Instrument rating refers to the qualifications that a pilot must have in order to fly under IFR (Instrument Flight Rules). It requires further training and instruction apart from what is required for a Private Pilot certificate or Commercial Pilot certificate, in conjunction with rules and procedures specific to instrument flying, additional instruction in meteorology and more demanding training in flight by reference to instruments only. Testing consists of a written exam and a practical test (known more commonly as the check ride). The check ride is divided into an oral component to certify that the applicant understands the theory of instrument flying and an actual flight to ensure the pilot possesses the practical skills required for safe IFR flight.
For most private pilots, the most significant value of flying under IFR is the ability to fly in instrument meteorological conditions (such as inside clouds). More so, all flights operating in Class A airspace, defined as all airspace above 18,000 feet, must be conducted under IFR. In the United States, an instrument rating is required when operating under Special visual flight rules (SVFR) at night.
Requirements For an American Instrument Rating under part 61 of the Federal Aviation Regulation
- 50 hours of Pilot in Command cross country
- 40 hours of simulated or actual instrument time
- 15 hours of flight instruction towards Instrument Rating