The new instrument rating ACS and how it will affect your IFR training

If you’re considering an accelerated IFR training program, we suggest you do it before June 2016 because that is when the new Instrument Airman Certification Standards are supposed to replace the instrument Practical Test Standards. The problem we see with this, is that it lists many more things for the examiner to cover on your Checkride. Subjects that may have never been brought up are now written out, opening another door for the examiner to take you into.

Of course, we will keep up with all the current regulations in our training but the fact remains that since there are more things listed in the new Instrument ACS, there will be more things to cover during training. More things to cover will take more time and if you are taking an accelerated instrument training course which is typically a 10 day course, this means longer days, more studying and more to remember in the same short time. When you add this to an already busy program, you will have your hands full.

Below are examples of the PTS and the new ACS format:

PTS –  Cross Country Flight Planning Example

Task C: Cross-Country Flight Planning

To determine that the applicant:

1. Exhibits adequate knowledge of the elements by presenting and explaining a preplanned cross-country flight, as previously assigned by the examiner (preplanning is at examiner’s discretion). It should be planned using actual weather reports/forecasts and conform to the regulatory requirements for instrument flight rules within the airspace in which the flight will be conducted.

2. Exhibits adequate knowledge of the aircraft’s performance capabilities by calculating the estimated time en route and total fuel requirement based upon factors, such as—
a. power settings.
b. operating altitude or flight level.
c. wind.
d. fuel reserve requirements.
e. weight and balance limitations.

3. Selects and correctly interprets the current and applicable en route charts, instrument departure procedures (DPs), RNAV, STAR, and Standard Instrument Approach Procedure Charts (IAP).

4. Obtains and correctly interprets applicable NOTAM information.

5. Determines the calculated performance is within the aircraft’s capability and operating limitations.

6. Completes and files a flight plan in a manner that accurately reflects the conditions of the proposed flight. (This flight plan is not required to be filed with ATC.)

7. Demonstrates adequate knowledge of GPS and RAIM capability, when aircraft is so equipped.

8. Demonstrates the ability to recognize wing contamination due to airframe icing.

9. Demonstrates adequate knowledge of the adverse effects of airframe icing during pre-takeoff, takeoff, cruise, and landing phases of flight and corrective actions.

10. Demonstrates familiarity with any icing procedures and/or information published by the manufacturer that is specific to the aircraft used on the practical test.

ACS –  Cross Country Flight Planning Example

Task C: Cross-Country Flight Planning

To determine the applicant exhibits satisfactory knowledge, skills, and risk management associated with planning and filing an IFR cross-country flight.

The applicant demonstrates understanding of:
1. How to compute fuel reserves.

2. Definitions of minimum or emergency fuel.

3. Conditions conducive to icing, wind shear, microbursts, and turbulence.

4. Symbology found on IFR en route and approach charts and diagrams.

5. Where to locate and how to apply preferred IFR routing.

6. Elements and operational requirements of an IFR flight plan

7. Procedures for activating and closing an IFR flight plan in controlled and non-controlled airspace.

8. Oxygen requirements.

9. Altitude and course requirements

10. Preflight requirements

11. Airspace, cloud clearance, and visibility requirements

12. Selection of an alternate airport.

The applicant demonstrates the ability to:

1. Recalculate fuel reserves based on a scenario provided by the evaluator.

2. Create and file an IFR flight plan for a route assigned by the evaluator.

3. Interpret departure, en route, arrival, and instrument approach procedures.

4. Divert to a suitable alternate.

5. Calculate time en route and fuel.

Risk Management
The applicant demonstrates the ability to identify, assess and mitigate risks, encompassing:

1. Appropriate IFR altitudes.

2. Dynamic weather.

3. Inadvertent icing encounters.

4. Limitations of ATC radar advisories.

5. Fuel reserves and situations that would merit increasing minimum fuel reserves.

6. Minimum or emergency fuel conditions.

7. A route involving significant environmental influences, mountains, and large bodies of water.

8. Human factors that may impact making an initial no-go decision, and the decision, continuing the flight ongoing evaluation of the flight.

9. Areas unsuitable for landing or below personal weather minimums.


The difference between the Instrument rating PTS and ACS


Is there a big difference between the PTS and the ACS?

The information is pretty much the same. Both versions contain the same information, but the ACS is designed to test your knowledge at a deeper level, adding Risk Management into each subject area. We have always made this part of our training process anyway, but the new format which adds specifics that may have never been brought up or really make a difference, makes it more difficult and time consuming to cover all the information, which will certainly result in a longer oral exam.

Ultimately, you will learn the same information whether you train now or later, but if you want to make it less stressful, we suggest you get it done before the change takes place in June 2016. If you have your own plane and have considered a 10 Day IFR course, then check out our program. We have great testimonials as to the quality of our instruction. Our goal is to be better than the rest and from what we’ve seen and heard, we are on the right path.