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How to organize training for Instrument Rating

IME, the most important thing in training for the Euro IR is to use an instructor who is familiar with what the examiner expects.

Most people, unless they have considerable unlogged experience (or, in the UK, IMCR holders), take 50-60hrs to reach the test standard.

The next thing is to fly frequently. The reason why most people take a year or two to do a PPL is because they are fitting it around their life. When I did my FAA IR in Arizona in 2006 I already had 500hrs TT and a lot of instrument time and did the IR in 2 weeks of exhausting flying twice a day. The FAA IR to JAA IR conversion in 2011 was to a large extent farcical and got bogged down in some bizzare peccadilloes of the examiner doing the “170A” “pre-test test” and other junk, adding zero learning value. But even there I flew a few times a week, limited only by the wx, and I had to log the regulatory 15hrs. Some Spanish school was offering this conversion in 1 week, in constant sunshine, and doing an ab initio IR there would also be effective, not least because you are no longer fitting the flying around your life but are 100% “living it” with no distractions.

Regarding minimal cost, this has been extensively discussed. The CBIR route benefits from a freelance IRI but good luck finding one…

You don’t need any fancy watch. You need a means of timing holds, so any stopwatch function is fine. I used a wristwatch with a stopwatch feature and in fact used it again the other day when I got 2-3 holds at LFAT on the RNP31

Do it in a plane which you are absolutely familiar with.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

Euro IR is to use an instructor who is familiar with what the examiner expects

I agree but you can get someone to teach “real world flying” and also prepare for “orchestra flying” on ATO tests on entry/exit

Real world flying: done in OVC006 clouds (even in grass strips), finished with Radar Vectored ILS or GPS FPL sequence, using AP & FD, in out of airspace, propet IFR down to Ostend or Cannes, mix of VFR/IFR rules, dodging actual severe weather with mix of unexpected delays, directs and shortcuts

Orchestra flying: done in nearby NDB/VOR in CAVOK using VFR FPL with hood flying legacy conventional navigation exactly as filed with stop watch and some random mental calculus

Last Edited by Ibra at 26 May 08:22
Paris/Essex, France/UK, United Kingdom

Are you doing the CBIR in your own aircraft?
When it comes to stop watches and other such equipment, I would hold off until you talk to your instructor.
When I first started flying/going for my PPL I was working in the UK. I had spent many hours flying in helicopters with various pilots. One was also an RAF instructor who happened to own his own Cessna 150. I flew with him, had a go at the controls and caught the bug.
However, the main spare time I would have to learn would be at my home in France.
In talking to all these pilots I was advised to buy a certain type of stopwatch, a wizzy wheel thingy, and a few other bits of kit which all turned out to be a complete waste of money and I have never used any of the kit in earnest.
In France you tend to be taught to do most of the work in your head (mental arithmetic) or with the kit in the aircraft.
When I did my IR theory originally I was told I would need to use a certain type of ruler and a certain type of wizzy wheel and a certain type of calculator during the exams. I bought these and never used any of them except the scientific calculator which was a bit easier to use during the exams (ie it had sine, cosiness, and tan buttons). So I suppose buying one and learning how to use it did help. I can’t remember ever using it in a flying setting since.
When after several years off I returned to IFR flying and took the CBIR it was on an aircraft with a G1000. I was lent an IPAD equipped with Jeppsen FD and a charger.
As far as instructor and examiner was concerned this was all I needed.
I was brought up with paper and it took me a long time to adapt, and I am still working at a no paper environment and I still find myself making notes or printing stuff off. The examiner puts up with my dinosaur ways, just occasionally making comments like don’t drop the pen and ink mark the leather🙂
So yes, speak to your instructor before buying anything.

Last Edited by gallois at 26 May 08:32

Thanks for all the input!

I have absolutely no doubts that the instructors at my flight school are both able to show “real world GA” and make me fit for purpose.

What really sounds good is to do the IR as a “course” in short term. In fact I‘ve done all my flying before like this. However I don’t yet know whether I’ll be able to do that. Realistically, We’re talking about around 250 hours of gross time (flight preparation, driving to the airport, and so on).

It could be less when doing longer flights and longer “sessions” and I’d feel able to do so.

Maybe I could do it split into three parts. Or just continuously twice a week, which should be three months.


UdoR wrote:

ike…what type of clock or watch do you use? What chart organizer is good? Do you have certain spreadsheets for, say, ATC comm. or for often used topics like holdings or settings like pitch/power?

Here are thy 2 cents:
- Times where you need a watch are long gone. The only 2 use cases where you need a (stop-)watch are the 1 min outbound leg for holds and the 2m standard rate turn. For both it is best to use whatever watch is in your panel.
- Best chart organizer these days is iPad. I don’t know any IRI that still insists on paper charts
- No spreadsheets. IFR comms is very structured and it takes no time to know the 3-4 radio messages by heart

For the more complex stuff, here is “what to train” in descending order of importance:
- Basic flying to precision. Keeping altitude, course and speed at the same time (even in turns).
- Basic airmanship: Using checklists for everything. Doing same thing in same order all the time.
- Know your avionics: Get familiar with all of the features the plane you are flying
- Flying while doing other stuff (ok, that is unusual): With a safety pilot next to you, train to fly while solving Sudokus, playing chess or reading a book. Obviously without compromising the two things above! It might sound weird, but in my opinion the key about IFR flying (if not about flying at all) is how much “mental capacity” you have left while you do the actual flying. This is the capacity you need to handle unusual situations, evaluate weather, etc.

And only after that, you might want to spend some time with a cheapo computer sim to familiarize yourself with flying a radial or following an ILS – but this is the most simple part of IFR flying.


Another step taken. Passed my CB-IR theory exam.


Well done @UdoR!

Denham, Elstree, United Kingdom

Which theory course provider (cbt) did you do?

always learning
LO__, Austria

@Snoopy CAT. But learning with the documentation is not so fulfilling, in gentle words.


Being familiar with it, I was hoping you’d recommend something awesome from a different supplier ;)

always learning
LO__, Austria
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