VFR Revalidation for SEP rating
VFR private pilots normally have to take an hour’s instruction every two years to be allowed to retain their licence privileges. Even airline pilots have to do this separately for smaller aircraft, ensuring their SEP (Single Engine Piston) rating remains current. This isn’t an exam or skill test, although any instructor would be cautious to sign off someone who was thought to be dangerous. In the US, the Flight Review also includes an hour’s ground instruction is also required, helpful to keep up to date with regulatory changes. Often stalls, practice forced landings and glide approaches are flown that would otherwise not form part of a typical pilot’s routine.
IFR Revalidation for EASA IR Rating
European IR pilots also have to undergo an annual check with an IR examiner (not just an instructor). As with a VFR checkout, you are asked to fly in ways you typically wouldn’t such as a hand-flown NDB approach without GPS assistance. The regulators sometimes appear to be torn between wanting the revalidation to be a test and wanting it to include some instruction. While few pilots actively volunteer for extra instruction unless they want to gain additional ratings, the idea of additional refresher instruction seems quite a good one, there is always something to learn.
I normally try to practice beforehand, this year flying a manual NDB and ILS which were definitely rusty. I also have been doing more to understand exactly how and when the GTN650 handles an ILS procedure, automatically switching from satellite to ground aids (GPS to VLOC) as you turn to intercept.
I’d also flown a three legger trip in the club PA28, where we flew up to Hawarden, down to Halfpenny Green and back to Gloucester each taking turns. Although I didn’t fly an approach myself that day, it’s always helpful to watch others do so.
Passed and signed off
Having passed and with the paperwork out of the way, I do plan to fit in another instructional IR flight – this time without the pressure off to achieve a revalidation “tick in the box”, I’ll be in a different frame of mind and undoubtedly learn more.