"Foggles" used in instrument training to simulate instrument conditions

Instrument Rating

To apply for your instrument rating you must already have your Private Pilot’s license. Additionally, you will need 50 hours of cross-country Pilot-in-Command time. The cross-country time that you performed during your Private Pilot qualification count toward this requirement.


The instrument rating is arguably the most important rating you can achieve after your Private Pilot license for a number of reasons:

  • Improves a pilot’s overall control of the aircraft
  • Improves a pilot’s understanding of weather, navigation, systems, procedures, and communications
  • Allows for a pilot to come and go in IFR conditions
  • Increases a pilot’s confidence

When purchasing an aircraft, particularly one that qualifies as High-Performance and/or Complex, the insurance company may require you to get an instrument rating within a certain period of time, or offer a significant reduction in the annual premium if the pilot is instrument rated.


Here are the actual requirements to obtaining an Instrument Rating:


Instrument Rating Requirements §61.65

Instrument Pilot Knowledge Exam (Written Test) covering the items below:

  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.


Flight Training covering the items listed below

  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.


Aeronautical Experience

Forty hours of actual or simulated instrument time, of which 15 hours must have been received from an authorized instructor who holds an instrument-airplane rating.


The instrument time must include Instrument flight training on cross country flight procedures, including one cross country flight in an airplane with an authorized instructor that is performed under instrument flight rules, when a flight plan has been filed with an air traffic control facility, and that involves—


The “IFR 250” cross-country

(A) A flight of 250 nautical miles along airways or by directed routing from an air traffic control facility;

(B) An instrument approach at each airport; and

(C) Three different kinds of approaches with the use of navigation systems.


Tips to keeping you on budget

  • Chair fly. Practice briefing approaches, flight planning
  • Take pictures of the panel.
  • Get a copy of the checklist so you can become familiar with it.
  • Sit in the airplane when it’s not being used. There is nothing like sitting in the actual airplane when practicing, and it’s free!


Helpful Links


Federal Aviation Regulations (e-CFR)


Aeronautical Information Manual


Instrument Procedures Handbook (FAA-H-8083-16)


Instrument Flying Handbook (FAA-H-8083-15B)



Advanced Avionics Handbook (FAA-H-8083-6)


Aviation Weather for Pilots and Flight Operations Personnel (AC 00-6A)


Aviation Weather Services (AC 00-45G)


Instrument Rating Practical Test Standards (FAA-S-8081-4E)