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Instrument Rating done. What next?

TLDR: I’ve just finished my ME/IR. What should I do next in order to gain real-world experience in flying IFR?

The longer version: A couple of years ago I decided I was going to retrain as a commercial pilot and leave my current career behind. I’m not there yet but I’ve done all the ATPL written exams, the multi-engine rating and now, finally, the instrument rating. It will be another 6-9 months before I do the CPL but, in the mean time, I’d like to do some real-world IFR flying.

When I started the PPL five years ago, I thought when I finished I’d be able to fly wherever I liked. I soon realised the limited nature of both the PPL course and VFR flying. So I’m not naive enough to think I can now fly wherever and whenever I want just because I have an IR. I still have a lot to learn about real IFR flight. So I’d like suggestions of what to do and where to do it in order to get some proper experience.

Fairoaks, United Kingdom

Well done on the IR.

If you have some time it would be very beneficial to befriend a few pilots flying the bottom end of business aviation (King Air, PC12, Citation, MEP etc) or some of the prolific private IFR pilots on here, and get to ride along in the RHS for some flights. You couldn’t log it, but you get to see what’s what in real life.

Darley Moor, Gamston (UK)

In my opinion you should rent a plane which is IR capable and just fly. It’s not a big think if you are going for it well prepared. So just do a good weather briefing, choose a nice location and depart. Enjoy the flights!

EDDS , Germany

To a large degree this issue is the same as when you get a PPL. We have had many threads on this here but basically one has to get out there and do stuff which delivers value. That means different things to different people of course, but most never realise that the Blackbushe to Sandown £3 all-day-breakfast or burger run is a complete waste of their time and money and by the time they do realise they are bored, their passengers have got sick of it and moved on, and they have spent thousands on avgas achieving basically nothing.

I would suggest doing trips which are chosen for something really good.

For example today I flew to Ostend to have a little walkabout but mainly to meet up with some friends who also flew in. The IR made it pretty easy – I didn’t see anything useful on the ILS until 1.5 miles (i.e. 450ft altitude). Could not see much on the Shoreham IAP either until about 2 miles. And it was a great day out. 1hr each way so not expensive either. Today, the airport was totally free.

Maybe somebody has a spare seat on the Spanish fly-in in a week’s time (I haven’t). That flight would be a real experience of IFR in the European system.

Otherwise, we are bound to do a meet-up at Le Touquet which is always great value – it ticks all the boxes and one can fly there IFR and get experience from that. A spare seat on that should be easy.

Meet-ups are good, and having them in some interesting/nice place makes them twice as good. Then you feel you have had a good day and achieved something.

The long trips some of us do to southern Europe are brilliant but the avgas cost limits them to a relatively small group.

Administrator
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

Some great suggestions. Thanks.

Peter’s point about value does resonate well. I realised early on that I wanted to go places and have done a fair amount of VFR touring. I’ve been to the Channel Islands, France, Germany, Austria, Italy and Croatia all VFR. I will certainly look to do similar trips IFR now.

I guess what I was really asking is whether there are any specific recommendations of places to go or things to do in order to develop real IFR experience beyond just getting out there and doing it.

Fairoaks, United Kingdom

IFR is very similar everywhere – a big advantage

If it wasn’t, most of the world’s aviation would be struggling. So many VFR differences… Yesterday I heard some Turkish airliner which was really struggling with very poor English. Can you imagine them flying VFR, and being asked to report at Woburn Abbey?

Administrator
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

fattony wrote:

The longer version: A couple of years ago I decided I was going to retrain as a commercial pilot and leave my current career behind. I’m not there yet but I’ve done all the ATPL written exams, the multi-engine rating and now, finally, the instrument rating. It will be another 6-9 months before I do the CPL but, in the mean time, I’d like to do some real-world IFR flying.

When I started the PPL five years ago, I thought when I finished I’d be able to fly wherever I liked. I soon realised the limited nature of both the PPL course and VFR flying. So I’m not naive enough to think I can now fly wherever and whenever I want just because I have an IR. I still have a lot to learn about real IFR flight. So I’d like suggestions of what to do and where to do it in order to get some proper experience.

I’m a pit puzzled. Why don’t you just go “all in” and get the CPL asap? Why do you think with a commercial job as a pilot you can fly whenever you like, wherever you like? Sounds to me what you really want is PPL-H. It’s the only flying machine that will get you wherever you like, whenever you like. No need for IFR, no need to go commercial, cost less than IFR also when you already have PPL.

I find flying different situations / to different places helps. Reading online and putting in practice helps a lot too. You can also try new things on your own. For instance, on my last trip https://www.euroga.org/forums/trips-airports/6925-trip-report-night-flying-to-paris if found out that French ATC will give you shortcuts much more easily if you say you are ok to transit through class E. I found that out because while on a long-ish section of the flight, thinking about what was going to happen next, thought that the planned routing was going to make me do an awful detour, so asked for a direct to a certain point that would be on 8nm on the approach path from the threshold.
Worst case they would have gotten annoyed / they would reply something that would embarrass me, while a lot of upside. Same for level changes, asking non-standard levels (even instead of odd) to get out of a layer.
On the flights I try not to spend too much time enjoying the scenery / sensation of flying. Rather, when I feel that, I tend to think that I must do something else, so trying to always think what’s going to happen next / rest of flight, and “would there be something that would make things better?” (in this case, routing change)
Having smart / curious passengers is actually pretty nice as they ask questions with an outsider perspective and sometimes forces you to think about possibly doing things differently, not just doing them because “it’s how it’s done / ATC told you”.

I think you mean Class G, because Class E is CAS for IFR, and most Eurocontrol routes in France below FL120 are in Class E.

Yes, flying with nice people is great; more so if they get something out of it. But they are not commonly found on a flexible schedule, and 50% of the population is excluded if you don’t want to upset your OH

Administrator
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

In my case at some point it seemed it was to send me through class E instead of planned through D and A. I’ll dig a bit more at home as forgot the iPad (and can’t get Skydemon browser version to work), it will be an interesting question.
@guillaume: You probably have the answer to this anyway!
I think that’s because in D VFR require a clearance while not in E.
In any case, even if in class G I would have been fine (as long as not losing clearance), since at these altitudes, in the evening/night, on top, I am not too concerned about a mid air due to someone not being followed.

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