Here are just a
few of the basic requirements for the Instrument Rating. We’ll discuss what’s
entailed in each of these requirements later in this section.
You must be able
to read, speak, write, and understand the English Language
You must be able
to obtain a 3rd class medical certificate
You must be 17
years of age
You must hold at
least a private pilot license in the category and class of aircraft for which
the rating is sought
have received and logged the appropriate ground and flight training for the
You must have
50 hours of cross country flight time as pilot in command
You must have 40
hours of actual or simulated instrument flight time
You must pass
the FAA Instrument Rating written exam
You must pass
the Instrument Rating Oral and Practical Exam
The training for
the instrument rating consists of several distinct phases of training. Each
level builds on the knowledge and skills learned in the previous level. The
first phase is called basic attitudes. This is where you learn basic instrument
manoeuvres such as turns, climbs, and descents at a constant rate of airspeed,
rate of vertical speed, or rate of turn. This helps you develop your “scan”,
which is the ability to look at the many instruments and quickly make
adjustments to maintain the desired heading, altitude, and speed.
your basic scan its time to move onto holding patterns. Holding patterns are
racetrack shaped patterns flown over a navigation fix. Holding is required due
to delays in the Air Traffic Control system due to weather or other situations.
For example lets say your destination has several runways but only one runway
has the equipment required to allow landing in poor weather. When poor weather
conditions exist the airport now has a decreased capacity for takeoffs and
landings. So in order to slow the flow of takeoff and landings air traffic
controllers put airplanes in the these holding patterns. Holding patterns
require skill to correct for winds aloft to keep the aircraft flying over the
navigation fix in the right direction and to keep the length of holding pattern
mastered holds it time for instrument approaches. Instrument approaches are used
to facilitate landing under instrument weather conditions. Approaches are
accomplished by tracking a ground based navigation aid, flying at predetermined
speeds, and descending to specified altitudes at predetermined distances or time
from a navigation fix. All of this turning and descending at just the right
speed makes it possible to find the airport or runway threshold in low
visibility and low ceilings.
you are in the home stretch! Next comes instrument cross-country training. Now
you have to use all the skills you’ve learned so far to get you from point A to
point B without having to look outside. You learn to interact with the air
traffic control system on a broader scale. Until now the majority of your
training probably has been within your local airport area. You could probably
shoot your local instrument approaches from memory. Now its time to go someplace
you’ve never been, shoot some approaches and land at an airport that you don’t
have all the radio frequencies memorized. Go see the world!
country its on to training for emergencies that you can encounter under IFR,
examples are radio or instrument failures. You learn the ins and outs of flying
partial panel (simulated loss of one or more instruments) including holds and
approaches. In addition you learn procedures for lost communications with ATC.
That’s about all
there is to the flying side of things. Now its time to polish up any weak areas
and sign you up for the check ride. Good luck!
The FAA Written
The written test
for the Instrument Rating like all other licenses and ratings is an 80 question
computerized test. The questions consist primarily of IFR
regulations, weather, and navigation systems.
The FAA Oral Exam
The oral exam
will consist of various question related to IFR operations, most importantly
weather and cross country planning. The examiner will most likely have you plan
an instrument cross-country and then discuss your flight planning and give you
some scenarios to evaluate your thought process. Once the examiner is satisfied
then it's on to the flight portion.
The FAA Practical Exam
exam should be a summary of your instrument training. You will usually warm up
with some basic attitudes. Then at some point you have to fly at least one hold
followed by several approaches. One of these approaches will be partial panel.
After successfully demonstrating your instrument flying skills you will then be
issued a new pilot license with an instrument rating.
Costs for the
instrument rating like other licenses and ratings can vary. You can save a lot
of money by doing some of your training in a FAA approved flight-training
device. These are basically a generic instrument panel and controls hooked up to
a computer to allow the practice of instruments skill with the ability to stop,
pause, and discuss your actions in addition to seeing your movements plotted on
a computer screen. This is a luxury you don't have in the airplane. Most larger
flight schools have these FTD's and it's usually cheaper than flying in the
airplane. Most schools have a training program that entails a mixture of flight
time in both aircraft and FTD's. Again as always check with your local FBO to
determine the exact costs in your area.