• IFR Training Part 2

    IFR Training Part 2

    By Chris Liddell

    I would like to begin this article by making it clear that this series is in no way intended as instructional material. The intention is to give a (hopefully) interesting account of my instrument training experience. I am not an instructor, and have done my best to give accurate information on the topics covered. If there are any errors I apologise!

    Having decided to train for an instrument rating, I have a couple of options open to me. Outside the UK the only option (as far as I am aware) is to train for a full ICAO Instrument rating. In the UK however there is also the IMC rating. IMC stands for 'instrument meteorological conditions' - the opposite of VMC 'visual meteorological conditions'. This rating is now officially known as the IR(r) or restricted instrument rating, but for the purposes of this article will be referred to as the IMC rating!

    A full IR requires a minimum 50-55 hours training (depending on whether it is a single or multi engine rating) of which 20-25 can be logged in an approved simulator.

    The IMC rating requires a minimum 15 hours of training of which 2 can be logged in an approved simulator. Both ratings have a theory component with written exams plus flight test.

    Obviously if you have the ambition to become a commercial pilot, or own a capable touring aircraft which will be used to fly on business, and other long trips flown under Instrument Flight Rules, then the full IR is the obvious choice.

    As a leisure pilot, who hires from a flying club, the IMC rating makes the most sense. Given the sort of flying I do and the large cost to do a full IR, the IMC rating will serve my purposes well.

    'Jim' who will instruct me through this course (see part one of this series) is well qualified with single/multi engine, instrument and seaplane instructor privileges, as well as being a CAA examiner. I arrange to begin my training, and with a sense of excitement go to Glasgow International Airport to begin the IMC course!

    To quote the introduction of the IR(r) syllabus:

    'The aim of the Instrument Rating (restricted) course is to teach the student basic and applied instrument flying as set down in CAA Standards Document 25(A). It will give the student a sound knowledge of aeroplane single pilot IFR operations in UK airspace. The course is designed to meet the requirements of Part 2, Chapter 1, Section 2 of the UK ANO, specifically: to entitle the holder of the licence to act as pilot in command or co-pilot of an aeroplane flying under the Instrument Flight Rules except (a) in Class A airspace; or (b) when the aeroplane is taking off or landing at any place if the flight visibility below cloud is less than 1,500 metres.'

    It should be noted that the IMC rating is a UK only rating, and has some limitations on it (hence the 'restricted' bit) - these will be clarified later in this series.

    We begin every lesson with a thorough briefing, including a detailed weather assessment which includes checking the freezing level, cloud bases/types, MSA (minimum safe altitude) for our route, alternate airports, and a discussion about the content of that particular flight.

    The first part of the course is attitude flying, and basic instrument flying.

    Instrument training requires the student to have their vision of the outside world limited to simulate flying in cloud and there are three options here - screens, foggles, or hood. Not many light aircraft have screens fitted, and I wear glasses which makes foggles a bit awkward, so I opt for the hood.

    IFR Training
    Foggles or hood?

    Glasgow Airport is a bit of a culture shock for me! - you may recall from my 'Going Solo' articles that my training was done at Cumbernauld Airport, which is in uncontrolled airspace, and uses an A/G (air to ground) radio which is the most basic ATC service available in the UK. Flying in and out of an International Airport requires copying ATIS, communicating with ground, tower, and approach controllers, and departure clearances - all within class D airspace. Sequencing between commercial flights (anything from light twins up to and including A380s) and wake turbulence adds to the fun!

    IFR Training
    Glasgow International Airport

    Pre flight and ground checks are similar to my normal visual flying, but with added emphasis on equipment vital to IFR flight, such as the vacuum pump and pitot heater, and checking for the correct operation of the directional gyro, turn co-ordinator and attitude indicator during taxiing.

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