July 2018 Safety Corner
We’ve had a lot of safety tips and reminders for members that only operate under visual flight rules (VFR). It’s also important for our club instrument-rated pilots to stay current AND proficient to maintain a high level of safety. Since you went to the expense, not to mention stress, of obtaining the instrument rating, it’s important to keep fresh on IFR flying and associated rules.
Here’s a few tips and reminders:
- To maintain currency, FAR 61.57 (c) (1) states a pilot must perform at least six instrument approaches, holding procedures, and intercepting and tracking courses through the use of navigation systems in the previous six months. You have a six-month grace-period to get re-current yourself before having to take an instrument proficiency check with an instructor. During that 6-month grace period, however, you may not file IFR. You MUST get current first.
- Research shows that instrument skills begin to weaken in as little as two weeks away from flying. The vast majority of general aviation IFR accidents are due to pilot error and more specifically lack of control due to deteriorated instrument skills. Half of those are fatal. Another good reason to stay not only current, BUT ALSO PROFICIENT – which there is a big difference!!! Don’t expect an IPC to be a slam dunk (one hour ground, one hour flight). Unlike a BFR that knocks rust off and gets you back up in the air, an IPC is designed to make you PROFICIENT and not just current.
- Fly with an instructor during VFR weather to begin sharpening your instrument skills again. Then, when the opportunity presents itself on those 1,000 foot and higher ceiling days, go up again with an instructor and really sharpen your skills and confidence in actual conditions. A short cross country is always good practice.
- If you are coming up on your biennial flight review, you and your instructor can agree to work on some instrument-related skills to help with your proficiency to meet the requirements of a BFR. However, keep in mind that it DOES NOT satisfy the requirements of both a BFR and instrument proficiency check (IPC). You can’t kill two birds with one stone here.
- If you want to save a little money, combine currency requirements and night flying. If you shoot three approaches, make them to a full stop so you can fulfill the night currency requirements as well for carrying passengers. Chances are you’ll be flying into a large airport for the instrument approaches, so you shouldn’t have a problem coming to a full stop and then taking off again with the available runway. Make sure you let the tower know what you are doing!
- Get back into the books to review FARs and AIM information for instrument flights. You’ll be amazed at how much you have forgotten. If you take an instrument proficiency check (IPC), you’ll have to do a minimum of an hour to an hour and a half of ground school anyway.
REMEMBER, CURRENCY IN IFR FLYING DOES NOT MEAN PROFICIENT. PLEASE SCHEDULE REGULAR TIME UNDER THE HOOD, SO THAT YOU REACH A COMFORT LEVEL IN YOUR INSTRUMENT FLYING ABILITIES.
HAPPY FLYING! – Kevin Broderick, Safety Officer, ATP, CFII