I am currently a licensed JAA-FCL PPL holder (issued by the UK CAA) based abroad, with a SEP rating that was last renewed at this time last year. It has been a keen aspiration of mine to secure the IMCR, partly to improve my own flying capabilities and partly to satisfy my fascination with instrument flying. This dream has been made more urgent by recent news that the IMCR may no longer be recognised by EASA after April 2014. I have thus decided to commit myself to working towards the rating this year, but my schedule unfortunately does not permit a prolonged period of absence from my day job. I will thus only be able to dedicate myself to a full week of intensive training in order to work towards the IMCR. The golden question: where should I do it? I am happy to train anywhere in Europe - France seems to have the best reputation as far as GA is concerned - but obviously my experience/training/hours will need to count towards the IMCR which is issued by the UK. I will need a club/aircraft/instructor that is able to accommodate my schedule and fly throughout the week, engaging me in both theory and practical learning. In addition, whilst I don't think it's necessary, being based at an airfield that is equipped with IFR landing aids will be most helpful.
I realise that this is a long shot, but I will truly appreciate any suggestions on flying clubs or instructors that I should be considering.
To be clear, my SEP rating expires in Q2 2014, and whilst I wouldn't describe myself as 'current' at the moment, I'm confident that a couple of hours in the air will get my gears oiled and comfortable. My hours have primarily been flown on diesel-powered PA28s, but I have also spent a limited amount of time on Avgas-powered C152/172s.
I did a very similar thing, although probably you will need more than a week. The minimum hours to complete is 15 and initially you will probably find that more than two, one hour sorties per day is plenty; there is a lot of new things to take in and you will get tired quickly. I did mine at the same time as someone else I regularly fly with, so we had the benefit of watching each other from the back, which is a bit like getting two lessons for the price of one, so if you can do this I would highly recommend it.
It is a very good question as to where the flying could be done... When I was looking at doing mine I think we looked at some British registered schools in France (Nearly Heaven - sadly no more due to the passing of the owner) and Spain (Fly in Spain), probably there are others. Assuming you are planning to do this over the summer, the UK should be hospitable for IMCR training and you are more likely to actually encounter some real IMC too. We did our training at Bournemouth Flying Club and the instruction was excellent, the airfield has an NDB and ILS approaches to both ends of the runway. However, a lot of their instructors have moved on since, mostly to other commercial training organisations on the airfield, so don't necessarily take this as a recommendation. However I think you are probably following the right logic in finding somewhere to do it where you don't need to position to an airfield to practice approaches.
The theory part is quite straightforward - buy the book and get the exam done as per the PPL. The instructor should cover the practical use of the theory on the course, but I don't see why you would necessarily need to devote masses of classroom time to this.
Good luck with your training - it's fun and very worthwhile although if you are not in the UK it is not going to have much of a practical application, but it will certainly make you safer and a better pilot.
Thanks for that WB. I could probably stretch the training by a couple of days to account for weather etc, but it is unlikely going to be materially longer. Oddly enough, BFC is where is renewed my SEP rating last year, and I would have loved to return for the IMCR, but as you say, many of their instructors have already moved on.
I'm not sure I could do it in a week as it took a while for the practical concepts of NBD holds and approaches to sink in, as well as ILS approaches and other parts of the training you dont do on the PPL. If I was going to try and do it in a week, I'd make sure I had a copy of MS Flight Sim or equivalant program, with an aircraft similar to mine, so I could use my evenings to bash these things out. The other advantage with the sim (besides it's £0 per hour cost) is that you can pause or view your flight to stop, review and make corrections and learn that way.
Starting from zero IFR knowledge I would say doing the IMCR in 1 week is completely impossible.
If one knew what one needs to know, logging the required 15hrs of dual time is possible in 1 week, of course.
One should not go flying "IFR" for training purposes unless one knows everything needed before departing, otherwise the flight will be largely wasted (will be a poor value for money) due to the limited brainpower left over when hand flying in IMC. Preferably, fly everything in the sim first. I can be a cheap one - FSX with a £10 stick will do.
I did mine in 2002, and buying FS2000 saved me £ thousands.
Looking at my logbook it took 11 days and 14 sorties including the test to get mine completed. We were very lucky with weather, being able to be IMC a lot of the time but without it being bad enough we couldn't fly. We did one solid week of training, had a one week break, 3 more days and the last day was the test.
A cheap simulator is good for practice as Peter says, as is RANT, which lets you monitor the theory of flying approaches and holds but without the complication of flying an aircraft that doesn't fly like the real one. (Someone since suggested using the simulator, but instead of trying to hand-fly, use the autopilot function so you can concentrate on monitoring the instruments). I used both in advance and during the course and absolutely agree with Peter that there is no point going into the air and doing something if you can't first do it on the ground. The only issue I can see with this, is to make sure that whatever you are practicing, you are practicing correctly, otherwise you are going to have to unlearn stuff...
Good luck with getting this done - it really is worthwhile, but do try and find more than a week and ideally someone to fly with - I am pretty sure that is what kept me to absolute minimum hours.
Fair enough - thanks for the comments thus far.
If I'm able to get away with spending two full weeks training, where should I be looking at?
Assume that I will have had prior access to, and somewhat rudimentary experience on, a flight sim. In relation to this, given that I will be attempting to build some hours on the sim remotely without access to an instructor, what material should I be referring to in order to get myself sufficiently competent with the theory, the plates, etc?
Jersey Aero Club were heavily into IMCR courses at one time - with the advantage of no VAT
For ADF and VOR holds, I have often referred to the link below for some guidance. It written from a FAA perspective but from a practical flying perspective I cant see much wrong with it that couldnt be applied to an IMCr.
SRG1176: UK IMC Rating Skill Test - Examiner's Record (http://www.caa.co.uk/application.aspx?catid=33&pagetype=65&appid=11&mode=detail&id=1314) gives an idea about what will be tested in the air. Note that 'Holding' is only optional but where I fly from, it has certainly not been 'optional', and at Cambridge I have been put into the hold a number of times when doing training or practising.
Personally speaking ADF holding and partial panel exercises are the hardest, mainly because of the very non-preciceness of the instruments, compared to being tested to a level that requires a lot of preciseness. I got my IMCr 7 years ago, and OK I in real life use the GPS for most practical elements of flying, and luckily I havent had to fly just on a partial panel, but I still find them pretty difficult. That said all being well, and if you do a perfect hold (if required), the IMCr flight isnt that hard.
Of course in practice, an ADF hold would always be done on a GPS.