The FAA is withdrawing a rule that would have allowed greater use of simulators for instrument training because two people thought it was a bad idea. The agency issued a final rule Dec. 3 that allowed up to 20 hours (up from 10) on an approved training device toward an instrument rating. It also got rid of the unusual requirement that students wear a hood while doing instrument training in a simulator (since the outside view in a simulator can be altered to suit the circumstances). The majority of new rules are established under the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) process that gives the public time to comment, usually 90 days, before a rule is enacted. For whatever reason, the FAA issued a direct final rule in this case and when that happens the comment period occurs after the rule is enacted. That’s where this one went sideways.
Under the rules about rules, if anyone complains about a “direct final rule” after the fact, it has to be rescinded. In this case, two people who commented opposed the rule. One said flight simulators don’t give a realistic environment and another thought the rule gave too much simulator time credit. Effective immediately, the old simulator rules, including the hood one, are in effect. There is no limit on the amount of time students can spend in the sim, just on the amount they can log toward the ticket. It seems likely the agency will issue an NPRM soon. With an NPRM, the agency has to consider dissenting comments, but is not bound by them.