...Going IFR From The Start
The MTSU training also integrates private pilot and instrument training (with an FAA exemption to allow concurrent training) so students take both checkrides at once. According to Paul Craig, director of the MTSU program, "The new [glass-cockpit] technology solves the two problems that make IFR different from VFR: 1) We can see through clouds, and 2) we can see where we are. With these two problems solved, what is the difference between VFR and IFR? The answer: There is no longer a difference!" The SAFER students start flying GPS approaches even before their first solo. Although it's early in the project, the researchers have reported that they feel the new methodology has "great promise" and will lead to improved training that is more efficient. The normal FAA rules require the applicant for an instrument rating to already hold a private pilot certificate. The school got a special exemption from the FAA to offer the combined private/instrument testing. For more about MTSU's innovative program, see the recent interim report by Craig et al.