Instrument Ratings

Approved or non-approved training for your Instrument Rating?

The only difference between approved and non-approved courses for your instrument rating is that an approved course must contain an element of ‘classroom instruction’, which includes our online classes. You are required to log 16 hours of online classroom tuition. This can be achieved by attending a number of our live webinars, or part of a BGS online revision week.

If you are exempt from doing an approved course – for example you are an ex-military pilot, converting an ICAO IR or you are renewing lapsed exam passes – you do not need to attend the revision courses.

Although we have EASA approval to conduct approved Instrument Rating courses, we currently do not offer approved courses containing a dedicated revision course.

How is the Instrument Rating course structured?

Distance learning can progress at your own pace, using the printed manuals and the state-of-the-art computer program ATPdigital which have been designed to split the subjects across two modules; each module leads to a set of exams. Please note that you must pass all exams within 18 months of your first exam sitting.

You have a total of 6 sittings to pass all the exams and no more than 4 attempts at any one subject within those 6 sittings. On a non-approved course you may do all the exams in one sitting; if you are doing the full course (see ‘exemptions’ below) be aware that 7 subjects in one sitting is demanding.

Maths and Physics

Before you start the IR study, there is a module on Maths and Physics. This is a refresher for you if you have not studied these subjects for a while. The Maths and Physics module is conducted in the CBT only and there are no EASA or UK CAA exams associated with it.

Instrument Rating Theory Training

Intrument Rating Subjects

There are 7 subjects in a full IR although you may be exempt two or three subjects (see ‘exemptions’ below).

Module 1 contains:

  • Aircraft General Knowledge – Instrumentation
  • Meteorology
  • Human Performance

Module 2 contains:

  • Radio Navigation
  • Flight Planning and Flight Monitoring
  • Air Law
  • Communications. This subject has two separate exams: VFR Communications and IFR Communications, but we combine them on the course. You will need to sit only the IFR Communications exam.

For students that do not wish to study the full Instrument Rating course, we offer the Competency-based Instrument Rating course (CBIR). Please contact us for more information.


When you have completed each module you may attempt the examinations at a UK CAA Examination Centre. You must register with the CAA, and exams fees are payable direct to the CAA. You could sit your exams with any EASA Aviation Authority.

We are also a UK CAA examination centre, so, subject to availability, you could sit your exams at our training centre immediately after the revision courses.


If you have already been issued with a CPL, you are exempt from Meteorology, Human Performance and Communications

If you are adding an IR to your ATPL(H), you are exempt from doing Instrumentation, Meteorology, Human Performance and Communications.

How long will the Instrument Rating course take to complete?

Your IR theory course with Bristol Groundschool will usually take around four to six months to complete.

Progress is recorded through a series of short quizzes for each lesson (which require 100% to pass), as well as larger progress tests to conclude each significant section. ATPdigital automatically sends us the results and our instructors are available throughout the process to provide all the support you will need.

Visa Requirements for the Instrument Rating

If you are travelling to the UK from outside the EU, please note that Bristol Groundschool courses do not qualify for a student visa. You must therefore ensure that you can gain entry into the UK before applying for the course and exams. For further information on visas, please visit the UK Border Agency website.

IR Distance Learning Course Fees

To register for our IR distance learning courses, simply purchase online. You will have the option of paying for your course online by credit or debit card, by bank transfer, cheque or with a credit card on the telephone. You may pay online in GBP or your own currency; a conversion will be made at checkout. Payment by other methods must be made in GBP. The fees for the various options are calculated before checkout.

* Shipping charges will depend on your location

Once your registration has been processed, your learning materials will be immediately dispatched to your address by courier.