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4 Answers

Cross country time during instrument training

Asked by: 3090 views Instrument Rating

I'm getting ready to begin working toward my instrument rating and have about 15hrs of cross country time (needless to say, I haven't flown much since I got my private...). How much should I build before I begin my instrument training? What I would most like to know most is, about how much should I expect to accrue during instrument training?

I know the minimum per the FAR, and understand that there is no one-size-fits-all answer, but an opinion from a pro would be greatly appreciated.

While I'm at it, here's another one: If the 182 is $12/hr more than a 195hp 172, is it worth the added expense and complexity for instrument training? NOTE: my home airport is over 5000MSL, and the density altitude frequently tops 8000.


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4 Answers

  1. Nathan Parker on Sep 08, 2012

    “What I would most like to know most is, about how much should I expect to accrue during instrument training?”

    It depends on the instructor or the curriculum he may be following. It’s also negotiable, if it’s Part 61 training. You surely could find an instructor who would be wiling to incorporate the remainder of your cross country time into your training, if that’s what you wanted to do. I’m not sure that’s best, though. While you do have the potential to get a lot more valuable cross country training, you also gain less proficiency in shooting approaches, since you will spend a lot more time in the enroute phase.

    “If the 182 is $12/hr more than a 195hp 172, is it worth the added expense and complexity for instrument training? ”


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  2. Larry Smith on Sep 08, 2012

    One pertinent question would be has your 15 hours of x/c time occurred “post-private pilot checkride” or are you counting the x/c hours during your training? 14 CFR 61.65(d)(1) specifically states that you must have 50 hours of cross-country flight time as PIC. The “PIC” is the catch, meaning is has to have occurred post private pilot certification.

    I recommend my instrument students relax and enjoy themselves for a bit, accrue 40 hours of x/c time, post-private pilot checkride, then we can incorporate 10 hours of IFR x/c training time in the instrument training which will complete the 50 hour requirement.

    I agree with Nathan in the fact that you need a lot of terminal, instrument approach practice. 10 hours of instrument x/c is plenty in the instrument curriculum.

    As far as the airplane, I wouldn’t pay the extra.

    Larry Smith
    CE500, B757, B767, DC10

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  3. Wes Beard on Sep 08, 2012


    I agree that the word “PIC” is the important word in the regulation. I don’t necessarily agree that infers that the cross country time to be counted has to be post private pilot certificate. Pre-private cross country time with an instructor does not count but solo cross country time working towards the private pilot aeronautical experience does. Reference §61.51(e)(4). A student pilot can log PIC time when they are conducting a solo operation while working towards their private certificate / rating.


    Under Part 61 and less so under Part 141 you can tailor your training course to meet your cross country requirements. There are a lot of basic instrument practice where you will be under the hood learning to control the airplane solely by reference to instruments. On these flights, the instructor can ensure you land at an airport greater than 50NM from your original point of departure. The regulations require a minimum of 40 hours of simulated or actual instrument time so I would have no lower than 30-35 hours of cross country time before starting my training.

    Concerning the 172 or 182… it really depends on what you want to do after you get your rating. If this is a stepping stone to a career as a pilot in aviation, having the high performance time is beneficial and the faster airplane will force you to think faster making it easier for you to transition to faster airplanes later on in your career. If you want the rating for insurance reasons or to take your family on vacations the extran ($12 * 40 = $480) might be worth it to you. It really depends on your situation.

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  4. Earl Kessler on Sep 09, 2012

    First, the 182…I fly out of a 4700′ elevation field. If you pay the extra for the 182, you will get a lot more approaches in during your training. I feel that $12 is a paltry sum compared to the extra advantage of flying a couple more procedures during each session. A 172 is at best anemic at altitude and the 182 can get to IAF altitudes much more efficiently.

    Secondly, I recently had the same situation with another student who had very few cross country hours. We planned each of our flights to cover more than 50 miles to log them as XC time. After a few sessions, I had an opportunity to ferry an LSA plane across the nation and he joined me. We got 36 hours of XC time in his logbook to fulfill the requirement. It made the remainder of his training far more focused on instrument procedures rather than droning along under the foggles to cover miles.

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