Instrument Exam, Check Rules Change

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If you're working on your instrument rating or you need an Instrument Proficiency Check (IPC), your world is about to change, and not entirely for the better, according to at least one training expert. The FAA has revised its instrument rating practical test standards. The 48 pages of new rules go into effect on Oct. 1, and one clause in particular will have widespread consequences, Richard Kaplan, a principal and instructor at Flight Level Aviation, told AVweb. He said the new rules require that a circling approach be demonstrated during the IPC. Not only does the requirement send the wrong message to pilots (that circling approaches are SOP) and decrease flexibility (the ability to adapt training to address the pilot's weaknesses), Kaplan claims, it will also increase costs to trainers, and, ultimately, pilots. Kaplan said the vast majority of IPCs are done on simulators and, more recently, on a sophisticated but relatively inexpensive PC-based system called an Advanced ATD. Under current rules, the PC system is approved for the entire IPC but the systems are not approved to check circling approaches. Also, said Kaplan, many of the hugely expensive simulators that a lot of schools use will no longer be approved for IPCs because they lack the wrap-around view needed for circling approaches. The wrap-around screens cost tens of thousands of dollars. The new rule might mean that parts of the IPC will have to be done in actual airplanes. Kaplan said the new rules also lay out the specific tasks to be demonstrated in the tests and checks and that inhibits the instructor's ability to individualize the check and turn it into a learning experience. "The FAA has removed the CFII's discretion and turned the IPC into just another hurdle to overcome," he said.