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The Instrument Proficiency Check

Just like there is a currency requirement for carrying passengers in VFR flight, there are currency requirements to be legal for IFR flight.

§61.57 (c) states that no person may act as pilot in command under IFR or in weather conditions less than the minimums prescribed for VFR unless the following has been logged within the previous 6 months

In the appropriate category of aircraft or in a flight simulator or flight training device that is representative of the aircraft category:

  1. At least 6 instrument approaches
  2. Holding procedures
  3. Intercepting and tracking courses through the use of navigation systems

If you have not completed the above items within 6 calendar months, you may not act as PIC in weather conditions less than prescribed for VFR. If six more calendar months go by with out currency, you must have an Instrument Proficiency Check with an authorized instructor in order to regain instrument currency.

Flying in actual IMC is very serious business. With that said, every effort should be taken to maintain IFR currency and proficiency. While a Biennial Flight Review requires a minimum of 1 hour of ground training and 1 hour of flight training, there is no required ground for an Instrument Proficiency Check. According to the FAA's Guidance on Conducting an IPC, A good rule of thumb is to plan at least 90 minutes of ground time and at least 2 hours of flight time. A couple sessions may be required depending on the pilot’s instrument knowledge and flying skill. The instructor doing the proficiency check may ask a few questions initially to determine how knowledgable you are.

§61.57 (d) states, that except as described in §61.57(e), a person who does not meet the instrument experience requirements of paragraph §61.57 (c) of this section within the 12 calendar months preceding the month of the flight may not serve as pilot in command under IFR or in weather conditions less than the minimums prescribed for VFR until having passed an instrument proficiency check that consists of the areas of operation and instrument tasks required in the instrument rating practical test standards.

For a Single Engine airplane, the Practical Test Standards state that an IPC consists of:

  • Holding Procedures
  • Recovery from Unusual Flight Attitudes
  • Intercepting and Tracking Navigational Systems and DME Arcs
  • Non-Precision Approach
  • Precision Approach
  • Missed Approach
  • Cicrcling Approach
  • Landing from a Straight-in Or Circling Approach
  • Approach with loss of primary flight instrument indicators
  • Checking instruments and equipment

Since most IFR flights are for transportation purposes, the FAA recommends structuring an IPC as an IFR cross-country. This can be used to assess all aspects for flight planning including preflight planning, instrument departure, en route elements, arrival, and approach procedures. The ground training could mean discussion of anything that might appear on the IFR written exam or show up during an IFR oral exam.

To keep your knowledge sharp, some CFII’s recommend doing 10 practice exam problems a day.

A proficient pilot should be able to accomplish an IPC in as little as a few approaches and an hour or so in the air.

See the FAA Guidance for Conducting an Instrument Proficiency Check.

What I can do for you

As an FAA certificated ground instructor, I am authorized to give ground training for an instrument proficiency check. See my Ground Instructor Certification page for discussion. The ground element and flight element do not have to be done by the same instructor.

If you have been out of instrument flying for a while, and anticipate having to relearn a lot of material, I will be glad to work with you to bring you back up to speed on various federal aviation regulations and aeronautical knowledge subjects.

For my endorsement on completing ground training toward an instrument proficiency check, I may have you complete a Practice Exam appropriate to your certificate level and maybe an Air Safety Institute Interactive Safety Course ahead of time. The ground training may be a discussion of the results, and correcting to 100%.

For our rates, see our Rates page for current pricing

An example endorsement for a satisfactory IPC is shown below:

Completion of an instrument proficiency check: section 61.57(d).
I certify that (First name, MI, Last name), (pilot certificate), (certificate number), has satisfactorily completed the instrument proficiency check of section 61.57(d) in a (list make and model of aircraft) on (date).
/s/ [date] J. J. Jones 987654321CFI Exp. 12-31-05
NOTE: No logbook entry reflecting unsatisfactory performance on an instrument proficiency check is required.


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Andrew Stoner
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