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EASA IR vs. FAA IR - what's best?

I currently have an EASA PART-FCL PPL and want to start working towards my ultimate goal of doing a world circumnavigation in a few years from now.

Obviously for this kind of trip you need an instrument rating. Which is the best to get for this purpose?


Do either of these give worldwide IR privileges? I understand this it is partly dependent on where the aircraft is registered.

Am I correct in thinking if you have an FAA IR you and an N-reg aircraft you can fly IFR worldwide. Is the same true of A G-reg aircraft and an EASA instrument rating?

It depends on when you do it, and whether you are “EU resident”.

If you do it after April 2019, and you are EU resident, then you will not be able to fly an N reg aircraft in EASA land unless you have an EASA IR.

Having said that, if you have an FAA/IR and 50 hours P1 under IFR (not IMC, IFR) then it is a quick, simple and cheap exercise to convert your FAA/IR to EASA.

But the bottom line, I would suggest, would be to decide the reg you are likely to operate and get the appropriate IR. If you end up to have got that wrong, the conversion either way is not onerous.

I would suggest that you look into the convenience to you of acquiring either rating and go for the best value/convenience.

The JAA/EASA IR gained a quite deserved reputation for being over engineered. We sorted that out a few years ago and now the difference in difficulty between getting the two IRs is so small as not to be worth bothering about. Both are thoroughly accessible for the private pilot. Just decide where you can do each, work out what hoops you have to jump through, calculate the hourly rate and go for the one that is best for you.

Then convert to the other quite easily if you need to and makes more financial sense than getting a reg appropriate to your qualifications.

Ten years ago, it is arguable that there was a “right answer”; now the playing field is level and there is no one right answer.

EGKB Biggin Hill

If you are circumnavigating the world you are probably(?) better off with an N reg anyway….there are FAA A&Ps pretty much everywhere you go… which indicates an FAA IR…

EGPD / OMDW / YPJT, United Kingdom

Seems to me the answer lies not in your circumnavigation plans, but where you’ll be living when not circumnavigating, and the likely register of the plane you’ll own (sometimes the latter is hard to know before-hand).

Tököl LHTL

Yes, but in the course of circumnavigation he will easily acquire the 50 hrs PIC under the IFR needed to obtain the EASA IR without needing to do do all those pointless, costly and time-consuming exams….

EGPD / OMDW / YPJT, United Kingdom

A cost that will probably exceed the cost of you getting the IR is that of moving registry. I have done it enough times to know!

The engineers will say “it’ll be really cheap and easy, a few hundred currency units”.

Then the inspectors will turn up. One from the outgoing administration, one from the incoming.

Each will point out a series of jobs that need doing, from changing doodahs, to removing a widget, to adding a gismo, to replacing a widget with a gismo, to replacing the battery in a gadget, to getting a new approval for a thingumabob. The list will be endless.

They will then point out why the registration you have just put on will have to come off for the ferry flight, and so the list will go on.

You will adopt a permanent Munch Scream face, as the engineers point out that it’s not their fault, but the unreasonable inspectors, and the inspectors will tell you that if the engineers had read the regulations properly and….you will wait and pay.

So, if you can buy the aircraft on the registry you want and keep it there you will be better off, financially and emotionally.

EGKB Biggin Hill

The OP wants to fly around the world… My response was in that context….

EGPD / OMDW / YPJT, United Kingdom

I think the choice may boil down to the Written exams. The EASA 7 exams needed for the IR are tough in terms of the commitment required. I done mine 3 years ago now which consisted of £1000 to Pro Pilot for the study material. 120 hrs min self study and two days in the classroom. That’s not whole story though. I completed mine in 3 months, studying 2 hrs a night, every night and every weekend with about an additional 200 hrs question bank bashing. It’s a big ask when you also have a full time job, home and family commitments as well. You need to be really focused and single minded.

By comparison I took the FAA IR TK exam so as to tag on a 61.75 FAA PPL IR. For my N Reg Cirrus. £60 subscription to Aviation Exam and a weeks QB bashing was all that was needed.



I, too, did the FAA Foreign Instrument Pilot exam for the 61.75 and I agree that it’s not a huge undertaking, but I think that that’s predicated on already having an ICAO IR, no?

I don’t think that an FAA IR ab initio is quite so easy, but I may be wrong, I’ve never done it.

What I will say, though, is that I remember most of the stuff that I learned in my CAA IR, CPL and ATPL exams, but I remember almost nothing of what I “learned” for the FAA FIP exam. Just being able to parrot answers from a QB does not constitute learning.

On a couple of occasions in the last 46 years of my flying career I have been hugely grateful for the TK I have learned, and I would be concerned if getting an IR TK were too easy and unmemorable.

EGKB Biggin Hill

The ab initio FAA Instrument written is a single exam…. And there are currently ca.45,000 private pilots with FAA instrument ratings….all of whom did only one written IR exam….

EGPD / OMDW / YPJT, United Kingdom
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