20 Hours of Sim Time for Instrument Students? Well, No

Rule withdrawn after receiving negative comments.

Remember when we made a big deal last month about the FAA permitting more training time in flight simulators to count toward the instrument rating? Well forget about it. The FAA formally withdrew that policy today, and then reinstated the mind-boggling requirement that instrument students wear Foggles or other view-limiting devices while flying on instruments in a simulator.

The reason for the withdrawal? The agency received one negative comment from someone who apparently didn’t like the changes.

The proposal would have allowed instrument students to receive up to 20 hours of dual instrument instruction in an approved advanced aviation training device (AATD). Instead, students may log half that time — no more than 10 hours in a simulator.

“The FAA is withdrawing the direct final rule because the agency received adverse comments to the rule,” according to a notice that appeared today in the Federal Register. “One commenter raised concerns regarding the effectiveness of ATDs for training, suggesting that these devices do not provide appropriate sensory cues or provide a realistic environment. Another commenter believed that the increases in time/percentage of training contained in the direct final rule were too great.”

Proving that one person really can make a diffence, the final rule was withdrawn because of a comment by a CFI who voiced concern that students did not receive adequate “sounds and feel” that he said are “vital to recognzing unusual attitudes.” By rule the FAA must withdraw a direct final regulation if the agency receives negative comments. The FAA received a second negative comment, but the other was not considered becuase it was submitted anonymously. The new rule would have gone into effect later this month had the agency received no negative comments.

The withdrawal, however, doesn’t preclude the agency from crafting similar rules in the future through the NPRM process. For now though, instrument students can count fewer hours of flying in the sim toward their ratings, and the hours they do fly in the sim must be performed wearing Foggles.

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