Instrument Rating Renewals and Instrument Proficiency Checks

Instrument Rating Renewals and Instrument Proficiency Checks

Instrument Rating Renewals and Instrument Proficiency Checks

In May 2015, Transport Canada issued an Advisory Circular (AC 401-004) regarding the conduct of Instrument Proficiency Checks (IPC).  Pilots should read through it to learn what the IPC is all about.  This information was also disseminated to all Transport Canada approved Pilot Examiners (PE’s) during some workshops held in early 2015.  Reading through the AC will answer many questions pilots may have about IPC, but will undoubtedly raise some new questions regarding renewing  instrument ratings. 

We have had many enquiries regarding the IPC and through interpretation and incorporation of the AC’s information, as well as through numerous consultations with TC, we will attempt to explain the IPC in a straight forward way.

Below is a summary of the main similarities and differences between the new IPC method of renewing an instrument rating and the Flight test renewal method which is still an option.

For upgrading an Instrument rating to another group, a flight test must be completed in the desired class of plane.  For the purposes of upgrading to an ATPL, a group 1 flight test must still be completed.  For employees of Subpart 4 of Part VI air operators or Part VII air operators, and IPC is not an option for IFR currency either.

For everything else, an IPC can be completed instead of a flight test.

The main change now is that instrument ratings do not expire, they are simply subject to currency in order to exercise the privileges of the rating. 

For example, this is very similar to the currency pilots must maintain to carry passengers on board, 5 take offs and landing in the last 6 months.  How do pilots prove they meet the currency?  In their logbook. What happens if their currency lapses?  They must get current again prior to taking passengers.  It is very similar for Instrument ratings now. It is up to the pilot to keep track and prove currency for IFR.

Transport Canada will not be keeping track any longer if your instrument rating is current or expired. Pilots with instrument ratings will be issued new stickers for their Aviation Document Booklets that have the group of instrument rating held, but no expiry date listed.  Pilots can expect to get the new sticker next time you complete the flight test, or IPC.

The IFR currency requirements have not really changed.  To be considered current, pilots must complete an IFR flight test, or now an IPC, in the last two years.  The pilot is current if the test or IPC was in the last 12 months, and after that, the pilot must prove they have 6 hours, and 6 IFR approaches  in the last 6 months.  That is essentially the same as it was previously.

Instrument ratings no longer expire, which means that there is no longer any need to rewrite the IFR written exam (INRAT), ever!  After pilots get their initial IFR rating, they will not need to rewrite the exam.  Note: The INRAT exam is still only valid for 2 years from the date it is written for the purposes of getting an initial instrument rating!  ie: Pilots will have to rewrite the INRAT if they do not finish the initial rating within 2 years of the INRAT completion date.

The advisory circular addresses this change of not requiring to rewrite the INRAT with a detailed and thorough section on ground knowledge review  which focuses on scenario based training which is intended to lead to a much deeper understanding of IFR than trying to recite or memorize rules.  It requires the use of more PDM skills, situational awareness and application of all available information which still does include an understanding of the IFR rules and regulations.

What about the IPC itself?  How does that work?

First of all, think of the Instrument Proficiency Check as a terminology change from the Instrument Rating Renewal Flight test, and not much more. 

In the flight test, pilots can either pass, or fail, or partially pass.  In an IPC, pilots are either proficient or not proficient.  The skill level that must be demonstrated is still based on the Flight Test Guide, Instrument Rating TP9939.  So whether or not the pilot is completing a flight test or IPC, the standard is the same.

In flight tests, generally speaking, Examiners should not test candidates that they have instructed unless there are extenuating circumstances, and sometimes requiring TC approval, particularly when recommendations for a flight test are required.  In IPC’s, all of the recurrent training can be done with an examiner, as well as the actual IPC itself.  It does not matter if an IFR instructor works with a pilot to get them proficient or not, that is an option as well, but a Pilot Examiner or a TC Approved Check Pilot (ACP) must complete the actual IPC.

An IPC is not necessarily a stand alone event like a flight test, but that doesn’t mean it can not be.  Whether or not it takes one session of ground and flying, like a flight test, or is completed over the course of multiple sessions, is determined by the candidate’s level of proficiency.

Since there is no pass or fail in an IPC, if a pilot does not demonstrate a level of proficiency that meets the standard, it is at the examiners discretion as to what is required to be deemed proficient. 

For example, if an ILS is flown outside standards, flying one more ILS that is within standards immediately afterword may be within standards, but is that proficient? Maybe.  It depends. Could the pilot repeat that level of proficiency without immediate practice after a break of an hour, a day, a week?  The examiner could either keep going during the IPC and do more ILS’s until proficiency is demonstrated or tell the pilot that more practice is required, and repeat an ILS with them at a later date. 

The options are very similar to a flight test, the largest difference is there is no recommendation required prior to completion of the IPC after the pilot demonstrated an exercise or series of exercise below standard.  The examiner can keep training until proficiency is demonstrated, whatever that entails.

When the IPC is satisfactorily completed, the examiner will indicate this by filling out a line in the pilots Aviation Document competency record.  (This may change soon as there are rumors of a version 2 of the AC coming out where it will advise examiners to only fill out a line in a pilots logbook saying the IPC is satisfactorily complete.)

The advisory circular points out one last difference with regards to keeping a Canadian Pilot’s Instrument rating current:

For employees of Subpart 4 of Part VI air operators or Part VII air operators, and pilots working with a foreign company in a Contracting state, the PCC’s or PPC’s that completed as part of their company training and testing should qualify for the 2 year recurrency as long as the testing is equivalent to the schedules in the CARS.  For more detailed information on this part, consult AC 401-004, page 5,6.

TLDR version

For most pilots renewing their instrument ratings, the short version is, you do not have to rewrite the INRAT, and other than that, an IPC is essentially  the same thing as an IFR renewal of the past.  Book some recurrent training, and book an IPC, same as before when you would book some recurrent training, and then book a flight test!

How much does it cost to renew my instrument rating?

The actual amount of training and cost to renew your instrument rating depends on your currency and skill level. Here is a example of a average student.
3 hours dual Red Bird simulator @ $128/hour = $384
2 hours ground briefing @$45/hour = $90
Flight test/IPC fee = $300
Total = $774


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