Getting your Accelerated Instrument Rating

The accelerated instrument rating is a logical next step for many pilots looking to:

a) Take the next step in their piloting career

b) Expand the flight territory in which they can safely operate

c) Increase their overall business/personal flight capabilities

In short, there are numerous reasons pilots wish to achieve this important certification, and in this guide we aim to explain what an instrument rating is, why it is important for every pilot to have, and the requirements involved in acquiring it.

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What is an Accelerated Instrument Rating?

The primary reason any pilot would wish to have their instrument rating is to be able to operate their aircraft in low-visibility environments, such as heavy cloud cover, heavy rains, etc. The accelerated instrument rating training provides the pilot with the knowledge and ability to rely solely on the aircraft instruments to navigate and pilot the aircraft, even without the ability to rely on visual instincts. The instrument certification itself is supplementary to your previously-held private pilot or commercial license, and essentially provides you with the ability to begin flying under Instrument Flight Rules, or IFR. The accelerated instrument rating training itself will consist of additional instruction in weather conditions, along with more intensive training in-flight, with a heavy emphasis on instrument reliance.

Why is the Instrument Rating Important?

The instrument rating is essential for any pilot looking to expand their flight capabilities, improve flight safety, and proceed with their pursuit of a career in flying. Many limits are placed on pilots who do not hold this rating, preventing the operation of aircraft in certain weather conditions where visibility is greatly reduced, limiting the maximum allowable altitude, restricting the ability to operate the aircraft at night, and more. Thus, the decision to proceed with accelerated instrument rating training is typically based on the desire for greater freedom, and the desire to improve the safety of piloting aircraft in various weather conditions. Some of the most common motivators behind the decision to pursue the instrument rating include:

a) Safety

The instrument rating is a natural conduit for greater safety, as it improves the pilots proficiency with aircraft instruments and various weather conditions, allowing for the safe operation of aircraft in a much greater array of weather conditions than previously possible. For this reason, many pilots are persuaded to pursue this rating for the simple reason that it improves their ability to safely operate aircraft.

b) Flexibility

As many pilots can attest, weather conditions do not always permit the sole reliance on visual flying tactics which hinders the ability to fly on certain days. Therefore, for the dedicated recreational pilot it is a nuisance to be grounded on days where IFR pilots would otherwise be able to fly. It is for this reason that many pilots choose to pursue accelerated instrument rating training in order to maximize the utility of their pilots license.

c) Insurance and Air Traffic Control Services

Two lesser known reasons also exist which motivate pilots to acquire their instrument rating. Aircraft insurance companies in the United States and around the world have a profound preference for IFR-rated pilots, and in many cases it is required to hold this certification in order to have an insurance policy in-which the liability per passenger exceeds $100,000. IFR-rated pilots are much more likely to achieve a policy of up to $1,000,000, and for policies that provide coverage of up to $5,000,000, it is absolutely necessary.

Another lesser-known reason to pursue the accelerated instrument rating is due to the fact that it provides the ability to operate under an IFR flight plan. The pilot who files an IFR flight plan is automatically provided with certain Air Traffic Control services which are not provided to VFR pilots except upon special request, such as traffic advisories, airspace transitions, and vectors. When operating in high-volume airspace, this is a significant advantage, and is sometimes enough to motivate recreational and/or small commercial pilots to pursue the instrument rating.

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Accelerated Instrument Rating Requirements

The FAA lays out the basic requirements for pilots looking to pursue this rating under 14 CFR 61.65. We have summarized the basic accelerated instrument rating requirements below:

General Requirements

1) Hold at least a current private pilot certificate, or be concurrently applying for a private pilot certificate, with an airplane, helicopter, or powered-lift rating

2) Be able to read, speak, write, and understand the English language

3) Receive and log ground training from an authorized instructor

4) Receive and log training on the areas of operation from an authorized instructor in an aircraft, full flight simulator, or flight training device that represents an airplane, helicopter, or powered-lift

5) Pass the required knowledge test on the aeronautical knowledge areas

a) The FAA provides a useful guide which outlines the material to be covered on the knowledge test here

6) Pass the required practical test on the areas of operation in an airplane, helicopter, or powered-lift appropriate to the rating sought; or a full flight simulator or a flight training device appropriate to the rating sought and for the specific maneuver or instrument approach procedure performed

a) The FAA provides a comprehensive guide of what is to be expected during the practical test, which can be found here

Accelerated Instrument Rating Cost

The accelerated instrument rating cost varies from flight school to flight school, however there is consistency based on the similar requirements across the United States. Contact our Admissions Team to learn more about the requirements and costs of the accelerated instrument rating at Epic Flight Academy! The actual cost will vary from pilot to pilot based on factors such as:

a) The proportion of training undertaken in the pilots own aircraft, verses the flight school’s aircraft

b) Whether the flight school has an FAA-approved simulator

c) Whether or not the pilot has already logged some or all prerequisite PIC cross-country time

d) How much recent flight time the pilot has logged

Getting Started with the Accelerated Instrument Rating

Now that the requirements have been laid out, the last step is to discuss the practical next steps for getting started with the accelerated instrument rating training. Many flight schools offer comprehensive packages which can get you completely certified in a much shorter period than traditional instrument rating courses, some in a short as a week! When selecting the flight school, there are a few key factors which should be considered. Only an FAA-certified flight school is licensed to provide this type of training, however beyond this the reputability of the school should also be considered, as the accelerated instrument rating is intensive and therefore requires top-tier instructors and facilities. If you wish to complete a portion of the training with a simulator, you must inquire as-to whether the school has the necessary FAA-approved simulator facilities; otherwise the entire course will need to be taken within actual aircraft.

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