What is an Instrument Rating Course?

instrument rating course(IR)In short, an instrument rating course is training for an instrument rating (IR), which is an addition to a licence that affords certain additional privileges to the licence holder.  All instrument ratings permit the holder to plan and fly in Instrument Meteorological Conditions (weather conditions that require pilots to fly primarily by reference to instruments) and under Instrument Flight Rules.  

To different degrees, they permit the holder to operate within controlled airspace.


What are the requirements for studying for an Instrument Rating course?

An ATPL(A) or MPL holder must have a valid IR for the licence to be valid.  For other licences, the IR is optional; an IR may be applied to a PPL(A), PPL(H), CPL(A), CPL(H) or ATPL(H).  IRs may not be applied to other licences such as LAPL. 


What are the Instrument Rating Subjects?

There are 7 subjects in a full IR or CB-IR:

Module 1 contains:

  • Aircraft General Knowledge – Instrumentation
  • Meteorology
  • Human Performance

Module 2 contains:

  • Radio Navigation
  • Flight Planning and Flight Monitoring
  • Air Law
  • Communications*

*  Prior to the introduction of the 2020 syllabus, the subject 090 Communications was examined in two separate exams: 091 VFR Communications and 092 IFR Communications, and IR candidates were required to sit only the latter. However, they are now combined in a single exam.


How is our Instrument Rating theory course structured?

Training for the Instrument Rating (IR) or Competency Based IR (CB-IR) is conducted in a similar manner to our ATPL and CPL courses.  With distance learning 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. Please note that you must pass all exams within 18 months of your first exam sitting.

There are a total of 6 sittings to pass all the exams and no more than 4 attempts at any one subject within those 6 sittings. When studying a non-approved course you may do all the exams in one sitting; if you are doing the full course be aware that 7 subjects in one sitting is demanding.


How long will an Instrument Rating course take to complete?

An IR theory course with Bristol Groundschool will usually take around four to six months to complete depending on the amount of subjects you are required to study and the hours that you can commit to your distance learning studies. 

Your progress is recorded by short quizzes for each lesson (which require 100% to pass), and larger progress tests (75% pass mark). ATPdigital automatically sends us the results and our instructors are available throughout the process to provide all the support you will need.


Hopefully, this short guide has given you an idea about what an Instrument Rating course is and what it involves. If you still have questions about Instrument Rating courses, please have a look at our Instrument Ratings Explained guide for a more detailed look at IR and CB-IR courses, or contact our Training Advisor, to discuss your training needs.

Instrument Rating Explained Guide      Contact Us       IR & CB-IR Theory Courses


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