Why do you even have an instrument rating?


Why do you even have an instrument rating? ~Guest Blogger Aaron Dabney

The new CFI, a client of mine, had just explained to the newly-minted instrument pilot that the proposed flight was below his personal minimums.  That's the question he got in response.  After a moment's silent gratitude that I'd had nothing to do with the instrument pilot's training, I told the CFI over the phone he was doing exactly the right thing.

The regulations, it turns out, are pretty permissive.  Hand-fly an approach to 200 AGL?  Legal.  Fly with a CFI for exactly 1.0 every 24 months?  Legal.  Plan on coasting into town with 30 minutes' fuel?  Legal. 

In every situation where there's a statutory minimum, there is an operation, an airplane, and most importantly, a pilot where flying to minimums is a low risk.  That doesn't mean it has to be the case with you or your students.

The FAA provides the absolute minimum.  They identify where the legal extent of the leash is located.  It's up to us to add the common sense and build in our own margins, and the accident rate in Part 91 flying tells us we still have a long ways to go.

The attitudes we impart in our students about personal minimums are one of the most crucial parts of our job.  We need to bring them up constantly, be a sounding board as the student is developing them, present scenarios that test the students' adherence to them, and robustly validating students when they make the right choice. 

Nothing in achieving utility from any certificate or rating demands that we fly to minimums.  We need to make sure we're imparting that they are just that...minimums.  Not a dare.


Aaron Dabney NAFI BODAaron Dabney, NAFI MCFI
NAFI Board-member
Owner of Waco Flight Training
NAFI #27887






Blogs are intended for educational purposes only and do not replace independent, professional judgment. Statements of fact and opinions expressed are those of the author individually and, unless expressly stated to the contrary, are not the opinions or position of the National Association of Flight Instructors. NAFI does not endorse or approve, and assumes no responsibility for, the content, accuracy or completeness of the information presented. Readers should note content may appear in various media, including print, email, enews without further notice.
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