Instrument Rating Summary

The illusive instrument rating. A mysterious one it is...

The instrument rating is a must for any serious pilot, and is known to be one of the most challenging ratings to get. The instrument rating allows you to fly in clouds. Flying without being able to see the ground, or what is around you, will mess with your senses and feelings of orientation. Instrument training is designed so you can become accustomed to those disorientating feelings, tuning them out, and focusing on your cockpit instruments so you can fly safely through low visibility.

Instrument Rating Requirements are dictated by Chapter 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Part 61, Subpart B, Section 65. We'll highlight the important stuff below.

Instrument rating requirements.

  • Hold at least a current private pilot certificate, or be concurrently applying for a private pilot certificate
  • Be able to read, speak, write, and understand the English language.
  • 50 hours of cross-country flight time as pilot in command, of which 10 hours must have been in an airplane. This does not need to be done while training. You can just fly solo, even as a sport pilot, and then start instrument training, and it would still count.
  • Forty hours of actual or simulated instrument time, of which 15 hours must have been received from an instrument instructor.
  • Complete an aeronautical knowledge test (we have ground school training material to prepare you for it)
  • Complete an oral examination and practical test with an FAA examiner

Unlike sport and private licenses, there are actually a LOT of other requirements. Your instructor will be your guide, and help you understand what it is you need to do. The above are the most important that you need to know!

Costs

Instrument rating costs are much more difficult to calculate than sport or private training, because there are a huge number of variables in play. For example, a person who only has a hundred hours of time flying will have a different learning curve than someone who has several hundred hours, and both of which will learn much faster than a person who has not flown in many years and is just now getting back into the swing of things.

Instrument rating requirements are also very different in how you can build the training time, which leads to lower costs. We'll explain:

Per §61.65 (d)(1), it states that you must have at least 50 hours of cross country time as pilot in command, 10 of which must be in an airplane. --- That means several things: you could have been flying helicopters to get your helicopter instrument rating, and now want to add on airplane. Helicopters are rotary-wing aircraft, not airplanes, so you need 10 hours of time in an airplane. On the other hand, if you are a fresh private pilot, you probably don't even have 50 hours of cross country time yet (if you got your license at the minimum of 40 hours, then that means you have less TOTAL experience than the amount of required cross country experience!). All this means is you might need more experience beyond basic instrument training to complete this requirement. Fortunately, you CAN get at least some of the 50 hours of cross country time while training for your instrument rating!

Additionally, §61.65 (d)(2) states as follows: "Forty hours of actual or simulated instrument time in the areas of operation listed in paragraph (c) of this section, of which 15 hours must have been received from an authorized instructor who holds an instrument-airplane rating". --- Simply put, it means you have several options beyond what is being stated. You can train the entire 40 hours with an instructor to fulfil this requirement, OR you could fly with another private pilot for 25 of those hours in which that person acts as a "Safety Pilot", who you can split the rental bill with, AND you can both log the time while you are practicing with the view obstructing device!

Costs and Comparisons of Instrument Training

Since New Flyers Association is a flying club, there's no shortage of people who would love to fly with you to help you split costs! We will assume an aircraft rental rate of $119 for the purposes of this comparison, and this is only including aircraft and instructor charges, and doesn't include things like insurance, FAA's testing fees, or additional equipment like headsets (you should already have one by this point anyways!), etc.

Standard Training Measures Hours Rate Total -VS- Flying with club members
Hours Rate Total
Instrument pilot training kit 149 149 Instrument pilot training kit 149 149
Flying with an instructor for the 15 hour instruction minimum 15
55 825 Flying with an instructor for the 15 hour instruction minimum 15 55 825
Flying with an Instructor for the remaining 25 hours to get the 40 hour total simulated instrument minimum requirement 25 55 1375 Flying with other club members for 25 hours, instead of using an instructor 25 0!! 0
Aircraft Rental with instructor for 15 hours 15 119 1785 Aircraft Rental with instructor for 15 hours 15 119 1785
Aircraft rental with instructor for the other 25 hours 25 119 2975 Aircraft rental with another club member for the other 25 hours (and splitting the rate) 25 59.5 1487.5
Total training costs when flying only with an instructor 7,109 Total training costs when flying with another club member for a portion of the training 4,246.5
TOTAL SAVED: $2,862.50!