Regular 6-month instrument proficiency (formerly instrument Proficiency) checks are an excellent way to stay current. Not only will an IPC help you improve and/or regain your instrument currency, but the instrument proficiency check will be a challenge which helps you understand and improve your current level of ability.
14 CFR Section 61.57(e)(2) notes the conditions under which an instrument Proficiency check must be obtained, but does not define the meaning of this check or suggest its content. Accordingly, pilots and CFIs may wish to use the following guidance in complying with this requirement. a. 14 CFR Section 61.57(e)(2) states that the Proficiency check must be given by an FAA inspector, a member of the armed forces of the United States authorized to conduct flight tests, an FAA-approved check pilot, or a certificated instrument flight instructor. If given by a CFI in a single-engine airplane, the CFI should hold an instrument airplane rating on his or her instructor certificate. If given in a multiengine airplane, the CFI should hold both instrument airplane and airplane multiengine ratings on his or her instructor certificate. A check in a helicopter should be given by a CFI holding an instrument helicopter rating on his or her instructor certificate. These prerequisites are necessary to conform to the requirements of 14 CFR Sections 61.193(a) and 61.195(b), and to ensure that the CFI has qualifications appropriate to the category and class of aircraft. For example, a comprehensive instrument Proficiency check in a multiengine airplane should require demonstration of engine-out procedures, which would necessitate a CFI with both multiengine and instrument ratings on his or her instructor certificate.
b. In addition to having the appropriate instructor ratings, the CFI should consider other factors relating to his or her ability to conduct an instrument Proficiency check. These include the factors discussed for the flight review as well as the instructors own instrument currency.
c. Part or all of the check may be conducted in a simulator or an approved ground trainer that meets the requirements of 14 CFR Section 141.41(a)(2). If given in a ground trainer, that trainer must be specifically approved for such use, in writing, by the FAA Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) having jurisdiction over the geographic area where the ground trainer is used. Pilots or CFIs contemplating use of such a device for an instrument Proficiency check should contact their local FSDOs.
d. Precheck Considerations. The CFI should structure an instrument Proficiency check in a manner similar to that of the flight review, tailoring the check to the needs of the pilot, reaching mutual agreement on the scope of the check, and developing a plan for accomplishing it.
(1) The CFI and pilot should discuss the operating conditions under which the check will be conducted. If the check is conducted in an airplane, the check may be under VFR or IFR in simulated instrument conditions, or it may be under IFR in actual instrument conditions. If the check is conducted under IFR, whether conditions are simulated or actual, the CFI should ensure that the aircraft meets all 14 CFR Part 91 requirements for operating under IFR. Additionally, if the pilot receiving the check is no longer current under IFR, the CFI should be aware that he or she will be the pilot in command during the flight and must meet IFR currency requirements. The CFI should also discuss crewmember roles and responsibilities with the pilot.
(2) Since no standards have been established for satisfactory completion of an instrument check, the CFI and the pilot should discuss the standards under which successful completion will be measured. The primary reference for this discussion should be the instrument rating PTS.
(3) Following completion of the discussion, the CFI should prepare a plan for conducting the check. The plan should list the anticipated sequence in which the procedures will occur and the location where they will be performed. A sample plan for conducting the Proficiency check is contained in Appendix 3.
a. The CFI should determine that the pilot has adequate knowledge and understanding of 14 CFR Part 91, especially Subpart B, Instrument Flight Rules; Subpart C, Equipment, Instrument, and Certificate Requirements; and Subpart E, Maintenance, Preventive Maintenance, and Alterations.
b. Additionally, the CFI should determine that the pilot has adequate knowledge and understanding of the following areas:
(1) Instrument en route and approach chart interpretation, including Standard Instrument Departures (SID) and Standard Terminal Arrival Routes (STAR).
(2) Obtaining and analyzing weather information, including knowledge of hazardous weather phenomena.
(3) Preflight planning, including aircraft performance data, application of Notices to Airmen (NOTAM) information, fuel requirements, alternate requirements, and use of appropriate FAA publications such as the Airport/Facility Directory.
(4) Aircraft systems related to IFR operations, including appropriate operating methods, limitations, and emergency procedures due to equipment failure.
(5) Aircraft flight instruments and navigation equipment, including characteristics, limitations, operating techniques, and emergency procedures due to malfunction or failure, such as lost communications procedures.
(6) Determining the airworthiness status of the aircraft for instrument flight, including required inspections and documents.
(7) Air Traffic Control (ATC) procedures pertinent to flight under IFR with emphasis on elements of ATC clearances and pilot/controller responsibilities.
c. Following discussion of the above subjects, the CFI should ask the pilot to prepare for the skill portion of the Proficiency check by completing the necessary flight planning, obtaining current weather data, filing a flight plan, and conducting the preflight inspection. In order to more fully evaluate the pilots skills under normal operating conditions, the CFI may wish to have the pilot conduct a short IFR cross-country flight in conjunction with the rest of the Proficiency check.
a. The maneuvers and procedures selected for the instrument Proficiency check should be comprehensive enough to enable the CFI to determine that the pilot can safely operate under IFR in a broad range of conditions appropriate to the aircraft flown and the ATC environment selected. Proper adherence to ATC clearances should be especially emphasized.
b. Regardless of the maneuvers and procedures selected, the CFI should ensure that the pilot demonstrates satisfactory basic attitude instrument flying skills.
c. For checks conducted in an airplane but not under actual instrument weather conditions, an appropriate view-limiting device should be employed to simulate instrument conditions.
d. As an aid in selecting maneuvers and procedures for the Proficiency check, the CFI may wish to review the list contained in Appendix 3. It must be emphasized that this list should not be considered all-inclusive and is not intended to limit a CFIs discretion in selecting appropriate maneuvers and procedures.
POST CHECK AND
Upon completion of the Proficiency check, the CFI should complete the plan and checklist (if used) and debrief the pilot on the results of the check (satisfactory or unsatisfactory). Regardless of the determination, the CFI should provide the pilot with a comprehensive analysis of his or her performance, including suggestions for improving any weak areas.
a. Unsatisfactory Performance. The CFI should not endorse the pilots logbook to reflect an unsatisfactory Proficiency check, but should sign the logbook to record the instruction given.
b. Satisfactory Performance. The endorsement for a satisfactory Proficiency check should be in accordance with the current issue of AC 61-65. If the sample plan and checklist in Appendix 3 is used, the CFI may wish to retain the plan as a record of the scope and content of the Proficiency check, even though not required by 14 CFR Section 61.189.