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Training for the Instrument Rating

in Instrument Rating

A person who wishes to add the instrument rating to his or her pilot certificate must first make commitments of time, money, and quality of training. There are many combinations of training methods available. Independent studies may be adequate preparation to pass the required FAA Knowledge Test for the instrument rating. Occasional periods of ground and flight instruction may provide the skills necessary to pass the required test. Or, individuals may choose a training facility that provides comprehensive aviation education and the training necessary to ensure the pilot will pass all the required tests and operate safely in the National Airspace System (NAS). The aeronautical knowledge may be administered by educational institutions, aviation-oriented schools, correspondence courses, and appropriately rated instructors. Each person must decide for themselves which training program best meets his or her needs and at the same time maintain a high quality of training. Interested persons should make inquiries regarding the available training at nearby airports, training facilities, in aviation publications, and through the FAA Flight Standards District Office (FSDO).

Although the regulations specify minimum requirements, the amount of instructional time needed is determined not by the regulation, but by the individual’s ability to achieve a satisfactory level of proficiency. A professional pilot with diversified fl ying experience may easily attain a satisfactory level of proficiency in the minimum time required by regulation. Your own time requirements will depend upon a variety of factors, including previous flying experience, rate of learning, basic ability, frequency of flight training, type of aircraft flown, quality of ground school training, and quality of flight instruction, to name a few. The total instructional time you will need, the scheduling of such time, is up to the individual most qualified to judge your proficiency—the instructor who supervises your progress and endorses your record of flight training.

You can accelerate and enrich much of your training by informal study. An increasing number of visual aids and programmed instrument courses is available. The best course is one that includes a well-integrated flight and ground school curriculum. The sequential nature of the learning process requires that each element of knowledge and skill be learned and applied in the right manner at the right time.

Part of your instrument training may utilize a flight simulator, flight training device, or a personal computer-based aviation training device (PCATD). This ground-based flight training equipment is a valuable tool for developing your instrument cross-check and learning procedures, such as intercepting and tracking, holding patterns, and instrument approaches. Once these concepts are fully understood, you can then continue with inflight training and refine these techniques for full transference of your new knowledge and skills.

Holding the instrument rating does not necessarily make you a competent all-weather pilot. The rating certifies only that you have complied with the minimum experience requirements, that you can plan and execute a flight under IFR, that you can execute basic instrument maneuvers, and that you have shown acceptable skill and judgment in performing these activities. Your instrument rating permits you to fly into instrument weather conditions with no previous instrument weather experience. Your instrument rating is issued on the assumption that you have the good judgment to avoid situations beyond your capabilities. The instrument training program you undertake should help you to develop not only essential flying skills but also the judgment necessary to use the skills within your own limits.



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