Instrument Rating

Full details on the IR Rating

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Instrument Rating (IR)

This is an informational page and is, as far as possible, unbiased. To find out about our course, or to book your place, please go to the Book a Course page.

What is the aim of the IR?

The aim of the IR modular flight training course is to train pilots to the level of proficiency necessary to operate aeroplanes under Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) and in Instrument Meteorological Conditions (IMC).

Whilst it is possible to complete a single engine IR, here we will look at the multi engine IR course as it is the most common way of training towards your first airline or equivalent pilot position.

What do I need to start my IR course?

You will need to:

  • Hold a Class 1 or Class 2 medical with a valid Audiogram.
  • Hold a PPL or CPL (but we’re assuming here that you have a CPL).
  • Have completed either your IR or ATPL theory and passed the exams. To be considered for an airline pilot’s job or similar and to be able to also complete your CPL you will need to complete the ATPL theory and exams.
  • Have at least 50 hours of cross-country Pilot in Command time (PIC).
  • A night rating to be able to exercise the privileges of the rating.

What do I need to take my IR skills test?

You need to have completed an approved course at an Approved Training Organisation (ATO), and be put forward for test by your instructor.

What does the IR course consist of?

The course itself will consist of 45 hours of training, as you already hold a CPL (10 hours of instrument time will be included at basic instrument flight level during the CPL).

This can be made up of up to 30 hours in a Flight Training Procedural trainer level 2 (FTPT II) which will be almost identical to the aircraft you will complete the remainder of the IR course in.

You will then fly a further 15 hours in the aircraft before, when ready, being put forward for your skills test.

How long does the IR course take to complete?

This depend on a number of factors, including your availability, the instructor’s availability and of course the weather, but it is wise to allow 8-12 weeks.

How much does the IR course cost?

This very much depends on the school you choose, their location and the aircraft type. Things such as landing fees vary as do fuel costs, but you will need to allow between £10,000 – £20,000 depending on the school, aircraft type and number of hours in the simulator.

What are the IR lessons made up of?

As you will have completed your basic IR flight training during your CPL you will now go straight to the Procedural Instrument flight training.

Procedural instrument flight module covers:

  • Pre-flight procedures for IFR flights, including the use of the flight manual and appropriate air traffic services documents in the preparation of an IFR flight plan
  • Procedure and manoeuvres for IFR operation under normal, abnormal and emergency conditions
  • Transition from visual to instrument flight on take-off, standard instrument departures and arrivals
  • En-route IFR procedures
  • Holding procedures
  • Instrument approaches to specified minima
  • Missed approach procedures
  • Diversion to an alternate airport
  • Landings from instrument approaches, including circling to land
  • In flight manoeuvres and particular flight characteristics

What can I expect in the IR skills test?

Below we have listed the content of the skills test, this is for information purposes only and you should always consult with your instructor or examiner for the most up to date information.

Here is a link to the UK CAA Standards doc for the IR skills test. This is the information that has been created from the information listed below the link, from EASA Part FCL.

In the future this might change, but at the time of writing, although the UK is no longer part of EASA we are still following the rules as they stood on December 31st 2020.

>> Instrument Rating Skill Test Information

Accordion Content

1. An applicant for an IR shall have received instruction on the same class or type of aircraft to be used in the test which shall be appropriately equipped for the training and testing purposes.

2. An applicant shall pass all the relevant sections of the skill test. If any item in a section is failed, that section is failed. Failure in more than one section will require the applicant to take the entire test again. An applicant failing only one section shall only repeat the failed section. Failure in any section of the retest, including those sections that have been passed on a previous attempt, will require the applicant to take the entire test again. All relevant sections of the skill test shall be completed within 6 months. Failure to achieve a pass in all relevant sections of the test in two attempts will require further training.

3. Further training may be required following a failed skill test. There is no limit to the number of skill tests that may be attempted.

CONDUCT OF THE TEST

4. The test is intended to simulate a practical flight. The route to be flown shall be chosen by the examiner. An essential element is the ability of the applicant to plan and conduct the flight from routine briefing material. The applicant shall undertake the flight planning and shall ensure that all equipment and documentation for the execution of the flight are on board. The duration of the flight shall be at least 1 hour.

5. Should the applicant choose to terminate a skill test for reasons considered inadequate by the examiner, the applicant shall retake the entire skill test. If the test is terminated for reasons considered adequate by the examiner, only those sections not completed shall be tested in a further flight.

6. At the discretion of the examiner, any manoeuvre or procedure of the test may be repeated once by the applicant. The examiner may stop the test at any stage if it is considered that the applicant’s demonstration of flying skill requires a complete retest.

7. An applicant shall fly the aircraft from a position where the PIC functions can be performed and to carry out the test as if there is no other crew member. The examiner shall take no part in the operation of the aircraft, except when intervention is necessary in the interests of safety or to avoid unacceptable delay to other traffic. Responsibility for the flight shall be allocated in accordance with national regulations.

8. Decision heights/altitude, minimum descent heights/altitudes and missed approach point shall be determined by the applicant and agreed by the examiner.

9. An applicant for an IR shall indicate to the examiner the checks and duties carried out, including the identification of radio facilities. Checks shall be completed in accordance with the authorised checklist for the aircraft on which the test is being taken. During pre-flight preparation for the test the applicant is required to determine power settings and speeds. Performance data for take-off, approach and landing shall be calculated by the applicant in compliance with the operations manual or flight manual for the aircraft used.

FLIGHT TEST TOLERANCES

10. The applicant shall demonstrate the ability to:

  • operate the aircraft within its limitations;
  • complete all manoeuvres with smoothness and accuracy;
  • exercise good judgment and airmanship;
  • apply aeronautical knowledge; and maintain control of the aircraft at all times in such a manner that the successful outcome of a procedure or manoeuvre is never seriously in doubt.

11. The following limits shall apply, corrected to make allowance for turbulent conditions and the handling qualities and performance of the aircraft used.

Height
Generally ± 100 feet
Starting a go-around at decision height/altitude + 50 feet/– 0 feet
Minimum descent height/MAP/altitude + 50 feet/– 0 feet

Tracking
On radio aids ± 5°
For angular deviations – Half scale deflection, azimuth and glide path (e.g. LPV, ILS, MLS, GLS)
2D (LNAV) and 3D (LNAV/VNAV) “linear” lateral Deviations – cross-track error/deviation shall normally be limited to ± 1/2 the RNP value associated with the procedure. Brief deviations from this standard up to a maximum of 1 time the RNP value are allowable.
3D linear vertical deviations (e.g. RNP APCH (LNAV/VNAV) using BaroVNAV) – not more than – 75 feet below the vertical profile at any time, and not more than + 75 feet above the vertical profile at or below 1000 feet above aerodrome level.

Heading
all engines operating ± 5°
with simulated engine failure ± 10°

Speed
all engines operating ± 5 knots
with simulated engine failure + 10 knots/– 5 knots

CONTENT OF THE TEST

SECTION 1: PRE-FLIGHT OPERATIONS AND DEPARTURE

Use of checklist, airmanship, anti-icing/de-icing procedures, etc., apply in all sections

A) use of flight manual (or equivalent) especially a/c performance calculation, mass and balance.
B) Use of Air Traffic Services document, weather document
C) Preparation of ATC flight plan, IFR flight plan/log
D) Identification of the required navaids for departure, arrival and approach procedures
E) Pre-flight inspection
F) Weather Minima
G) Taxiing

H) PBN departure (if applicable):
— Check that the correct procedure has been loaded in the navigation system; and
— Cross-check between the navigation system display and the departure chart.

I) Pre-take-off briefing, Take-off
J) Transition to instrument flight
K) Instrument departure procedures, including PBN departures, and altimeter setting
L) ATC liaison — compliance, R/T procedures

SECTION 2: GENERAL HANDLING ( o )

A) Control of the aeroplane by reference solely to instruments, including: level flight at various speeds, trim
B) Climbing and descending turns with sustained Rate 1 turn
C) Recoveries from unusual attitudes, including sustained 45° bank turns and steep descending turns
D)(*) Recovery from approach to stall in level flight, climbing/ descending turns and in landing configuration — only applicable to aeroplanes
E) Limited panel: stabilised climb or descent, level turns at Rate 1 onto given headings, recovery from unusual attitudes — only applicable to aeroplanes

SECTION 3: EN-ROUTE IFR PROCEDURES ( o )

A) Tracking, including interception, e.g. NDB, VOR, or track between waypoints
B) Use of navigation system and radio aids
C) Level flight, control of heading, altitude and airspeed, power setting, trim technique
D) Altimeter settings
E) Timing and revision of ETAs (en-route hold, if required)
F) Monitoring of flight progress, flight log, fuel usage, systems’ management
G) Ice protection procedures, simulated if necessary
H) ATC liaison — compliance, R/T procedures

SECTION 3a: ARRIVAL PROCEDURES

A) Setting and checking of navigational aids, if applicable
B) Arrival procedures, altimeter checks
C) Altitude and speed constraints, if applicable

D) PBN arrival (if applicable):
— Check that the correct procedure has been loaded in the navigation system; and
— Cross-check between the navigation system display and the arrival chart.

SECTION 4(°): 3D Operations(++)

A) Setting and checking of navigational aids
Check Vertical Path angle
For RNP APCH:
— Check that the correct procedure has been loaded in the navigation system; and
— Cross-check between the navigation system display and the approach chart.

B) Approach and landing briefing, including descent/approach/landing checks, including identification of facilities
C) (+) Holding procedure
D) Compliance with published approach procedure
E) Approach timing
F) Altitude, speed heading control (stabilised approach)
G) (+) Go-around action
H) (+) Missed approach procedure/landing
I) ATC liaison — compliance, R/T procedures

SECTION 5(°): 2D OPERATIONS(++)

A) Setting and checking of navigational aids
For RNP APCH:
— Check that the correct procedure has been loaded in the navigation system; and
— Cross-check between the navigation system display and the approach chart.
B) Approach and landing briefing, including descent/approach/landing checks, including identification of facilities
C) (+) Holding procedure
D) Compliance with published approach procedure
E) Approach timing
F) Altitude/Distance to MAPT, speed, heading control (stabilised approach), Stop Down Fixes (SDF(s)), if applicable
G) (+) Go-around action
H) (+) Missed approach procedure/landing
I) (+) ATC liaison — compliance, R/T procedures

SECTION 6: FLIGHT WITH ONE ENGINE INOPERATIVE (multi- engine aeroplanes only) ( o )

A) Simulated engine failure after take-off or on go-around
B) Approach, go-around and procedural missed approach with one engine inoperative
C) Approach and landing with one engine inoperative
D) ATC liaison — compliance, R/T procedures

What's Next?

As you can see from the above there is a lot to learn and become competent with!

As with the CPL it is important that you have developed the skills during your previous flying that will allow you to fly accurately and with enough capacity to be ahead of the aircraft.

Your instructor will teach you in a progressive way so you do not become overwhelmed and will only put you forward for the skills test when they feel you are ready.

Once you hold a CPL with ME/IR you are nearly at the end of your training. The only thing left to do is your APS MCC, and then you can start applying for jobs.

Take the next step towards your dream job as a pilot

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