You do need an autopilot for IFR, in the normal meaning of “IFR”.
Mooney_Driver was talking about legalities, not practicalities. And no, you don’t “need” an A/P for IFR, although it’s a very good thing to have. I’ve flown a lot of IFR (in IMC) without a (working) A/P, including in Germany.
Not having an autopilot for reasonable distances makes flying 10x harder than it needs to be. Sure, nobody absolutely needs one, and I have flown by hand to Santorini and back, but flying should be enjoyable, not hard work Also having an autopilot makes it much easier to pee and take photos…
Regarding the GPS, we did that before.
Where can you purchase a new DME today? One that doesn’t cost a million.
One thing is what you actually need.
Mooney_Driver was talking about legalities, not practicalities.
With part NCO, this has changed massively as you all know. It depends on what you need for the flight you want to do. Then again, in order to do IFR on a regular basis and without operational restrictions, the minimum today is not that far off from before, the difference is that you can use some boxes which before in some countries were not allowed, such as a KN64 iso a KN62A as a DME… but that is a small thing in comparison.
To operate IFR in most parts of Europe, first of all a good IFR GPS is essential, best a WAAS unit as LPV is going to be a huge thing in the relatively near future (ILS’s being decomissioned and replaced by LPV). You need a Mode S Transponder even for VFR. You need 8.33 also for just about everything. And as there are a lot of approaches which still mandate DME, you need one of those.
So realistically, the minimum equipment at minimum cost for this kind of ops would consist of a GNS430W which 2nd hand can be had around 6-7k Euros or a GTN unit which for any new airplane would definitly be better value. This also covers the 8.33 part and has full VOR and ILS capability. Mode S is not expensive at all, Trigg has several low cost transponders and I am very happy with mine. DME, KN64, KN62A, KN63 or even Nacro 890 boxes they are available 2nd hand on e-bay or elsewhere, any avionic shop has probably a couple available.
I personally would not like to fly IFR without a HSI and an Autopilot. HSI today is not an issue, hundreds of King units are available used but the Aspen EFD1000 oudoes them all and adds a lot of features plus saves panel space. Autopilot, starting with the S-TEC 30 everything is possible and now that Dynon and TruTrack are starting to get STC’s they are also very much in the game, especcially for experimentals. I also would not like to fly IFR (not even VFR for that matter as I live on a controlled airport) without a 2nd COM and a backup to the nav, so a NAV/COM or better a 2nd GNS/GTN box would be useful.
Clearly, the sky is the limit, but even the minimum equipment you need for IFR cost at least 20-30k installed or if you want to do it right, I’d say 50-70k. That is pretty much what you indicated as the full price of an RV, which I suppose is the kit only without the engine e.t.c.
Also having an autopilot makes it much easier to […] take photosI agree you have a point there!
Autopilot is the bees knees.
It is like 80% better than actually flying when flying distances longer than about 45-50 minutes.
Having just flown some good legs this summer, all manual, and now flying with AP, there is just no real comparison.
With autopilot on, I can learn a lot more about instruments, feel more comfortable fiddling with mixtures and watching engine temps, prepping for the next leg, or airspace transition, looking at charts and nearby features and, as stated, just enjoying the view, or relaxing a bit.
It’s chalk and cheese