Instrument Rating (IR)

Sources: CAA, EASA PART-FCL, Aeros Flight Training

What is the Instrument Rating?

The Instrument Rating (IR) allows you to take-off and land in weather conditions that would stop most private pilots. The IR, therefore, is a fundamental requirement if you wish to pursue a career as a professional pilot with an airline. The course is often completed on Multi-Engine Piston (MEP) aircraft (although available for single engine aircraft)– divided between simulator training and on-aircraft training – and encompasses the technique of flying with sole reference to instruments.

You will need an instrument rating attached to your licence if you want to fly under instrument flight rules. The instrument rating enables you to fly the aircraft solely with reference to the in-cockpit instrumentation. This means you will be able to fly in cloud and other circumstances of reduced visibility.

You can complete an IR for the following aircraft categories:

  • Aeroplanes
  • Helicopters
  • Airships

What does the Skills Test consist of?

For a multi-engine aircraft IR you will need to take your skill test in a multi-engine aircraft, and for a single-engine aircraft IR you will need to take your skill test in a single-engine aircraft. Multi-engine centreline thrust aeroplanes cannot be used as a multi-engine aircraft for the skill test.

Maneuvers Include:

  • A standard instrument departure
  • En-Route Navigation
  • Precision approach
  • Non-Precision approach
  • Go-Around with simulated Engine Failure
  • Approach with one engine inoperative
  • Turns onto headings with reference to compass only

What does the Instrument Rating Course consist of?

A full Instrument Rating (IR) course is 55 hours, but this is reduced to 45 hours if you already hold a Commercial Pilots Licence (CPL). As a minimum, you must complete 10 hours of the course in an aircraft but most courses split the training between aircraft and simulator, as in the following example:

  • Phase 1 – Simulator – 25 hours
  • Completed in a simulator or Flight Navigation Procedure Trainer (FNPT), this phase introduces you to the core techniques of instrument flying including, for example, making precision approaches using the ILS. By using a simulator, Instructors can quickly reposition you to practice particular procedures and techniques over and over again saving valuable time while you gain experience.
  • Phase 2 – Aircraft – 20 hours
  • Here, you put the skills learned in the simulator to use in the real aircraft. Under the guidance of an instructor, you will fly in the airways and into major airports alongside other commercial traffic under full Air Traffic Control.

Once you complete the course, you will undertake the Instrument Rating (IR) Skills Test with an examiner demonstrating your proficiency in all of the procedures you have learned.

How much does an Instrument Rating cost?

The average cost of an Instrument Rating as a standalone course is £11,000 – £15,000, this course is completed as part of an integrated course, should students chose to complete one, or as a standalone course for modular students. 


What are the minimum requirements to get an Instrument Rating?

In order to commence your Instrument Rating (IR) training, you must meet a set of requirements, here are the most common:

  • Have passed the EASA ATPL(A), or IR(A) theoretical knowledge examinations.
  • Hold a valid aircraft class rating.
  • Hold a Night Rating
  • Have completed at least 50-hours of cross-country flight time as pilot-in-command (PIC).
  • Hold a valid EASA medical certificate
  • Hold a valid EASA Private Pilots Licence (PPL) or Commercial Pilots Licence (CPL).

What Ground School modules do I need to complete?

As part of the application for an instrument rating, exams will need to be taken and passed in the following subject areas:

  • Air law
  • Aircraft general knowledge – instrumentation
  • Flight performance and monitoring
  • Human performance
  • Meteorology
  • Radio navigation
  • IFR communications

This should be completed as part of a course at an appropriately authorized ATO.

In some instances, you can elect to take ATPL theoretical knowledge examinations instead of instrument rating exams.

More Information

If you have an EASA PPL and already have a night rating you can train for an EASA instrument rating (IR). This will allow you to fly under Instrument Flight Rules in any class of airspace and on instrument approaches down to a minimum decision height of 200 feet. In practice this includes legally flying in cloud or in weather where visibility is not good enough for normal VFR operation, and to fly in all classes of airspace with suitably equipped aircraft and clearances, and make approved instrument approaches.

The IR is valid for 1 year from the date you pass the skills test. To revalidate the rating you must pass a proficiency check within three months of expiry. To renew the rating after it has expired you need to take refresher training and pass a proficiency check at an ATO which has been approved to conduct IR training.

To apply for an IR for aeroplanes (IR(A)) you must already have a night rating and have flown at least 50 hours of cross-country flight time as a pilot in command in aeroplanes, helicopters or airships. At least 10 hours of the 50 must have been in aeroplanes. A cross-country flight is defined as a flight from a point of departure to arrival following a pre-planned route using standard navigation techniques.

You’ll need to be trained at a Flight Training Organisation or ATO to complete a course to pass an exam and skills test. This will include:

  • 10 hours of basic instrument time under instruction
  • 40 hours single-engine or 45 hours multi-engine procedural instrument time under instruction 
  • A theoretical knowledge course of at least 150 hours, which must be completed within 18 months
  • At least 50 hours single-engine or 55 hours multi-engine instrument time under instruction
  • Successful completion of flying exercises as part of a skills test

Where Can I get a Instrument Rating?

Click here to view our flight school finder.