Is the UK IMC Rating training acceptable towards the FAA IR?

This one has been doing the rounds in the UK pilot community for a few years.

The reality is that huge numbers of UK pilots have followed this route - mostly finishing off in the USA - and had the IMCR training accepted as a full credit. The FARs offer no clarity on this, merely stating that an "authorised instructor" must have done the training, which is pretty obvious really! The phrase "authorised instructor" is not defined in a context helpful to Europe.

There is however an alternative point of view: the FAA IR is an ICAO IR and under ICAO nobody can train for any license or rating unless they hold that license or rating themselves, so one can argue that the instructor who did any training towards the FAA IR must have held an ICAO IR. This is a reasonable prespective, and most would agree that it should prevent an IMCR (only) rated instructor from training directly towards the FAA IR. But does this apply to training received some time ago which had already been formalised into the issuance of the IMC Rating, which is an "instrument rating" in the strict sense of the FARs?

In practice, particularly for anyone finishing off their IR in the USA, this matter is completely moot because the FAA IR dual training requirement is only 15 hours (ICAO IR is only 10, incidentally) and anybody going out to the USA is going to end up flying at least that much before they reach the IR checkride standard. For example, I was a reasonably proficient instrument pilot when I went to the USA but I still did over 20 hours out there, so none of my previous training needed to be admitted. This makes the acceptability of the IMCR training irrelevant.

Another thing worth doing to cover all possible future bases: if, during your IMC Rating training, you are doing specific flights towards the FAA IR (e.g. the 250nm IFR/airways cross-country flight) and getting these annotated in your logbook as meeting specific FAA IR training requirements, make sure these flights are done with an instructor who holds a valid IR. Actually, for the aforementioned airways flight the instructor will need an IR anyway because there is no practical way to meet the FAA requirement in Europe without doing an IFR flight with a Eurocontrol IFR flight plan....

Statements appearing on the websites of certain European FAA training outfits claim that people who used their IMCR training towards the FAA IR have done an illegal checkride and will lose their FAA licenses. This is nonsense. This kind of thing is well within the discretion of the DPE doing the checkride. However, this of course also means that you have to meet his requirements whatever they may be and if he is not happy about something, you just have to go and get it organised... So, get the DPE to check your training logs before going too far down the line to the checkride, and definitely before handing over the checkride fee! And if you come across an outfit whose requirements appear unreasonable, do what you would do in any other area in life: go elsewhere; in practice this means a trip to the USA.


This page last edited 16th January 2009.

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