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5 Answers

Instrument Currency

Asked by: 9847 views Instrument Rating

I have a question no the so-called "grace" period for IFR currency (the second six-month window, when you can still get your currency back before taking an IPC but you can't act as PIC under IFR). I don't really know how to phrase this question without making up a very specific hypothetical example.

Let's suppose it's June 15th. In the last six months I've tracked VORs and flown holding patterns in simulated conditions. My most recent six approaches in simulated/actual happened on the following dates:

-December 15th, January 15th, February 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th.

 Therefore, on June 16th, I cannot act as PIC under IFR (I only have 5 approaches in the past six months).

On June 20th, I log one approach in simulated conditions with my instructor onboard. Does that mean my currency is automatically reset (I can act as PIC under IFR) since I have flown six approaches between December 20th and June 20th? If I didn't fly any more approaches, would I go "back into" the grace period on July 16th (since I would have only logged five approaches from January 16th to July 16th).

If this is the case, suppose I don't "reset" my IFR currency any more. Maybe the next approach I fly simulated/actual is on August 16th. Therefore, 2/16, 2/17, 2/18, 6/20, 8/16 are the only approaches that occur for me in a given 6 month window-5 approaches. My thinking is that if I go 6 months without "resetting" my currency (in other words I have 6 straight months where I can never act as PIC in IFR) then I would need the IPC. In my example above, if my grace period restarts on July 16th, I'd need my IPC January 16th the next year.

Does my line of reasoning make sense? Feel free to ask if I can clarify anything. I'm still trying to make sense of the IFR currency rules, hope some of your thoughts can help!


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5 Answers

  1. Wes Beard on Jan 28, 2013

    I think about it like this. If I have six approaches in the preceding six months I am current to fly IFR.

    If I have six approaches in the preceding 12 months but not the last six you can get current by flying the number of approaches to make 6 in the preceding six months.

    If If you do not have 6 approaches logged with the preceding 12 months… Time for an IPC.

    Reading through your scenario it seemed accurate to me.

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  2. Bill Trussell on Jan 28, 2013


    After you read FAR 6157 (c) begin to think of things this way:

    First, everyone who earns an instrument rating starts out “current” after passing the practical test.

    Thereafter, to be current, one must “use” the rating by performing so many tasks such as approaches and holding and course intercept and tracking. If this is not done over the normal course of pilot experience, then flights for the purpose of logging these maneuvers can be done. If, prior to exercising the privileges of an instrument rating you have either accumluated all of the required experience or completed the practical test or IPC in the last 6 months (to the day) you are good to go. If you find you have not met the requirements, you must do so by whatever means you wish that meet the criteria prior to flying under IFR. If that is only one approach, fine. This assumes that you have been current within the last 12 months. If you have not been current within 12 months, then your only other options are a successful practical test, or fly with an instructor and satisfy that instructor that you meet requirements he/she sets for the IPC.

    The intent of the “grace period” is so that you can gain the experience in a measured way inside of 12 months without the need to seek additional instruction. The feeling was, and still is, that outside of 12 months, the lack of recent experience for instrument operations requires some additional safety measures. This is where the instructor comes in.

    If your most recent experience falls outside the 12 month window it is best to seek out an instructor and gain the experience needed to get comfortable again anyway. It is highly likely that, while your scan and ability to multitask will come back fairly quickly, you will likely find yourself grateful sometime during the IPC that you have sought out your instructor for some of his/her time.

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  3. Chris Carlson on Jan 28, 2013

    Seems accurate on everything, excel the ‘calendar month’ is an entire month, so the currency ends at the beginning of the end of the last day of month.

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  4. Best Answer

    John D. Collins on Jan 28, 2013


    You almost have it right, but you are too hard on yourself. In your first scenario, you were current until June 30.

    The regulation reads in part:

    “Within the 6 calendar months preceding the month of the flight, that person performed and logged at least the following tasks and iterations in an airplane”

    On June 16 you are still current, in fact you are current until midnight on June 30. What are the six calendar months “preceding the month of a flight on June 30” or for that matter any day in June. They are (counting backwards) May, April, March, February, January, and December. You have six approaches in that period, in fact, you could have done them all on December 1, and you would still be current on June 30.

    Quoting again from the regulation in part “a person who has failed to meet the instrument experience requirements of paragraph (c) for more than six calendar months may reestablish instrument currency only by completing an instrument proficiency check.”

    If you did not fly any further approaches, July 1 would be the first day you weren’t current. So if you didn’t get yourself current by flying simulated approaches, you would accumulate 6 calendar months since you were last current in July, August, September, October, November, and December. So you could regain currency up until December 31 by flying simulated instrument approaches. On January 1, you will need an IPC to regain currency if you haven’t done so using the simulated instrument approaches in this scenario as you have for more than 6 calender months failed to reestablish instrument currency.

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  5. Grant on Jan 28, 2013

    Props to John D.

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