September 09, 2023
Navigating the Clouds: Mastering Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) Training
You’ve done your basic pilot training and are qualified to fly under Visual Flight Rules (VFR). It’s an incredible feeling having the ability to fly yourself, whether it’s a cross-country trip or just completing circuits. Nothing ruins that feeling more though, than when you get to the airstrip to find low clouds or unsatisfactory visibility. This is where Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) flying comes in, allowing pilots to safely take to the skies, even in adverse weather conditions.
The key to IFR flying, as the name suggests, is the reliance on our flight instruments instead of looking out the window to conduct a safe and successful flight. Following this method, pilots can safely traverse clouds, mist, fog, smoke, and precipitation and even fly at night. Flying under Instrument Flight Rules is a liberating feeling. It’s also a key rating to obtain if you’re looking to pursue a career in aviation. So, what does Instrument Flight Training involve?
Different Ratings, Different Needs
There are actually two types of IFR rating: the Private Instrument Flight Rules (PIFR) rating and the Multi-Engine Command Instrument Rating (MECIR). Both allow pilots to operate under Instrument Flight Rules, with slightly different conditions depending on whether you’re intending to fly privately in a single-engine aircraft or something larger. An IFR rating will train you to operate an aircraft solely on its instruments, be it analogue or modern avionics. As you likely already know, your instruments are able to tell you your altitude, heading, speed, pitch, roll and more. This allows trained pilots to understand their position in the air, even when they cannot see. One key aspect of gaining an IFR rating is improving your ability to read and understand your instruments quickly. At Learn to Fly, this is done via classroom learning and simulator training, backed up with in-air sessions.
What Does IFR Involve?
It’s not just about quick and concise instrument readings though. In order to fly under Instrument Flight Rules, more effort needs to go into flight planning than under VFR. This includes route planning, fuel calculations, weather considerations and more to ensure that your flight is safe and that you are able to remain on course, even without the ability to see out the windows. Instrument rating training teaches pilots how to do these things to a higher level, ensuring they’re fully prepared for IFR conditions and whatever they may encounter on an IFR route. Not only is this necessary information for IFR flying, but it’s also transferrable to your VFR flying practices. IFR training makes you a better all-round pilot.
Another key aspect of gaining an IFR rating is refining communication with ATC. Get ready to practice your calls, IFR flying requires a lot of contact with ATC when in controlled airspace. ATC will provide separation guidelines from obstacles and other aircraft while flying IFR. It’s important to be adept at communicating with ATC to make the necessary adjustments to stay clear of obstacles, given that you are often unable to see these obstacles yourself.
Is IFR Flying Safe?
You may think that operating an aeroplane under Instrument Flight Rules sounds more dangerous than VFR flying. This is not necessarily the case. IFR flying is incredibly safe, as it removes an element of human error by relying on ATC to provide separation. It also forces pilots to operate more pre-planned, calculated, and therefore safer. Completing instrument rating training also has a positive impact on the general skills of a pilot. IFR training improves both flying and non-flying skills in preparation for the higher level of operation required for IFR flying.
Where Can I Learn More?
At Learn to Fly, we offer both Private Instrument Flight Rules (PIFR) and Multi-Engine Command Instrument Rating (MECIR) courses. You can complete either course in your choice of multiple Cessna, Diamond and Piper aircraft, depending on your needs. In-air training is complemented by theory work, as well as time in our state-of-the-art flying simulators. Our experienced instructors are friendly, knowledgeable and always ready to help you to become the best pilot you can be.
We are able to tailor a training package to suit your flying goals, offering you the best possible outcome for completing your training in a timely, cost-effective manner. No matter where you’re trying to go with your journey as a pilot, Learn to Fly will be able to get you there.
If you’re interested in learning more about our instrument flight training courses, check out our course information for Private Instrument Flight Rules (PIFR) and Multi-Engine Command Instrument Rating (MECIR) courses.