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VOLUME 5 airman certification


Section 9 Conduct an Instrument Rating Certification


5-432            OBJECTIVE. This section provides background to enable the aviation safety inspector (ASI) to determine if an applicant is eligible for an instrument rating under Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) part 61, § 61.65. Successful completion of this task results in the issuance of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Form 8060-4, Temporary Airman Certificate (with an instrument rating), FAA Form 8060-5, Notice of Disapproval of Application, or a letter of discontinuance.

5-433            GENERAL.

A.        Instrument Rating.

1)        The instrument rating requires applicants to receive training in precision and nonprecision approaches. Due to certain instrument approach facilities not being available in some areas, the certification, training, and recency of experience requirements do not specifically outline what the precision and nonprecision approaches should be. However, it is expected that instructors provide training to their students on all precision and nonprecision approaches that are readily available in the area. The content of the practical test is dependent on the equipment installed in the aircraft and approach facilities that are available in the nearby area. The practical test of § 61.65 and the instrument proficiency check of part 61, § 61.57 requires that an applicant be tested on precision and nonprecision approaches.
2)        The knowledge test results for an airline transport pilot (ATP) certificate are not acceptable as evidence of aeronautical knowledge for an instrument rating.

B.        Limitations. If an applicant holds both a single- and multiengine rating on a pilot certificate, but has not demonstrated instrument proficiency in a multiengine aircraft, that airman’s certificate must bear a limitation indicating that multiengine flight is permitted in visual flight rules (VFR) conditions only.


A.        Graduate of an Approved School. If an applicant graduated from an approved school, the applicant is considered to meet the knowledge and experience requirements of § 61.65. If an applicant graduated from an FAA-approved pilot school within 60 days before application, § 61.71(a) requires the applicant to present an appropriate graduation certificate. Otherwise, the applicant must meet the requirements of § 61.65.

B.        Graduate of an Approved School With Examining Authority. If an applicant graduated from an FAA-approved school with examining authority within 60 days before applying, § 61.71(a) requires the applicant to present an appropriate graduation certificate. Otherwise, the applicant must meet the requirements of § 61.65.

C.        Not a Graduate of an Approved School. If an applicant is not a graduate of an FAA-approved school, establish the applicant’s flight experience in accordance with § 61.65. Official military pilot flight time records are acceptable toward meeting the requirements of § 61.65.

D.        English Language Requirements. Early in the process of issuing an instrument rating, the ASI must determine whether the applicant can read, speak, write, and understand the English language. Advisory Circular (AC) 60-28, English Language Skill Standards Required by 14 CFR parts 61, 63, and 65, explains how to determine English language abilities required for an instrument rating.

1)        If the applicant cannot read, speak, write, or understand the English language, then the ASI may not issue the instrument rating unless the reason is because of a medical disability. If the applicant has such a medical disability (e.g., a hearing impairment or speech impairment that is medically substantiated by a certified medical physician), the ASI may place an operating limitation on the person’s pilot certificate. The operating limitation may require the person to be accompanied by another pilot who is qualified to act as a pilot in command (PIC) for the appropriate aircraft category, class, type (if class and type of aircraft is applicable), and operating privilege.
2)        While there are no practical test standards (PTS) established to ascertain the applicant’s English language ability, the following examples may be used as guidelines to evaluate and test an applicant’s proficiency to determine whether the applicant can read, speak, write, and understand the English language.
a)        An ASI may ask the applicant to listen to a tape recording of an air traffic control clearance or instructions, then ask the applicant to speak and explain the clearance or instructions back to the ASI in the English language.
b)        An applicant may be asked to write down in English the meaning of an air traffic control clearance, instructions, or a weather report, then asked to speak and explain the clearance, instructions, or weather report back to the examiner in the English language.
3)        The intent is not to require the applicant to read, speak, write, and understand the English language at college-level standards. A common sense approach should be used in evaluating an applicant for this requirement (reference § 61.65(a)(2)).


A.        Instrument Ratings and Associated Aircraft Ratings.

·               Instrument—Airplane.

·               Instrument—Helicopter.

·               Instrument—Powered-lift.

B.        Requirements. An Instrument—Airplane rating is issued to an applicant who qualifies for an instrument rating in an airplane. An Instrument—Helicopter rating is issued to an applicant who qualifies for an instrument rating in a helicopter. An Instrument—Powered-lift rating is issued to an applicant who qualifies for an instrument rating in a powered-lift. A person who already holds an instrument rating in one category of aircraft and is applying for additional instrument rating in another category of aircraft need only obtain the appropriate aeronautical experience, training, endorsements, and pass the appropriate practical test, but does not need to take an additional knowledge test.

5-436            INSTRUMENTS REQUIRED FOR INSTRUMENT PILOT AIRPLANE RATING PRACTICAL TEST. Although appropriate flight instruments are considered to be those outlined in 14 CFR part 91 for flight under instrument flight rules (IFR), an applicant may elect to satisfy a portion of the instrument practical test in an airworthy aircraft that does not have all of the instruments required by part 91, § 91.205(d), such as a partial panel aircraft with only turn, slip, and airspeed indicators. However, the applicant will need an aircraft equipped in accordance with § 91.205(d) to complete the remaining required tasks for instrument certification. While it may be extremely difficult for the applicant to satisfactorily complete any portion of the instrument practical test with the limited flight instruments characterized by the partial panel, and while IFR flight plans cannot be filed, it is the applicant’s prerogative to attempt the test under these circumstances. Moreover, it must be emphasized to the applicant that performance standards will not be relaxed when an airplane is so equipped.

5-437            INSTRUMENT FLIGHT INSTRUCTION OR PRACTICAL TESTS INVOLVING SIMULATED INSTRUMENT FLIGHT. Part 91, § 91.109(b)(2) requires a third-person observer whenever the safety pilot determines that vision is inadequate. The rule requires that a competent observer who adequately supplements the safety pilot’s forward and side vision be in the aircraft during simulated instrument flight when the safety pilot does not have adequate vision forward and to each side of the aircraft. ASIs should ensure that the subject of adequate vision, as it relates to instrument instruction, is discussed with flight instructors and examiners. It must be made clear that the most diligent and expert scanning by the instructor pilot is imperative, since the instructor pilot is normally the person aboard the aircraft best able to see and avoid other aircraft.

5-438            REQUIRED INSTRUMENT APPROACHES. Section 61.65(a)(8) requires an applicant for an instrument rating to pass a practical test on instrument flight procedures. The Instrument Rating PTS requires the applicant to demonstrate the ability to perform the IFR operations required by § 61.65(c). At least one of the required approaches must be demonstrated in flight. The ASI conducting the practical test may allow an applicant to perform the instrument approaches not selected for flight demonstration in a flight training device/simulator that is authorized by the FAA for such use.

5-439            USE OF AIRCRAFT NOT APPROVED FOR IFR OPERATIONS UNDER ITS TYPE CERTIFICATE FOR INSTRUMENT TRAINING AND/OR AIRMAN CERTIFICATION TESTING. The following paragraphs are intended to clarify the use of an aircraft not approved for IFR operations under its type certificate for instrument flight training and/or airman certification testing.

A.        IFR Training in Visual Meteorological Conditions (VMC). Instrument flight training may be conducted during VMC in any aircraft that meets the equipment requirements of part 91, §§ 91.109, 91.205, and, for an airplane operated in controlled airspace under the IFR system, §§ 91.411 and 91.413. An aircraft may be operated on an IFR flight plan under IFR in VMC, provided the PIC is properly certificated to operate the aircraft under IFR. However, if the aircraft is not approved for IFR operations under its type certificate, or if the appropriate instruments and equipment are not installed or are not operative, operations in Instrument Meteorological Conditions (IMC) are prohibited. The PIC of such an aircraft must cancel the IFR flight plan in use and avoid flight into IMC.

B.        Type Certificate Data. Appropriate type certificate data will indicate whether the aircraft meets the requirements for IFR operations.

1)        Section 91.9(a) prohibits aircraft operations without compliance with the operating limitations for that aircraft prescribed by the certificating authority.
2)        Section 91.9(b) prohibits operation of a U.S.-registered aircraft requiring an airplane or rotorcraft flight manual unless it has on board a current and approved airplane or rotorcraft flight manual or approved manual material, markings, and placards containing each operating limitation prescribed for that aircraft.

5-440            DISTANCE MEASURING EQUIPMENT (DME) ARC APPROACHES. DME arc transition flight paths may be used during approach and departure procedures. While the technique of arc flying is uncomplicated, it may cause considerable concern if an instrument pilot’s first exposure to this type approach is encountered during actual IFR conditions. Therefore, the following should be considered:

A.        Obstacle Clearance. In addition to difficulties that may be experienced when maintaining the prescribed arc, there is a general misunderstanding that obstacle clearance is provided throughout the entire sector containing the arc at the published arc altitude. For example, the published altitude along a prescribed arc may be 2,500 feet. This provides obstacle clearance of at least 1,000 feet for a 4-mile distance from either side of the centerline of the prescribed course.

B.        Departing the Arc. Pilots should be cautioned that obstacle clearance to the final approach fix is not guaranteed if the aircraft departs the arc at other than the prescribed position, even if the published arc altitude is maintained.

C.        Information Dissemination. ASIs should ensure that the subject of flying DME arcs is brought to the attention of examiners, pilot schools, flight instructors, instrument-rated pilots, and air taxi operators to provide an awareness of the need to become familiar with the use of this procedure.

5-441            USE OF MAKESHIFT AND NONAPPROVED INSTRUMENT APPROACH PROCEDURES FOR TRAINING AND CERTIFICATION. There have been misinterpretations concerning the instrument approach procedures and facilities required for the training and practical testing of instrument rating applicants. Specifically, the misunderstanding concerns whether nonapproved or makeshift approach procedures may be used in lieu of approved 14 CFR part 97 facilities and procedures during training and practical testing. An example of a makeshift procedure would be the substitution of a published approach for one very high frequency omnidirectional range (VOR) on a different VOR.

A.        Regulatory Requirement. Section 61.65 provides that an applicant for the instrument practical test must have received instrument flight instruction and have been found competent in precision and nonprecision instrument approaches to published minimums. Section 61.65 states that the practical test must include instrument flight procedures selected by the ASI conducting the test to determine the applicant’s ability to perform competently the IFR operations for which instruction is required by § 61.65. Since makeshift approaches are not a part of any system, the use of a makeshift approach would not meet the intent of the regulatory requirement and is not authorized.

B.        Information Dissemination. Supervising ASIs should ensure that all examiners, pilot schools, and instructor personnel are informed that the regulations do not permit the use of approach procedures other than those outlined in § 91.175(a) for the purpose of meeting the requirements of § 61.65.

5-442            PARTIAL PANEL SKILLS AND EARLY DETECTION OF INSTRUMENT FAILURE. Aircraft accidents have occurred during IFR operations in IMC when the failure or malfunction of certain instruments or equipment and the pilot’s lack of competency in instrument partial panel skills may have contributed to the pilot’s loss of control and the resulting accident.

A.        Partial Panel Skills. Since many of the single- and twin-engine aircraft operated in IMC are not equipped with dual, independent, gyroscopic heading or attitude indicators, it is imperative that the pilot maintain proficiency in partial panel instrument skills. In addition, the pilot should have an adequate knowledge of the proper functioning of all gyroscopic instrumentation, pressure/vacuum systems, and associated electronic equipment to preclude operating in IMC with inoperative instruments or equipment.

B.        Certification Standards. Current certification standards as outlined in the PTS and pertinent rules of part 61 describe the level of instrument competency that should be achieved during pilot training and which must be demonstrated during certification testing.

C.        ASI Responsibilities. Each ASI should take the necessary action to ensure the following:

1)        The matter of partial panel skills is brought to the attention of all flight and ground instructors and designated pilot examiners within the Flight Standards District Office jurisdiction;
2)        Title 14 CFR part 141 approved instrument or instrument-related ground or flight school training course outlines are reviewed and revised as necessary to ensure proper emphasis on the subject areas described herein;
3)        ASIs should emphasize pilot competency in partial panel instrument skills during the training and testing of airmen in simulated emergency operations, particularly in aircraft that do not have redundant or dual, independently powered flight instrumentation systems;
4)        ASIs should emphasize the early detection of malfunction or failure of either pressure/vacuum or electronic flight instruments or systems, particularly when the failure or malfunction would endanger the safety of the aircraft; and
5)        Flight instructors and pilot examiners conducting instrument proficiency checks under § 61.57 should ensure that the pilot performing the check demonstrates an accepted level of competency in partial panel skills.

5-443            REQUIREMENT TO DEMONSTRATE GPS APPROACH PROFICIENCY ON A PRACTICAL TEST. If the practical test is conducted in an aircraft, and that aircraft has an operable and installed global positioning system (GPS) receiver, an examiner may require an applicant to demonstrate GPS approach proficiency. If the applicant has contracted for training in an approved training course that includes GPS training and a GPS receiver is installed in the aircraft or simulator or flight training device, as appropriate, and the aircraft or simulator or flight training device used for the practical test has the GPS receiver installed, an examiner may require an applicant to demonstrate GPS approach proficiency.


A.        Prerequisites. This task requires knowledge of the regulatory requirements of part 61, subpart B, and FAA policies, and qualification as an ASI (Operations).

B.        Coordination. This task may require coordination with the airworthiness unit and with the Airman Records section of the Airmen Certification Branch, AFS-760.


A.        References.

·               Title 14 CFR parts 1, 61, 91, 97, 141, and 187 (appendix A, Fees).

·               FAA-S-8081-4, Instrument Rating Practical Test Standards.

·               AC 61-27, Instrument Flying Handbook.

·               PTRS Procedures Manual (PPM).

B.        Forms.

·               FAA Form 8060-4, Temporary Airman Certificate (Figure 5-44).

·               FAA Form 8060-5, Notice of Disapproval of Application (Figure 5-46).

·               FAA Form 8710-1, Airman Certificate and/or Rating Application (Figure 5-43).

C.        Job Aids. Sample letters and figures.

5-446            PROCEDURES.

A.        Schedule Appointment. Advise the applicant to bring the following documents to the appointment:

·               A properly completed FAA Form 8710-1;

·               An airman certificate;

·               At least a current third-class airman medical certificate (FAA Form 8500-9) and Statement of Demonstrated Ability (SODA), if applicable;

·               An Airman Knowledge Test Report, AC Form 8080-2;

·               A school graduation certificate (if required by § 61.71);

·               Personal logbooks or other records substantiating the flight experience shown on the application form;

·               The aircraft maintenance records;

·               The aircraft airworthiness certificate;

·               The aircraft registration;

·               A view limiting device;

·               The aircraft flight manual; and

·               The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) aircraft station license documents, if applicable.

B.        Applicant Arrives for Appointment.

1)        Collect the documents listed above.
2)        Open PTRS file.

C.        Review Application.

1)        In section I, ensure that the applicant has checked the box labeled “Instrument.”
2)        Check the application for accuracy, using the instructions on the form attachment.
3)        Check to make sure the flight instructor has signed the reverse side of the application no more than 60 days before the application.
4)        The FAA Form 8710-1 application must be completed in ink or typed and signed by the applicant. Per part 61, § 61.39(a)(7), the applicant must complete section III, Record of Pilot Time, on the FAA Form 8710-1 application. As a special emphasis item, the examiner must review the applicant’s aeronautical experience recorded on FAA Form 8710-1 and in the applicant’s logbook/training record to ensure compliance with the appropriate aeronautical experience requirements for the certificate and/or rating sought.

D.        Verify Applicant’s Identity. Inspect acceptable forms of identification to establish the applicant’s identity (see Volume 5, Chapter 1, Section 3). Compare the identification with the personal information provided on FAA Form 8710-1.

1)        If the applicant’s identity can be verified, proceed with issuing the certificate.
2)        If the applicant’s identity cannot be verified because of lack of identification or inadequate identification, explain what types of identification are acceptable. Instruct the applicant to return with appropriate identification to reapply.
3)        If the applicant’s identity appears to be different from the information supplied on FAA Form 8710-1, or it appears that an attempt at falsification has been made, do not continue this task (see Volume 7, Chapter 6).

E.        Establish Eligibility.

1)        Determine if the applicant meets the specific eligibility, knowledge, and experience requirements for an instrument rating certification (§ 61.65).
a)        Verify that the applicant for an instrument rating holds either a private or a commercial pilot certificate with an aircraft rating appropriate to the instrument rating sought or an ATP certificate limited to VFR.
b)        Verify that the applicant for an instrument rating is able to read, speak, write, and understand the English language.
c)        If the applicant is not a graduate of an approved school, have the applicant establish flight experience in accordance with § 61.65 in an acceptable logbook or other reliable record that conforms to § 61.51 requirements.
d)        Except for part 141 graduates (see § 61.71(a)), check the record of flight time in section III of the application to determine if the applicant has at least the minimum flight experience required for the rating sought (§ 61.65).
e)        Verify that the applicant is credited with no more than 20 hours of instrument instruction in a flight training device approved by the Administrator that effectively duplicates the procedures or maneuvers necessary for the category of aircraft involved. Check that this 20 hours of flight training device time (if acceptable as instrument time under § 61.65) has been logged specifically as flight training device instruction received.
f)        Verify that the flight training device time, including Levels A through D simulators, is certified by an authorized instructor. Credit all allowed flight training device time toward total pilot time.
g)        If a personal computer-based aviation training device (PCATD) has been used for the training for an instrument rating, the maximum creditable time is 10 hours. The time must be certified by an authorized instructor. The PCATD must be approved and qualified in accordance with AC 61-126, Qualification and Approval of Personal Computer-Based Aviation Training Devices, and the training program must be an integrated ground and flight training program.
h)        Inspect the applicant’s medical certificate to make sure it is at least a current third-class medical certificate and it does not bear any limitation making a special medical flight test necessary for the issuance of the instrument rating. (If a special medical flight test is necessary, see Volume 5, Chapter 8.)
i)          If the applicant holds an instrument rating and is applying for an additional instrument rating in another category of aircraft, check to see if the applicant meets the experience requirements of § 61.65.
j)          If the applicant has failed the Instrument Rating Practical Test, make sure the applicant’s FAA Form 8710-1 has been re-signed by that applicant’s instructor and make sure the applicant has received additional training from that instructor before conducting the retest.
k)        Determine if the applicant graduated from an FAA-approved commercial/instrument pilot certification course or instrument rating test course within the preceding 60 days. If so, have the applicant present the appropriate graduation certificate required by § 61.71. Otherwise, the applicant must meet the requirements of § 61.65.
l)          Request and examine one of the following documents as acceptable evidence of having passed the knowledge test:

·               An Airman Knowledge Test Report;

·               A test report from a knowledge test examining facility; or

·               A test report from an authorized computerized knowledge test facility.

2)        Check the reverse side of the FAA Form 8710-1 for the instructor’s signature in the Instructor’s Recommendation section. Verify that the applicant has received instrument instruction in the last 60 days from a certificated instrument flight instructor.
3)        The ASI conducting the practical test, or an airworthiness ASI, should review the applicant’s aircraft maintenance records, aircraft logbooks, airworthiness certificate, and aircraft registration to determine if the aircraft is airworthy and suitable for this practical test. After review, return the documents to the applicant.

F.          Discrepancies. If a discrepancy that cannot be immediately corrected exists in any of the documents, return the application and all submitted documents to the applicant. Inform the applicant of the reasons for ineligibility, and explain how the applicant may correct the discrepancies.

G.        Conduct Practical Test. After determining that the applicant is eligible and meets all prerequisites for the instrument rating, conduct the practical test.

1)        Use the procedures and maneuvers outlined in the Instrument Rating PTS, FAA-S-8081-4, for the appropriate category and class of aircraft.
2)        An applicant for retesting typically receives credit for those pilot operations successfully completed on the previous practical examination(s). However, an ASI will reexamine the applicant on all pilot operations required for a pilot certificate or rating after more than 60 days have elapsed, or when the ASI has reason to doubt the applicant’s competency in any areas for which credit has previously been given.
3)        If the practical test is not completed for reasons other than proficiency (knowledge and/or skill), issue the applicant a letter of discontinuance (see Figure 5-43). Return the application and any submitted documents to the applicant.
4)        Close PTRS.

H.        Unsatisfactory Performance. If an applicant’s practical test performance is not satisfactory, terminate the practical test and inform the applicant of the reasons.

1)        Prepare FAA Form 8060-5, Notice of Disapproval of Application, in accordance with the guidance in Volume 5, Chapter 1, Section 6 (see Figure 5-46).
2)        Indicate on the FAA Form 8060-5 the following:

·               All required areas of operation and tasks on which the applicant was evaluated as unsatisfactory,

·               Operations not performed during the practical test, and

·               Number of practical test failures by the applicant for this certificate or rating, listed in any available space on the form.

NOTE: An applicant for retesting may receive credit for those areas of operation and tasks completed satisfactorily on the previous practical examination(s). However, an ASI must reexamine the applicant on all areas of operation required for a pilot certificate or rating if 60 days has lapsed from the date of the initial practical test for the certificate or rating, as appropriate. An ASI may reexamine the applicant on any areas of operation required for a pilot certificate or rating, as appropriate, if the applicant demonstrates unsatisfactory proficiency or competence on a task that was evaluated satisfactory on a previous practical test.

3)        The ASI must date and sign the FAA Form 8060-5 and enter the district office routing symbol.
4)        Sign, date, and check the appropriate boxes on the form. Give the applicant a copy of the notice of disapproval and retain the original for the certification file.
5)        Retain the FAA Form 8710-1 and return all other submitted documents to the applicant.

I.            Satisfactory Performance. Issue FAA Form 8060-4, Temporary Airman Certificate, including all of the applicant’s previous ratings and the appropriate instrument rating to the applicant.

1)        Prepare the certificate in duplicate as per volume 5, chapter 1, section 5 (see Figure 5-44).
2)        Indicate the appropriate instrument rating on the certificate:

·               “INSTRUMENT—HELICOPTER” for applicants who have met the requirements in a helicopter;

·               “INSTRUMENT—AIRPLANE” for applicants who met the requirements in an airplane; or

·               “INSTRUMENT—POWERED-LIFT” for applicants who have met the requirements in a powered-lift.

3)        If an instrument rating is added to a certificate using a single-engine airplane, and the applicant has a multiengine rating (land or sea), enter a VFR limitation for those multiengine privileges.
4)        If the pilot certificate is issued in a foreign country, see § 61.13(a) and part 187, appendix A.
5)        Complete the inspector certification section and sign the reverse side of FAA Form 8710-1.
6)        Forward the completed file to AFS-760.
7)        Return all submitted documents not forwarded to AFS-760 to the applicant.

J.          PTRS. Complete PTRS in accordance with the PPM.

5-447            TASK OUTCOMES. Completion of this task results in the issuance of one of the following:

·               Temporary airman certificate,

·               Notice of disapproval of application, or

·               Letter of discontinuance.

5-448            FUTURE ACTIVITIES.

A.        Additional Grade. Pilots may return for another grade of airman certificate.

B.        Additional Rating. Pilots may return for an additional category or class rating.

Figure 5-43. Letter of Discontinuance

FAA Letterhead


[applicant’s name and address]

Dear [applicant name]:

On this date you successfully completed pilot operation 1—ground phase for a [indicate grade] certificate with an [indicate category] category and [indicate class] class rating. The practical test was discontinued because of [indicate reason].

If application is made by [indicate date 60 days from date of letter], this letter may be used to show the following portions of the practical test which have been completed satisfactorily.

[Indicate pilot operations completed on the test]

After [indicate expiration date] you must repeat the entire practical test. This letter does not extend the expiration date as shown on the knowledge test results, medical certificate, or required endorsements.


[signed by inspector conducting practical test]

Figure 5-44. Sample FAA Form 8060-4, Temporary Airman Certificate, Instrument Rating

Sample completed FAA Form 8060-4, Temporary Airman Certificate, showing Instrument Rating.

Figure 5-37. Sample FAA Form 8710-1, Airman Certificate and/or Rating Application

Sample completed FAA Form 8710-1, Airman Certificate and/or Rating Application, for an instrument rating.

Figure 5-46. Sample FAA Form 8060-5, Notice of Disapproval of Application for Instrument Rating

Sample completed FAA Form 8060-5, Notice of Disapproval of Application, denying an instrument rating.

RESERVED. Paragraphs 5-449 through 5-465.