Keeping Instrument Current Using a Simulator

Keeping Instrument Current Using a Simulator

FAR 61.57(c) is the FAA regulation that tells us how to maintain our instrument experience in order to fly as pilot in command under IFR. Fortunately, if you can muddle through all of the regulatory language, you’ll see that there are actually many ways to maintain that currency and keep flying in the clouds.

There are six ways you can maintain your instrument experience:

  1. Use of an airplane, power-lift helicopter, or airship
  2. Use of a flight simulator, or flight training device
  3. Use of an aviation training device
  4. Combination of completing instrument experience in an aircraft, flight simulator, flight training device, and aviation training device
  5. Combination of completing instrument experience in a flight simulator or flight training device, and aviation training device
  6. Maintaining instrument recent experience in a glider

As you take a look at FAR 61.57(c), you will see that except for # 3 from above, as long as you have performed the listed requirements within 6 calendars months, you are good to go as PIC. Maintaining your instrument experience by method #3 is a bit different. If you choose to maintain instrument currency solely from an aviation training device, you must have performed the listed requirements within 2 calendar months.

The use of “just” an aviation training device does have some different requirements. With this method you’ll need to perform:

  • three hours of instrument experience
  • holding procedures
  • six instrument approaches
  • two unusual attitude recoveries while in a descending, Vne airspeed condition and two unusual attitude recoveries in an ascending stall speed condition
  • interception and course tracking with navigation systems

However, if you’d like to use an ATD in combination with an airplane to maintain instrument experience, you must complete all of the tasks listed for both an airplane [FAR 61.57(c)(4)(i)]  and an ATD [FAR 61.57(c)(4)(iii)]. You would now have a six month window instead of just two months.

Scenario 1 –

You last performed all of the required tasks of FAR 61.57(c)(3) in an ATD on January 5, 2016.

If you make an IFR flight on March 30, you are still current and able to do so.

You can’t make an IFR flight on April 1 because you are no longer current and will need to meet instrument experience in one of the 6 ways listed in FAR 61.57(c).

If you have done nothing to maintain your instrument experience since January 5, beginning on October 1, you will now have to successfully complete an Instrument Proficiency Check to reestablish your instrument currency.

Scenario  2– 

You last performed all of the required tasks of FAR 61.57(c)(3) in an ATD on January 5, 2016.

You make several IFR flights between January 6 and March 30. During these flights you fly 6 approaches in actual IMC.

Since you met the requirements of FAR 61.57(c) in an airplane, you’re now current until August 1, 2016.

 *Note: On May 12, 2016, the FAA released a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) with a variety of changes to Part 61. A prominent change proposed would allow the use of an aviation training device (ATD) to meet instrument recency requirements that better align with those completed in an aircraft. We are hopeful that this rule will take effect soon and will certainly update this blog post when it does! You can read more information about the NPRM here. 

Keeping Instrument Current Using a Simulator

Understanding ATDs
Understanding ATDs