Instrument Current? FAA Clarifies Clarification

Whether you’re current for six months or six months PLUS six months is the question. We’ve got the answer.

The FAA has recently issued a clarification of what it originally intended as a clarification of its instrument currency rules and the requirements for needing to complete an instrument proficiency check (IPC) for IFR-rated pilots whose proficiency had expired.

As is to be expected for the FAA (really for any bureaucracy), the regs themselves are tough to grasp without a linguist on retainer, so here’s the translation:

The clarification, issued last year, is the problem. When its authors said that “a pilot who has failed to maintain instrument currency for more than six calendar months may not serve as pilot in command under IFR...until completing an instrument proficiency check,” some interpreted that to mean that when your currency elapsed, it was time for an IPC. This is indeed what it seems to be saying.

As it turns out, that's not what the FAA intended at all. Instead, it said, the system for recurrency remains essentially unchanged. After your currency expires, you have another six months in which to get current again, by jumping through the usual mostly helpful hoops. If you don't do that in six months, then you'd need the IPC, just as it's been for years.

The bad news: none of this changes the requirement for you to do holds.

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Here you go, from our friends at NAFI:

The FAA specifically has indicated that "A pilot whose instrument currency has been lapsed for less than six months may continue to reestablish instrument currency by performing the tasks and maneuvers required in paragraph (c)." Pilots are still considered IFR current if they have completed 6 actual instrument approaches, holding, and tracking procedures within the preceding 6 calendar months. If that has not been completed, they have the next 6 calendar months to complete the same requirements with an approved safety pilot.

Hope this makes it a little less "sadly remiss."