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Changes to instrument proficiency checks
Learn about the pilot type rating instrument proficiency check requirements in effect since 1 July 2016.
Download a print-friendly version of the changes to instrument proficiency checks fact sheet.
Who should read this information?
- Flight examiners
- Chief pilots and heads of training and checking
Summary of the changes
To conduct an instrument flight rules (IFR) operation, a pilot needs to have a valid instrument proficiency check (IPC). When pilots are exercising the privileges of an instrument rating, air transport pilot licence with aeroplane category rating - ATPL(A) - or multi-crew pilot licence - MPL - they need to have completed an IPC within the previous 12 months. Refer to regulations 61.650, 61.695 and 61.880.
To exercise the privileges of a pilot type rating under the IFR, pilots need to have a valid IPC that was conducted in an aircraft that is covered by that type rating within the previous 24 months (12 months for single-pilot turbojet aeroplane type ratings).
Exemption CASA EX93/18 provides an alternative to the pilot type rating IPC requirements.
Pilots need to comply with the following two requirements:
- Annual requirement - a pilot must have completed an IPC within the previous 12 months that was conducted in an aircraft of the same category. If the aircraft is a multi-engine aircraft, then the IPC must have been conducted in a multi-engine aircraft of the same category. This requirement has not changed.
- Biennial requirement - a pilot must have completed an IPC within the previous 24 months that is appropriate, as follows.
- If the aircraft to be flown is a type rated aircraft, then the IPC must have been conducted in a type-rated aircraft of the same category.
- If the pilot is exercising the privileges of a single-pilot turbojet aeroplane rating, then the IPC must have been conducted as a single-pilot operation in a turbojet aeroplane certificated for single-pilot operations.
- If the pilot is exercising the privileges of a multi-crew aircraft type rating, then the IPC must have been conducted as a multi-crew operation in a multi-crew type-rated aircraft of the same category.
Pilots working under an operator's training and checking system are still required to comply with the operator's proficiency checking requirements.
Why do civil aviation authorities require regular checks?
The principle underlying the annual IPC requirement is taken from Annex 1 of the Convention on International Civil Aviation (International Civil Aviation Annex 1). It is the ‘Validity of licences' principle which states:
'pilots should not exercise the privileges of a licence or related rating unless the pilot maintains competency and meets recent experience requirements - Annex 1, section 1.2.5.'
Conducting IFR operations is a relatively high risk activity and so requires dedicated knowledge and practical flight training. Training is regulated to ensure properly authorised instructors deliver approved training courses which are conducted by certificated flight training schools, all with the aim of achieving quality training outcomes.
Before gaining a rating, pilots must pass a theory examination that tests their aeronautical knowledge and, following the training, pass a flight test which tests their underpinning knowledge and practical skills. Once qualified, pilots are authorised to conduct IFR operations.
Skill-based qualifications, like the instrument rating, require the qualification holder to maintain their skills and operational knowledge. Skills and knowledge degrade over time. In the interests of safety, rules are put in place to ensure pilots are sufficiently competent conducting IFR operations.
This is why ICAO, Australia and other countries require pilots to comply with recent experience standards and undergo regular skills and knowledge-based instrument rating checks.
In some countries, pilots need to revalidate their pilot type ratings every two years for IFR operations and, in some cases, type-specific IFR checks are only required for commercial operations.
While there are generic aspects for recency and proficiency checks, there are certain aircraft-related safety considerations that need to be addressed. For IFR operations they relate to:
- aircraft configuration - aircraft category and whether it is multi or single-engine
- aircraft that are prescribed with a type rating - complexity and performance
- multi-crew aircraft certification - operating complexity requires two pilots
- single-pilot turbojet aeroplanes - high performance single-pilot operation.
Each aspect is taken into account by Australia's IPC rules. Aircraft configuration is managed by the annual IPC rule - regulation 61.880, and the other three are managed by the pilot type ratings - regulation 61.805.
Under the Part 61 regulations, pilots need to complete a biennial type rating-specific IPC, except for single-pilot turbojet areoplane pilot type ratings which require an annual IPC.
Under an earlier exemption (CASA EX41/16), pilots needed to have completed, within the previous 12 months (as a single-pilot operation), an IPC in any turbojet aeroplane that is allowed to be operated single-pilot. Every two years they also needed to have completed a single-pilot IPC in an aircraft covered by the type rating. That exemption has been revoked.
Who is affected by the changes to IPC requirements?
For most pilots, the pilot type rating IPC requirements in Part 61 have minimal - if any - consequences. However, for some pilots, the requirements are substantial and have significant cost implications, which is why the exemption has been made and the rules are being changed.
Existing training and checking requirements for operators and pilots remain the same and are unaffected by this exemption. Pilots working in a training and checking system which has a regulation 61.040 approval (previously referred to as a cyclic program), who don't complete an IPC, still need to meet the IPC requirements as they did before the exemption was made.
What are the changes?
There is no change to the annual IPC requirement in regulation 61.880.
- The annual IPC is required if you want to exercise the privileges of your instrument rating, ATPL(A) or MPL in an aircraft.
- You need to match the aircraft you plan to fly with the aircraft you did your IPC in.
- The aircraft must be of the same category - that is, to fly an aeroplane IFR, your IPC must have been in an aeroplane.
- Also, if you plan to fly a multi-engine aircraft, then your IPC must have been done in a multi-engine aircraft of the same category. That means to fly a multi-engine helicopter IFR, your IPC must have been in a multi-engine helicopter.
The biennial IPC rule is an alternative to the pilot type rating IPC rules in regulation 61.805.
The exemption means pilots don't need to have a valid IPC for a pilot type rating as required by regulation 61.805, as long as they have an appropriate biennial IPC as follows.
- If you want to exercise the privileges of an instrument rating in an aircraft that is described in the left-hand column in the table below, you will need to undertake the related biennial IPC as described in the right-hand column on the same row.
|I want to operate an aircraft described below, under the IFR||I need to have done an IPC in an aircraft described below in the previous 24 months|
|1. Type-rated aircraft||Any type-rated aircraft of the same category|
|2. Single-pilot turbojet aeroplane||Any single-pilot turbojet aeroplane|
|3. Multi-crew type-rated aircraft||Any multi-crew type-rated aircraft of the same category|
Planning your next IPC
Pilots need to be able to plan their next IPC and decide which aircraft to use. The second table below provides information - including examples - to help you make that decision.
If you complete an IPC in an aircraft described in column 1, you would be able to fly aircraft that are described in column 2 for the next two years - as long as you continue to have a valid and appropriate annual IPC.
- The aircraft you choose for your next IPC should also be considered for the annual IPC rule - 61.880.
|Aircraft IPC to be conducted in||Aircraft you can fly IFR for the next 24 months as long as you have a valid IPC under 61.880|
|1. Single-engine class-rated aeroplane, eg Cessna 210||All single-engine class-rated aeroplanes|
|2. Multi-engine class-rated aeroplane, eg Piper Chieftain||All aeroplanes except type-rated aeroplanes|
|3. Type-rated aeroplane - not a multi-crew or single-pilot turbojet type rating, eg Kingair 350||All aeroplanes except multi-crew type-rated aeroplanes and turbojet aeroplanes operated single pilot|
|4. Multi-crew type-rated aeroplane, eg Learjet 60||All aeroplanes except turbojet aeroplanes operated single-pilot|
|5. Turbojet aeroplane operated single-pilot, eg Eclipse 500||All aeroplanes except multi-crew certificated aeroplanes|
|6. Single-engine class-rated helicopter, eg Jetranger||All single-engine class-rated helicopters|
|7. Type-rated helicopter - not a multi-crew type rating, eg Agusta 109||All helicopters except multi-crew type-rated helicopters|
|8. Multi-crew type-rated multi-engine helicopter, eg EC225||All helicopters|
Single-pilot IFR operations
Pilots conducting single-pilot IFR operations need to comply with two regulations in Part 61. These rules have not been changed by the exemption.
- You must have passed the flight test for the instrument rating in a single-pilot aircraft or completed an IPC in a single-pilot aircraft. The purpose of this rule is to ensure you have demonstrated your single-pilot IFR competencies to a flight examiner. The aircraft used for the flight test or the IPC doesn't have to be the same as the aircraft you want to fly under the IFR. Refer to subregulation 61.860 (2).
- You must meet the single pilot recent experience requirement by conducting a flight or simulated flight under the IFR in a single-pilot operation within the previous six months, which was at least one hour and included at least one instrument approach or simulated instrument approach.
Conducting single-pilot operations under the IFR is demanding. Pilots who conduct single-pilot and multi-crew IFR operations should consider their obligations under the general competency rule, especially if their competency is only being checked in a multi-crew operation.
Want to know more?
The flight crew licensing rules are contained in Part 61 of the Civil Aviation Safety Regulations.
- Subpart 61.J - multi-crew pilot licence
- Subpart 61.K - air transport pilot licence
- 61.805 - limitations on exercise of privileges of pilot type ratings - instrument proficiency check
- 61.860 - limitations on exercise of privileges of instrument ratings - general
- 61.870 - limitations on exercise of privileges of instrument ratings - recent experience: general
- 61.880 - limitations on exercise of privileges of instrument ratings - instrument proficiency check.
The transition rules for Part 61 are contained in Part 202 of the Civil Aviation Safety Regulations.