Instrument Flight Rating

What are the conditions to be qualified to start an instrument rate?

A person who applies for an instrument rating must:

Holds current private pilot certificate or concurrently applying for a private pilot certificate for (airplane, helicopter, or powered-lift rating) appropriate to the instrument rating sought, and the ability to; read, speak, write, and understand the English language.

You must have logged the following:

  • At least 50 hours of cross-country flight time as a pilot in command, 10 of these hours at least must be in an instrument-airplane rating.
  • A total of 40 hours of actual or simulated instrument time. 
  • At least 15 hours of instrument flight training from an authorized instructor in the aircraft category for the instrument rating sought.

For instrument-airplane rating, instrument training on cross-country flight procedures that includes at least one cross-country flight in an airplane that is performed under instrument flight rules must consist of:

  • A distance of at least 250 nm along airways or ATC-directed routing.
  • An instrument approach at each airport. 
  • Three different kinds of approaches with the use of navigation systems (Example: ILS instrument light system VOR, GPS, etc.)
  • At least 3 hours of instrument training that is appropriate to the instrument rating sought from an authorized instructor in preparation for the check ride within two calendar months before the examination date.

What is the IFR?

An Instrument Flight Rating is a rating that is added to a Private Pilot or Commercial Pilot License and refers to the qualifications a pilot must have in order to fly under Instrument Flight Rules or IFR. It requires obtaining additional flight training from a qualified Certified Instrument Flight Instructor (CFII), including rules and IFR procedures to enable the pilot to legally and safely operate a properly equipped aircraft in Instrument Meteorological Conditions (IMC).

Does an instrument rating authorize operations under night VFR?

Yes, the privileges of an instrument rating include conducting operations under night VFR because the training requirements for the instrument rating include night VFR competencies.

What are instrument rating endorsements?

To conduct an IFR operation a pilot must hold the applicable instrument rating aircraft endorsements, they are:

  1. Single-engine airplane (SEA) instrument endorsement.
  2. Multi-engine airplane (MEA) instrument endorsement (covers single and multi-engine airplanes).

To conduct an instrument approach operation, a pilot must have the applicable instrument approach endorsement, they are:

  • IAP 2D instrument endorsement.
  • IAP 3D instrument endorsement.

What is an instrument approach operation?

An instrument approach operation involves a pilot conducting an approach and landing using instruments for navigation guidance, in accordance with an authorized instrument approach procedure.

What are instrument approach procedures?

Instrument approach procedures are published by authorities and based on designed criteria that ensure the approach can be conducted within safe margins.

The procedure relies upon particular kinds of ground and/or satellite navigation systems, which provide data to the aircraft’s systems to generate navigation guidance information, some of which provide lateral (directional) signals and some also provide vertical (altitude) signals.

Examples of old technology systems include VORs, which provide lateral navigation signals. Both lateral and vertical signals are provided by ILS.

Newer satellite and ground-based systems provide various combinations of lateral and vertical data. The aircraft must be certified to conduct an approach in accordance with a prescribed procedure under IFR.

There are experience standards for each aircraft endorsement (the experience can be in aircraft or a flight simulation training device that is approved for the purpose). The hours can be counted in the requirements specified above.

The experience standards for each endorsement are detailed below.

  • Single-engine airplane endorsement ―at least 10 hours of dual instrument time in an airplane, and at least five hours experience at night as the pilot of an airplane (including at least one hour of dual flight – one hour of solo night circuits).
  • Multi-engine airplane endorsement ―at least 10 hours of dual instrument time in a multi-engine airplane and at least five hours experience at night as a pilot of an airplane (including at least one hour of dual flight – one hour of solo night circuits).
  • You will also need to pass the instrument rating flight test.