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Pilots > Become an Instrument-Rated Pilot > Instrument Rating Privileges and Requirements

Instrument Rating Privileges and Requirements

What Can a Pilot Do with an Instrument Rating?

Here are some of the key privileges and benefits of having an instrument rating:
  1. Fly in adverse weather conditions: Pilots with an instrument rating can fly in low visibility, clouds, and other challenging weather conditions that would not be allowed under VFR. This enables them to fly safely when the weather is less favorable.
  2. Navigate using instruments: With an instrument rating, pilots are trained to navigate solely using aircraft instruments (e.g., altimeter, airspeed indicator, attitude indicator, navigation radios, and GPS), rather than relying on external visual references. This is crucial for flying in low visibility or at night.
  3. Access controlled airspace: Many busy and congested airspace areas are designated as “controlled airspace,” where aircraft must follow specific procedures and clearance from air traffic control. An instrument rating is required to fly in some of these areas.
  4. Flight planning flexibility: Instrument-rated pilots can file and fly under IFR flight plans, which offer more flexibility in route selection and can often lead to more direct flight paths.
  5. Greater flight opportunities: Many professional pilot positions require an instrument rating as a minimum qualification. Having this rating can open up job opportunities for pilots in areas like charter, corporate, and airline operations.
  6. Increased safety and redundancy: Instrument training enhances a pilot’s ability to handle emergencies and unexpected situations by relying on instruments rather than visual cues. This added level of skill can improve overall flight safety.
  7. Cross-country flights: An instrument rating allows pilots to undertake cross-country flights that might involve traversing areas with varying weather conditions and limited ground-based navigation aids.
  8. Flight into known icing conditions: While not all aircraft are certified for flight in icing conditions, an instrument rating allows pilots to fly in these conditions if the aircraft is equipped and certified for it.

Requirements to Obtain an Instrument Rating

  1. Be at least 17 years old.
  2. Be able to read, speak, write, and understand the English language.
  3. Hold at least a Private Pilot Certificate.
  4. Receive and log ground training from an authorized instructor or complete a home-study course, such as the Gleim Instrument Pilot Kit.
  5. Pass a knowledge test with a score of 70% or better. The instrument rating knowledge test consists of 65 multiple-choice questions selected from the airplane-related questions in the FAA’s instrument rating test bank.
  6. Accumulate appropriate flight experience (see 14 CFR 61.65).
  7. Receive flight instruction and demonstrate skill (see 14 CFR 61.65).
  8. Successfully complete a practical (flight) test, which will be given as a final exam by an FAA inspector or designated pilot examiner; it will be conducted as specified in the FAA’s Instrument Rating Airman Certification Standards.
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