowest reported visibility governs', which report received by the crew takes precedence?


    In this case, does the most recently received visibility, i.e., RVR 1400, govern, or does the lowest reported visibility, i.e., 1/8sm, govern?
  27. Will aircraft be permitted to commence the approach and land where visibility is above approach ban limits but below the runway published level of service?
  28. In the CAP GEN, AERODROME OPERATING RESTRICTIONS-VISIBILITY, how was the reference to “prior to 1,000' above aerodrome elevation…” determined?
  29. The CAP GEN “Takeoff Minima/Departure Procedures” section describes the order of precedence for various sources of take-off visibility, including provisions for localized meteorological phenomenon and RVR varying above and below the minimum RVR. Does this apply to surface movement of aircraft to or from the runway and between points on the airport maneuvering area?
  30. At a site with an active ATC tower.
    If the reported aerodrome visibility is 1/8 sm but the reported visibility for the runway of intended use is RVR 1200 may the PIC request taxi clearance for departure?
  31. At a site without an active ATC tower.
    If the reported aerodrome visibility is 1/8 sm but the reported visibility for the runway of intended use is RVR 1200 may the PIC taxi for departure?
  32. At a site with an active ATC tower.
    Where the reported visibility for the runway of intended use meets the published level of service for that runway (eg: RVR 1200) but any other reported visibility drops below the aerodrome certification level may the aerodrome operator continue operations?
  33. At a site without an active ATC tower.
    Where the reported visibility for the runway of intended use meets the published level of service for that runway (eg: RVR 1200) but any other reported visibility drops below the aerodrome certification level, may the aerodrome operator continue operations?
  34. How are military pilots and Aerodrome Operators affected by reduced/low visibility operations?

1. What are reduced visibility operations?

Reduced visibility operations are operations that occur at an aerodrome when the visibility is below Runway Visual Range (RVR) 2600 [½ statute mile (sm)] down to and including RVR1200 (¼ sm).

2. What is a Reduced Visibility Operations Plan (RVOP)?

It is a plan that calls for specific procedures established by the aerodrome operator and/or ATC when aerodrome visibility is below RVR 2600 (½ SM) down to and including RVR 1200 (¼ SM).

3. What are low visibility operations?

Low visibility operations are operations that occur at an aerodrome when the visibility is below RVR 1200 (¼ sm).

4. What is a Low Visibility Operations Plan (LVOP)?

LVOP (Low Visibility Operations Plan) means a plan that calls for specific procedures established by the aerodrome operator and/or ATC when aerodrome visibility is below RVR 1200 (¼ SM).

5. Are LVOP and RVOP required?

LVOP is required by CAR 302. While a RVOP is not mandatory by regulation, it is strongly recommended that they be developed.

6. Who is responsible to establish the level of service for reduced or low visibility operations at an aerodrome?

The Aerodrome Operator is responsible for establishing the level of service for their aerodrome and for ensuring that the aerodrome is equipped and/or operated to support that level of service and that the aerodrome and runways meet the requirements for taxi and runway operations below RVR 2600 (½ SM).

7. Where is the level of service published?

The level of service for each runway is published in the Canada Flight Supplement  (CFS) under the RUNWAY (RWY) DATA section [refer to CFS GENERAL (GEN) section and AERODROME/FACILITY DIRECTORY].

The CFS is the official state data source as published by NAV CANADA. Other producers of aeronautical information may also elect to publish this information in their products. Air operators using other aeronautical information sources/products should therefore contact the appropriate Aeronautical Information Services (AIS) provider in order to ensure that they have the required information on the level of service for reduced/low visibility operations.

8. How are producers of aeronautical information like Jeppesen being informed of reduced/low visibility levels of service, restrictions and procedures?

Information is being published via AIRAC Canada, which is published weekly by NAV CANADA AIS. This is the same as what was done in the past for low visibility procedures.

9. Where is information on reduced/low visibility operations published for air operators and pilots, and what standards control publication requirements?

In Canada air operators and pilots may find information on reduced low/visibility operations in the following publications:

  • The CFS GEN explains the level of service published under the RWY DATA section for all runways.
  • The AERODROME/FACILITY DIRECTORY, RWY DATA section, provides the level of service for each runway.
  • The AERODROME/FACILITY DIRECTORY, PROCEDURES (PRO) section may provide additional information regarding specific restrictions and procedures required by air operators and pilots.
  • The Canada Air Pilot (CAP) GENERAL (GEN) section provides guidance to pilots on how to operate in reduced/low visibilities.
  • The CAP may provide additional information regarding specific restrictions and procedures required by air operators and pilots.

NAV CANADA’s specification requirement governs publication of their aeronautical products.

10. Why are RVR limits being published in the CFS, AERODROME/FACILITY DIRECTORY, RWY DATA section for runways that are not equipped with RVRs?

While not all runways are equipped with RVRs, the depiction in the CFS of RVR and visibility values reflects the terminology used in the CARs and Operations Specifications (OPS SPECS). In conjunction with NAV CANADA AIS, this method of depiction was therefore chosen for the purpose of standardization.

11. Are RVOPs/LVOPs published?

RVOPs/LVOPs are not published. The Aerodrome Operator coordinates relevant information contained in these plans with the Air Traffic Control (ATC) service provider, as ATC is integral to the implementation of the plans. The Aerodrome Operator may, however, also share information on their plans with air operators following a specific request for information.

Where an Aerodrome Operator has an RVOP or LVOP, these plans may contain restrictions and procedures to support the plan. The specific restrictions and procedures required by air operators and pilots are normally published in the aeronautical information publications.

12. Where are the reduced/low visibility specific restrictions and procedures required by air operators and pilots published?

In Canada they may be published in the CFS AERODROME/FACILITY DIRECTORY, PRO section, the CAP, or by NOTAM.

13. For the purposes of reduced/low visibility operations, what is the aerodrome operating visibility?

(1) The Aerodrome operating visibility is defined as follows;

At sites with an active Air Traffic Control (ATC) Tower :
(in accordance with published airport operational procedures)

For Arrivals and departures, the aerodrome operating visibility is in accordance with the following hierarchy:

  1. Runway Visual Range (RVR) for the runway of intended use
  2. Aerodrome visibility (METAR)
  3. Pilot visibility

At sites without an active ATC Tower:
(outside ATC operating hours, MF, Unicom, CARS, or advisory sites, etc…)

For Arrivals, the aerodrome operating visibility is in accordance with the following hierarchy:

  1. Runway Visual Range (RVR) for the runway of intended use
  2. Aerodrome visibility (METAR)
  3. Pilot visibility

For departures, the aerodrome operating visibility is the lowest of the following visibilities;

  1. Aerodrome visibility (METAR)
  2. Any reported RVR
  3. Pilot visibility

14. Can pilots determine the aerodrome operating visibility?

The PIC may determine the aerodrome operating visibility for his/her own use. The PIC is not an accredited observer, however, as provisions only exist in the CARs for instrument rated pilots or qualified persons to be accredited observers for the purposes of determining runway visibility, and PICs cannot, therefore, report aerodrome operating visibility.

15. In addition to the aerodrome operating visibility, what other regulatory requirements govern reduced/low visibility operations for air operators and pilots?

CAR 602.96(2)(b) requires that before taking off from, landing at or otherwise operating an aircraft at an aerodrome, the pilot-in-command of the aircraft shall be satisfied that the aerodrome is suitable for the intended operation.

Additionally, for Air and Private Operators, CARs Parts VI & VII (and associated Standards and OPS SPECS) govern operations below RVR 2600 (1/2 SM). In addition to the Canadian OPS SPECS related to reduced/low visibility operations having been amended, the OPS SPECS for all foreign carriers have also been amended.

16. Where does a pilot find information to determine the aerodrome operating visibility?

This information can be found in the CAP GEN, AERODROME OPERATING RESTRICTIONS-VISIBILITY.

17. What happens if the visibility drops below the aerodrome operating visibility after the aircraft has started to taxi or is taxiing after landing?

If the visibility drops below the aerodrome operating visibility after an aircraft has commenced taxi for take-off or after landing, the aircraft may continue to taxi.

18. When is an aircraft considered to have commenced taxi for take-off?

Once the aircraft has commenced pushback with the intent of taking-off, or has commenced moving on the maneuvering area under its own power with the intent of taking-off, it is considered to have commenced taxi for takeoff.

A pushback with the intent to taxi to the de-icing bay is considered taxi for take-off.

19. In a situation where an aircraft has commenced taxi for take-off and the visibility falls below the published level of service for the runway of intended operation, can the aircraft continue to taxi and legally take-off when the visibility is below the published level of service for that runway?

No, the aircraft cannot legally take-off when the operating visibility is below the published level of service for that runway. In accordance with the let in the CAP GEN, however, the aircraft is legal to taxi in those conditions.

20. In a situation where an aircraft has commenced taxi for take-off and the visibility falls below the published level of service for the runway of intended operation, can the aircraft continue to taxi to a runway other than the originally intended runway of operation? For example, an aircraft received a taxi clearance to a specific runway, but while en-route to the runway the visibility dropped below the aerodrome operating visibility requirements and the operator-specific takeoff visibility requirements. At the time, however, another suitable runway at the aerodrome is available, where the visibility is being reported above take-off visibility requirements but below aerodrome operating visibility requirements. Can the aircraft continue to taxi to the more suitable runway where the visibility meets take-off requirements?

Yes, the aircraft can. Pursuant to the answers in Questions 19 and 20 above, once the aircraft has commenced taxi for take-off it may continue taxiing in this situation. Upon reaching the more suitable runway, it can legally take-off once the operating visibility is at or above the published level of service for that runway.

21. Are aircraft taxiing on the maneuvering area subject to the aerodrome operating visibility limits?

Yes, except where the aircraft is taxiing for purposes other than take-off as authorized by the Aerodrome Operator in accordance with the aerodrome’s RVOP/LVOP.

Where required, the Aerodrome Operator will publish special reduced/low visibility restrictions or procedures for pilots in the appropriate aeronautical publication(s).

22. How does an aerodrome with multiple runways operate in reduced/low visibility when there are different levels of service published for each runway?

When the RVR or the aerodrome visibility is below the level of service for a specific runway it should no longer be in use as a runway. Aerodromes with multiple runways therefore continue to operate using the remaining runway(s) that meet the level of service.

23. At an aerodrome with more than one RVR sensor installed, and with a reported ground visibility [including Automatic Terminal Information Service (ATIS)], which visibility report will govern for the purposes of taxiing in reduced/low visibility conditions?

At sites with an active Air Traffic Control Tower (ATC)

For departures, the aerodrome operating visibility is in accordance with the following hierarchy:

  1. Runway Visual Range (RVR) for the runway of intended use
  2. Aerodrome visibility (METAR)
  3. Aerodrome visibility (METAR)

note: If more than 1 RVR is reported only the RVR for the runway of intended use is considered.

At sites without an active Air Traffic Control Tower (ATC):

For departures, the aerodrome operating visibility is the lowest of the following visibilities;

  1. Aerodrome visibility (METAR)
  2. Any reported RVR
  3. Pilot visibility

note: If more than 1 RVR is reported all RVRs must be considered.

24. At an aerodrome with no RVR sensors installed, what visibility report will govern for the purposes of taxiing in reduced/low visibility conditions?

The lowest of the reported ground visibility or a PIC assessment governs

25. Will a lower ground visibility report take precedence over a runway visibility report?

For the purpose of taxiing for departure;

At sites without an active control tower (ATC) Yes, as a reported lower ground visibility is governing.
Note: For departure, where the reported aerodrome visibility is below the level of service for the intended runway of operations, RVR for that runway may only be used by the pilot where special procedures have been established by the aerodrome operator pursuant to an RVOP/LVOP , such as to restrict aircraft on the manoeuvring area to one at any time.

At sites with ATC the reported visibility for the runway to be used is governing .

Note : For departure, where the reported aerodrome visibility is below the level of service for the intended runway of operations, RVR for that runway may be used by the pilot. However pilots need to be cognizant because the aerodrome is in a reduced or low visibility condition, the aerodrome operator may have elected to either establish special procedures pursuant to an RVOP/LVOP to continue operations such as to restrict aircraft on the manoeuvring area to one at any time, or to actually cease operations.

For the purpose of landing;

The reported runway visibility would prevail.

26. At Sites with no active control tower (ATC) and with regard to visibility hierarchy, which states that the 'lowest reported visibility governs', which report received by the crew takes precedence?

 

For example: The aerodrome published level of service is RVR 1200 (1/4 sm) and the ATIS issued at 1700Z gives a visibility of 1/8 sm. Prior to pushback at 1705Z, however, the crew receives a report that the RVR is 1400.

In this case, does the most recently received visibility, i.e., RVR 1400, govern, or does the lowest reported visibility, i.e., 1/8 sm, govern?

The lowest reported visibility value, as currently received by the pilot applies, i.e., in this case 1/8 sm. If a special weather report is received by the crew at 1710Z indicating that the ground visibility has improved to ¼ sm, then the crew may commence taxi.

Note 2: For departure, where the reported aerodrome visibility is below the level of service for the intended runway of operations, RVR for that runway may only be used by the pilot where special procedures have been established by the aerodrome operator pursuant to an RVOP/LVOP , such as to restrict aircraft on the maneuvering area to one at any time.

27. Will aircraft be permitted to commence the approach and land where visibility is above approach ban limits but below the runway published level of service?

In accordance with the CAP GEN, the aircraft may commence the approach. However, if a visibility report below the runway published level of service is received prior to the aircraft reaching the Final Approach Fix (FAF), the landing would be deemed to occur below the published aerodrome operating visibility.

28. In the CAP GEN, AERODROME OPERATING RESTRICTIONS-VISIBILITY, how was the reference to “prior to 1,000' above aerodrome elevation…” determined?

The intent is to address situations where good visibility exists in certain areas but where other areas may be influenced by a localized or isolated phenomena. The 1,000’ altitude was established to ensure that the decision to continue is made at an altitude conducive with flight safety. The PIC needs to be able to ascertain that the runway of intended landing and the taxi route to the destination on the aerodrome are seen and recognized.

29. The CAP GEN “Takeoff Minima/Departure Procedures” section describes the order of precedence for various sources of take-off visibility, including provisions for localized meteorological phenomenon and RVR varying above and below the minimum RVR. Does this apply to surface movement of aircraft to or from the runway and between points on the airport maneuvering area?

No, it does not apply to the surface movement of aircraft to or from the runway and between points on the airport maneuvering area, but it does apply to the use of the runway for take-off in situations of reduced/low visibility.

30. At a site with an active ATC tower.
If the reported aerodrome visibility is 1/8 sm but the reported visibility for the runway of intended use is RVR 1200 may the PIC request taxi clearance for departure?

Yes the PIC may request taxi clearance and if ATC issues a clearance the PIC may taxi. If however ATC does not issue a taxi clearance it indicates that the aerodrome is below the certification level of the aerodrome and the aerodrome operator has either taken a decision to cease departure operations or is controlling operations in accordance with an RVOP or LVOP. If operations are being managed in accordance with an RVOP or LVOP the restrictions and procedures pertinent to the pilot will be published in the aeronautical publications.

31. At a site without an active ATC tower.
If the reported aerodrome visibility is 1/8 sm but the reported visibility for the runway of intended use is RVR 1200 may the PIC taxi for departure?

No the PIC may not taxi as the lowest reported visibility governs.
If however the aerodrome operator has established an RVOP or LVOP to permit operations below the published level of service of the aerodrome, the PIC may taxi in accordance with the restrictions or procedures established by the aerodrome operator. Such restrictions and procedures will be published in the aeronautical publications.

32. At a site with an active ATC tower.
 

In order to allow landing operations and taxi after landing to occur when the aerodrome operating visibility is below the airport certification the flow of traffic for departing aircraft must be stopped or managed through a plan.

For departure operations, Aerodrome Operators must establish a means by which they will stop taxi out operations when the visibility is below the certification level of the aerodrome, or where appropriate establish a reduced or low visibility operations plan to manage the continuance of ground operations.

Failure to do so means that the airport is not being operated in accordance with its operating certificate.

A plan could enable taxi out operations to continue if aircraft movements are restricted to one aircraft at a time on the manoeuvring area while managing vehicular and other ground traffic away from the taxiing aircraft.

Where operations are being managed in accordance with an RVOP or LVOP the restrictions and procedures pertinent to the pilot will be published by the aerodrome operator in the aeronautical publications.

33. At a site without an active ATC tower.
Where the reported visibility for the runway of intended use meets the published level of service for that runway (eg: RVR 1200) but any other reported visibility drops below the aerodrome certification level, may the aerodrome operator continue operations?

At such sites the pilot conduct rules prohibit operations below the aerodrome certification level as the lowest reported visibility governs. If however the aerodrome operator wishes to continue operations they may do so by developing a RVOP or LVOP to manage operations.

A plan could enable taxi out operations to continue if aircraft movements are restricted to one aircraft at a time on the manoeuvring area while managing vehicular and other ground traffic away from the taxiing aircraft.

Where operations are being managed in accordance with an RVOP or LVOP the restrictions and procedures pertinent to the pilot will be published by the aerodrome operator in the aeronautical publications.

34. How are military pilots and Aerodrome Operators affected by reduced/low visibility operations?

Military aircraft operations are governed by military flying orders. Civil pilots and civil Aerodrome Operators should therefore be aware that, in reduced/low visibility conditions, military aircraft may be operating below the published level of service when civil aircraft operations may actually be prohibited in such conditions. The preceding applies equally to military as well as civil aerodromes (refer to CFS GEN).

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