The Instrument Rating opens the door to the world of IMC - Instrument Meteorogical Conditions - or 'flying in the clouds'. The biggest step to becoming a professional pilot, the Instrument Rating will hone your flying skills to a new level while teaching you advanced navigation techniques that allow you to fly anywhere in the country in many types of weather conditions. The instrument rating allows a pilot to fly by referring to instruments within the aircraft. There are two ways to fly an airplane: by visual flight reference (VFR) and instrument flight reference (IFR). When flying VFR the pilot depends on objects outside the aircraft, such as the horizon, to control and maneuver the aircraft. When flying IFR the pilot depends on instruments within the aircraft to fly the plane. In order to fly IFR a pilot must earn an instrument rating in addition to the private pilot certificate.
The instrument rating offers the pilot greater freedom and utility. Flying on trips, whether for business or pleasure, will not depend upon ideal weather conditions. In addition, the instrument rating makes for a safer and more confident pilot. For practical purposes, professional pilots must obtain an instrument rating.
Although earning the instrument rating is based on skill and not on hours, a minimum of 35 flight hours are required for the Part 141 Program. In the Part 61 Program, pilots must log at least 50 hours of cross-country flight time as pilot in command (PIC) and at least 40 hours of simulated or actual flight by reference to instruments. A cross-country of at least 250 nautical miles must also be completed with a flight instructor.
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