Pilot's tip of the week

Airplane IPC vs. Simulator Practice


Subscriber question:

"I like the idea of regular Instrument Proficiency Checks (IPC) to stay sharp, and I like the idea of using the school simulator to do realistic failures. But my CFI says I can’t do an IPC on a simulator because we can’t do the landing and the circle-to-land. Is it better to get a real IPC in the airplane, or to practice on the sim and just log enough approaches to stay legal?" — Chris B.


“First off, I commend you for recognizing the value of regular, periodic instrument training, irrespective of your currency or proficiency. I find it odd that the FAA does not mandate recurrent training for all instrument-rated pilots flying under Part 91. They do for pilots who fly for the airlines or as charter pilots. Why not for those of us who fly for business or recreation? In fact, it is quite possible to maintain IFR currency per FAA rules without ever getting another inflight evaluation after taking the instrument practical test.

I also applaud you for recognizing the value of using a simulator, or aviation training device (ATD), to aid you in your recurrent training. There are so many ways of using the sim for scenario-based training that would be hard, and/or unsafe, to replicate in a real aircraft. Further, the sim allows us to conduct ‘deep practice,’ repeating different parts of a scenario with the push of a button. And once all those individual parts are mastered, they can be stitched together into an entire scenario. This allows the most efficient use of the allotted time for training—and saves a lot of gas.

Whereas the myopic viewpoint of the FAA does not allow the use of ATDs in the conduct of an instrument proficiency check, do not let their nearsightedness prevent you from taking advantage of this great technology.

Remember that an IPC is an FAA requirement for pilots that do not maintain their currency. But for pilots like you that are logging regular approaches and other required items while maintaining real proficiency, the IPC will probably never be needed. So don’t worry. Keep on doing what you are doing on the sim, whatever you choose to call it.”

Do you use a simulator (FAA-legal or desktop) to maintain proficiency?

(NEW) VFR Mastery scenario #70 “Next Step, Climb?” is now available. How hot is too hot in an airplane with simple engine instrumentation and showing no other sign of distress? What do you do when the POH guidance provides no useful guidance at all. Is this an emergency, business as usual, or something in between? Watch the Intro video.

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