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Private Instrument Flight Rating (Private IFR) – Should You Get It?

Flying under Visual Flight Rules (VFR) conditions alone can be quite restrictive for private pilots. Planning around light and weather heavily reduces the amount of time you can fly, especially if you are flying in a place with changeable weather like Melbourne. Having said this, there may only be a handful of situations that require instrument flying privileges, and so completing a full Instrument Rating course might not really be required. The good news is that the Private Instrument Flight Rating (also known as Private IFR or PIFR) course allows you to choose exactly which instrument flying endorsements you need.

This means that obtaining a Private IFR is far faster and less expensive than undergoing full Instrument Rating training. So, is this the right option for you? Read on to find out!

What is the difference between Visual Flight Rules (VFR) and Instrument Flight Rules (IFR)?

VFR and IFR refer to the meteorological conditions that a pilot operates under. The specific rules for each are determined by CASA, and are based on Visual Meteorological Conditions (VMC) minima.

Basically, VFR means that weather (and light) conditions are clear enough for you to fly and navigate entirely visually. So, you must be able to clearly see visual references on the ground. You also need to see clearly enough to avoid other obstacles in the air (including clouds).

Any conditions outside of what CASA determines to be VFR are considered to be IFR. This is because they require you to use your instruments to fly, rather than being able to fly by visual reference alone.

DA40 Rainbow Private IFR
A Private IFR allows you to fly in more conditions than what VFR allows.

What is a Private Instrument Flight Rating (Private IFR)?

The Private IFR course can be completed in single or multi-engine aircraft. To commence the course you need to hold a Private Pilot Licence (PPL), Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL) or Air Transport Pilot Licence (ATPL). You’ll also need to have passed your CASA Instrument Rating Examination (IREX) before progressing with the flight training syllabus.

A Private Instrument Flying Rating authorises the holder to act as a pilot in command of flights under Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) in a single-pilot aircraft with MTOW of 5700kg or less. However, in its most basic form, a Private IFR still restricts the holder to flying in VFR conditions only when flying under Lowest Safe Altitude (LSALT). So to solve this issue, there are a range of endorsements that you can add. You can base these on the type of flying you want to do, and also the aerodromes you will likely be flying to/from.

What Endorsements can you add to your Private IFR?

Endorsements allow you to conduct specific flight activities under IFR conditions including en-route navigation procedures, approach and arrival procedures, departure procedures and night flying.

En-route Navigation Endorsements

En-route navigation endorsements allow you to fly under IFR conditions using ground-based navigation aids. They include:

– NDB En-route (for eligible aircraft)
– VOR / LLZ En-route
– GNSS En-route

Approach Endorsements

Instrument approaches are set procedures that allow you to approach an aerodrome under IFR conditions. They apply from the start of the approach through to either when you land or reach a point where are able to continue the landing visually. They include:

– STAR
– NDB Approach (for eligible aircraft)
– VOR / LLZ Approach
– DME or GNSS Arrival Procedure
– RNP ACHP 2D / RNAV Approach
– ILS Approach

Departure Endorsements

An endorsement is required to be able to take off and depart an aerodrome under IFR conditions. There are some aerodromes that have specific departure procedures though, and these are known as Standard Instrument Departure (SID) procedures. A Non-Standard Instrument Departure (NSID) Endorsement can cover IFR departures for all aerodromes that don’t have specific procedures. You will need a separate SID Endorsement for each different aerodrome that has specific procedures.

Night IFR Endorsement

A basic PIFR will only allow you to fly under IFR conditions in the situations granted by your en-route, approach and departure endorsements during daylight. So, to be able to fly at night, you will need to add a Night IFR Endorsement.

Night-Visual-Flight-Rules-NVFR-Training-Endorsement-Hero
Flying at night is an amazing experience – you can add a Night IFR Endorsement in our Private IFR course.

What does the LTF Private IFR course include?

A full Instrument Rating course will train you in the vast majority of the endorsement options mentioned above. But you might not need ALL of those things. Subsequently, this is where the PIFR can be a great option.

We utilise practical aircraft training as well as training in our state-of-the-art Alsim AL42 or TRC472 flight simulators. Integrating simulation allows you perfect your techniques on the ground and make the most of your time in the real aircraft.

LTF’s Standard PIFR course package includes:

– 10Hrs Dual Flight Training
– 9Hrs Dual Simulation Training
– Ground School and Briefings
– IREX Theory Course Online Subscription
– VOR/LLZ, GNSS, NDB En-route Navigation Endorsements*
– RNP 2D Approach Endorsement (RNAV)
– NSID (Non-standard Instrument Departure) Endorsement
– 2 Approach Endorsements (STAR, NDB, VOR/LLZ, DME/GNSS, ILS)*
– 1.5Hrs PIFR Flight Test Solo Hire
– PIFR Flight Test Fee

The following aircraft are available from our fleet for this course:

Cessna 172
Diamond DA40
Piper Seminole
Diamond DA42

*NDB not available for Diamond DA40/DA42

We offer a Standard + Night PIFR package as well that includes all of the above plus a Night IFR Endorsement. We can also offer face to face IREX theory classes for those would would prefer to learn in person. In addition to this, we are able to offer packages for additional PIFR individual endorsements.

Do you want to find out more about our Private IFR course? Email [email protected] or visit https://drift.me/learntofly/meeting to book a meeting and school tour.

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Getting a Night VFR Rating: What You Need to Know

Night flying is a great skill for a pilot to have in their arsenal. A Night VFR or Night Visual Flight Rules Rating allows you to fly your aircraft at night. You do however, need other VFR weather conditions to be present.

It gives you the freedom of not being limited by time when flying cross-country. You can also take passengers flying to see the beautiful city lights of Melbourne from the sky. It’s a sight not to be missed!

Not only is flying at night exciting and thrilling, but having this skill also generally makes you a better pilot. Here’s a quick look at getting a Night VFR Rating on your pilot licence and what you should expect:

Eligibility Criteria:

In order to successfully get a Night VFR rating, the pilot must have:

– A Private Pilot Licence at the minimum, but can also have a Commercial Pilot Licence or Air Transport Pilot Licence,

– At least 10 hours of night flight time training under a supervisor, either in an aircraft or in an approved flight simulator,

– At least 5 hours of dual cross-country night flight time training included in the above 10 hours,

– Successfully cleared the Night VFR flight test.

Why Get a Night VFR Rating

Melbourne winter days are short, with the winter solstice this year clocking just 9 hours and 53 minutes of daylight. Having a Night VFR Rating gives you the flexibility to make longer trips. This is especially handy during the short daylight hours in winter. You can start your flight before sunrise and end it late without having to cut your trip short before sunset. Furthermore, you could even end the day by taking in magnificent views of the city from the air.

Air traffic also tends to be lower in the nighttime, which means you will have a smoother, easier flight. And if you are flying on a night with a full moon, it will not be much different than flying in the day owing to all the light coming from the moon!

Finally, for pilots who aim to fly commercially, having a Night VFR rating and a significant amount of night command time is a necessity, as commercial pilots often need to fly at night. Many airlines looking for professional pilots require the pilot to have at least 100 hrs of flight time at night in order to even be considered for the position!

What to expect from Learn to Fly’s Night VFR Rating Course

Enrolment and Orientation

When signing up for our Night VFR Rating Course, you will get a Training Starter Kit. This will contain all relevant course materials. It will also contain detailed information on the processes of your course and access to shared online resources.

On the day of orientation, you will be introduced to your instructor. They will take you around the airport, airspace and our facilities. You will also get to learn about the processes Learn to Fly follows.

Night VFR Ground School

Once you have successfully settled in, the first part of the course will include some ground training and instructions. These are typically conducted in the form of theory classes where you will learn of the fundamental concepts of a Night VFR Rating. You will also learn what to expect during the actual night circuit training.

Night VFR Flight Training

In this step of the course, you will learn different landing techniques, approaches and what to do in emergency situations. You will also familiarise yourself with common navigational aids. These include NDB (non-directional beacon) and VOR (Very high-frequency omnidirectional range) as well as the use of pilot activated light (PAL) and other runway lighting equipment.

Night Solo Training

Once you have successfully mastered the last step, your instructor will determine if you are ready for your first solo night flight. The first solo flights will involve circuit flying. Once these have been mastered, you will then move on to navigation training. This form of training makes you a more independent pilot, as it involves planning and executing a number of navigational flights at night, helping you prepare for the next and final step.

Night VFR Flight Test

Approximately 3 hours in duration, the Night VFR Flight Test is conducted in a CASA approved aircraft under the supervision of a CASA approved instructor. This test will include take-off and landing as well as navigation skill assessment and the correct use of navigational aids. Finally, the test will also assess some nighttime emergency procedures and how prepared you are to handle them. Once you successfully pass this test, you then get your Night VFR Rating. Congratulations!

Why Choose Learn to Fly

At Learn to Fly, all of our flight training courses, including the Night VFR Rating course, involve simulation training. This allows students to become familiar with the controls and behaviour patterns, procedures and systems of the aircraft they choose whilst still on the ground. We have a range of simulators available. This includes full cockpit synthetic trainers like the Alsim AL42, replicating the cockpit of our Diamond DA42 twin-engine aircraft.

Learn To Fly offers an innovative training model, so you can continue learning online even while you are at home. We have state-of-the-art facilities at our Moorabbin Airport base in Melbourne, experienced instructors, and a range of aircraft to choose from.

Night-VFR-Rating-City-Lights
Being able to see the city lights at night from above is just one benefit of a Night VFR Rating.

To find out about our Night VFR Rating course, email [email protected]. You can also visit https://drift.me/learntofly/meeting to book a meeting and school tour. For more great flying tips and the latest flying videos, click below and subscribe to our YouTube channel!

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