Instrument Rating: Advanced Pilot Skills for Adverse Weather Conditions
What is an Instrument Rating?
Earning your Instrument Rating is the next logical step after earning your Private Pilot License. Flying with an Instrument Rating (IR) expands the flight territory in which a pilot can safely operate. You will learn how to safely fly in inclement weather and be licensed to do so. This is unlike the PPL, which operates under Visual Flight Rules (VFR). The IR certification is supplementary to the Private Pilot or Commercial licenses. It qualifies the pilot to fly under Instrument Flight Rules (IFR). Having this capability affords new opportunities personally and professionally. You must meet certain prerequisites to pursue your IR.
Instrument Rating Course Requirements
To be eligible to apply for your Instrument Rating Course, you must:
- Be at least 17 years old.
- Hold at least a current private pilot certificate.
- Read, speak, write, and understand English.
4 Steps to Earn an Instrument Rating
Time needed: 60 days
- Step 1: Meet eligibility requirements.
To begin training for your Instrument Rating, you must hold a current PPL and current medical. You must also be proficient in English.
- Step 2: Complete ground school.
Ground school training for your Instrument Rating will include aeronautical knowledge. IFR operations, regulations, and systems. Upon completion, you must pass the FAA written exam (60 multiple choice questions).
- Step 3: Complete flight training.
Learning to fly in IFR conditions includes a minimum of 40 hours of actual or simulated flight time, 15 with an instructor. Some flight training may be completed in a flight simulator. You must complete a cross-country flight of at least 250 nautical miles, make an instrument approach at each airport, with 3 different types of approaches using navigation systems.
- Step 4: Pass your check-ride.
After completing ground school and flight training, you must pass your final check-ride with an FAA examiner or Designated Pilot Examiner (DPE). This practical test takes approximately 1.5 hours. Once you pass, the FAA reviews your qualifications and issues you a permanent certificate.
Instrument Rating Course Overview
The Instrument Pilot Course is designed to teach pilots to operate aircraft in low-visibility environments, such as heavy cloud cover or heavy rain. The flight lessons in this course provide pilots with the knowledge to rely solely on instruments to navigate the aircraft in situations where they cannot rely on visual instincts.
As many pilots can attest, weather conditions do not always permit the sole reliance on visual flying tactics. This restricts the ability to fly on certain days. The Instrument Rating is essential for any pilot looking to improve flight safety. It is also the next step in the pursuit of a career in flying. Pilots without the rating are prevented from operating aircraft in certain weather conditions where visibility is greatly reduced. Therefore, this limits their maximum allowable altitude, restricts the ability to operate the aircraft at night, and more.
Holding an Instrument Rating also allows pilots the ability to operate under an IFR flight plan, which provides Air Traffic Control services not available to VFR pilots except upon special request. These include traffic advisories, airspace transitions, and vectors. When operating in high-volume airspace, these privileges are a significant advantage.
Watch Epic’s Instrument Rating Video!
Instrument Rating Requirements
In addition to meeting standard eligibility requirements, you must pass the course, exam, and checkride. Your course syllabus covers specific content, including aeronautical knowledge and flight proficiency.
- FAA rules relevant to IFR operations
- IFR flight operations covered in the Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM)
- ATC systems and procedures for IFR
- Navigation and approaches using nav systems for IFR, such as VOR
- IFR en route and instrument approach charts
- Weather reports and forecasts
- Efficient and safe flight operations under IFR
- Critical weather conditions and windshear avoidance
- Sound aeronautical decision-making
- Crew resource management (CRM)
- Preflight preparation and procedures
- ATC clearances and procedures
- Flight by reference to instruments
- Navigation systems
- Instrument approach procedures
- Emergency flight operations
- Post-flight procedures
Instrument Rating Course Duration
Full-time students enrolled in the Professional Pilot Pathway program will have 5 lessons per week. Students who truly dedicate themselves to completing their Instrument Rating, studying hard, and making pilot training the top priority, can complete within 2 months.
Part-time students that are working or enrolled in school may find that their Instrument takes 2-3 months to finish based on scheduling limitations. However, our course durations are estimates, and we highly encourage you to chat with an Admissions Representative directly about your training needs and availability for a customized approximation.
Instrument Rating Course Training
Unlike other flight schools, Epic Flight Academy has FAA-certified simulator facilities. This saves students a significant amount of money, because they supplement training for their IR in a resource that minimizes operational costs. Our Flight Simulator Team performs routine tests on each of the devices. This ensures that our students are experiencing flight training that properly prepares them to execute the same maneuvers in an actual airplane.
Instrument Rating Course Tuition
Instrument Ground School – 40 Hours
Simulator | TruFlite Cessna 172 w/ Instructor – 19 Hours
Flight | Cessna 172 w/ Instructor – 24.5 Hours
One-on-One Ground Instruction – 20 Hours
Pre/Post-Activity Briefing – 6 Hours
Total Course Time: 2 months
Financing options are available.
Meet Your Instrument Rating Course Team Leader, Katie Milligan!
Katie Milligan is Epic Flight Academy’s Instrument Rating Course Leader. She graduated from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University with a B.S. degree in Aeronautics. Katie earned her CFI and CFII at Epic. Her responsibilities as the private course manager are to assist flight students in their training towards their first license. Objectives include monitoring, meeting, and assessing students throughout their initial training. Katie is here to answer any questions from both instructors and students regarding any aviation-related work. She invites everyone to stop by the course leader office and introduce yourself! Katie is here to help you succeed in achieving your dream of earning your Instrument Rating!
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How hard is it to get an instrument rating?
A: If you have already earned your Private Pilot License, which is a prerequisite, instrument rating is not too difficult to achieve. You’ll need to pass your ground school course and exam. After that, you’ll need to pass your IR checkride. You must also meet the FAA’s required hours. Watch a video on the fundamentals of instrument training at Epic.
Q: How many hours are required for an instrument rating?
A: At Epic, which operates under Part 141, you must complete a minimum of 35 hours. However, FAA Part 61 requires 50 hours of cross-country flight as pilot in command if you train elsewhere. Additionally, 10 of those hours must be in an airplane. Also, you must have logged 40 hours of actual or simulated IR flight time.
Q: How long does it take to get an instrument rating?
A: Full-time students take approximately 2 months to complete the IR, whereas part-time students may need an additional month. This is because the FAA requires students to log a minimum of 35 total flight hours in order to be eligible for the Instrument Rating; however, fewer than 5% of pilots complete their training within the minimum flight requirements. Many Epic Flight Academy students complete their Instrument Rating in approximately 55 total flight hours.
Q: Does Epic’s course meet the FAA’s Airplane Airman Certification Standards (ACS)?
A: Yes, the FAA has approved Epic’s course, because it includes required aeronautical knowledge, risk management, and flight proficiency standards.
Q: How much does it cost to get an instrument rating?
A: The tuition at Epic is $14,940 USD.
What’s next after I earn my Instrument Rating?
Once you have earned your Instrument Flight Rules, you will probably want to go on to the next rating: Commercial Pilot License. Logically, this is the next step toward the ultimate goal of becoming a professional pilot!