• IFR Training Part 5

    IFR Training Part 5

    By Chris Liddell

    Having been grounded in early 2020 due to Covid restrictions, I have to wait until August to get back into the air again. It's a very frustrating wait, and yet again, I need to get back into some sort of currency and revise the various elements of the IMC course.

    This takes another four flights, the last of which introduces me to another type of approach - the PAR. This stands for 'precision approach radar' and is basically the military version of the SRA (see my first article). Fife is in close proximity to Leuchars Airbase, and we arrange to do the procedure during our flight.

    It's basically a talk down procedure done via radar control, but unlike its civilian counterpart the SRA, uses various different terminology and two different controllers.

    I get vectored out over the east coast, before being turned in back towards runway 26 coming down to the decision height of 290 feet, before going around and heading back to Fife.

    IFR Training Part 5
    Flying over the nearly finished new Forth Road Bridge

    Shutting down, my instructor tells me that I have now completed the IMC course, and we head indoors so he can mark up my log book to that effect, and fill in some CAA paperwork.

    I have logged around 22 hours of flight by sole reference to instruments, and a total training time for the course of approximately 25 hours. As you may recall the minimum for the course is 15 hours, but various issues have added to that in my case.

    The next step is to book my test! It feels slightly surreal, and reminds me of the way I felt just before doing my PPL test, but in any case, I go ahead and book up a date eight days later.

    I will take the test at Dundee Airport, and my instructor has an examiner in mind that will do my flight. About three days before the date, I phone the examiner to get a briefed about the profile of the flight. Basically the flight will cover all the IMC course syllabus, with VOR tracking, basic instrument flying skills, two approaches (one precision and one non precision), and a low level circuit.

    The day before my test, my examiner has fabulous news...he has become a father!

    I now get allocated another examiner, who thankfully tells me to go with the profile already agreed, and it's with a mixture of terror and excitement that I head off to Dundee!

    Arriving at Dundee, I meet my examiner (who as well as instructing, flies for a Scottish Regional Airline) and he suggests we have a cup of tea while we go through the necessary paperwork, and do the briefing for the test!

    I go out to the aircraft, and do an 'A' check, then my examiner comes out and we get settled in.

    Any sort of flying benefits greatly from preparation, and good cockpit organisation, so I have all my approach charts ready at hand, checklist and various bits and pieces. I turn the master switch on, prime the engine, yell 'clear' and energize the starter. The propeller turns but the engine doesn't start despite being close to it. No big deal - just need a bit more primer I think, so I add more primer and as I turn the key...nothing! Not even a cough!? Normally this would be disappointing, even inconvenient, but as I am already maxed out with test nerves, it feels like the end of the world!

    The aircraft belongs to a large training organisation, which also has a maintenance facility at the airport, so an engineer is called in, and he tells us that the starter motor had died...

    Oh great - not really what I need, however my examiner commandeers another PA28, and after another preflight, we get started up and begin the test!

    One good thing about doing the test at Dundee is that I can tune and ident most of the navaids even before I start to taxi.

    I get the ATIS, and taxi clearance, then position at the holding point, before being cleared for take off. I take off using runway 09 and turn into a right hand circuit, climbing out over the scenic Firth of Tay on the downwind, before tracking north to begin my first task, which is to tune into the Perth VOR and track an outbound radial for a minimum of 10 nautical miles to the north east. I climb to 3000 feet and intercept the radial, holding the track easily, as luckily for me there is little wind.

    I am still visual, but we are just below the cloud base, so my examiner tells me to climb to 3500 feet and we enter cloud - no hood/foggles required! Tracking along in IMC is really cool, and despite this being a test, I am quite enjoying myself!

    Having successfully demonstrated my tracking ability, I am told to climb to 4000 which takes us above the cloud layer. This is what I love - cloud surfing! - but before I can enjoy myself too much, I am told to put on the IFR hood, and we now do the unusual attitude recovery exercises, on full and limited panel.

    This goes well, and next it is the dreaded compass turns! My directional gyro and attitude indicator are covered over, and my examiner tells me to turn 60 degrees to the right, so I use the timed method and this works out well. The next heading change is given, and as I roll out on my new heading I realise that I am 90 degrees out! Quickly confessing my error I calculate and execute the remaining part of the requested turn and get on the correct heading. I am not really worried by this, as I quickly realised and verbalised my error then corrected it, so I don't think I have blown it (at least hopefully not!).

    "Take me back to Dundee" is the next instruction, so I track towards the Dundee NDB, for my approaches. I am required in the test to do one precision (aka 3D approach) and one non precision (aka 2D approach), so I opt to do the ILS DME 09 to start.

    As already mentioned in the last article these approaches come off a hold at the NDB. The timed turns have positioned me much closer to Dundee than I would have hoped, and it's a bit of a scrabble to copy the ATIS, and get myself set up.

    The procedure starts at 3000, but for the first time ever, I am told to hold at 4000... Joining the hold via a direct entry, I take up the hold, and go round, and round, and round...Finally I am cleared to descend to 3000 and begin the procedure. I fly over the NDB tacking west before turning back to intercept the localiser, and follow the ILS down to decision height. This should be (for an IMC rated pilot) 500 feet, but as we approach this height, my examiner tells me to go to the full IR decision height of 200 feet! Getting to minimums, I do the missed approach, which takes me back to the NDB and I go straight into the dreaded NDB approach.

    This goes pretty well, and at my decision height of 600 feet, my examiner tells me to look out, and there is a large runway ahead! Going visual I now do a touch and go (appalling landing I have to admit) then do a low level circuit (this simulates a circle to land maneouver) at 500 feet and land on 09 in a slightly better landing than the previous one! We roll to the end of the runway, then vacate, and taxi back to the parking area. I am really maxed out, but thankfully my examiner doesn't keep me waiting and tells me that I have passed! Relief and joy come over me in equal measures!

    1. Rupert's Avatar
      Rupert -
      Great continuation of a great series! Thanks for publishing it!!


      BTW: I for one can't identify that cockpit. What is it??
    1. aikichris's Avatar
      aikichris -
      Thanks very much Michael! Glad you enjoyed it.
      The aircraft cockpit is the Saab 340 turbprop, flown by Loganair.
    1. lovinamolli's Avatar
      lovinamolli -
      Thanks, great article! Very interesting to read
    1. aikichris's Avatar
      aikichris -
      Quote Originally Posted by lovinamolli View Post
      Thanks, great article! Very interesting to read
      Thanks very much - glad you enjoyed reading!
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