Possession of an instrument rating opens the door to airports when the weather is below basic VFR, provided the aircraft is properly equipped and that someone has a copy of the appropriate instrument approach plate — either electronic or paper — for guidance. Anywhere and in any weather… almost.
There are roughly 40 U.S. airports that demand more than simply an instrument rating and a chart to use them, and the FAA wants pilots to be sure they understand what makes these places special, offering details in the recently published InFo for Operators, 17015. Essentially, these Special Instrument Procedures demand specific crew training and often special equipment on board the airplane.
While these special procedures might look similar to a standard approach plate and may be included in an electronic database aboard many aircraft, “Flightcrews must not request nor accept an Air Traffic Control (ATC) clearance for a Special Instrument Procedure without specific FAA-Flight Standards authorization.” The agency implied instances in which ATC may have offered one of these procedures in error. “These actions introduce a potential adverse safety impact as operators may not have special training and required equipage to safely operate utilizing Special Instrument Procedures.”
Familiar approaches that require special certification are in use at Aspen or Rifle Colorado, Saranac Lake New York, Lebanon Regional New Hampshire and others that can be found on the FAA website.