Flight Training – Instrument Rating Basics – First Crucial Hours

Today I am going to write about an aspect of IFR training, and one of the most vital aspects of Instrument rating there is. This concerns both CFII’s and pilots alike. The need to be able to fly the aircraft precisely. That means training to what I like to call, zero, zero tolerance. That means dead on an altitude, dead on a heading. Pressure from pilots to rush into flying approaches, holds, etc. will end up being completely detrimental to them in the long run, and as yet, are unable to comprehend the negative impact this will have. Pilots new to IFR training must be made to understand the need to master precision flying skills before learning to fly holds, holding entries and such.

I get inquiries from pilots all the time, such as, “why do I have to spend all this time doing this? When can we move on to the good stuff?” and similar questions. These questions, are indicative of a pilot who has no concept or understanding of the absolute necessity to master this skill prior to advancing further into the syllabus. As CFII’s, it is our responsibility to convince new IFR students that without this skill, probably, the most important skill in IFR, they will never make safe, good, IFR pilots. The acquisition of this skill will enable them to fly safely, it will enable them to manage their instrument flight workload effectively and efficiently.

IFR student pilots, embrace this phase of your training, learn to fly the plane precisely in any configuration, learn to trim the aircraft for a climb, a decent, level flight, an airspeed. Trim skills will be the most valuable weapon in your IFR arsenal. Once you have that skill mastered, it will make the rest of your IFR training much easier. If you decide to take short cuts and rush it, consequently you will be fighting the course all the way through, your confidence will suffer and you will become despondent and disillusioned.

A fair amount of time will be spent with your hands off the yolk to perform other duties, you will be unable to do this if you are having to make corrections to maintain the desired headings and altitudes. In smooth air your plane will be trimmed up exactly to maintain an altitude, and your able to maintain an exact heading with your feet on the rudder pedals. A demonstration of these skills consistently, and competently will be the indication for your instrument instructor to advance you into the next phase of your training, whilst never permitting your newly acquired skill to regress. If you have not realized thus far, you have now mastered a great skill, and are already head and shoulders above your VFR peers. Further into your rating and undertaking actual IFR flights, it should have dawned upon you by now, how essential this skill is. In busy airspace, typically Class B, “Air Traffic Control” take deviations in altitude very seriously, a deviation in altitude could get you violated. At the very least, a call to the control tower.

Instrument Flight Rules and Instrument training is not to be taken lightly.

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