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IFR Fix: Six of one

If you are one of the fortunate pilots who made summer plans to do plenty of flying, especially instrument flying, and succeeded, congratulations.

Photo by Chris Rose.

If it didn’t happen for you, try answering this sample FAA instrument-rating knowledge test question about the state of your IFR currency .

Yes, it’s that question about recent flight experience required to act as pilot in command under IFR (FAR 61.57(c)), which, no matter how frequently pilots go over the rule, causes much head-scratching and uncertainty:

“To act as pilot in command of an aircraft under IFR, what is the minimum instrument flight experience you must have logged during the preceding six months, in the same category of aircraft?

A. Holding procedures, intercepting and tracking courses through the use of navigation systems, and six instrument approaches.

B. Six hours of instrument time in any aircraft, and six instrument approaches.

C. Six instrument approaches, three of which must be in the same category and class of aircraft to be flown, and 6 hours of instrument time in any aircraft.”

Here’s a hint: There’s only one “six” in the correct answer, which also gives the required actions in an order that differs from the wording of the regulation—perhaps to deter rote memorization.

If you have uncertainty about the required IFR “tasks and iterations ” you accomplished during the preceding six months “in actual weather conditions or under simulated conditions,” don’t leave legality to luck. Maintaining good records and tracking your currency status in real time is simpler than trying to recall and record flights later.

If you do not meet recency requirements of flying six instrument approaches, holding procedures and tasks, and intercepting and tracking courses using navigational electronic systems (answer A) during the preceding six months, you find yourself in FAR 61.57(d) territory for reestablishing currency, creating an employment opportunity for an instrument flight instructor for an instrument proficiency check if you have failed to meet the requirements “for more than six calendar months.”

If taking that one-question quiz seems like a reasonable way to begin restoring your currency, the sample instrument knowledge-test questions and their accompanying supplements can help you continue brushing up by prompting you to recall details of weather, airspace, and IFR infrastructure.

To really challenge yourself, dish yourself up a large helping of questions and a see if you can score at least 70 percent, as a new applicant must to earn the instrument rating.

Dan Namowitz
Dan Namowitz
Dan Namowitz has been writing for AOPA in a variety of capacities since 1991. He has been a flight instructor since 1990 and is a 35-year AOPA member.
Topics: Training and Safety, IFR

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