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12 Answers

What aircraft instruments are needed for a private pilot airplane single engine certificate?

Asked by: 5153 views
Private Pilot

According to this discussion thread, Light Sport Aircraft (LSA), Kent mentioned an airplane that is not fully IFR qualified but has enough instruments to pass the test is required.  I found the remark interesting as I've never thought about it.   I have a strong idea of what the minimum instruments are but would like your thoughts on the matter.

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12 Answers

  1. Kent Shook on Jan 29, 2011

    Since I opened that can of worms, let me try to answer it.
    The Private Pilot PTS states that the aircraft provided for the test must “be capable of performing all AREAS OF OPERATION appropriate to the rating sought and have no operating limitations, which prohibit its use in any of the AREAS OF OPERATION, required for the practical test.” In this case, we’re concerned with Area of Operation IX, Basic Instrument Maneuvers. The maneuvers are straight and level flight, constant airspeed climbs and descents, turns to headings, recoveries from unusual attitudes, and radio navigation, communications, and radar services.
    Already, it’s pretty clear that a stock J-3 ain’t gonna cut it. The PTS also specifically mentions “attitude instrument flying.” I would say right off the bat that without looking anywhere but the PTS we know that we’re going to need an attitude indicator, a Com radio, and a Nav (VOR) radio or ADF.
    Looking at the FAA Instrument Flying Handbook’s descriptions of how to fly the relevant maneuvers, it looks like they would require the follwing (in addition to the required VFR instruments): Attitude indicator, altimeter, turn coordinator, heading indicator… Hey, wait a minute! This is starting to sound just like FAR 91.205(d)!
    I would suggest that for the private ride, everything listed in 91.205(d) be present, with the exception of the clock (none of the Private maneuvers are timed).

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  2. Kent Shook on Jan 29, 2011

    By the way, something that’s similar to this question is the use of non-IFR aircraft not only for the Private, but for the Instrument rating. For example, the Diamond DA20 is not IFR certified (due to lack of any lightning protection), but it has all of the required instruments and can be used for the Private checkride.
    What I did not know until recently is that ALL instrument training and the Instrument checkride can be done in a DA20 or other non-IFR-certified bird! And yes, that includes the long cross country which must be flown under IFR! I did not think it was allowable to file IFR in an airplane that’s not IFR certified, but for training purposes, the FAA has decreed that it can be done, provided you do not fly into IMC. Check FAA 8900.1, Volume 5, Chapter 2, Section 9, subsection 5-439A:

    5-439      USE OF AIRCRAFT NOT APPROVED FOR IFR OPERATIONS UNDER ITS TYPE CERTIFICATE FOR INSTRUMENT TRAINING AND/OR AIRMAN CERTIFICATION TESTING.The following paragraphs are intended to clarify the use of an aircraft not approved for IFR operations under its type certificate for instrument flight training and/or airman certification testing.
    A.    IFR Training in Visual Meteorological Conditions (VMC). Instrument flight training may be conducted during VMC in any aircraft that meets the equipment requirements of part 91, §§ 91.109, 91.205, and, for an airplane operated in controlled airspace under the IFR system, §§ 91.411 and 91.413. An aircraft may be operated on an IFR flight plan under IFR in VMC, provided the PIC is properly certificated to operate the aircraft under IFR. However, if the aircraft is not approved for IFR operations under its type certificate, or if the appropriate instruments and equipment are not installed or are not operative, operations in Instrument Meteorological Conditions (IMC) are prohibited. The PIC of such an aircraft must cancel the IFR flight plan in use and avoid flight into IMC.

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  3. MaggotCFII on Jan 29, 2011

    Did some digging the the DPE Handbook
    and found at page 7-26, 13. Aircraft Equipement – 13. Aircraft Equipment. Except as provided by § 61.45(b)(2), an aircraft furnished for a practical test by an applicant must have the equipment required to accomplish each Area of Operation on the practical test. The applicant may need to use two or more aircraft to accomplish all of the practical test requirements (for simulated instrument flight, see the additional requirements of § 61.45(e)(2)).
    The Private Pilot practical test is a VFR event.  Add to Airspeed, Altimeter, Magnetic Compass and Tach –  a “Turn Coordinator/Turn and Bank/Slip-Skid Indicator” and you then the minimum you need for the Basic Instrument Maneuvers in the PTS.
    A/K/A as “Needle – Ball and Airspeed” from the past.
    A/K/A “Center to Ball – Level the Wings – Stop the Aitimeter  – Adjust the Power – Fix the Airspeed”  And there really is no sequence, because every thing happens at once.
    Thoughts – a CFI should introduce the student to this sort of partial panel just in case the vacuum system fails in inadvertent IFR – a reach I know.  But when the AI rolls over and the DG/HI starts spinning out of control – it can freak out a student in the best of VFR.
    Great question!

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  4. Wesley Beard on Jan 29, 2011

    The PTS has listed two references for IX.  Basic Instrument Maneuvers

    Airplane Flying Handbook
    Instrument Flying Handbook

    Each of those references shows the six pack instruments and how to fly the maneuver.  However, the Private Pilot license is a VFR only license so the aircraft only needs 91.205(b) VFR Instruments when they get on their own.  That is an aircraft without an attitude indicator, heading indicator, vertical speed indicator and turn coordinator / turn and slip indicator.  It leaves only the airspeed indicator, altimeter and a magnetic compass. 
    Each of the manuevers listed can be flown with just the 91.205(b) instruments but it’s not easy even difficlut for an instrument rated pilot let alone a student pilot trying to learn to fly.  I can’t seem to find a definite answer to this question on the FAA website.

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  5. James MacGregor CFI on Jan 30, 2011

    So you can’t do instrument flying with a compass, alt, ball and needle and a airspeed?

    Add a handheld navcomm to the mix and you could do your checkride in a J3 (or as was my case in an Aeronca).

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  6. Wesley Beard on Feb 02, 2011

    I emailed a DPE friend on mine and this is what he had to say about the question.
    “While possible, I suppose, it is highly unlikely that the student pilot is going to be able to properly perform all 6 tasks in the  PTS,  Area of Operation IX. without the 6 pack and a nav radio.   Perhaps it is time for that student to be introduced to the wonderful world of C-152 or DA-20″

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  7. Jeff on Feb 19, 2011

    Still confused about this section from 8900.1, specifically the last sentence: However, if the aircraft is not approved for IFR operations under its type certificate, or if the appropriate instruments and equipment are not installed or are not operative, operations in Instrument Meteorological Conditions (IMC) are prohibited. The PIC of such an aircraft must cancel the IFR flight plan in use and avoid flight into IMC.
    I too am about to start IR training in a DA-20. The flight school also has a DA-40 which is IFR-certified. My CFII said that we can do all of our training in the DA-20 then use the DA-40 for the checkride because the 20 is not IFR-certified. I’ve flown the 40 several times and am comfortable with it, but after doing all of my training in the 20 and getting used to flight characteristics, airspeed and power settings, etc. I’m a little concerned about having to take a test in a “foreign” airplane. (From a practical standpoint I know that an IR allows a pilot to hop in and fly any aircraft regardless of familiarity so I’m only asking for the purposes of this question and testing).
    Anyhow, that last sentence seems to imply that the IFR flight plan must be canceled even if in VMC even though 2 sentences above states it’s ok as long as the PIC is properly IR certified.
    From a practical matter, I’m guess that because the GPS is VFR-only and there is no DME or ADF in the plane then the two non-precision approaches need to be a VOR and LOC, correct?
    Thank you all for the input so far….great board!

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  8. Kent Shook on Feb 19, 2011

    I take that sentence to mean that if you are about to fly into IMC due to your clearance, and you can’t get an amended clearance to keep you in VMC, that you’ll have to cancel IFR so that you can stay in VMC.
    Because of the quoted piece of the 8900.1 that I posted above, you CAN take your IFR checkride in the DA20. I would also not recommend switching airplanes for a checkride.

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  9. Jeff on Feb 19, 2011

    Hi Kent,
    Thank you for your reply. I agree with your interpretation as well. I really like the instructor at this FBO and I’m looking forward to this discussion. I certainly don’t want to him to take it as me “correcting” him, but I think he might like to look into it as he (and the FBO) may be losing potential business by turing IR students away from the 20, especially because 40 is just too expensive per hour for training in my opinion.
    Thanks again!

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  10. Andy Dougherty on Feb 07, 2013

    I own A PA-18 Super Cub 160 it only has basic instruments compass ,ALT,VSI,ASI,turn coordinator standard equipment to fly can I do my checkride with this Airplane and if not will A garmin 296 GPS work if installed in my super cub to get me through the checkride this is why I purchased it anywa s Because it has been flown since 1953 this way and this is what I was taught to fly in

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  11. Lee on Jun 24, 2013

    I’m wondering the same thing Andy. Trying to get my ppl in a super d without an attitude gyro. Did you find out if thst is possible

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  12. bill on Oct 25, 2013

    I am an instrument, multi engine instructor and my DPE says that he will check ride a PP applicant in a plane that has only the 91.205 (b) but he/she will have to demonstrate the maneuvers in the PTS for flight by reference to instruments. I had a student last year that bought a C 120 with a radio for com and nav, needle and ball, airspeed, altimeter and VSI. He did his 3 hours under the hood and learned all the PTS maneuvers partial panel so it is possible. If he can control the plane partial panel surely he could with an AI. I was suprised to learn in 8900.1 that training and a check ride can be conducted while filed IFR but you just can’t go IMC. I was taught different than that. So, you guys, you can get a PPL in a minimum equipped plane but you will have to demonstrate navigation, constant speed climbs and descents and unusual attitudes (the tough part) under the hood as per the PTS.

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