Keeping Instrument Current Using a Simulator

2 min read
Feb 5, 2016
Editor's Note: This article was published on February 5, 2016, and updated after the final ruling to NPRM FAA-2016-6142-0001 in 2018.

Over the last 12 months, the FAA has made significant changes to how you can maintain instrument currency. Previously, if you chose to maintain currency by only using an Aviation Training Device (ATD), then you were required to perform the following:

  • three hours of instrument experience
  • holding procedures
  • six instrument approaches
  • two unusual attitude recoveries while in a descending, Vne airspeed condition and two unusual attitude recoveries in an ascending stall speed condition
  • interception and course tracking with navigation systems

On top of that, you had to perform the listed requirements within two calendar months and with a CFII present.

After the June 2018 Final Ruling in favor of NPRM FAA-2016-6142-0001, maintaining instrument currency using an ATD is easier than ever. As of November 26, 2018, the new regulations allow instrument-rated pilots to maintain currency on an ATD if—within six calendar months (instead of two)—they perform the same tasks that are currently required for a plane. The three extra hours of instrument time and the unusual attitude tasks are no longer required. The requirement to have a CFII present also has been removed.

Now, to stay current using an ATD, you simply need to perform the following tasks within six calendar months: 

  • six instrument approaches
  • holding procedures and tasks
  • intercepting and tracking courses through the use of navigational electronic systems

Maintaining currency using an ATD is also an excellent opportunity to practice instrument approaches at your destination airports. If you have a planned flight and you know that IMC are possible, then you can set up the Redbird for conditions similar to what you may encounter. Or, if you want to challenge yourself while receiving currency credit, you can set up the Redbird based on scenarios from a magazine or try to recreate an incident from the NTSB accident database.

Maintaining your instrument currency no longer has to be expensive or mundane. There’s no need to wait for a cloudy day to shoot a couple of last-minute approaches. There’s also no need to worry about coordinating your schedule with a trusted safety pilot. With a Redbird ATD and the regulation changes from 2018, you can continue to learn, plan, and prepare all while staying current.

Keeping Instrument Current Using a Simulator