Pilot's tip of the week

IFR Personal Minimums


Subscriber question:

"I'm a high-time pilot but don't fly for weeks at a time, so my proficiency waxes and wanes, especially in IFR. I feel the need to adjust my IFR minimums based on how much I am flying. What should I consider when adjusting them?" - Dave R.


“Great question. Several of the things that I consider when I’m assessing myself and establishing my personal minimums, and mind you, sometimes these minimums can go up and go down. When I’ve been flying an awful lot and when I’m really current and proficient, my minimums will go down and I’m willing to fly to lower minimums.

Things I consider: How much have I flown in the last 10 days? How much have I flown in the last 90 days? How much have I flown in the last 180 days? How many approaches have I done in the last 30 days? In the last 90 days? And out of those approaches, how low did I go? Have I flown to minimums?

So in establishing my personal minimums, I say…Okay, if I’ve got to fly an ILS and I haven’t flown an ILS in 90 days, I’m not going to go out there and fly to an advertised 200 and a half. I really want it 400 and a mile…as an example. Whereas if I’ve been flying ILSs every day for the last week, I will not have a single problem going out and flying to 200 and a half.

How many hours have I actually logged in the clouds? How many of it has been logged, but with a hood on? And there’s certainly a big difference. And there’s also a big difference how much have I logged with an instructor beside me or how much have I logged really by myself?

Other things I consider: How familiar am I with the route? With the centers and TRACONs that I’m going to have to communicate with? With the airport that I’m going to? Certainly, if I’m going to an airport where I’ve flown the approach frequently, I’ll be much more comfortable than having to fly to a brand new airport that I’ve never been to before.”

I think the real key here is to understand that (personal minimums) do change and that they can change. We have to have enough sense to really assess our readiness for the flight.”

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