Instrument rating knowledge areas


This is a rough overview of the FAA requirements for an instrument rating - what must be part of the checkride - and some of the areas that are worth focusing on for the examiners I have sent students to.

b) Aeronautical knowledge. A person who applies for an instrument rating must have received and logged ground training from an authorized instructor or accomplished a home-study course on the following aeronautical knowledge areas that apply to the instrument rating sought:

  1. Federal Aviation Regulations of this chapter that apply to flight operations under IFR;
  2. Appropriate information that applies to flight operations under IFR in the "Aeronautical Information Manual"
  3. Air traffic control system and procedures for instrument flight operations;
  4. IFR navigation and approaches by use of navigation systems;
  5. Use of IFR en route and instrument approach procedure charts;
  6. Procurement and use of aviation weather reports and forecasts and the elements of forecasting weather trends based on that information and personal observation of weather conditions;
  7. Safe and efficient operation of aircraft under instrument flight rules and conditions;
  8. Recognition of critical weather situations and windshear avoidance;
  9. Aeronautical decision making and judgment; and
  10. Crew resource management, including crew communication and coordination.

c) Flight proficiency. A person who applies for an instrument rating must receive and log training from an authorized instructor in an aircraft, or in a flight simulator or flight training device, in accordance with paragraph (e) of this section, that includes the following areas of operation:

  1. Preflight preparation;
  2. Preflight procedures;
  3. Air traffic control clearances and procedures;
  4. Flight by reference to instruments;
  5. Navigation systems;
  6. Instrument approach procedures;
  7. Emergency operations; and
  8. Postflight procedures.

Technical subjects (briefings)

  1. Aircraft flight instruments and navigation equipment

    • Aircraft flight instruments
    • Aircraft navigation equipment
    • Precision instrument approach systems
  2. Aeromedical factors
  3. Regulations and publications related to IFR operations

    • Enroute and area charts
    • Approach plates

Preflight preparation (briefings)

  1. Weather information
  2. Cross-country flight planning
  3. Instrument cockpit check

Air traffic control clearances and procedures

  1. ATC clearances
  2. Compliance with departure, enroute, and arrival procedures and clearances

Flight by reference to instruments

  1. Straight-and-level flight
  2. Turns
  3. Change of airspeed in straight and level and turning flight
  4. Constant airspeed climbs and descents
  5. Constant rate climbs and descents
  6. Timed turns to magnetic compass headings
  7. Steep turns
  8. Recovery from unusual flight attitudes

Navigation systems

  1. Intercepting and tracking navigational systems and DME arcs

    • VOR
    • DME
    • ADF & NDB
    • GPS
  2. Holding procedures

Instrument approach procedures

  1. Nonprecision instrument approach

    • LOC / LOC BC
    • VOR / VORTAC
    • NDB
    • GPS
  2. Precision instrument approach
  3. Missed approach
  4. Circling approach and visual maneuvering
  5. Straight-in approach

Emergency operations

  1. Lost communications
  2. Vacuum failure (gyro-driven heading and attitude indicators)
  3. Engine failure during straight and level flight and turns

Postflight procedures

  1. Checking instruments and equipment
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