Interesting Photos Of Spanish EF-18 Hornet With Inert Upgraded Taurus 350 Stand-off Air-Launched Cruise Missile

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gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAAAAACH5BAEKAAEALAAAAAABAAEAAAICTAEAOw== - Interesting Photos Of Spanish EF-18 Hornet With Inert Upgraded Taurus 350 Stand-off Air-Launched Cruise Missile
One of the three Spanish EF-18s carrying an inert Taurus missile. (Image credit: SpAF)

Spanish Air Force EF-18 Hornets are involved in the recertification after the MLU (Mid-Life Upgrade) of the Taurus 350 missile.

Three EF-18M Hornet (C.15 in accordance with the local designation) jets and a team of 19 military from the Centro Logístico de Armamento y Experimentación (Weapons and Experimentation Logistics Center) of the Ejército del Aire (Spanish Air Force) deployed to Manching, Germany, last week, to carry out a testing campaign to re-certify the Taurus long-range missile after its modernization.

Taurus KEPD 350 is a German/Swedish ALCM (Air Launched Cruise Missile) that is manufactured by Taurus Systems GmbH, a partnership between MBDA Germany and Saab Dynamics. The missile has a range of +500 kilometres (300 mi), a speed of Mach 0.8-0.9 and stealth features. It is optimized for attacking deep buried bunkers and infrastructure even in anti-access and area denied environments. For this reason, the weapon, that has been in the inventory of the Spanish Air Force for 12 years, is considered to be of  strategic and tactical relevance for the Spanish armed forces.

The Taurus has recently been modernized as part of an MLU program (signed in 2018) that has introduced an updated missile software, newer Image Processing Computer (IPC) software and navigation algorithms, and has also integrated a new GPS antenna as well as an enhanced capacity GPS receiver vs. disturbance.

Spanish EF 18 with Taurus 2 - Interesting Photos Of Spanish EF-18 Hornet With Inert Upgraded Taurus 350 Stand-off Air-Launched Cruise Missile
One of the Spanish EF-18s with the inert Taurus missile on the right pylon. (Image credit: SpAF)

Two EF-18M of the Ala 12 will be involved in the testing: one, carrying the missile, the second (a two-seater) acting as chase, while the third jet will be used as a reserve, in case of failures grounding one of the Hornets.

According to the Spanish Air Force, the campaign is primarily aimed at ensuring the correct compatibility between the aircraft and the modified missile. The testing includes ground testing of communications between the launching platform and the Taurus; crew familiarization flights with the area of local testing and procedures; and also a “captive” flight during which a simulated missile launch is carried out. Following this simulated launch, the test plane follows the trajectory and flight conditions that the missile would perform on its free flight, checking that both the image acquisition system and the new navigation algorithms are working properly and as expected.

Spanish EF 18 with Taurus 1 - Interesting Photos Of Spanish EF-18 Hornet With Inert Upgraded Taurus 350 Stand-off Air-Launched Cruise Missile
The inert Taurus KEPD 350 during the tests at the Manching Military Air Systems Center.

Plane & Pilot Survey: Would You Fly On The Boeing 737 Max?

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Categories: How to Become a Pilot

Instrument flying basics.

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instrument flying basics - Instrument flying basics.

Knowing the basics of instrument flying will give you an idea of what you need to learn to become an instrument-rated pilot.

This article is for private pilots to know the activities in instrument flight training. I discussed the only crucial materials and fundamentals of IFR flying to ease your instrument flight training.

I explained why instrument training is not as challenging as many pilots fear and how it can grow you as a better pilot.

Instrument training is merely improving your already existing flying skills from your private pilot training.

There are three primary things that you must focus on improving to acquire instrument rating:

  1. Solely relying on necessary flight instruments to conduct flights without visual references.
  2. Use of navigational aids to maintain track, courses, and bearings;
  3. Using approach plates to land at the destination airport without visibility and in adverse weather.

These three elements are crucial to becoming a safer and better instrument pilot. Soon you will recognize the three aspects of instrument flying are a vast subject.

IFR trainees’ common struggle is reading approach plates, but you can quickly master them with patience and practice.

First Basis of Instrument flying: Solely use aircraft instruments to conduct flights without visual references.

As a private pilot, you learned to fly VFR.

VFR flights are composite flights as you simultaneously use ground references and the instruments to aviate and navigate.

On the contrary, to conduct IFR flights, you will solely depend on the instruments.

Know your aircraft instruments for better scanning. <3>

There are three classifications of instruments. It is necessary to discuss the types because these classifications will aid you in operating IFR flights.

Three classes of aircraft instruments are:

  • Control instruments – Attitude Indicator, Tachometer, etc.
  • Performance instruments – Airspeed indicator, Altimeter, Vertical Speed Indicator, Turn Coordinator.
  • Navigation instruments – HSI, ADF, GPS.

Depending on your maneuver, the control instruments and performance instruments will become primary and secondary instruments to scan. Navigation instruments will direct you to your destination.

Proper scanning during instrument flight is critical, and a continuous glance of instruments can become confusing for a pilot without appropriate scanning methods.

To use the instruments properly, you have to practice the instrument scan technique.

The straightforward scanning technique keeps the attitude indicator at the center of your attention and then frequently look to the corresponding instrument that supports your current maneuver.

Attitude indicator requires the center of your attention as it reflects the aircraft’s pitch and bank angle.

The three standard instrument scan errors of trainee pilots, even for expert instrument pilots, are as follows:

  1. Omission – Not scanning an instrument;
  2. Fixation – Staring at an instrument for too long;
  3. Emphasis – Relying too much on a single instrument.

How to use the combined instruments for IFR flying?

You will learn the same basic maneuvers as you learned during your private pilot training, but now solely using the airplane instruments.

The four basic maneuvers of instrument flights are:

  • Steady airspeed climbs and descents;
  • Straight and level flight;
  • Level turns;
  • Constant rate climb and descents.

You will combine control instruments and power instruments to fly the airplane without looking outside the aircraft.

It sounds dangerous, but the reality is instrument flights are often safer than VFR flights, and all airlines operate flights using instruments.


To maneuver an airplane during IMC conditions, you must remember an acronym that will help you operate the aircraft. While training for IFR, remembering these steps will help you think ahead of the aircraft.

It is essential to think and act ahead of the aircraft in instrument flights, so remember these acronym ETSA:

  • E – Establish pitch and power for each maneuver;
  • T – Trim airplane to release pressure from the controls;
  • S – Scan performance instruments;
  • A – Adjust control instruments as required.

There are rules for maneuvering the aircraft in IMC conditions with the scanning technique.

Steady climbs and descents.

While climbing or descending, you must follow the ETSA acronym to establish your maneuver.

To keep your aircraft steady, you have to observe the instruments. At this stage, your primary pitch indicator is the Airspeed indicator, and the secondary tool for pitch indications is the Attitude indicator.

To track bank angle during steady climbs or descends, observe the Heading indicator, and your supporting instrument is the Turn coordinator.

Straight and level instrument flight basics.

During a straight and level flight, your primary pitch indication instrument is Altimeter, and the supporting pitch instrument is the vertical speed indicator (VSI).

At this stage, your primary bank indicator is the Heading indicator, and the supporting bank indicator is the turn coordinator.

Level Turns in an instrument flight.

For level turns in an instrument flight follow the acronym ETSA.

E – Establish a maximum 30 degrees bank angle. More than that is unnecessary for instrument flights;

T – Trim as required to release pressure from the controls;

S – Scan performance instruments;

A – Adjust control instruments.

For level turns, observe Altimeter for primary indications of pitch angle and VSI as the secondary pitch angle.

Check the Turn coordinator as the primary instrument and the attitude indicator for the supporting instrument to keep an eye on the bank angle.

To roll out from a level turn, you must again follow the acronym ETSA.

There is a simple technique for a smooth transition from a bank to your desired heading.

  • Suppose you are turning at a bank angle of 20 degrees. Your desired magnitude is 260 degrees.
  • So begin rolling out at a heading of either 250 degrees or 270 degrees.

That way, you will have a smooth instrument flight without too many corrections to make.

The math for this is simple:

  1. Divide your bank angel by 2, such as in this case 20/2 = 10;
  2. Now add or subtract 10 degrees from your desired heading to determine which magnitude you must begin transition.

Climbing and descending turns for IFR flights.

Follow the ETSA acronym for climbing and descending turns, and then focus on instruments to track your maneuver in this order.

For pitch, the primary instrument is the Airspeed indicator or the Vertical speed indicator. The secondary tool for observing pitch is the Attitude indicator.

The primary instrument is the Turn coordinator, and the supporting mechanism is the Attitude indicator to observe bank angle.

Constant rate climbs and descends.

For constant rate climbs and descents, observe the VSI for primary pitch indications and the attitude indicator for supporting pitch indications.

For bank angle indications, use the Heading indicator or the directional gyro as your primary tool and the attitude indicator as your supporting tool.

Learn to use navigational aids for instrument flying.

Did you learn to use navigational aids during your private pilot training? If you did, it’s going to be useful now.

For instrument training, you will navigate using navigation instruments.

Not knowing how to use the navigational aids is not an option for IFR flights.

VOR is the typical instrument private pilots learn to use. But as an instrument pilot, you have to master the use of HSI and GPS. Similarly, you will learn the use of an instrument landing system (ILS). ILS consists of the localizer and glideslope that helps safe landing of an aircraft.

You will use the navigation instruments to track courses and bearings en-route to your destination.

Unlike VFR flights, you have no landmark to follow in an instrument flight. Your only aid is the navigational aids and instruments present in your airplane.

Don’t want to land at the wrong airport? Then master using navigational aids.

Master approach plate uses for excellent landing.

Understanding the approach plates and charts is the most critical aspect of instrument flying.

An approach plate gives heads up to the pilots on arrival and approach procedure to the destination airport.

Misreading the approach plates can have fatal consequences.

An approach place has everything a pilot needs to learn about the destination airport for a safe touchdown.

Plan view and profile view of an airport’s:

  • Arrival procedure;
  • Fixes;
  • Minimum and maximum altitude between fixes;
  • Localizer distance;
  • Glideslope angle and distance;
  • Runway course, Runway elevation, Runway length;
  • Essential Airport frequencies;
  • When to break the glide is given in the approach plate;
  • Likewise, details about missed approach procedures.

If you know to read an approach plate, you can automatically land the airplane in IMC. Follow the instructions and land the aircraft smoothly in adverse weather conditions.

Nevertheless, for instrument rating trainees, the arrival and departure procedures are most challenging.

IFR approach to an airport is genuinely critical in adverse weather.

Understanding approach plates is crucial, and knowing how to use approach plates will make your IFR flight a breeze.

There is a course by Rod Machado that only focuses on the arrival and departure procedures of IFR.

Take that course, as it only emphasizes the necessary materials for instrument approach and departure.

Victim of The Pandemic: Seattle-Area’s Aviation-Themed Randy’s Restaurant To Close Permanently

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The owners of Seattle-area landmark Randy’s Restaurant have announced that they are closing the eatery permanently, a victim of the pandemic’s social distancing mandates, which in Washington State has often included bans on in-person dining.

If you’ve never been to Randy’s, it’s too late now, but here’s what you missed. The restaurant was open 24 hours and served breakfast from around the clock, because pilots’ clocks often don’t pay attention to local time.

And over the decades—Randy’s was open for just under 40 years—pilots and workers from the nearby Boeing plant, ate countless meals with friends and co-workers there, the walls of the joint seemingly forever infused with the chit chat of brilliant engineers working out plans for new planes, and flight test pilots comparing notes over their recent flights in those same planes.

randys interior yelp 640x480 - Victim of The Pandemic: Seattle-Area’s Aviation-Themed Randy’s Restaurant To Close Permanently
Randy’s Restaurant. Courtesy of Yelp

Here’s a quick review for a place you’ll never get to get to again. (I know…we’re sad, too!) The food was American cuisine prepared just right and served piping hot… and very quickly, too. And the servers were pros who knew most of their customers by first name but would strike up a quick and pleasant conversation with any wide-eyed newcomer who showed up asking the same three or four questions they had heard countless times before but never let on that it was so.

Randy’s owners announced the closure on its Facebook page, and said it would return some of the memorabilia to its owners with other bits of flying lore being sold in what will surely be the most remarkable aviation-themed flea market in history.

And Randy’s will be missed. It was a place where you were welcome, got a good meal, that would be the case tomorrow and the next day, too. There are too few such places in the world. And today there is one fewer. So raise a cup of black coffee to Randy’s.

Categories: How to Become a Pilot

The U.S. Navy Completes Tests Of The New Tactical Combat Training System (TCTS) Increment II Pod

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gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAAAAACH5BAEKAAEALAAAAAABAAEAAAICTAEAOw== - The U.S. Navy Completes Tests Of The New Tactical Combat Training System (TCTS) Increment II Pod
The Tactical Combat Training System Increment II (TCTS II) pod successfully completed its initial hardware qualification testing at Patuxent River November 6. (Photo: NAVAIR)

The New Tactical Combat Training System (TCTS) Increment II ACMI pod will replace the current TCTS/P5CTS pod used for training by Navy, Marines and Air Force.

NAVAIR (Naval Air Systems Command) recently announced that the Naval Aviation Training System and Ranges program office completed on November 6, 2020 the initial tests on a next-generation Air Combat Maneuvering Instrumentation (ACMI) training system, called Tactical Combat Training System Increment II (TCTS II). The tests were conducted on an F/A-18E/F Super Hornet of Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 23 at Naval Air Station Patuxent River.

Traditionally, air combat training included a mix of live and simulated range training missions to prepare aircrews for real world combat. As technology, adversaries and threats evolved, training requirement for modern combat scenarios changed in turn, so the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps inquired the industries to find innovative methods that could revolutionize the way air combat training is conducted while also improving integrated training readiness at the same time.

The result is the TCTS II system developed by Collins Aerospace and Leonardo DRS, an evolution of the TCTS initially developed by Cubic. The initial TCTS pod featured real-time weapons simulations and live monitoring functions for air-to-air, air-to-ground and surface-to-air missions, with Real-Time Kill Notification (RTKN), No Drop Weapons Scoring (NDWS) and Electronic Warfare simulation capabilities. The new TCTS II pod integrates all the features of the previous pod in an open architecture system that represents the first certified encrypted, Multiple Independent Levels of Security (MILS) training equipment in both airborne and ground equipment.

Like the TCTS, the new pod maintains the same form factor of the Sidewinder air-to-air missile, using the AIM-9’s and AIM-120’s connectors to interface with the aircraft. While not confirmed, the pod should be using an Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU), GPS and Solid-State Recorder (SSR) similar to its predecessor, while the datalink should be a new one, as demonstrated by the new antennas on the pod. The F-35 Lightning II will have its own internally mounted variant of the system.

US Navy TCTS II test 2 - The U.S. Navy Completes Tests Of The New Tactical Combat Training System (TCTS) Increment II Pod
File photo of the P5 pod to be replaced. An air-combat maneuver instrument pod sits on a Japan Air-Self Defense Force F-15J Eagle Aug. 18, 2013, Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. ACMI pods are used during post-flight briefings to help pilots interpret their movements used during flights in order to improve combat and survival capabilities. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Zachary Perras/Released)

Another feature of the TCTS II pod is the Synthetic Inject to Live (SITL) capability, featuring full-fidelity threat and weapon simulations, that enables live, blended with synthetic real-time air combat training with both real and simulated weapons and electronic warfare tactics, in order to more realistically emulate contested/congested environments during scalable training exercises, with the added possibility to connect TCTS II-equipped ranges across the entire country to create a “super range” or a common training battlespace to prepare warfighters for the future of Joint All Domain C2 (JADC2). This concept is similar to the Live, Virtual and Constructive (LVC) training currently implemented in new generation trainers like the Leonardo M-346.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Air Force joined the TCTS II program to leverage investments made by the Navy and delivery training capabilities sooner and at a lower cost, starting the development of its pod under the name P6 Combat Training System, similarly to the previous TCTS pod that was called P5 Combat Training System by the Air Force (AN/ASQ-T50 in the official designation).

The two services will work together to use this system with full interoperability to train in real-world environments with real-world threats. While a timeline for the Navy has not been disclosed, the system is expected to be fielded by the Air Force in 2022/2023.

Flying with good and bad pilots—what I’ve learned as a new CFI

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I became a flight instructor late in life (my mid-50s) and it has been fascinating after many years of “left seat” flying to take this next step in my flying career.

Shameless plug and article spoiler: If you’ve ever thought about becoming an instructor after years of flying, you’ll be fascinated by what you experience and learn in the process of training toward the CFI and even more once you earn the certificate and begin your CFI flying. I strongly encourage you to get started. You will love it!

Because of my work situation I am not a full time instructor. Much like my flying has always been, it’s “in addition” to the other roles I have in life. Nonetheless, I’ve had some great lessons as a very part time flight instructor so far, which I will share below.

Learn from Good and Bad

We can all learn from the good and the bad elements of the flights we’re a part of. Sometimes I think watching something not go as planned for a student or applicant is more instructional than them doing it correctly—for them and for me. A maneuver “gone wrong” is a vivid reminder of what wrong looks like and a great opportunity to explain what happened and learn from it.

Clearly there are certain situations where you just can’t sit back and let the scenario play out, like a really botched landing. However, in the majority of cases allowance can be made for the lesson to be fully learned that will cause no damage except possibly to the ego of the one doing the maneuver.

Are Prepared

CFI 300x200 - Flying with good and bad pilots—what I’ve learned as a new CFI
The one in the right seat is learning too.

The most prepared pilots I fly with always do the best. Preparation takes on different forms based on the mission at hand, but preparation is the key for almost anything successful in aviation or medicine or…

Preparation by me, the CFI, is as important as preparation by the student. If you’re reading this and you show up for a lesson having barely thought about the last one or you are headed to an evaluation flight and you have not looked over the material you’ll be expected to be familiar with or you haven’t flown in a while yet you’re about to be evaluated, you’re not doing your best and will likely not be flying your best. You will do much better with preparation and will be happier with the outcome.

Develop Good Habits

Most of us have heard it said, “Good habits are for a lifetime.” I think this applies to flying as well. A thorough briefing including weather, the condition of airspaces to be transited, and a good preflight of the airplane with checklist close by are habits that all the good pilots I have flown with share. A thoroughness and thoughtfulness of approach to taking off and landing particularly stands out to me. They fly their airplanes to profile and have honed their skills because they aren’t relearning the basics every time they fly. They have personal minimums too and won’t intentionally fly above their capability.

Use their Brains

I love this: Thinking is what most people resort to after all else fails. —Jonathan Lockwood Huie

In particular I’m referring to the thinking of pilots about their skills. They review their flights after for clues on areas to improve and purposefully set out to get better. They celebrate their accomplishments, a squeaker landing or winning against a stiff crosswind. They seek input from others and regularly fly with people who can help them improve their skills. One of my pals insists on an instrument proficiency check every six months so someone he respects is looking at his instrument flying twice a year.

And the ones who think are not looking to check the box for legal purposes but insist on the standard of proficiency as their minimum standard. They ask themselves if they are up for the challenge of that day’s flight since different weather and other conditions can differ between two points very significantly on any given day. And thinking pilots use learning and proficiency resources wisely. Websites like Air Facts,, AOPA Foundation, and others have so much available.

Serve Others

I have been struck by the generous spirit of the best pilots I have flown with. They consider it important to mentor new members of the aviation community. This could be as simple as a Young Eagles flight or walking over to the airport fence to talk with a young person staring through to the airplanes on the other side and inviting them inside to look at their airplane and learn a bit more about aviation.

In clubs this might mean helping the new member get situated by offering to take them for a flight or go along on their first flight in a club airplane. It might be giving up your reservation to allow a fellow club member to fly after they were forced to cancel for weather the day before. This could mean leaving an airplane you share with others in better shape than you found it. This could mean medical relief or animal rescue or wounded warrior flights. They look for ways to give to others their love and passion for aviation.

I’m sure you could make your own list of the characteristics you’ve learned from flying with others. I hope you’ll share what you know in the comments section for the betterment of all.

Categories: Get Your Pilots License



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ifr vs vfr - IFR vs. VFR

This post will remove your confusion on the acronyms VFR vs. IFR. As a student pilot beginning your pilot training, you may doubt what kind of flight activity you will take. Is it VFR or IFR?

As a student pilot, you will learn to operate an airplane in VFR.

  • So what are the differences between VFR and IFR?
  • Why can’t pilots fly IFR from the beginning?

VFR and IFR are two set of rules determined by the FAA for airplane operations. A pilot must conduct flights following either of the set rules.

Pilots can’t choose which set of rules to use for flying as they wish.

Sounds confusing, right?

As the pilot in command of an aircraft, you will decide when to take off and where to fly. However, the weather will impact your decision on which set of rules to pick for flying on any particular day.

  • On a windy day with thunderstorms, you cannot fly VFR no matter how urgently you need to go somewhere.
  • If you don’t know how to operate an IFR plane, you can cancel your flight for that day.
  • To ensure safety during adverse weather conditions, you need to fly following IFR.

To understand IFR vs. VFR elaborately, continue reading.

What is VFR?

VFR means Visual Flight Rules. Operating an airplane in VFR means the pilot of the aircraft has excellent visibility outside the plane. The pilot has a clear view of the ground from the flight.

Thus, the pilot is navigating the airplane with visual references outside the aircraft.

Likewise, the pilot is staying out of the clouds and bad weather, possibly bad weather en-route.

Such an excellent condition for flying is known as VMC, Visual meteorological condition.

So what are the VFR minimums?

There are some set conditions by FAA for conducting a VFR flight. If one intends to fly VFR, then they must consider this:

  • Visibility in the departure airports vicinity should be more than 5 statute miles.
  • The ceiling of the cloud in the area should be 3000 feet.

When I say in the vicinity of the departure airport, I meant the conditions are applicable within five nautical miles radius of the airport.

If within the five nautical miles radius of the airport, the ceiling is lower than 3000 feet, then you will not be allowed to fly VFR because the condition is below minimum.

This kind of condition in an airport is always depicted on the aeronautical chart using the color green.

How to recognize the VFR variations?

MVFR – Marginal Visual Flight Rules.

Once the weather is slightly below the VFR minimums in the vicinity of your departure airport, the tower may grant your request for flying MVFR.

Regardless it is always better not to fly in MVFR conditions. Because of three reasons:

  • The weather may get worse once you takeoff;
  • You don’t know how the weather might be en-route;
  • Risking your flight’s safety is not wise flying MVFR if you don’t have an instrument rating.

What are the MVFR minimums?

MVFR weather condition is slightly better than IFR flying conditions.

You can request to fly VFR in MVFR condition, meaning:

  • The ceiling of the cloud is between 1000 feet to 3000 feet;
  • The visibility must be between 3 statute miles to 5 statute miles.

These conditions are set by the FAA for ATC to grant VFR flight in MVFR.

Typically, in this condition, if a pilot request for takeoff, the tower may ask you what your intentions are to take off in this adverse weather.

As a pilot, if you have an urgency to go somewhere and have no alternative option, then the twoer will grant your takeoff request.

Nevertheless, it is wiser to get an instrument rating before flying in condition below VFR minimums.

MVFR condition is depicted on aeronautical charts using color Blue.

MVFR is an advisory term that refers to weather conditions better than Instrument Meteorological Conditions but lower than Visual Meteorological Conditions.

What are the responsibility of a pilot operating a VFR flight?

Flight VFR means a pilot is navigating the airplane relying on outside references.

The outside references are mostly on the surface, and a pilot flying at 2500 feet above ground level (AGL) in Visual Meteorological conditions can see the surface.

During a VFR flight, the pilot is responsible for staying away from the clouds and preventing traffic collisions. Likewise, Flight navigation is solely the pilot’s responsibility.

The pilot doesn’t have to follow a designated flight path suggested by the air traffic controller once you are clear of the airspace.

Thus in VFR flight, the pilot has to communicate to be aware of any airspace traffic.

What is IFR?

IFR stands for instrument flight rules. When the weather is adverse and visibility is low, the condition is called Instrument meteorological condition (IMC).

According to IFR, pilots don’t have permission to fly VFR and file a flight plan in such weather. If you intend to depart from an airport with low visibility, you must be an IFR-rated pilot.

An IFR rated pilot can conduct a safe flight solely relying on the instrument and without any visual reference outside the aircraft or on the surface.

Unlike a VFR pilot, an IFR pilot has the privilege of flying in Instrument meteorological condition (IMC).

The FAA sets instrument flight rules:

  • The pilot needs to be IFR rated; and
  • The aircraft must have IFR instruments to fly safely in and out of airspaces.

It may sound scary to think of flying without any visual reference outside. Hence, a pilot acquires instrument rating is like leveling up their flying skills and becoming a more competent pilot.

All airlines operate their flight merely using the aircraft’s instruments unless it is indispensable to fly using visual flight rules.

Airlines operate many flights at night and in adverse weather conditions, meaning they must operate those flights according to Instrument flight rules.

What are the IFR minimums?

There are conditions set by the FAA to consider when an airport is IFR.

Weather condition on the surface and within five nautical miles of the airport has to meet these conditions:

  • Visibility must be between 1 to 3 statute miles;
  • The cloud ceiling must be between 500 to 1000 feet.

You can certainly understand why it is impossible to operate an airplane using visual references outside.

The visibility is low, and the cloud ceiling is below 1000 feet.

Conduct a VFR flight even at 2500 feet in such a condition is risky. Hence, one must know how to maneuver and use navigation instruments to complete a flight leg without looking outside.

IFR condition in an airspace is depicted on charts using color Red.

What are the IFR variations?

The only IFR variation is LIFR, and flying in such conditions can be challenging for even most expert IFR pilots.

What is LIFR?

LIFR stands for Low Instrument Flight Rules. An airport states LIFR if the meteorological condition in the airport surface is poor and deteriorating.

Usually, when an airport has advised LIFR, the cloud coverage ceiling in the area is shallow. LIFR conditions states that the airport surface has:

  • Visibility is less than one statute mile;
  • The ceiling of the cloud is less than 500 feet.

In this condition, operating an airplane with no instrument rating is out of the question. If a pilot approaches the LIFR airport, the pilot won’t see the runway until they are very close to the runway.

Perhaps the pilot will notice the runway while he is at 200 feet.

Therefore, in LIFR, the pilot must navigate and commence approach relying on the airplane instruments and air traffic controller instructions.

The LIFR condition is depicted with color Magenta on aeronautical charts.

What are the responsibilities of IFR pilots?

IFR pilots need to file a flight plan ahead of time to keep the route free of traffic. Therefore during an IFR flight, the pilot must follow air traffic controllers’ instructed course to conduct safe flights.

As the pilot operates without knowledge of traffic in the vicinity, following ATC instruction is crucial to avoid traffic.

The pilot uses instruments to maintain altitude, direction and navigate the airplane. On the contrary, the ATC will provide information to prevent a collision course with other aircraft.

Unlike VFR flight, you have minimum visibility outside, but the ATC can see the radar images of any inbound traffic, and ATC is aware of any inbound traffic as they have the flight plans.

When to get an IFR rating?

Once a student pilot acquires his private pilot license, you can immediately start your instrument rating training.

If you meet all the instrument rating requirements, apply for your instrument rating.

How tricky is IFR vs. VFR?

VFR flying is a lot simpler if you compare it to IFR flying. You have to understand these:

  • Operating a flight in zero visibility conditions requires skills and a lot more awareness of the pilot;
  • The communication is longer in IFR versus VFR flights.

In VFR flight, the pilot picks his course and stays away from a collision course.

Opposingly, in an IFR flight, the pilot listens to the ATC’s instructions carefully and follow. A miscommunication between the tower and the pilot in an IFR flight is unsafe.

Thus IFR flight operation is done sincerely. In IFR training, a pilot has to study subjects in detail to ensure flights’ safety.

Therefore IFR training is complex versus VFR training. However, obtaining an instrument rating also massively contributes to VFR flying proficiency.

FAA Instrument written test.

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faa instrument written test - FAA Instrument written test.

Are you preparing for your instrument written test and yet unaware of what to expect in the exam?

This article answers the frequently asked questions on IFR written test.

I did my best to describe the following commonly asked questions by private pilots before taking the FAA instrument written test.

  • How many questions are on the FAA instrument written exam?
  • What is the duration for the instrument written exam?
  • What is the passing score for the FAA instrument written test?
  • Where can I take the FAA written test?
  • How do I schedule my FAA written exam?
  • How much does the FAA written exam cost?
  • What can you bring to an FAA written exam?
  • How many times can you fail the FAA written test?
  • How long is the instrument written test good before it expires?
  • Which test prep can I use to prepare?
How many questions are on the FAA instrument written exam?

The FAA instrument written exam has 60 multiple-choice questions. The questions are on various topics on essential elements for instrument flying.
You won’t find any irrelevant questions. Thus have no fear if you prepare well for the instrument rating exam.
Each question has three options and one correct answer.

What is the duration for the instrument written exam?

You will have 2 hours, 30 minutes to answer 60 questions correctly.
The best practice is to answer the most straightforward questions quickly and save time to think and answer the difficult ones later.
Many times you will notice two are very similar choices.
These options are there to confuse you, and if you look closely at the options, you will see slight differences.
That small variations differentiate the right answer from the wrong one.
Be confident of what you learned during your instrument training and pick the correct answer.

What is the passing score for the FAA instrument written test?

Examinees must at least score 70% marks to pass the IFR written test. That means one must answer 42 questions correctly to pass the exam.
I believe that it is not a big deal.
You can pass the exam with ease if you are ready to take the exam.
But I don’t vote for merely passing the exam with a passing score.
Take an online course and use instrument written test prep software to study for the test.
If you put some effort and time into studying, I can confidently say you will pass the exam with over 90% marks.
Getting over 90% marks has an extra benefit.
During your oral exam and check-ride, your Designated Pilot Examiner (DPE) may take it lightly on you. Likely, DPE won’t ask the examinee many tricky questions if DPE sees the trainee pilot passed the IFR written test with an excellent score.

Where can I take the FAA written test?

The FAA has over 300 testing centers around the country. In the united states, you can choose a testing center that is nearest to you.

How do I schedule my FAA written exam?

To register for your instrument written test, you can go online to this link and schedule your exam.
First, you must create an account or login with your existing account on PSI True exams website. Next, you can schedule your exam in your nearest test centers.
All FAA written exams have online scheduling. Likewise, they have a toll-free number where you can talk to a customer service representative to schedule your exam date and time.
Schedule the most convenient date and the testing center that is closest to you.

How much does the FAA written exam cost?

The FAA written exams cost only 150 USD. The registration fee is the same for both private pilot written test and IFR written test.
To take the instrument rating written test, you will have to pay 150 USD for registration.
However, with an AOPA membership, you will get a 10 USD discount, and your fee will be 140 USD.
Ensure you pass the FAA written test during your first attempt because retaking the exam will cost you another 150 USD for registration.
Every time you take the exam, you have to pay 150 USD for the registration.

What can you bring to an FAA written exam?

You are allowed to bring a few necessary gadgets during your exam. Having these tools will aid you in your exam. You have authorization to carry the essential ones, such as:
E6B flight computer (Manual or Electronic);
An electronic calculator for simple maths.
You are not allowed to take anything that can store or save notes during your exam. Such as:
Scratch papers.
All examinees must bring valid IDs and the necessary endorsements for the exam.
US citizen must bring one valid ID such as:
US driver’s license;
US government iD;
Foreign Nationals in the United States must bring along their:
Passport; and
Driver’s license in the United States.
It is compulsory to show the necessary endorsements before taking the exam.
To take the FAA instrument rating exam, you must carry your instrument rating endorsement that says you finished instrument ground school or took an online instrument course.
Without an endorsement, you can’t take the exam. Thus, it is essential to finish a ground school course online or offline.

How many times can you fail the FAA written test?

There is no limit on how many times you can fail the written test and retake the exam.
Every time you fail the exam, you have to re-register to take the exam. Thus you will pay 150 USD to FAA for the re-registration.
Failing the exam multiple times is not an option. Study carefully and prepare well to pass your exam on your first attempt.
I want to tell you that prepare well enough before your second attempt for those retaking. Regardless you will pay the registration fee of 150 USD.
Passing the exam at once will benefit you during your check ride.
Once the check pilot notices you failed your instrument written test multiple times, he might go the extra mile to test your flying skills and IFR knowledge.

How long is the instrument written test good before it expires?

The instrument written test is good for 24 months. After you pass your exam, your certificate for the instrument written test is valid for 24 months.
Within these 24 months, you have to complete your IFR training and pass your check-ride.
Twenty-four months is adequate time to complete IFR flight training and pass the check-ride.
Failure to complete your instrument rating training or, unfortunately, not passing your IFR check-ride within 24 months will require you to retake the instrument rating exam.
In that case, you may need an updated instrument rating test prep to practice for the instrument rating written test.
The FAA updates their question bank frequently, and the questions you practiced before two years may not be relevant to the problems today.
Instead of waiting for 24 months to get your IFR rating, allocate some time and try to complete instrument rating training in a few months.

Which test prep can I use to prepare for the IFR written test?

There are numerous test prep online available to practice for the instrument rating theory exam.
Gleims has always been popular among pilot students to study for theory exams.
But there are also test prep software by Dauntless Aviation.
Using Gliem’s test prep books to study and the Dauntless Aviation software to practice answering the question is an excellent idea.
Using the dauntless test prep, you will get used to answering multiple-choice question answers similar to the actual FAA test.
Once you practice using dauntless test prep, the actual test will not seem anything unknown.
Set a time limit and use the dauntless software to answer questions and then see your score.
That way, you will be ready for the actual FAA theory written exam.

Instrument rating cost.

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instrument rating cost - Instrument rating cost.

Instrument rating cost is affordable, yet there are ways to reduce the cost of IFR rating.

Obtaining an instrument rating can be costly if you don’t plan your training lessons well. Thus, I shared my knowledge of how a private pilot can reduce instrument rating costs and acquire an IFR rating.

I included a breakdown of prices of instrument rating together with the factors that affect IFR rating cost. So the factors that can change the cost for instrument rating are:

  • The aircraft you choose for flight training and the type of instrument panel it has;
  • The rate of hiring a flight instructor;
  • Cost of ground school;
  • Written test enrollment and the examination fee;
  • Checkride examiner fee and the aircraft rental for check-ride.

As a bonus, I discussed ways how you might reduce instrument training costs.

Getting an instrument rating will cost any pilot around 8,000 USD. The cost is variable depending on the location, aircraft, and the progress of individual pilots. The slower a pilot adapts to instrument flying knowledge, the more likely he/she will spend for flight training.

You can reduce the instrument rating cost by planning your flight hours.

The essential requirement for instrument rating is 40 Hours of flying time in an instrument airplane.

The cost of flying 40 hours in an instrument-rated aircraft is costly compared to a non-IFR rated plane.

A smart student pilot plans his flying hours, acknowledging he may get an instrument rating in the future from the early stage of his training.

The FAA requires instrument rating applicants to have 50 hours of PIC cross country flying time.

A student pilot can keep this requirement in mind and fulfill IFR rating requirements ahead of time.

A private pilot won’t have to fly unnecessarily more to apply for instrument rating in the future.

To save money further:

An instrument rating trainee can fly 10 hours in a simulator and the rest of the 30 hours in an actual aircraft.

Many private pilots are unaware of this rule, and often flight schools don’t disclose this.

Flying 10 hours in a simulator and 30 hours in actual aircraft for IFR training is acceptable by the FAA standards.

As flying in a simulator or advanced aviation training device is less costly and acceptable, you will prevent spending foolishly extra.

How choosing the right aircraft can reduce instrument rating cost?

As a private pilot, you can choose to do an instrument rating in a Cessna 172 or a Diamond DA 20 Katana.

Assuming you got your private pilot license in a Cessna 172, likewise, you have experience operating a DA20 aircraft.

So, you have the choice to get your instrument rating in any of these two airplanes.

However, renting a Cessna 172 will be a lot cheaper than renting a DA20 airplane.

If you are tight on a budget, your best pick would be an instrument-rated Cessna 172 for your instrument flight training.

Training in an affordable airplane will save you a reasonable sum of money.

I want to discuss another controversial matter around aircraft:

  • Selecting an aircraft with steam gauges over a glass cockpit is wiser.

There are multiple reasons why I believe old fashioned steam gauges with a GPS available in the aircraft is best for instrument rating.

The reasons are:

  1. It is a lot easier for transitioning from a steam gauge airplane to a glass cockpit as a pilot regardless of your flying experience;
  2. The second reason, renting an aircraft with a glass cockpit is higher than renting a traditional steam gauged airplane.

If you want to save some bucks, then choose a traditional airplane, and you can fly an aircraft with a glass cockpit at your convenience.

Flying first in a glass cockpit and then learning to accept steam gauge will be rugged.

If you intend to work in airlines, then training in a glass cockpit airplane is better. Commercial aircraft use a glass cockpit, which is convenient for IMC operations.

There is always a continued debate on which instrument panel is best for instrument rating training. Regardless you must choose the one that suits your aviation goals and budget.

Consider the instrument flight instructor’s cost.

According to the FAA, a pilot must take instruction from a certified flight instructor – instrument for at least 15 hours.

As a trainee pilot, consider having the CFII with you for a total of 40 hours. Because that will keep you safe in IMC flights, and you can learn a lot more from your flight instructor.

The cost of a flight instructor is a must and minor. But the price will vary depending on the flight instructor. Typically the hourly rate for a CFII is 50 USD.

This cost will differ if you wish to fly with a veteran flight instructor. Training with a veteran flight instructor, you will learn a lot indeed. Veteran flight instructors have so much knowledge to share.

But studying theory yourself will make you a much better and safer pilot.

One way to reduce instrument rating costs is by paying upfront for the instrument rating course.

<Q> You can choose to do instrument training in a PART 141 school. Flying in a PART 141 course is often accelerated and sometimes cost-effective.

If you have the money, then pay upfront, and you may negotiate a bargain.

You can avoid calculating money for renting aircraft and for flight instructors separately and certainly save some fees.

A vacation in the middle of the training will cost you more money.

Instrument rating is not as straightforward as VFR flight training. It is a lot more complicated.

During our private pilot training, many of us took a break for six months after getting our first solo.

And when you get back to flying after six months, you fly an extra five hours to brush up your flying skills and perfect your landing again.

If you deal with your instrument rating in this manner, trust me, you will end up flying a lot more hours just to become proficient.

As an instrument pilot, you will test your flying skills, and the required 40 hours is not enough to learn everything.

Instrument pilots become overwhelmed by the cockpit tasks, and it is easy to forget the task flow in IFR flights.

Training occasionally will delay the process of building operational habits in an IFR flight.

Hence fly frequently during the training phase to save your money and energy too.

Stopping your flight training even for a month can take you behind in your practice and forget some crucial techniques for instrument flight, which will lead to repeat the exercise and paying more money.

Ground school cost is un-avoidable.

Taking ground school is a must for instrument rating. The cost for ground school isn’t much, and it prepares you for the IFR written test.

But the real hurdle is when you go to the flight and can’t remember a thing from your ground school training.

It is a lot more common than you may think.

Private pilots going for instrument ratings find it difficult to remember too much information they studied in ground school faster and mess up in actual flight.

The ground school lessons and understanding it helps instrument pilot trainees massively during a flight.

So what can you do if you fail to understand during your ground school?

You are not going to take ground school lessons over and over again. That will cost you more and more money.

Get your hands on all the free resources you get online.

There are tons of excellent youtube videos. Many blogs and materials will help you understand instrument lessons clearly.

The better you understand, the better you will become in instrument flying.

You have two benefits by actually studying using the free materials online:

  1. You will improve in instrument flying and adapt to instrument flying quickly;
  2. Studying free materials will prepare you for your FAA instrument written test.

Likewise, if you are unwilling to take a physical ground school for your instrument rating, there are IFR training courses online. Check them out. Upon completion of online courses, you will get an endorsement for the FAA instrument rating knowledge test.

Cost for written test.

The cost of written test is negligible. It is only 150 USD for one time, and you will get a 10% discount if you have an AOPA membership.

But the real question is, are you going to pass the exam during your first attempt?

Passing the instrument rating knowledge test is not difficult. It is all about how well you studied and prepared for the test.

The test doesn’t have anything extraordinary. However, preparing for the test is vital, as I mentioned earlier.

Study using free online resources and watch videos on youtube. Why not dedicate sometime before you take the exam for studying. Perhaps you can purchase an online course that will save you a lot of money in the long run.

IFR training courses online can help by teaching you visually and understand techniques which you may have never learned in your actual flight training.

Tips and tricks for instrument flight can be crucial to remember the critical thing for an instrument flight’s safe operation.

Take an online course and save yourself the trouble.

Attempting multiple times to pass this test will cost you more money. So that is not an option if you truly intend to obtain an instrument rating in a budget.

Consider the check-ride budget and designated pilot examiner fee.

The last money you have to spend before you finally get your instrument rating is check-ride costs.

You have to allocate around 600 USD to rent an airplane for at least an hour plus the check pilot fee.

A check pilot will take an oral exam and a practical exam to test your skills.

Passing the instrument rating check-ride will depend on everything you have learned during your training.

If the check pilot is satisfied, then you will get your instrument rating.

Failing an instrument rating check-ride is common for pilots. Thus do your best to prepare yourself.

You can use a simple flight simulator to practice at home and study well.

If you fail the check-ride, then indeed you have to count more money. You will rent aircraft for the second time, likewise pay for the examiner again.

If you don’t want to spend more, prepare yourself ahead of time and get your instrument training and rating as quickly as possible.

How hard is it to get an instrument rating?

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how hard is it to get an instrument rating - How hard is it to get an instrument rating?

To get an instrument rating is not hard for a private pilot.

Instrument rating allows pilots to become better and safer pilots.

I explained what aspects of instrument training is hard and how a pilot can quickly overcome it.

The factors that make acquiring an instrument rating becomes difficult:

  • Not studying adequately for Instrument flying. Lack of theory knowledge;
  • Pilot’s low communication skill in flight;
  • A private pilot with not outstanding flying skills;
  • Did not practice any radio navigation during private pilot training;
  • No explicit knowledge of how instruments and avionics work in aircraft;
  • Lack of meteorological knowledge;
  • Not enough instrument flying practice and flying more VFR.

Unable to follow the bullet points, your instrument training will be unmanageable, and the IFR course duration will become lengthier.

Without proper action, operating in a congested class B airspace and IFR communication will be a nightmare for you.

How hard is it to get an instrument rating, and how to succeed?

I described why instrument rating is challenging and how a student pilot can ease their trouble. Having an instrument rating is a privilege, and you will be one step closer to become a commercial pilot.

Barriers understanding instrument theory.

Instrument flying knowledge can be overwhelming for private pilots. It was for me—too much information to remember and understand.

  • However, many students are talented and grasp the knowledge quickly.
  • Alternatively, some students learn to capture the only necessary information for safe flying.

Both of these instrument pilots can safely pass their IR theory exam and check-ride.

Remembering too much information in flight and taking steps quickly during instrument flight is quite tricky.

Unfortunately, if a private pilot is not clear on reading en-route charts and SID and STAR procedures, he will have difficulty getting an instrument rating.

RELATED: How to study for instrument rating?

The situation might worsen if the private pilot fails to read the SID route chart while maneuvering the aircraft.

Hence to become a safer instrument pilot, a pilot has to practice at home. Learn to read:

  • En-route charts;
  • SID and STAR procedures;
  • Approach plates; and
  • Practice doing it quickly.

Study while you are still on the ground. Study everything that you get your hands on about Instrument flying.

If you are smart enough, you will know to study the crucial things for your instrument flights.

Learning everything is overwhelming for any private pilot, as instrument rating studies are very detailed.

Poor communication skills with tower will make IFR training hard.

One most important component of instrument flying is communication.

There are times you will fly blind and rely on the tower’s instruction to choose your path. If you fail to communicate correctly at this stage, you will lose control of your flight.

And if this happens during your instrument rating check ride, you will disappoint your DPE.

Communication with the tower is not tricky. As a private pilot, you already know how to communicate with the air traffic controller (ATC).

The problem in instrument flying is that the instructions from the control tower are lengthier and elaborate.

It is common for private pilots training IFR to get confused as they miss out on the tower’s essential instructions.

Thus a private pilot finds instrument rating difficult regardless of excellent communication skills during VFR flight.

To become better at communication, you must practice.

Practice while you are on the ground. Listen to more and more instrument communication online.

A useful resource is Live ATC. Similarly, numerous youtube videos explain how airline pilots communicate in busy airspace.

A straightforward technique for IFR communication is the following.

The CRAFT acronym to perfect instrument flying readbacks:

  1. C – Clearance limit
  2. R – Route
  3. A – Altitudes
  4. F – Frequencies
  5. T – Transponder setting

CRAFT will make your communication a lot easier in actual flight and safe operations of flights.

Poor flying skills will affect your instrument training.

I understand you are good at flying an airplane. Without operating an aircraft, no one would endorse you for a private pilot license.

However, instrument flying is a lot more intricate.

In VFR flying, a private pilot must fly the airplane with visual reference and occasionally lookout for traffic and communicate.

In instrument flying, you will operate using instruments.

At this stage, be a smarter aviator to navigate and communicate in any situation.

Learn to operate the airplane relying on the instrument and the tower’s instruction. You have to forget what your bodily senses tell you and see what the instruments reflect.

Trust the instruments, and use a proper scanning technique in your instrument flights.

You can use a home flight simulator and training courses that teach useful instrument scanning.

Clueless about Radio navigation during VFR flight.

Typically during VFR flights of private pilot training, you are not supposed to practice radio navigation.

However, learning VOR flying won’t harm a private pilot. Learn to intercept a radial and use of VOR.

By doing so, you will not be puzzled during your instrument training.

At this stage, flying using instruments will not seem brand-new to you.

Adapting to a brand new flying environment requires time, and likely, the trainee will spend more money for more flight training hours.

RELATED: How long to get an instrument rating?

Practice radio navigation in your home simulator. Select the aircraft you use for flying and then practice flying using instruments at home.

That way, you will not lose money and time in actual flight, and your flight instructor will not have a hard time teaching you.

Difficulties in understanding the aircraft systems.

Many students go through their private pilot training without clearly understanding how aircraft systems, engines, and avionics work.

A significant reason why many private pilots find instrument rating very difficult.

Without clearly understanding how the whole system works, students fail to read many issues during instrument flight.

Private pilots must understand:

  • How each instrument works; and
  • The instruments’ response to a pilot’s input during a flight.

Failure to read what an instrument is trying to say during an instrument flight will create flight complexities.

If the pilot is confused about the input and the instrument’s outcome means the flight is in distress.

To make instrument flying simpler, learn how the aircraft engine, instruments, and avionics work. A private pilot must develop their already existing aircraft system’s knowledge.

Lack of aviation meteorological knowledge.

No matter how much you avoid dangerous weather, there will be days you will fly into weather conditions as a pilot.

Weather is unpredictable sometimes, and pilots have no control over the weather.

It is essential to study weather and learn to forecast using weather informations available.

Imagine you have planned a cross country flight, read the forecast wrong, and face lousy weather en-route, then you will be in distress with your flight.

Learning when to avoid weather and how to fly through adverse weather conditions relying on instruments will be a lifesaver.

Aviation meteorology is a fascinating subject, and the more you study, the better a pilot you will become.

Operating in weather conditions can be challenging, but knowing which weather to avoid and what kind of cloud you can pass through will be your lifesaver.

As a private pilot, you remained out of the clouds, but you will fly through any weather following the en-route chart during instrument flights.

Find a book or take an online course that speaks about practical weather flying. Flying in IMC can be critical, and many fear relying only on the instruments during their training.

But once you study a good book, you will know the best practices for weather flying.

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