Learn about rules for instrument ratings-in effect since 1 September 2014. The full rules are contained in Part 61 of the civil aviation safety regulations 1998.
This includes information about:
- an exemption which came into force on 1 July 2016 which provides alternative requirements for pilot type rating instrument proficiency checks
- an amendment to the flight test standards in schedule 5 of the part 61 manual of standards in relation to using azimuth guidance for instrument approach operations.
Who should read this information sheet?
- Pilots who hold, or plan to gain, an instrument rating.
- Instructors and training operators.
- Approved testing officers (ATOs) and flight examiners.
- Operators employing pilots who conduct operations under instrument flight rules (IFR).
What Part 61 authorisation do I need to conduct a flight under IFR?
Pilots who hold any of the following part 61 licences and ratings are authorised to conduct an IFR operation.
- Instrument rating.
- Private IFR rating.
- Air transport pilot licence with an aeroplane category rating-ATPL(A).
- Multi-crew pilot licence (MPL).
The privileges of an instrument rating and PIFR rating are limited by the endorsements the pilot holds, as well as recent experience and general limitation rules.
If you are exercising the privileges of an instrument rating, ATPL(A) or MPL, then you need to comply with the IPC requirements.
If you are exercising the privileges of a PIFR rating then you need to comply with the 24 month flight review requirements for that rating.
Does an instrument rating authorise operations under night VFR?
Yes, the privileges of an instrument rating include conducting operations under night VFR. The training requirements for the instrument rating include night VFR competencies.
What are the changes to the instrument rating under Part 61?
The most significant changes include the following.
- Under the old regulations, there were four grades of instrument rating with navigation-aid endorsements.
- Under Part 61 there is one instrument rating, six different aircraft endorsements and two instrument approach operation endorsements (see below for more information-note that this doesn’t include the private IFR rating).
- The old instrument rating was valid for 12 months and required renewal flight tests every 12 months. The Part 61 instrument rating has no expiry date, but requires annual proficiency checks.
- The co-pilot instrument rating is no longer available.
- Holders of ATPL(A)s and MPLs don’t need to hold a separate instrument rating.
- Instrument rating recent experience requirements are now 90 days (except single-pilot recent experience).
- Pilots may use any navigation system for departure and en-route tracking. However, there are limitations on using particular systems for conducting instrument approach procedures.
- To operate a type-rated aircraft under IFR the pilot must have completed an instrument proficiency check, in a relevant aircraft, within the previous 24 months .
What effect does the 1 July 2016 exemption have on instrument proficiency checks (IPCs)?
The 1 July 2016 IPC exemption means pilots don’t have to have a valid IPC for a pilot type rating to be authorised to exercise the privileges of the pilot type rating. Instead, pilots need to have a valid IPC for a relevant type rated aircraft. There are three criteria relate to the type rating you are exercising:
- if you want to exercise the privileges of a pilot type rating, you must have a valid IPC for any type-rated aircraft of the same category that was completed within the previous 24 months
- if you want to exercise the privileges of a single-pilot turbojet aeroplane type rating, you must have a valid IPC for any single-pilot turbojet aeroplane type rating that was completed within the previous 24 months
- if you want to exercise the privileges of a multi-crew pilot type rating, you must have a valid IPC for any multi-crew type-rating for an aircraft of the same category that was completed within the previous 24 months.
I hold a civil aviation regulation part 5 co-pilot instrument rating. Can I still fly using that rating?
A pilot who held a co-pilot instrument rating on 31 August 2014 is entitled to an instrument rating with the equivalent endorsements under part 61. However, the instrument rating will include a condition stating the holder is not authorised to act as pilot-in-command when conducting IFR operations.
According to the transition rules, if a pilot holds a co-pilot (aeroplane) instrument rating and a command (aeroplane) instrument rating, they are entitled to an instrument rating without the co-pilot limitation. The same applies to helicopter instrument ratings.
For more information refer to the co-pilot instrument rating-transition to new rules information sheet.
What are the transition rules for the instrument rating?
If you held a rating prior to 1 September 2014, you are entitled to a Part 61 instrument rating and appropriate endorsements. For more information about transition rules, refer to the flight crew licensing transition provisions-part 61 information sheet.
What are instrument rating endorsements?
To conduct an IFR operation a pilot must hold the applicable instrument rating aircraft endorsements. They are:
- single-engine aeroplane (SEA) instrument endorsement
- multi-engine aeroplane (MEA) instrument endorsement (covers single and multi-engine aeroplanes)
- single-engine helicopter (SEH) instrument endorsement
- multi-engine helicopter (MEH) instrument endorsement (covers single and multi-engine helicopters)
- powered-lift aircraft instrument endorsement
- gyroplane instrument endorsement
- airship instrument endorsement.
To conduct an instrument approach operation, a pilot must have the applicable instrument approach endorsement. They are:
- IAP 2D instrument endorsement
- IAP 3D instrument endorsement.
What is an instrument approach operation?
An instrument approach operation involves a pilot conducting an approach and landing using instruments for navigation guidance, in accordance with an authorised instrument approach procedure.
What are 2D and 3D instrument approach operations?
Instrument approach operations involve pilots using systems and displays to conduct published instrument approach procedures.
In 2D operations a pilot uses instrument displays that provide lateral (directional) navigation information. The pilot follows the track information presented on the display to conduct the approach procedure. During a 2D operation, the pilot determines the rate of descent necessary for the aircraft to comply with the authorised instrument procedure, without requiring reference to vertical guidance.
In 3D operations a pilot uses instrument displays that provide both lateral and vertical navigation information. The pilot follows the track and descent path information presented on the displays to conduct the approach operation. Some aircraft navigation systems provide vertical guidance for an approach procedure designed for 2D operations. In such instances, pilots must ensure the aircraft complies with the specified descent limitations.
What are the differences between azimuth guidance and course deviation indicator operations?
Azimuth guidance operations are where the instrument uses a needle pointer to show relative bearings to, or from, a station or waypoint. Typical automatic direction finder (ADF) indicators provide a form of azimuth guidance.
Course deviation indicator operations are where the instrument shows the lateral displacement of the aircraft from a specified track. Deviation from the track may be displayed as angular displacement-like a conventional instrument-landing system (ILS) or VHF omni ranges (VOR) indication. It may also be displayed as a linear distance that can vary in scale when generated by a global navigation surveillance system or multi-sensor navigation system at different phases of flight.
What are instrument approach procedures?
Instrument approach procedures are published by authorities and are based on design criteria that ensure the approach can be conducted within safe margins.
The procedure relies upon particular kinds of ground and/or satellite navigation systems, which provide data to the aircraft’s systems to generate navigation guidance information. Some systems provide lateral (directional) signals and some also provide vertical (altitude) signals.
Examples of old technology systems include VORs, which provide lateral navigation signals. Both lateral and vertical signals are provided by ILS.
Newer satellite and ground-based systems provide various combinations of lateral and vertical data. The aircraft must be certified to conduct an approach in accordance with a prescribed procedure under IFR.
Are there any single-pilot IFR operation limitations?
Yes, there are two requirements.
- You can only conduct a single-pilot IFR operation in an aircraft if, at some time in the past, you passed the instrument rating flight test in a single-pilot aircraft, or an instrument proficiency check in a single-pilot aircraft. The aircraft doesn’t have to be in the same category. Therefore passing an instrument rating flight test in a single-pilot aeroplane in 2010 would satisfy this single-pilot IFR operation limitation for conducting single-pilot IFR operations in other category aircraft.
- There is also a single-pilot IFR recent experience requirement. Pilots need to have conducted a flight or simulated flight under IFR in a single-pilot operation within the previous six months. The operation must be at least one hour in length and include at least one instrument approach. For pilots regaining recency, these requirements could be achieved during a single-pilot instrument proficiency check (IPC), a flight with an instructor, or a flight in a flight simulation training device.
What are the circling-approach limitations?
Under part 61, pilots may only conduct a circling approach under the IFR if they meet one of the following circling-approach requirements. Pilots need to have demonstrated competency conducting circling approaches either during a flight test within the previous 12 months or during the most recent instrument proficiency check.
Are there any limitations on using instrument approach procedures?
Yes. Pilots may only conduct a particular kind of instrument approach procedure if they have completed training and demonstrated that they are competent conducting the procedure in the presence of a flight examiner. (Reference to flight examiner includes CASA or a person holding the relevant regulation 61.040 approval).
Matt holds the IAP 2D instrument endorsement. However, he has only demonstrated competency conducting VOR approaches. He has to complete training and be checked as competent by a flight examiner before he can conduct non-directional beacon (NDB) approaches.
Are the different kinds of instrument approach procedure listed by CASA?
Yes, they are in the part 61 manual of standards (MOS), in the IAP2 and IAP3 units of competency within Schedule 2. There are six different kinds of procedure, grouped as follows.
- VOR and LOC (the same kind of 2D procedure)
- DGA (DME/GNSS arrival)
- RNP-LNAV (RNAV/GNSS) and RNP-LP (WAAS required).
- ILS, GLS, MLS (the same kind of 3D procedure)
- RNP-LNAV/VNAV (Baro) and RNP-LPV (WAAS required).
If a pilot has demonstrated competency conducting VOR approaches, they are taken to be competent conducting LOC approaches.
Aircraft must be certified for Baro VNAV operations to utilise the RNP APCH LNAV/VNAV line of minima. RNP LP and LPV minima are not available in Australia.
Under part 61, what are the recent experience requirements for conducting instrument approaches?
The table to the right shows pilot recent experience requirements for different types of approach. Each one can be done in an aircraft, or a flight simulation training device approved for the purpose.
|Approach type||Pilot recent experience requirement|
|General||Must have conducted at least three instrument approach operations within the previous 90 days|
|Aircraft category||Must have conducted at least one instrument approach operation in an aircraft of the same category (such as aeroplane, helicopter etc) within the previous 90 days|
|2D approach||Must have conducted at least one 2D instrument approach operation within the previous 90 days|
|3D approach||Must have conducted at least one 3D instrument approach operation within the previous 90 days|
|Azimuth guidance||Must have conducted at least one 2D instrument approach operation using azimuth guidance within the previous 90 days|
|Course deviation indicator||Must have conducted at least one instrument approach operation using a course deviation indicator (CDI) within the previous 90 days|
What is an instrument proficiency check?
An IPC is an assessment of competency conducting IFR operations. The standards for IPCs are prescribed in schedule 6 of the MOS. In summary, pilots are required to conduct an operation under IFR including departure, en-route, arrival, approach, missed approach and approach to land manoeuvres.
The pilot’s knowledge of IFR operations is also checked.
When do I need to do an instrument rating IPC?
To exercise the privileges of your instrument rating operating an aircraft under IFR, you must have completed an instrument rating IPC in an aircraft of the same category. If the flight is in a multi-engine aircraft, the IPC must have been done in a multi-engine aircraft of the same category.
That means an IPC done in a multi-engine helicopter satisfies the requirement to operate a single-engine helicopter IFR. However, doing an IPC in a single-engine helicopter would not satisfy the requirement to operate a multi-engine helicopter IFR. The instrument rating IPC requirements are in CASR 61.880.
How long does an instrument rating IPC last for?
An instrument rating IPC is valid for 12 months and its validity cannot be extended.
IPCs done within three months of the existing expiry date will extend the validity to 12 months from the expiry date of the existing check-see Case 2 below.
Wendy’s instrument rating IPC expires on 30 June 2015. She completes an IPC on 23 April 2015, which means her next IPC is due on 30 June 2016.
What are the requirements for type rating specific IPCs?
When you are conducting an IFR operation in a type rated aircraft, you are exercising the privileges of your instrument rating and your type rating. The IPC requirements for the instrument rating are described above. The IPC requirements for the type rating are in CASR 61.805.
Under regulation 61.805, to exercise the privileges of a pilot type rating under the IFR, the pilot is required to have a valid IPC for the type rating that was conducted within the previous 24 months.
An exemption that came into force on 1 July 2016 provides an alternative to the requirements in regulation 61.805. Instead of needing a type rating specific IPC, pilots now need to have a valid IPC that is appropriate to the aircraft being flown and depends on the type rating being used.
If you are exercising the privileges of a type rating under the IFR, you need to have completed an IPC within the previous 24 months that was conducted in any type rated aircraft of the same category.
If you are exercising the privileges of a single-pilot turbojet aeroplane type rating under the IFR, you need to have completed an IPC within the previous 24 months that was conducted in any type rated turbojet aeroplane as a single-pilot operation.
If you are exercising the privileges of a multi-crew pilot type rating under the IFR, you need to have completed an IPC within the previous 24 months that was conducted in any multi-crew type rated aircraft of the same category.
Do I need to pass a separate instrument proficiency check for class-rated aircraft?
No, you can continue operating class-rated aircraft if you do your instrument proficiency check in a relevant type-rated aircraft.
Don is authorised to conduct IFR operations in Beechjet 400 aircraft and has a multi-engine aeroplane class rating. The beechcraft 400 is a type rated multi-engine aeroplane. Don completes his instrument proficiency check in the BE400 each year. These IPCs meet the annual instrument rating IPC requirement and the biennial type rated aircraft IPC requirement under the 1 July 2016 exemption. That authorises him to conduct IFR operations in any aeroplane, except he cannot conduct an IFR operation in a turbojet aeroplane as a single-pilot operation.
Who can conduct an IPC?
Only flight examiners, CASA examiners and holders of regulation 61.040 approvals are able to conduct instrument proficiency checks.
The examiner must hold the instrument rating flight examiner endorsement and they must also be authorised to conduct the IFR operation. This means they need to satisfy the recent experience and proficiency check requirements.
A person holding a regulation 61.040 approval may only conduct the check. The knowledge check and entering the check details on the pilot’s licence must be done by CASA or a flight examiner - refer to CASR 61.880 (5) (b).
What happens if I fail my instrument proficiency check?
If you fail an instrument proficiency check in a single or multi-engine aeroplane, you no longer have a valid instrument proficiency check for aeroplanes. That means you cannot conduct IFR operations in aeroplanes until you pass an instrument proficiency check in an aeroplane. The same rule applies to helicopters.
However, if you are successfully participating in an operator’s approved training and checking system that has a regulation 61.040 approval covering instrument proficiency checks for a particular type of aircraft, then you can continue conducting IFR operations in an aircraft of that type under that system even if you fail an instrument proficiency check in another type of aircraft of the same category-refer to case 6 below.
What happens if a 3D approach is not included in my instrument proficiency check?
If you hold a 3D endorsement and you don’t include a 3D approach operation in your instrument proficiency check, then you cannot conduct 3D approach operations until you satisfy the instrument proficiency check requirement for conducting 3D approaches.
Examples relating to instrument proficiency checks
Irene holds an instrument rating, single-engine aeroplane instrument endorsement (IR-SEA) and IAP2D instrument endorsement (IAP2D). Her last instrument proficiency check was done in a cessna 210 on 4 December 2014 (it expires 31 December 2015).
If Irene does an instrument proficiency check in July 2015, the next one will be due on 31 July 2016.
Alternatively, if Irene does her instrument proficiency check in October 2015, which is within three months of the expiry date, her next instrument proficiency check after that will be due on 31 December 2016.
Case 5 (before 1 July 2016 exemption)
Patrick holds an instrument rating, multi-engine aeroplane and multi-engine helicopter instrument endorsements (IR-MEA and IR-MEH) and IAP-2D. He has a multi-engine aeroplane class rating (MEA-CR), single-engine helicopter class rating (SEH-CR) and a BK117 type rating.
Patrick is authorised to conduct IFR operations in all of the helicopters and aeroplanes he has aircraft ratings for.
Patrick does an instrument proficiency check in the BK117 in July 2015 and an instrument proficiency check in a beechcraft duchess in October 2015. That means from July 2015, he is authorised to continue IFR operations in SEA, MEA and SEH class-rated aircraft and the BK117, as long as he completes an instrument rating IPC for the relevant aircraft before 31 July 2016.
In January 2016, Patrick gains a type rating for the EC145, and the flight test was conducted as an IFR operation . This authorises Patrick to conduct IFR operations in the EC145 for a further 24 months. However he would need to do an instrument proficiency check in the BK117 or the EC145 before February 2017.
Patrick can conduct IFR operations in single and multi-engine aeroplanes until October 2016.
Case 5 (continued after 1 July 2016 exemption)
Patrick completes an IPC in a single-engine aeroplane in July 2016, which includes a test for the IAP 3D endorsement. He can continue IFR operations in single-engine aeroplanes until July 2017, and in multi-engine aeroplanes until October 2016 (based on his duchess IPC in October 2015). He can also conduct 3D approach operations in all of the types and classes of aircraft he is authorised to operate under IFR - aeroplanes and helicopters.
Patrick gains a type rating for the AS355 in August 2016 - the flight test was not conducted as an IFR operation. He can operate the AS355 under the IFR until January 2017, based on the EC145 IPC he completed in January 2016.
To keep flying the three helicopter types (BK117, AS355 and EC145), Patrick only needs to complete an IPC in any one of the helicopters.
Are there other ways of satisfying the instrument proficiency check requirement?
Yes, there are five alternatives to the instrument proficiency check:
- pass the instrument rating flight test
- pass a flight test for an instrument endorsement that was done more than six months after the initial instrument rating flight test
- complete an operator proficiency check that covers IFR operations (see CASA’s proficiency checks information sheet)
- successfully participate in a training and checking system conducted by an operator that holds a regulation 61.040 approval for the purpose.
Note: any alternative must be done in a relevant aircraft (refer to the question ‘When do I need to do an instrument proficiency check?’).
What is an operator proficiency check?
An operator proficiency check is required by operators covered by the CAR 217 requirements for training and checking. If an operator proficiency check covers IFR operations it satisfies the instrument proficiency check requirement for the relevant aircraft.
Typically, CAR 217 requires two operator proficiency checks each year. The checks are prescribed in the operator’s training and checking manual.
What does ‘successfully participating in an operator’s training and checking system’ mean?
If the operator holds a regulation 61.040 approval for a training and checking system that covers the instrument proficiency check requirement, then pilots don’t need to do instrument proficiency checks to conduct IFR operations in aircraft covered by the approval. However, this doesn’t authorise pilots to conduct an IFR operation outside of the work carried out for their operator.
If a pilot wants to conduct an IFR operation outside the work they do for their operator, then they need to have a current instrument proficiency check for the aircraft they wish to fly under IFR.
Connie works for Biggles Aviation, which has an approved training and checking system with a regulation 61.040 approval. This covers instrument proficiency checks for their ATR 72 fleet. Connie also flies her Piper Comanche privately under IFR.
Connie successfully participates in the ATR 72 training and checking system and flies regularly. She completed an instrument proficiency check in her Comanche in October 2014. That means Connie can continue conducting operations in the multi and single-engine aeroplanes that she is authorised to operate under IFR until October 2015. However, her ATR 72 training and checking doesn’t authorise her to operate the Comanche.
If Connie fails her Comanche instrument proficiency check, that won’t affect her situation with the airline. As long as she continues to successfully participate in the training and checking system, she is authorised to continue operating the ATR 72 under IFR for the operator.
How do I get my instrument rating?
To gain your instrument rating you need to hold at least a private pilot licence, study the aeronautical knowledge syllabus and pass the instrument rating examination. You also need to complete flight training at a Part 141 or Part 142 training operator for:
- an aircraft instrument endorsement (the category must be the same as the aircraft used in the flight test) and
- at least a 2D instrument endorsement (you can include the 3D endorsement as well).
In addition, you need to have the following aeronautical experience in aircraft of the same category that the flight test is to be conducted in:
- 50 hours cross-country flight time as pilot-in-command
- 40 hours of instrument time, including at least 10 hours of dual instrument time, plus 20 hours of instrument flight time or 10 hours of instrument flight time if the training is done in a flight simulator.
There are experience standards for each aircraft endorsement (the experience can be in aircraft or a flight simulation training device that is approved for the purpose). The hours can be counted in the requirements specified above.
The experience standards for each endorsement are detailed below.
- Single-engine aeroplane endorsement - at least 10 hours of dual instrument time in an aeroplane, and at least five hours experience at night as the pilot of an aeroplane (including at least one hour of dual flight and one hour of solo night circuits).
- Multi-engine aeroplane endorsement - at least 10 hours of dual instrument time in a multi-engine aeroplane and at least five hours experience at night as pilot of an aeroplane (including at least one hour of dual flight and one hour of solo night circuits).
- Single-engine helicopter endorsement - at least 10 hours of dual instrument time in a helicopter and at least five hours experience at night as the pilot of a helicopter (including at least three hours of dual flight and one hour of solo night circuits).
- Multi-engine helicopter endorsement - at least 10 hours of dual instrument time in a multi-engine helicopter and at least five hours experience at night as the pilot of a helicopter (including at least three hours of dual flight and one hour of solo night circuits).
You will also need to pass the instrument rating flight test.
Changes to the instrument rating, ATPL and MPL flight test standards
On 26 May 2016 a significant number of ground-based navigation infrastructure systems were decommissioned and this reduced the availability of navigation aids. Many aircraft can only provide azimuth guidance using an automatic direction finder (ADF) for non-directional beacons (NDBs).
Due to the diminished access to NDBs, a safety concern arose due to the potential for congestion around the remaining NDBs. The immediate solution was to remove the mandatory requirement for pilots to demonstrate competency conducting instrument approaches using azimuth guidance.
An amendment has been made to appendices K.1, K.2 and M.1 in schedule 5 of the part 61 manual of standards to remove the azimuth guidance requirement. Further changes to the MOS and training standards will be made in relation to using azimuth guidance systems.
How do I get another aircraft endorsement?
If you already hold an instrument rating, you would be granted another instrument rating aircraft endorsement by completing training, gaining the minimum experience and passing the flight test for the other aircraft endorsement. For example, a pilot holding an instrument rating and single-engine aeroplane instrument endorsement can obtain the single-engine helicopter instrument endorsement by completing training in helicopters, gaining the experience described above for the endorsement and passing the flight test.
Is it possible to complete an instrument rating course as a co-pilot of a multi-crew operation and not include single-pilot competencies?
Yes. However, your training would require you to meet the same competency standards, regardless of whether you perform the role of co-pilot or pilot-in-command.
General competency rule
Pilots are reminded of their obligation under the general competency rule (regulation 61.385), even if they have a current instrument proficiency check. Refer to the general competency-pilots information sheet.
The new rules for instrument ratings are contained in part 61 of the civil aviation safety regulations:
- CASR dictionary
- Regulation 61.010 - definitions for Part 61
- Regulations 61.105 and 61.110 - definitions of instrument flight and instrument ground time
- Regulation 61.375 - general limitations on exercise of privileges of pilot licences - ratings
- Regulations 61.640, 61.645, 61.650 - limitations on exercise of privileges of multi-crew pilot licences
- Regulations 61.670, 61.675, 61.680, 61.685, 61.695 - limitations on exercise of privileges of air transport pilot licences
- Regulation 61.790 - limitations on exercise of privileges of pilot type rating - IFR operation
- Regulation 61.805 - limitations on exercise of privileges of pilot type rating - instrument proficiency check
- Regulation 61.855 - privileges of instrument ratings
- Regulation 61.860 - limitations on exercise of privileges of instrument rating - general
- Regulation 61.865 - limitations on exercise of privileges of instrument rating - endorsements
- Regulation 61.870 - limitations on exercise of privileges of instrument rating - recent experience: general
- Regulation 61.875 - limitations on exercise of privileges of instrument rating - recent experience: single-pilot
- Regulation 61.880 - limitations on exercise of privileges of instrument rating - proficiency check
- Regulation 61.885 - requirements for grant of instrument ratings
- Regulation 61.887 - removal of instrument rating conditions about acting as pilot-in-command under IFR
- Table 61.890 - kinds of instrument endorsements
- Regulation 61.895 - privileges of instrument endorsements
- Regulation 61.900 - limitations on exercise of privileges of instrument endorsements
- Regulation 61.905 - requirements for grant of instrument endorsements
Want to know more?
Visit the licensing regulations section.