An instrument rating allows pilots to become better and safer pilots. Getting an instrument rating is not hard for a private pilot.
I explained what aspects of instrument training are complex and how a pilot can quickly overcome them.
The factors that make acquiring an instrument rating becomes difficult:
- Not studying adequately for Instrument flying. Lack of theory knowledge;
- Pilot’s low communication skills in flight;
- A private pilot with no outstanding flying skills;
- Did not practice any radio navigation during private pilot training;
- No explicit knowledge of how instruments and avionics work in aircraft;
- Lack of meteorological knowledge;
- Not enough instrument flying practice and flying more VFR.
If you cannot follow the bullet points, your instrument training will be unmanageable, and the IFR course duration will become longer.
Operating in a congested class B airspace and IFR communication will be a nightmare without proper action.
How hard is it to get an instrument rating, and how to succeed?
I described why instrument rating is challenging and how a student pilot can ease their trouble. An instrument rating is a privilege; you will be one step closer to becoming a commercial pilot.
Barriers to understanding instrument theory.
Instrument flying knowledge can be overwhelming for private pilots. It was, for me—too much information to remember and understand.
- However, many students are talented and grasp the knowledge quickly.
- Alternatively, some students learn to capture the only necessary information for safe flying.
Both instrument pilots can safely pass their IR theory exam and check-ride.
Remembering too much information in flight and taking steps quickly during instrument flight is quite tricky.
Unfortunately, if a private pilot is not clear on reading en-route charts and SID and STAR procedures, he will have difficulty getting an instrument rating.
RELATED: How to study for instrument rating?
The situation might worsen if the private pilot fails to read the SID route chart while maneuvering the aircraft.
Hence to become a safer instrument pilot, a pilot has to practice at home. Learn to read:
- En-route charts;
- SID and STAR procedures;
- Approach plates; and
- Practice doing it quickly.
Study while you are still on the ground. Study everything that you get your hands on about Instrument flying.
If you are smart enough, you will know to study the crucial things for your instrument flights.
Learning everything is overwhelming for any private pilot, as instrument rating studies are very detailed.
Poor communication skills with the tower will make IFR training hard.
One most essential components of instrument flying are communication.
Sometimes you will fly blind and rely on the tower’s instruction to choose your path. If you fail to communicate correctly at this stage, you will lose control of your flight.
And if this happens during your instrument rating check ride, you will disappoint your DPE.
Communication with the tower is not tricky. As a private pilot, you already know how to communicate with the air traffic controller (ATC).
The problem with instrument flying is that the control tower’s instructions are lengthier and more elaborate.
It is common for private pilots training IFR to get confused as they miss out on the tower’s essential instructions.
Thus a private pilot finds instrument rating difficult regardless of excellent communication skills during a VFR flight.
To become better at communication, you must practice.
Practice while you are on the ground. Listen to more and more instrument communication online.
A helpful resource is Live ATC. Similarly, numerous youtube videos explain how airline pilots communicate in busy airspace.
A straightforward technique for IFR communication is the following.
The CRAFT acronym to perfect instrument flying readbacks:
- C – Clearance limit
- R – Route
- A – Altitudes
- F – Frequencies
- T – Transponder setting
CRAFT will make your communication a lot easier in actual flights and safe operations of flights.
Poor flying skills will affect your instrument training.
I understand you are good at flying an airplane. No one would endorse you for a private pilot license without operating an aircraft.
However, instrument flying is a lot more intricate.
In VFR flying, a private pilot must fly the airplane with visual reference and occasionally lookout for traffic and communication.
In instrument flying, you will operate using instruments.
At this stage, be a smarter aviator to navigate and communicate in any situation.
Learn to operate the airplane relying on the instrument and the tower’s instruction. It would be best to forget what your bodily senses tell you and saw what the tools reflect.
Trust the instruments, and use a proper scanning technique in your instrument flights.
You can use a home flight simulator and training courses that teach useful instrument scanning.
Clueless about Radio navigation during VFR flight.
Typically during VFR flights of private pilot training, you are not supposed to practice radio navigation.
However, learning VOR flying won’t harm a private pilot. Learn to intercept a radial and use VOR.
By doing so, you will not be puzzled during your instrument training.
At this stage, flying using instruments will not seem brand-new to you.
Adapting to a brand new flying environment requires time, and likely, the trainee will spend more money for more flight training hours.
Practice radio navigation in your home simulator. Select the aircraft you use for flying and then practice flying using instruments at home.
That way, you will not lose money and time on the actual flight, and your flight instructor will not have a hard time teaching you.
Difficulties in understanding aircraft systems.
Many students go through private pilot training without understanding how aircraft systems, engines, and avionics work.
A significant reason why many private pilots find instrument rating very difficult.
Students fail to read many issues during instrument flight without clearly understanding how the whole system works.
Private pilots must understand the following:
- How each instrument works; and
- The instrument’s response to a pilot’s input during a flight.
Failure to read what an instrument tries to say during an instrument flight will create flight complexities.
If the pilot is confused about the input and the instrument’s outcome, the flight is in distress.
To make instrument flying simpler, learn how the aircraft engine, instruments, and avionics work. Private pilots must develop their already existing aircraft system knowledge.
Lack of aviation meteorological knowledge.
No matter how much you avoid dangerous weather, there will be days you will fly into weather conditions as a pilot.
Weather is unpredictable sometimes, and pilots have no control over the weather.
Studying the weather and learning to forecast using the weather information available is essential.
Imagine you have planned a cross-country flight, read the forecast wrong, and faced lousy weather en route, then you will be in distress with your flight.
Learning when to avoid weather and how to fly through adverse weather conditions relying on instruments will be a lifesaver.
Aviation meteorology is a fascinating subject, and the more you study, the better a pilot you will become.
Operating in weather conditions can be challenging, but knowing which weather to avoid and what kind of cloud you can pass through will be your lifesaver.
As a private pilot, you remain out of the clouds, but you will fly through any weather following the en-route chart during instrument flights.
Find a book or take an online course about practical weather flying. Flying in IMC can be critical, and many fear relying only on the instruments during their training.
But once you study a good book, you will know the best practices for weather flying.