Instrument Rating

Instrument Rating

Many private pilots want to be able to fly under instrument flight rules (IFR), especially in places where the weather isn't always that great. With an instrument rating you can fly anytime and anywhere the big commercial jets can. Let's take a closer look at the instrument rating for your private or higher certificate.

The most obvious advantage to adding an instrument rating is that you no longer are limited to visual flight rules. You can fly from here to there using IFR — as long as you have the training and your plane has the equipment for IFR flight.

IFR flying means that ATC helps you stay clear of other aircraft in the area, called separation. You must fly a specified path and follow directions, but this allows you to fly under conditions that keep VFR pilots on the ground. An instrument rating especially makes sense if you travel for business and need to be somewhere on time no matter what the weather.

To get an instrument rating tacked on to your certificate you'll need to log 50 or more hours of cross-country flight time. Then you'll need 40 hours of instrument flight training of which at least 15 of the hours must be instrument flight training with a CFII (certified flight instructor who can teach instrument flying). You'll have to pass a knowledge test and the practical test for the instrument rating. There's more fine print, but those are the basic requirements.

Wing Tips

All the primary flight schools that offer ground instruction or knowledge-test training also offer training toward the instrument rating. Check out King Schools, Jeppesen, Cessna Training Centers, Sporty's Pilot Shop, and other training providers for specific information.