There are two separate timescales to consider overall – the theory and practical elements.
The Theoretical Knowledge for the CBIR can be studied part time over a period of months, typically sitting the exams at a CAA exam centre in two separate sessions on different days. A reasonable timeframe to allow is six months, although full time intensive study could reduce this to as little as a few weeks. This will vary considerably with each candidate. Scheduling time to sit the exams which are held on specific days during the working week may also extend the timeframe.
Theoretical knowledge for the IR(R) is much simpler, and the written exam can be taken in house during the course.
Practical Flight Training
In the past, UK commercial flight schools have focussed on airline cadets with plenty of time but not a lot of money. A typical IR practical course took 6 weeks full time. In the USA, an experienced PPL can complete an intensive FAA instrument rating course in as little as two weeks. However, intensive means exactly what it says; long hours for multiple days and with no distractions.
For those with no instrument flight experience, Rate One Aviation aims to complete its intensive full-time Instrument Rating course in 15-20 days. This translates into 40-50 hours. Please be aware that some candidates will take longer than this. An IR(R) will take about 7 days; whilst longer than the 5 days often estimated, we aim to teach the core skills to the same standards as the IR. Assume that this will take around 20 hours.
For IR candidates with IFR experience such as the IR(R), it might be possible to shorten these timescales. This largely depends on whether or not the core skills for instrument flight have been acquired and maintained. It is possible to achieve the legal minimum of 10 hours ATO training within 5 days. However, in our experience this is well short of the time required to get most PPL’s to IR test standard. Since the qualification is competency based, timescales and requirements for training vary widely with each individual and there is no set/fixed period that fits all. Nonetheless, it would be sensible to assume that a minimum of 30 hours IR flight training will be required, and possibly significantly more than this. It is important to remember that the standards required to pass the IR skills test are the same whether you are a private pilot with a PPL or a professional pilot with a CPL.
The timescale for a full FAA IR to UK FCL IR conversion with an Initial IR Skill Test will also be very individual, but 3 – 4 hours daily of airborne instruction is realistic and conversion typically takes about 10 hours. There are significant differences between the two skill tests. You can make a rough personal estimate, but by far the best thing to do is to visit us and have an assessment.