I suppose it should be called an IR(R) revalidation – the new name for an IMC – but I still can’t quite get used to the term. My IMC rating (Instrument Meteorological Conditions) permits me to fly in cloud in UK airspace including conducting instrument approaches, but not fly in Airways or Class A airspace. This rating has been retained under the EASA scheme for those who already have the qualification, but at the moment, nobody will be able to acquire a new rating for EASA aircraft after April 2014. This has caused more demand in the short term, as pilots seek to gain one before the deadline. In order to remain valid, you have to pass an IR(R) revalidation check with a Flight Examiner at least once every 25 months. This is a separate from the 1 hour instruction required every 2 years to maintain your SEP rating (i.e. be allowed to continue flying VFR), although both can in theory be combined. Since my SEP rating and IMC rating periods alternate one each year, it’s probably no bad thing that I have to fly one hour per year. This revalidation is a formal exam, rather than just an hour’s instruction. It was due before mid-October, having passed the IMC skills test in September 2011. This is different to other countries, where in the USA for example, a PPL with a full Instrument Rating can legally continue to fly without regular checks by an examiner as long as you remain current and have flown a certain number of approaches within the last 6 months. They’d still need a BFR (Bi-annual Flight) with an instructor every 2 years.
Flown in the TB20 from Gloucester with an examiner
I did this with Phil, the CFI of the Cotswold Aero Club, who had also provided the 5 hours differences training when I first joined the TB20 group. We agreed to run through the test, and if I was found deficient, then additional/remedial training would be scheduled until I was up to standard. Since I’d previously completed a successful RNAV approach with him, we only had to do one instrument approach of a different type. The test itself contained all the prescribed components, starting with some NDB tracking after departure. I had to remember to “push the head” and “pull the tail” to cater for the wind drift. We also tracked a VOR, then did some general handling including climbing turns, stalls and recovery from unusual attitudes. Phil simulated vacuum failure by covering up some of the instruments, and there was further general handling and recoveries under partial panel. I had to remember how many seconds to calculate when timing the compass turns (3 degrees per second).
In cloud or not – you can’t really tell with the foggles on
I’m not certain but think we were probably in IMC for some of the test. Apart from being difficult to tell when wearing foggles, you are so focussed on the instruments that you really don’t have time to look out the window even if you could.
ILS and a result
We returned on the ILS (new to Gloucester and the first time I’ve used it), which I captured and flew manually within tolerances. Once the localiser is acquired, there’s no difference from the LNAV GPS approach, but the procedure to acquire the localiser and flightpath flown are far from similar. After removing the foggles on short final to simulate breaking through the cloudbase, and another of my somewhat flat 3-point landings, Phil told me I’d passed without the need further training. Quite a relief – it’s now another 25 months until my next revalidation will be due in 2015. Time today: 0:55 Total PIC: 192:55 Total time: 295:20