Instrument Rating

Preparation Course

Instrument Rating Preparation 

Our Instrument Rating (IR) Preparation Course provides aspiring pilots with a comprehensive and structured approach to mastering instrument flight rules and procedures. This course covers all essential aspects of IFR operations, including flight planning, standard instrument departures, enroute navigation, holding patterns, and advanced approach techniques. Detailed modules on weather briefing, fuel planning, and GNSS systems ensure you have a thorough understanding of all critical elements required for safe and efficient instrument flying.


Introduction to the IR course

The instrument rating course is learning how to operate an aircraft solely by reference to the instruments. The course is split into Basic instrument flying and procedural instrument flying. Basic instrument flying covers flying on partial panel, recovery from unusual attitudes and a small amount of radio navigation. Whereas procedural flying focuses on navigation by only referencing to the instruments using primarily ground based radio aids.

Where to Find the Rules & Regulations

This UK CAA website has the rules and regulations for a competency-based Instrument rating:

Visibility & RVR

The instrument rating enables you to fly the aircraft solely with reference to the in-cockpit instrumentation meaning you will be able to fly into areas with reduced visibility such as flying into the clouds. The RVR shall be calculated and agreed with the examiner before flight, to ensure minimums are clear prior to commencing an instrument approach. Once able to fly under IFR, there will be a minimum decision height of 200 feet (60m) during the instrument approach procedures.


Preparation Checklists

In order to apply for an IR:

  • Hold a current private pilots certificate
  • Have at least 50hrs of cross country flight time as the pilot in command
  • A total of 40hrs of actual or simulated instrument time, with 15hrs of instructed instrument flight time
  • Obtain a logbook endorsement from an authorised instructor certifying your eligibility to take the IR test.

Prior to the exam:

An Operational Flight Plan (OFP) must be prepared and the examiner will require a copy. The Operational Flight Plan (OFP) must include such items as:

  • Place of departure;
  • Time of departure;
  • Place of arrival (planned and actual);
  • Time of arrival;
  • Route and route segments with checkpoints/waypoints, distances, time and tracks;
  • Planned cruising speed and flying;
  • Times between check-points/way-points;
  • Estimated and actual times overhead;
  • Safe altitudes and minimum levels;
  • Planned altitudes and flight levels;
  • Fuel calculations (records of inflight fuel checks);
  • Fuel on board when starting engines;
  • Alternate(s) for destination and, where applicable, take-off and en-route, including
  • information required as above;
  • Initial ATS Flight Plan clearance and subsequent re-clearance;
  • In-flight re-planning calculations;
  • Relevant meteorological information.

IFR weather briefing

The applicant must assess the prevailing weather conditions and decide if it is safe to proceed with the flight. In the case of extreme conditions of high wind speed, severe turbulence, icing or thunderstorms exist, the examiner may decide that this would make the flight difficult to assess and may override the applicant’s decision to proceed. The flight should not proceed if all planned sections cannot be achieved or the forecast would prevent a return to base or a suitable alternate aerodrome.

Awareness of icing conditions must be displayed by regularly checking the outside air temperature (OAT) and indicating this to the examiner. Applicants will comply with established operating procedures for the use of aircraft anti-icing equipment particularly with reference to pitot heaters and engine anti-icing systems.

Departure Minimums

Applicants should arrange the flight so that flight plan departure time and any other slot allocation is achieved within the allowable tolerances (-5 minutes/+10 minutes in accordance with the Integrated Flight Plan System) and update ATC as necessary. Modern radar and ATC procedures often reduce the need for position reporting.


At some stage, the examiner will simulate a scenario that requires a diversion to an alternate aerodrome. Applicants will be required to consider the aircraft’s take-off and landing performance for the conditions prevailing at all airfields used for the flight including at said alternate airport. Consideration of weather is also expected to be taken into account.

Fuel Planning

The applicant is expected to calculate the require fuel for the IFR flight, including calculations of the trip fuel, reserve fuel, contingency, holding fuel, etc. Calculate the expected fuel consumption for the flight, and during the applicant must monitor the actual fuel usage.


Standard Instrument Departures (SIDs)

Complete the Standard Instrument Departure procedure (SID) using PBN or conventional navaids or follow the ATC departure instructions to join controlled airspace; use of correct altimeter setting procedure; maintaining aeroplane control, speed, heading and level.

  • Maintains directional control and drift corrections within acceptable limits of speed, heading, height and track.
  • Identifies any navigation aids used.
  • Follows any noise routing or departure procedures and ATC clearances.
  • Completes all necessary climb checks including altimeter setting procedures and ice precautions.
  • Correctly re-programs the system in the event of re-routing.

Omnidirectional Departures

Omnidirectional departures are standard instrument departure (SID) procedures used in aviation when no specific SID or obstacle departure procedure (ODP) is published for a particular airport or runway. They are designed to ensure safe and efficient departure paths for aircraft in all directions, especially in areas with minimal obstacles and terrain considerations.

Here are some key points about omnidirectional departures for pilots:

1. Purpose: Omnidirectional departures provide a safe initial climb-out path for aircraft departing an airport, ensuring that they remain clear of obstacles and terrain in all directions. They are typically used when no specific SID is required due to the absence of significant obstacles or complex airspace structures.

2. Procedure: In an omnidirectional departure, pilots are required to climb on the runway heading until reaching a specified altitude. Once at this altitude, they may turn to their desired departure route. The specific altitude at which turns are permitted will be outlined in the departure procedure or airport information.

3. Altitude Considerations: The minimum altitude for turns after takeoff is usually specified to ensure obstacle clearance. This altitude is often around 400 feet above ground level (AGL) but can vary depending on the airport and surrounding terrain.

4. ATC Instructions: While omnidirectional departures provide a standard initial climb-out path, pilots must always be prepared to follow any specific instructions from air traffic control (ATC). ATC may issue headings, altitudes, or other directives that supersede the standard omnidirectional departure procedure.

5. Flight Planning: When planning a flight that involves an omnidirectional departure, pilots should review the airport’s departure procedures, NOTAMs (Notices to Airmen), and any relevant charts to ensure they understand the applicable altitude and route requirements.

6. Obstacle Clearance: Omnidirectional departures are designed to ensure obstacle clearance during the initial climb. However, pilots must still be vigilant and aware of the terrain and obstacles in the vicinity of the airport, especially in areas where terrain or obstacles are close to the departure path.

Omnidirectional departures provide a standardized method for departing an airport safely when no specific SID is published. Pilots must ensure they understand the procedures, maintain situational awareness, and follow ATC instructions to ensure a safe and efficient departure.

Departures Outside Controlled Airspace

Departures outside controlled airspace (OCAS) in the UK are operations that take place in airspace where air traffic control (ATC) services are not provided. Pilots operating in OCAS must rely on their own navigation skills, adherence to standard procedures, and situational awareness to ensure safe operations. Here are some key points about departures outside controlled airspace in the UK, as outlined by the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA):

1. General Rules: When operating outside controlled airspace, pilots must follow the standard rules of the air as prescribed by the UK CAA. This includes maintaining appropriate altitudes, speeds, and separation from other aircraft and obstacles.

2. Visual Flight Rules (VFR): Pilots conducting departures under VFR must ensure they maintain visual reference to the ground and adhere to VFR weather minimums. This typically includes maintaining certain visibility and cloud clearance criteria, depending on the airspace classification.

3. Instrument Flight Rules (IFR): For departures under IFR outside controlled airspace, pilots must ensure they can navigate accurately using onboard instruments and be prepared for flight without ATC guidance. Pilots must also file a flight plan if the flight will enter controlled airspace.

4. Flight Planning: Proper flight planning is crucial for departures OCAS. Pilots must plan their route, considering terrain, obstacles, airspace boundaries, and navigation aids. They should also check NOTAMs (Notices to Airmen) and weather forecasts to ensure a safe departure.

5. Altitude and Separation: Pilots must maintain appropriate altitudes to ensure separation from terrain and obstacles. When climbing, pilots should use standard altimeter settings and be aware of any regional pressure settings if transitioning to or from controlled airspace.

6. Use of Radio and Transponder: While not required to communicate with ATC in OCAS, pilots should monitor appropriate frequencies to maintain situational awareness and, if equipped, use their transponder with the appropriate squawk code. This enhances visibility to other aircraft and can help in emergency situations.

7. Emergency Procedures: Pilots must be familiar with emergency procedures specific to OCAS operations. This includes knowing how to communicate distress (MAYDAY) or urgency (PAN-PAN) messages and understanding the appropriate actions to take if navigation or communication issues arise.

8. Joining Controlled Airspace: If the planned route involves joining controlled airspace after departure, pilots must be prepared to establish communication with ATC and receive a clearance to enter. Pilots should request the clearance well in advance to ensure a smooth transition.

9. Navigation Aids and Technology: Utilizing navigation aids (VOR, NDB, GPS) and technology (moving map displays, electronic flight bags) can significantly enhance situational awareness and navigation accuracy during departures OCAS. Pilots should ensure all equipment is properly functioning and up-to-date.

10. Weather Considerations: Weather can change rapidly, and pilots must be prepared to alter their departure plans if conditions deteriorate. This includes having alternate routes and destinations in mind and understanding the limitations of their aircraft and personal capabilities.

11. Standard Departure Procedures: While specific departure procedures are often associated with controlled airspace, pilots operating OCAS should still follow best practices, such as maintaining runway heading during initial climb, climbing to a safe altitude before turning, and being vigilant of other traffic.

12. Safety Margins: Maintaining generous safety margins regarding altitude, speed, and distance from terrain and obstacles is critical in OCAS. Pilots should avoid unnecessary risks and prioritize safety over expedience.

13. Collision Avoidance: Pilots must maintain a constant lookout for other aircraft. This involves scanning the skies, using available traffic information systems, and being aware of potential conflict points, such as near airfields, navigation waypoints, or popular VFR routes.

14. Airspace Awareness: Understanding the boundaries and classifications of different airspace is vital. Pilots must avoid infringing on controlled airspace without clearance and respect the airspace of restricted or danger areas.

15. Flight Logs and Reporting: Keeping accurate flight logs and being prepared to report position, altitude, and intentions if requested or in case of an emergency enhances the safety and accountability of OCAS operations.

16. Training and Currency: Regular training and practice of OCAS procedures ensure pilots remain proficient. This includes recurrent training flights, participation in safety seminars, and staying informed about regulatory changes and best practices.

Departures outside controlled airspace in the UK require careful planning, a thorough understanding of the rules and procedures, and a high level of situational awareness. By following these guidelines and maintaining vigilance, pilots can ensure safe and efficient operations in OCAS.

In-flight icing

Applicants are expected to display an awareness of icing conditions by regularly checking the outside air temperature (OAT) and indicating this to the examiner. At some point during the flight the examiner may respond to this by simulating a build-up of ice; the applicant should complete all the necessary precautions for ‘removing’ the ice. When actual ice is present or likely, anti-icing/de-icing equipment must be operated accordingly. The aircraft must not be flown into known icing conditions. Finally, a common reason for failure is the applicant forgetting to check the anti-icing/de-icing equipment in the pre-flight checks.


Tasks Enroute


Tracking, including interception, e.g. NDB, VOR, PBN.

  • Intercepts and maintains the route or amended route including tracking to and from an NDB or VOR or PBN waypoint.
  • When given “radar vectors”, remains on the vectored heading until told to resume own navigation.

Note: PBN equipment (at least RNAV 5) is now mandatory for use in in UK en-route controlled airspace and must meet certification requirements and, where applicable, have a current database.

Use of navigation systems and radio aids

Correct use of radio aids with regard to promulgated range, identification and interpretation. Use of ATIS/VOLMET where applicable.

Level flight control

  • Smooth control of heading, altitude, speed, power, trim and ancillary controls.
  • Correct use of autopilot and flight director where appropriate and permitted by the examiner.

Altimeter settings

  • Correct altimeter setting procedure and cross-checking, monitoring of en-route MSA.

Timing and ETAs

  • Timing and revision of ETAs including en-route hold procedures if required.

Monitoring flight progress

  • Completion of the flight log to monitor flight progress, provide position reports and manage the fuel system and usage; management of the other aeroplane systems. Use of check list.

Ice protection procedures

  • Monitoring of OAT, icing risk and ice accretion rate (simulated if necessary); correct use of anti-icing and de-icing procedures.

ATC Liaison

  • ATC Liaison – compliance, RTF procedures.
  • Follows the flight planned route or complies with any other ATC route requirements within the operating limits specified.
  • Uses the correct RTF procedures and phraseology.
    A flight navigation log and radio log must be prepared, including items such as:

Route (including alternate aerodrome)

  • En-route ATC and Navigation aid frequencies (note that where this information is clearly displayed on planning documents, such as charts and approach plates to be used, it is not appropriate to copy this information to the log)
  • Planned cruising levels or operating altitudes
  • Timings, ETA, revised ETA and ATA
  • MSA, safety height or minimum levels/altitudes
  • Fuel Plan (including alternate fuel and contingencies etc.)
  • Space for logging clearances, ATIS and other pertinent information.

During the flight these aspects should be monitored, the examiner may require a copy and will be assessing the in flight management.

Descent Planning (Arrival procedures)

  • Setting and checking of navaids
  • Correct use of radio aids with regard to promulgated range, identification and interpretation.
  • Arrival procedures, altimeter checks
  • Use of ATIS/VOLMET where available. Completion of the published arrival procedure or as instructed by ATC including altimeter setting.
  • Uses Correct altimeter setting procedure and cross-checking, monitoring of arrival MSA.

Altitude and speed constraints

  • Smooth control of heading, altitude, speed, power, trim and ancillary controls to achieve published level-off altitudes.

PBN arrival (if applicable)

Check that the correct procedure has been loaded in the navigation system. Cross-check between the navigation system display and the departure chart.

  • Checks that the arrival is in the correct sequence on the system flight plan.
  • Ensures that waypoints, tracks, distances and altitudes on the system and on the chart(s) are the same.

Standard Terminal Arrival Routes (STARs)

With reference to a published standard arrival chart (STAR), you must describe the arrival procedure including frequencies and navigation aids to be used, expected clearances, headings, tracks, level and altitude restrictions, any other restrictions such as speed limits, sector safe altitudes and descent requirements.

The DME Arc
DME Arcs are most commonly found on the Initial approach segment, leading aircraft from the Initial Approach Fix (IAF) onto the Final Approach Course where the Intermediate and Final approach segments can be commenced.

Around the arc will be a series of published radials from the NAVAID that are used to indicate the start of the arc, when further descent can be made, and when a turn can be commenced to intercept the Final Approach Course. During the test, the tolerance for the DME arc is +/- 1NM.



The RMI combines three components: a fluxgate, a heading indicator, and a relative bearing indicator. The RMI can be used for VOR navigation as well as ADF navigation. An RMI can simplify flying NDB approaches by eliminating the need to add magnetic heading calculations into the IFR task load. The aircraft’s position relative to the station is always clear, whether flying to or from the station. Flying a DME arc can also benefit from reference to the RMI. Until reaching the radial that represents the final approach course, the pilot flies the arc by keeping the aircraft a specified distance away from a VOR/DME station.

The Holding Pattern
During entry and holding, pilots manually flying the aircraft are expected to make all turns to achieve an average bank angle of at least 25˚ or a rate of turn of 3˚ per second, whichever requires the lesser bank. A holding pattern will be required in either normal or asymmetric aeroplane configuration. The holding pattern should normally be conducted using a ‘single needle’ instrument presentation from an NDB, VOR or PBN facility or fix. If a needle presentation is not available, then a beam bar (HSI/CDI) presentation is permitted. The hold shall be based on a published procedure and using a terminal facility; it may be offset from the overhead if so prescribed. Any moving map display will be obscured or removed during the hold and procedural approach, or the range adjusted so that the display provides no useful information. The hold may be executed before the approach or following a missed approach.

Wind in the Hold
The applicant must describe the 3 heading entry procedures for a hold, and explain how to make appropriate adjustments to the headings and times to compensate for the effects of wind in a hold. Revise the wind corrections as necessary for any subsequent holds.

The Gate & 60° To Go

“The Gate” and “60° to Go” are terms often used in the context of instrument approach procedures, specifically when discussing techniques to fly non-precision approaches or to assist in making precise turns during instrument flight.

The Gate

The Gate is a conceptual point used by pilots during an instrument approach to assist in maintaining proper descent rates and lateral alignment with the runway. It typically represents a predetermined point along the final approach course where the aircraft should be at a specific altitude and aligned correctly with the runway centerline.

Purpose of The Gate:

  • Descent Planning: Ensures the aircraft is descending at the correct rate to reach the decision altitude (DA) or minimum descent altitude (MDA) at the right location.
  • Lateral Alignment: Helps the pilot maintain the correct course and alignment with the runway centerline.
  • Situational Awareness: Acts as a checkpoint to confirm that the aircraft is on the correct approach path.

60° to Go

60° to Go is a technique used to anticipate and execute turns more accurately during flight, particularly in instrument flying. The concept involves initiating a turn when the aircraft’s heading is 60 degrees away from the desired new heading.

Purpose of 60° to Go:

  • Turn Anticipation: Helps in timing the turn correctly to roll out on the new heading without overshooting or undershooting.
  • Bank Angle Management: Ensures the turn is started and completed smoothly, using a standard rate turn (usually 3 degrees per second for instrument flight).
  • Navigational Precision: Improves accuracy in navigating along predetermined flight paths, especially during procedures involving multiple turns.

Practical Application

Example for The Gate:

During a non-precision approach, a pilot may designate a point 1 nautical mile from the runway threshold as “The Gate.” At this point, the aircraft should be at 500 feet above ground level (AGL) and aligned with the runway centerline. If the aircraft is not at the correct altitude or alignment at “The Gate,” the pilot may decide to go around or adjust the approach.

Example for 60° to Go:

If a pilot is flying on a heading of 090° and needs to turn to a heading of 180°, they will begin the turn when the heading indicator shows 150° (60° to go). This technique ensures that the turn is started at the right time to roll out accurately on the new heading of 180°.

Importance in Instrument Flying

  • Precision: Both techniques are essential for maintaining precision in instrument flight, where visual references may be minimal or nonexistent.
  • Safety: Accurate turns and descents are crucial for safely navigating complex airspace and approaches, particularly in poor weather conditions.
  • Standardization: These techniques help standardize procedures among pilots, contributing to consistent and predictable flying practices.

Hold Examples

Holding must be carried out using manual heading adjustment in order to achieve a normal, timed hold (or as required on the approach plate), having temporarily halted automatic waypoint sequencing when approaching the holding fix. RNAV guidance may be used to achieve and maintain the inbound holding course, but FMS steering (by selecting ‘Hold at Waypoint’ for example) to achieve a normal ‘racetrack’ hold is not acceptable.

Hold Entries

Hold Entry Procedures for a Standard Holding Pattern

  • Sector 1 procedures (parallel entry):
    • Upon reaching the fix, turn onto the outbound heading of the holding pattern for the appropriate period of time
    • Turn left to intercept the inbound track or to return directly to the fix
    • On the second arrival over the fix, turn right and follow the holding pattern
  • Sector 2 procedures (offset entry):
    • Upon reaching the fix, turn to a heading that results in a track having an angle of 30˚ or less from the inbound track reciprocal on the holding side
    • Continue for the appropriate period of time, then turn right to intercept the inbound track and follow the holding pattern
  • Sector 3 procedure (direct entry):
    • Upon reaching the fix, turn right and follow the holding pattern

If the aircraft is so equipped, entry to and maintenance of the hold should be carried out using single-needle navigation information rather than by using a CDI display followed by a standard ICAO hold. GNSS map information should be denied during the hold entry and maintenance in order to assess the applicant’s situational awareness.

Radio Calls in the Hold
A holding clearance issued by ATC will include at least the following items:

  • a clearance to the holding fix
  • the direction to hold from the holding fix
  • a specified radial, course, or inbound track
  • if DME is used, the DME distances at which the fix end and outbound end turns are to be commenced (hold between [number of miles] and [number of miles]). If the outbound DME is not specified by ATC, pilots are expected adhere to the standard holding pattern timing procedures above
  • the altitude or FL to be maintained
  • the time to expect further clearance or an approach clearance or the time to leave the fix in the event of a communications failure.


Approach Plates

The chart identification must include the runway identification for a straight in landing (RNP RWY 04), and for a circling approach a letter designator (RNP A). The approach plates must include: margin data pilot brief, plan view, profile view, minima and an airport diagram.

Procedural vs Vectored Approaches
Any moving map display will be obscured or removed during the hold and procedural approach, or the range adjusted so that the display provides no useful information. The initial approach segment of a non-RNP procedural approach may be flown using RNAV Substitution, but a conventional lateral navigation mode must be selected and used once the base turn has been entered. The approach should be procedural rather than being vectored however, GNSS derived wind vectors can be used during the approaches.

Course Reversals & Racetrack Procedures

Course reversals and racetrack procedures are important techniques used in aviation to help pilots execute precise and safe approaches to an airport, particularly when it is necessary to align with a specific course or direction. Here’s an overview of both:

Course Reversals

Course Reversals are procedures designed to reverse the direction of an aircraft’s flight path to establish it on the inbound course of an instrument approach. They are typically used when an aircraft approaches an airport from a direction that requires a significant change in heading to align with the final approach course.

Types of Course Reversals:

1. Procedure Turn (PT):

  • A standard maneuver where the aircraft makes a specific outbound course, followed by a turn to intercept the inbound course.
  • Often depicted on approach charts with a barb symbol indicating the direction of the initial outbound leg.
  • Allows the aircraft to lose altitude and align with the final approach course.

2. Holding Pattern In Lieu of Procedure Turn:

  • A holding pattern can be used instead of a procedure turn to reverse course.
  • Typically, a racetrack pattern where the aircraft flies parallel to the inbound course, then turns around to intercept the inbound course.
  • Can be more efficient and flexible, especially when holding patterns are already part of the approach procedure.

Racetrack Procedures

Racetrack Procedures refer to the pattern flown by aircraft to either lose altitude, delay their approach, or align with the final approach course. These are often used in holding patterns and are similar to course reversals but can be used for different purposes, including holding.

Components of Racetrack Procedures:

1. Outbound Leg:

  • The leg flown in the direction opposite the inbound course.
  • Used to create space and time for the aircraft to turn around and align with the inbound course.

2. 180-Degree Turn:

  • The turn at the end of the outbound leg to reverse direction.
  • Brings the aircraft back towards the inbound course.

3. Inbound Leg:

  • The leg flown towards the navigation aid or fix, aligning the aircraft with the final approach course.

4. Holding Pattern:

  • A racetrack-shaped pattern where the aircraft holds over a specific fix, maintaining altitude and spacing as directed by ATC.
  • Used for sequencing and spacing aircraft during high-traffic periods or when an aircraft needs to lose altitude before commencing an approach.

Practical Applications

Procedure Turn Example:

  • An aircraft is flying towards an airport and needs to align with the ILS approach for runway 27, but it’s approaching from the east.
  • The procedure turn might direct the aircraft to fly outbound on a course of 090°, then turn left to 270° to intercept the ILS localizer and align with runway 27.

Holding Pattern Example:

  • An aircraft is instructed to hold at a VOR station due to traffic congestion at the destination airport.
  • The holding pattern involves flying outbound on a specific radial, executing a 180° turn, and flying inbound on the reciprocal radial back to the VOR.

Importance for Pilots

1. Precision and Safety:

Course reversals and racetrack procedures allow pilots to maneuver the aircraft safely and precisely, ensuring alignment with the approach course.

2. Altitude Management:

These procedures provide a controlled way to lose altitude while maintaining situational awareness and navigation accuracy.

3. Compliance with ATC:

Adhering to published procedures ensures compliance with ATC instructions and facilitates safe and efficient air traffic management.

4. Flexibility:

Racetrack patterns offer flexibility in holding and approach planning, allowing pilots to adjust timing and spacing as necessary.

5. Training and Proficiency:

Regular practice of these procedures is essential for pilot proficiency, particularly in instrument flight conditions where visual references are limited.

In summary, course reversals and racetrack procedures are vital tools for pilots to execute safe and efficient approaches, manage altitude, and comply with air traffic control instructions. Understanding and practicing these techniques are crucial components of instrument flight training and operational proficiency.

3D vs 2D Approaches

Approaches can be categorised into two: 3D approaches (gives both lateral and vertical guidance) and 2D approaches (gives only lateral guidance).

If an aircraft does not have the baro-VNAV capability or is not LPV capable, then the GNSS approach must be flown with lateral guidance only. In this case, the approach is strictly 2D because the pilot must calculate the required descent rate to maintain the aircraft on the correct vertical path. These types of approaches are known as LNAV (Lateral Navigation) only approaches. The only downside is that LNAV-only approaches have a higher minimum when compared to a 3D (LNAV/VNAV) approach.

Approaches: Rules & Regulations

Approach minima

Applicants will be required to give details of the operating minima to be observed throughout including minima for the instrument approaches, i.e. DA/H, MDA/H, circling minima, RVR/visibility minima and MSA. For 2D approaches the applicant will be expected to fly a continuous descent final approach (CDFA) technique in accordance with the published procedures and, where applicable, the ATO operations manual.

Missed Approach Procedures

Follow the missed approach procedure or continue for visual landing or circle for landing. (If flown first, following the 3D approach, a go-around and missed approach procedure will normally be required.)

Missed Approach:

  • Demonstrates knowledge of missed approach procedure.
  • Establishes aeroplane in a safe climb out and initiates aeroplane configuration changes as required to achieve as least the performance climb segments.
  • Follows designated missed approach procedure or as required by ATC.


  • Selects and achieves the appropriate touchdown area.
  • Adjusts descent and round-out (flare) to achieve a safe landing with little or no float with
  • appropriate drift and crosswind correction.
  • Maintains control and applies aeroplane brakes for a safe roll out.

The Circling Approach

A circling approach is the visual phase of an instrument approach to bring an aircraft into position for landing on a runway which is not suitably located for a straight-in approach. (JAR-OPS 1.435 (a) (1))

For the exam:

  • Explain what is meant by the term, “Visual manoeuvring (circling)”
  • Describe how to calculate circling minima for a specific approach. (During the exam, the circling minima tolerance is +100ft/-0ft)
  • State the conditions to be fulfilled before descending below MDA/H from a circling approach.
  • Describe how to fly a missed approach procedure if visual reference is lost during a circling approach procedure.


GNSS Modes

GNSS stands for Global Navigation Satellite System

Four implementations of GNSS are currently in existence or under development. These are:

  1. USA: Global Positioning System (GPS)
  2. European Union: GALILEO
  3. Russia: Global Orbiting Navigation System (Global Orbiting Navigation System (GLONASS)
  4. China: BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (BDS).

GNSS equipment must have a current database. Waypoints and flight plan routing should be inserted prior to or during flight. The applicant remains entirely responsible for checking data entries and particular care should be taken if usin user defined waypoints.

A RAIM check must be completed prior to any RNP GNSS approach (before or during flight). The applicant must ensure that the correct approach has been loaded into the navigation system. All information required to fly the RNP procedure, including moving map displays, may be used.

RNP Approaches

(UK) Part-FCL requires that an RNP approach be flown on every instrument rating test or check.

However, it is recognised that there are reasons that may preclude this from happening, for example:

  • Onboard equipment unserviceability;
  • RAIM outage or similar affecting planned destination;
  • ATC contingency preventing planned approach from being flown;
  • Non-availability of an RNP approach within a reasonable distance of departure airfield.

The IR skill test should normally be planned with the expectation of being able to fly an RNP approach during the test, and every effort should be made to achieve this. If, on the day, circumstances mean that an RNP approach is not available, the test may go ahead if agreed by both the applicant and the examiner, and 2 approaches using terrestrial aids (NDB, VOR, ILS) should be flown.

RAIM Checks & Warnings
RAIM stands for Receiver Autonomous Integrity Monitoring, and it is used to monitor GPS information for fault detection.

It is an independent integrity monitoring technique applied to in-flight electronics to ensure satellite signals comply with the safety requirements at each flight stage.

One of the main causes for failures in the instrument rating is the failure to obtain a satisfactory RAIM check or confirm space-based augmentation prior to commencing a GNSS based approach. A RAIM check must be completed prior to any RNP GNSS approach (before or during flight).


Basic Instrument Flying

NDB Tracking

Non-Directional Beacon is a ground-based, low frequency radio transmitter used as an instrument approach for airports and offshore platforms. The NDB transmits an omni-directional signal that is received by the ADF or Automatic Direction Finder, a standard instrument onboard aircraft.

Standard instrument departures

SIDs are air traffic control procedures issued to pilots that provide route guidance, transitioning them from the airport to the enroute environment.

ILS Approach

Instrument Landing System (ILS) is defined as a precision runway approach aid based on two radio beams which together provide pilots with both vertical and horizontal guidance during an approach to land.

VOR/DME Approach

Non-precision approaches which are pilot-interpreted make use of ground beacons and aircraft equipment such as VHF Omnidirectional Radio Range (VOR)Non-Directional Beacon and the LLZ element of an ILS system, often in combination with Distance Measuring Equipment (DME) for range.