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Flight Instrument Rating Guide

How to get instrument rated and incorporate a flight simulator in your training

Instrument Flight Training Steps

First: Select a ground school and study for the FAA Private Pilot Written Test
We recommend getting the Sporty's Instrument Rating Course and Sheppard Air Test Prep.

Second: Start Flying (and incorporating our AATD Flight Simulator)

Stage 1: Instrument Flying Skills - Expect to spend about  7 hours Flight Training + 7 hours of Ground.*

Phase 1: Developing Instrument Skills— In this phase you learn preflight preparation for IFR flight, instrument scan techniques, basic instrument flight maneuvers, using the magnetic compass and post flight procedures following an IFR flight.
Phase 2: Polishing Instrument Skills- Here you will polish your skills controlling the airplane by reference only to the flight instruments and learn to receive, copy and fly an IFR clearance. You will also learn to control the airplane simulating failure of the primary flight instruments and recover from an unusual flight attitude.

Stage 2: Using Navigation Equipment -Expect to spend about 13 hours Flight Training + 7 hours of Ground.*

Phase 3: GPS, NDB and VOR Navigation-This phase provides you the opportunity to develop skills and gain confidence using RNAV, GPS, NDB and VOR avionics systems for IFR navigation. In addition you will learn to apply these skills flying IFR departure procedures.
Phase 4: Holding Patterns and DME Arcs-This phase introduces holding patterns including their purpose and the requirements for entering, flying and making reports if you have received a holding clearance. You will also learn to fly DME arcs.

Stage 3: Flying Instrument Approaches - Expect to spend about 25 hours Flight Training + 7 hours of Ground.*

Phase 5: Precision and Nonprecision Instrument Approaches- During this phase you will fly both precision and nonprecision approach procedures while learning the visual references needed to make the decision to continue for landing. If the required references are not visible, you will follow the missed approach procedure.
Phase 6: Automation, ATC and Other Approaches -In this phase, you’ll polish your skill with precision and nonprecision approaches. You will also discover the value of using the autopilot for instrument approaches. In addition you’ll learn about using a circling maneuver to align with the landing runway.

Stage 4: Cross Country and Practical Test Preparation - Expect to spend about 10 hours Flight Training+ 5 hours of Ground.*

Phase 7: IFR Cross Country- Here you learn the steps involved in planning for and flying safe cross countries under Instrument Flight Rules. During a long cross country you will use three different types of IFR approach procedures.

Phase 8: Practical Test Preparation-In this phase you will polish all the instrument flying skills and knowledge you have learned to meet or exceed the Instrument Rating Practical Test Standards.

* Does not include the time you have to spend studying and preparing for your lesson. On average plan to spend 2 hours of study time at home per flight hour at minimum.

How many hours does it take to get your instrument rating?

Aeronautical Experience Required by the FAA, Part 61

Aeronautical Experience Required to Obtain an Pilot Instrument Rating in

Once I have my instrument rating, how often are proficiency checks required?

For Part 61, as long as you stay active flying in instrument conditions and meet the Instrument Currency requirements, you just need a Flight Review every two years. For currency and proficiency read our post on this subject.


Instrument Rating Training Using a Aviation Training Device (ATD)

Using a Advanced Aviation Training Device (AATD) aka Flight Simulator,  you can log up to 20 hours.

Our AATD focus only on G1000 Avionics, and different airplanes.

When you decide to incorporate an ATD into your Instrument Rating Training you can expect the same level of training as mentioned above with the addition that you will start working on your IFR ATC communication, incorporating the use of your Electronic Flight Bag (EFB) and briefing approaches from the first few lessons. Making the transition to flying the airplane painless.


Each of our FAA certified instructors and airline pilots is willing to share their knowledge of flying in ACTUAL instrument conditions and procedures, but most importantly, they want to share their passion of flying, making you a better pilot every lesson.

I've trained with Simtech Aviation on a few occasions - not just to stay IFR current, but also to be challenged and maintain proficiency. As an active airline pilot, Julian brings a wealth of experience and teaches the type of thinking pilots do on the flight deck of a commercial jet. Simtech Aviation/Julian is top notch instruction.

Jeremy M.

Maintaining proficiency not just currency should be the goal of any instrument rated pilot. Julián and his team provide one of the most time efficient ways to do so for Manhattan residents. The use of multiple situations across the country and in different flight conditions combined with Pilot Edge that creates live ATC interaction, is highly effective. Add Julian’s enthusiasm and knowledge transmission from his day job as United Express pilot and you have training that can’t be beat for any private pilot. I really recommend this training for any pilot looking to materially improve safety margins in their day to day live flying.

Mark Y.

Simtech Aviation is very accommodating when it comes to working around your schedule. The training is top notch, I find using the simulator for IFR currency is a great way to stay sharp while staying away from real danger. I strongly suggest giving Simtech Aviation a try!

Aaron D.

Training with Julian was very valuable. Much more efficient to practice IFR work in the sim rather than the airplane. Julian could pause the approaches to point out issues, recommend corrections, then I would go back to re-do just those phases that were giving me trouble. Unlike many instructors, Julian is an experienced, active airline pilot. I learned a lot from his real world experience!

David M.

Julian AND JD Aero were fantastic help in progressing toward my instrument rating. Having access to quality instruction and simulator time in Manhattan really makes it easy.

Martin S.