Here is a question from a new CFI concerning practicing approaches with a student pilot:
I am a new CFI-A, and currently finishing up one of my first students. While just buzzing around with the student under the hood performing unusual attitudes, climbs/ descents and turns, I would like to introduce to my student a little bit of the instrument approach procedures. To me it seems a little bit better with “If you enter IMC while VFR, here is how you can get out…” Can I do this as just a CFI-A and not a CFII-A?
This is a great question, and one that I’m sure a lot of newly minted CFIs have wondered. There are actually two different approaches to this question. First is the legal answer (what can you do) and second is the prudent answer (what should you do…IMHO).
According to 61.109 (Aeronautical Experience) Private Pilot applicants are required to have 3 hours training of simulated instrument training. Here is the current wording:
3 hours of flight training in a single-engine airplane on the control and maneuvering of an airplane solely by reference to instruments, including straight and level flight, constant airspeed climbs and descents, turns to a heading, recovery from unusual flight attitudes, radio communications, and the use of navigation systems/facilities and radar services appropriate to instrument flight;
While it doesn’t specifically say “instrument approaches”, I think most people would consider an instrument approach procedure to be practicing the use of a navigation system or facility. Also, while you are receiving vectors for an approach, you would be reviewing “radar services” right?
The other regulation to consider is the flight instructor privileges and limitations. For this, we look at 61.195 subparagraph (c) which specifies when a CFI must have a instrument rating (on the flight instructor certificate):
(c) Instrument Rating. A flight instructor who provides instrument flight training for the issuance of an instrument rating or a type rating not limited to VFR must hold an instrument rating on his or her flight instructor certificate and pilot certificate that is appropriate to the category and class of aircraft in which instrument training is being provided.
So as long as the instrument training you are providing is not for the issuance of instrument rating, then yes, I believe you could practice instrument approach procedures with your student pilot. But should you?
I would highly suggest that you not practice approaches with a student pilot. And here is my reasoning:
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Inadvertent IFR or VFR into IMC accidents are still a huge problem area for General Aviation as the current AOPA Nall report indicates. (see chart) The solution however isn’t found by introducing primary students to complicated approach procedures. The solution is teaching students 1) how to avoid getting into this situation altogether and b) how to overcome disorientation, maintain aircraft control and get the assistance from ATC that they need to find VMC conditions.
Sudden fear and panic is the feeling that will grip your student if they accidentally encounter IMC during a flight. It is imperative that your student know how to maintain positive control and how to request assistance from ATC.
And that’s the other thing, if ATC is contacted by a VFR only pilot who is stuck in accidental IMC, ATC is not going to entertain the thought of that student shooting an approach (unless absolutely necessary and even then probably a radar approach). ATCs’ focus and task will be on getting that pilot back to VMC conditions so that the pilot can visually acquire a airport and land.
I would also be nervous about introducing this to my student for fear that they might use this knowledge to overestimate their own ability which could lead to a false sense of confidence. I could just hear my student thinking, “Weather isn’t that great at my destination, but Ill be fine if does deteriorates because I know that if I really really had too, I could do an instrument approach.”
Again, I would suggest using the required 3 hours with your student to thoroughly cover the basics of instrument flight. Make sure they know and understand that maintaining aircraft control is critical and that ATC is there to help steer the pilot back to VFR conditions.