Instrument Rating Theory Training

Instrument Rating (IR) Course

Distance Learning Instrument Rating Theory Course

Our approved Instrument Rating theory course is available for fixed-wing (aeroplane) and helicopter pilots.

Bristol Groundschoool also offers a theory course for Basic Instrument Rating (BIR) and Competency-Based Instrument Rating (CB-IR). If you are unsure which course you need, read our guide on explaining IR courses.

Online Instrument Rating (IR) Theory with Bristol Groundschool

ATPL Bristol Groundschool software ATPdigital

With our distance learning courses, you can progress at your own pace, using our state-of-the-art computer program, ATPdigital, which has been designed to split the subjects across two modules; each module leads to a set of exams.

ATPdigital breaks your course into bitesize stages, guiding you through your studies with interactive diagrams, animations, and explainers, concluding each stage of your learning with a progress test.

In addition to ATPdigital, our IR courses also include a free 12 month subscription to BGSonline question bank to help you revise for your exams.

Learn from anywhere in the world, at your own pace.

Key features of our Instrument Rating (IR) courses

ATPdigital: pioneering flight theory training software

Learning is more memorable when the course materials are engaging.

That’s why we pioneered a computer-based training system called ATPdigital: the first software of its kind in the industry.

It breaks your course into bitesize stages, guiding you through your studies with interactive diagrams, animations, and explainers.

Pass quizzes at the end of each section to progress with your studies. Watch your knowledge grow with a dashboard overview of your learning.

ATPdigital is available for Windows and Mac OS PCs and laptops. There’s also an iOS app available for iPad.

Once installed the software can also be used offline allowing you to study from any location with no internet connection.

ATPdigital also incorporates the same question bank as BGSonline, enabling you to carry out practice exams if you do not have access to the internet.

Revision Weeks with our Expert Instructors

BGS Webinar Library for Instrument Rating courses
BGS Webinars on PC and Tablet

As part of an approved course, you’ll be required to log 16 hours of online tuition for the IR course. This can be met by attending two days of one of our ATPL revision courses.

Our revision courses are delivered at ATPL level, so they may include some content not relevant to the IR syllabus, but your course materials are IR-specific.

The online revision weeks are interactive, so you’ll be able to ask the instructor questions as you go along.

Free 12 Month Subscription to BGSonline Question Bank

Computer displaying Instrument Rating questions on BGSonlineAs a student studying with Bristol Groundschool, you will receive twelve months of access to BGSonline: a regularly updated database of exam-style questions.

With instant answers and detailed explanations, it’s the perfect resource for testing your knowledge and preparing for your exams.

Filter questions by topic or revisit questions you’ve got wrong in the past to make your learning targeted and effective.

Printed Training Manuals – Available as an Optional Extra

As well as our online learning materials and computer software, we can provide you with a complete set of printed manuals for your IR course.

Manuals are available to purchase either as a complete set or by subject.

IR Manuals


How is an Instrument Rating theory course structured?

You have a total of 6 sittings to pass all the exams and no more than 4 attempts at any one subject, you need to pass all exams within 18 months from the date of your first sitting.

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 Subjects and Exams

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
  • Human Performance
  • Radio Navigation

Module 2 contains:

  • Air Law
  • Flight Planning and Monitoring
  • Meteorology
  • Communications

When you have completed each module you may attempt the examinations at a UK CAA or EASA Examination Centre depending on what licence you are looking to achieve.

You must register with your chosen authority once you are ready to book the exams, fees are payable at the time of booking. You could sit your exams with any EASA  Authority if you are aiming for an EASA licence.

Bristol Groundschool is a UK CAA  and an EASA (Austro Control) examination centre so, subject to availability, you could sit your exams at our examination centre.



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*.

*  Prior to the introduction of the 2020 exams, you would have been exempted only 091 VFR Communications.  EASA are clear that the exemption now applies to 090 Communications.  However, the UK CAA advice is ambiguous. We are seeking clarification of this point but, until we have an answer, if you hold a UK CPL or ATPL(H) and are seeking to add an IR to your rating, we recommend that you ask the CAA for advice.


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 depending on your personal circumstance.

ATPdigtal records your progress with a series of short quizzes at the end of each lesson (which require 100% to pass), as well as larger progress tests to conclude each topic. ATPdigital automatically sends us the results and our instructors are available throughout the process to provide all the support you will need.


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, or with a 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.

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