IFR ("Instrument Flying Rules") rating, also known in Europe as IR ("Instrument Rating"), is an addition to your pilot license that allows you to fly airplane without outside visual reference. Basically, in clouds.   Because instrument flying is so different from visual flying, it is not included in the basic pilot license, not even commercial. It is a separate set of knowledge and skills that you are expected to have to be in this, quite hostile, environment.
What are the risks of the instrument flying, and why do i need special training for it? First of all, it is the disorientation. An average life expectancy of a non instrument trained pilots getting into a cloud is about 178 seconds! It basically starts with the VFR habit of believing what you see and what you feel, the following disorientation, stall, spin or spiral dive, and the hard contact with firm ground that follos. For this reason, Transport Canada requires a minimum 5 hours of instrument training for private pilots. It is not to fly INTENTIONALLY in clouds. But to get out of a cloud safely, shall the pilots inadvertently get into one. Second, without seeing outside of the cockpit, it's not easy to know where you are and where to go. Even if you manage not to spin into the ground below, how do you avoid the terrain at your level? Canadian prairies are more forgiving. IFR on Canadian West Coast is an extremely short adventure if you are not 200% sure where the mountains are. So you need to learn to use and interpret navigation instruments, from wherever you are, up until the moment you touch down at the threshold of the runway at the destination airport. This said, what does it take to get those very special skills? Transport Canada requires the following:
  • 50h VFR PIC cross-country (to make sure you can get around visually)
  • 40h instrument time (to be comfortable with instrument flying and navigation)
  • Written test (can be taken care of with an IFR seminar)
  • Flight test
Do you need IFR? The answer is very individual. If you fly for sightseeing, don't bother. If you fly only very occasionally (less than one hour in 3 months), don't bother. If you regularly fly an IFR capable aircraft, it's a good idea for you. If you enjoy the challenge of interesting flying, shooting a complicated approach, get it! If you often travel and want to improve chances of consistently getting to your destination, IFR is what you need! If you are planning on long cross-country trips, like across Canada, and you like the idea to be stuck in the middle of nowhere for a week, go for it! If you are becoming a professional pilot, it's a must!
Just like getting your pilot license, IFR requires consistent studies, focus on your goal, achieving it, and then staying current. And if you are up for your next flying challenge, it is only a phone call away!
Canadian Flight Centre is prodiving the IFR training on the high end turbo charged and turbine aircraft, Seneca III, Seneca V and King Air C90. We offer IFR flight training, IFR seminars, IFR flight tests and IFR refreshers and renewals. To find our when our next IFR seminar is scheduled, contact the CFC dispatch: 604 946 7744 or flying@cfc.aero
Originally written 08 Jan 2013