An IR does not demand exceptional technical skills or hand eye co-ordination. However, it is rightly thought of as the most difficult qualification a pilot will acquire during their career. It demands the right attitude, willingness to learn, a determination to focus and succeed coupled with an ability to accept constructive criticism. Rate One Aviation offers courses that are tailored to the needs of customers who understand this, and who value their own time. We make significant efforts to deliver on our promises and for this to work, there is an implicit bargain. If you agree to learn checklists and speeds then we expect you to be able to fire them back without hesitation. If you don’t get around to achieving this yourself, at zero cost, then we will teach you but you will incur additional costs and spend more time than might have been planned. If you arrive for an intensive period of flying and then spend every spare moment running your business and private life through your iPad or mobile then you will not achieve the maximum rate of progress possible. Again we will help, but you can expect it to take longer and cost more to reach the required standard.
If you have significant experience prior to the course this is good, but can bring its own problems. Some pilots may have learned to use that experience to overcome the effect of poor basic techniques. This will not work during the skill test and a little gentle re-education may be required. Where it is possible to be flexible and accommodate personal preferences we do so, but if you want to get the best value from the course you need to focus your energies on understanding what is required to pass the IR flight test, and then delivering it.
An IR in week
Recently we had a candidate who gained his IR in seven days with Rate One, really only five days as two were lost due to external factors. Rob (not his real name) is a fairly low hour PPL with a share in very well-equipped group owned turbo Arrow. He had made good use of his PPL and IMC rating with several long trips VFR trips into Europe. He did some local training with a competent IR instructor. He had put real effort into knowing his (quite complex) avionics, and came to us needing the minimum 10 hours training in an ATO. Rob flew with two ROA instructors who together have almost a century of flying experience (!) Both as it happens are also examiners, but we never mix instructing and examining. One day was lost due to severe weather but this was taken up with a review of some pertinent theory. The initial test was cancelled due to the destination ILS being unserviceable, but the CAA allocated IR examiner made himself available the next day.
Rob is fairly young which is an advantage. He helped himself by really studying the material ROA provided in advance. He stayed locally in a B&B which is within walking distance (most days we collected and delivered him). This enabled him to really concentrate on his IR. His aircraft group members were supportive so there were no aircraft availability or configuration issues. The aircraft documents, insurance and databases were all in good order. In such a short time it is not realistic for a candidate to learn the ROA checks and procedures as would be the case if full course was flown with us. Rob had his own checks which were not quite as complete and thorough as we would like but they were acceptable with only a couple of unhelpful habits that had to be unlearned. One was interesting and illustrates how small habits can generate significant difficulties. Rob had been taught to keep his hand on the gear lever until he saw three greens. It is good practice to confirm that any action has produced the desired outcome. However, when configuring for an ILS all the required actions – gear, flaps, mixture and prop forward – need to be taken promptly just before intercepting the ILS glideslope. The few seconds delay caused by holding the gear lever meant that every ILS descent was starting late with a fly down indication already visible.
Can every candidate expect this kind of near perfect training experience? Of course not. Many have had poor training, especially for the IMC rating. Most are older, perhaps quite a lot older. Few put the effort they should into preparation. This means there are often deficiencies to rectify before we can really move people forward to skill test proficiency standard. Almost everyone can get the rating in the end. The take away is that except for the theory knowledge which is excessive and a hurdle that simply has to be overcome, the CBIR is as flexible and achievable as it could possibly be, given that it allows pilots to fly worldwide in demanding weather in all classes of airspace.