The European Aviation Safety Agency has just published a proposed rule creating a simpler instrument rating (IR) aimed at encouraging private pilots to win the qualification, and a new full IR entailing less theoretical knowledge but the same flying test.
EASA says that by reducing the costs for obtaining an IR, it expects more European pilots to acquire such a rating and so the skill base will be widened, bringing safety and economic advantages. "A high, uniform level of safety is ensured by requiring the applicants to pass exactly the same skill test as established already for the IR in Part FCL."
The all-new proposed qualification is called the "en-route instrument rating" (EIR). This would be "an extension of the training and the privileges of the PPL or the CPL", says EASA, referring to a visual flight rules (VFR)-rated CPL holder.
The EIR will confer the privilege to conduct flights under instrument flight rules (IFR) and in instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) in the en-route phase of flight. Put simply, the EIR pilot must not only take off in VMC, but must also ensure that the approach and landing will be done under VFR.
EASA says the training "will focus on the skills to fly an aeroplane under IFR and in IMC in the en-route phase, but will also include some emergency approaches and landing exercises, as well as flights in controlled airspace under IFR with a high density of traffic". The training course will consist of "at least 15 hours of flight time by reference to instruments", it adds. At least 10 hours of the required instrument flight instruction time would have to be completed in an approved training organisation.
A third new rating will allow glider pilots to fly in cloud in suitable airspace.
The impetus for the new ratings has come from the existence of the IMC rating in the UK, and a cloud flying rating for sailplane pilots in several European states, plus EASA's wish to widen the pilot skill base. A common form of general aviation fatal accident has always been pilots continuing a flight into unexpectedly deteriorating weather when they do not have the skills for IMC flight.