To Earn an Instrument Rating, you must:

The information below describes the eligibility, training, experience, and testing requirements for the instrument rating as outlined by the FAA.

1. Hold at least a private pilot certificate.

2. Be able to read, write, and converse fluently in English.

3. Hold a current FAA medical certificate.

4. Receive and log ground training from an authorized instructor or complete a home-study course.
Subjects include:

  • FARs
  • IFR-related items in the AIM
  • ATC system and procedures
  • IFR navigation
  • Use of IFR charts
  • Aviation weather
  • Operating under IFR
  • Recognition of critical weather
  • Aeronautical Decision Making (ADM)
  • Crew Resource Management (CRM)

5. Pass the FAA instrument rating knowledge test with a score of 70% or better.

6. Accumulate flight experience (FAR 61.65):
a. 50 hours of cross-country flight time as pilot in command, of which at least 10 hours must be in airplanes:
  • The 50 hours includes solo cross-country time as a student pilot, which is logged as pilot-in-command time.
  • Each cross-country must have a landing at an airport that was at least a straight-line distance of more than 50 NM from the original departure point

b. A total of 40 hr. of actual or simulated instrument time in the areas of operation listed in 7. below, including:
  • 15 hr. of instrument flight training from a CFII (CFII is an instructor who is authorized to give instrument instruction)
  • Cross-country flight procedures that include at least one cross-country flight in an airplane that is performed under IFR and consists of:
  • A distance of at least 250 NM along airways or ATC-directed routing
  • An instrument approach at each airport
  • Three different kinds of approaches with the use of navigation systems
  • If the instrument training is provided by a CFII, a maximum of 20 hours may be accomplished in an approved flight simulator or flight training device.

7. Demonstrate flight proficiency (FAR 61.65). You must receive and log training, as well as obtain a logbook endorsement from your CFII on the following areas of operation:
  • Preflight preparation
  • Preflight procedures
  • Air traffic control clearances and procedures
  • Flight by reference to instruments
  • Navigation systems
  • Instrument approach procedures
  • Emergency operations
  • Postflight procedures

8. Successfully complete the instrument rating practical test