Darren Smith, Flight Instructor
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Instrument Proficiency Check (IPC)
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The Instrument Proficiency Check is structured in a manner similar to the flight review, tailoring the check to the needs of the pilot, but with a tighter structure.   The primary reference for this discussion should be the instrument rating PTS.  The PTS dictates the format of the IPC, unlike the Flight Review (BFR).

The plan should list the anticipated sequence in which the procedures will occur and the location where they will be performed. An IPC Checkout Form is provided for your review prior to the Instrument Proficiency Check.

Ground Portion

  • The CFI should determine that the pilot has adequate knowledge and understanding of 14 CFR Part 91, especially Subpart B, Instrument Flight Rules; Subpart C, Equipment, Instrument, and Certificate Requirements; and Subpart E, Maintenance, Preventive Maintenance, and Alterations.
Additionally, the CFI should determine that the pilot has adequate knowledge and understanding of the following areas:
  • (1) Instrument en route and approach chart interpretation, including Standard Instrument Departures (SID) and Standard Terminal Arrival Routes (STAR).
  • (2) Obtaining and analyzing weather information, including knowledge of hazardous weather phenomena.
  • (3) Preflight planning, including aircraft performance data, application of Notices to Airmen (NOTAM) information, fuel requirements, alternate requirements, and use of appropriate FAA publications such as the Airport/Facility Directory.
  • (4) Aircraft systems related to IFR operations, including appropriate operating methods, limitations, and emergency procedures due to equipment failure.
  • (5) Aircraft flight instruments and navigation equipment, including characteristics, limitations, operating techniques, and emergency procedures due to malfunction or failure, such as lost communications procedures.
  • (6) Determining the airworthiness status of the aircraft for instrument flight, including required inspections and documents.
  • (7) Air Traffic Control (ATC) procedures pertinent to flight under IFR with emphasis on elements of ATC clearances and pilot/controller responsibilities.
Following discussion of the above subjects, the CFI should ask the pilot to prepare for the skill portion of the Proficiency check by completing the necessary flight planning, obtaining current weather data, filing a flight plan, and conducting the preflight inspection. In order to more fully evaluate the pilot's skills under normal operating conditions, the CFI may wish to have the pilot conduct a short IFR cross-country flight in conjunction with the rest of the Proficiency check.

Flight Portion

The maneuvers and procedures selected for the instrument Proficiency check should be comprehensive enough to enable the CFI to determine that the pilot can safely operate under IFR in a broad range of conditions appropriate to the aircraft flown and the ATC environment selected. Proper adherence to ATC clearances will be especially emphasized.

Regardless of the maneuvers and procedures selected, the CFI will ensure that the pilot demonstrates satisfactory basic attitude instrument flying skills.

For checks conducted in an airplane but not under actual instrument weather conditions, an appropriate view limiting device should be employed to simulate instrument conditions.

You may not do an IPC in a PCATD, see AC61-126 for more information.


Upon completion of the Proficiency check, the CFI should complete the plan and checklist (if used) and debrief the pilot on the results of the check (satisfactory or unsatisfactory). Regardless of the determination, the CFI should provide the pilot with a comprehensive analysis of his or her performance, including suggestions for improving any weak areas. 
  • Unsatisfactory Performance. The CFI should not endorse the pilot's logbook to reflect an unsatisfactory Proficiency check, but should sign the logbook to record the instruction given.
  • Satisfactory Performance. The endorsement for a satisfactory IPC will be in accordance with the current issue of AC 61-65.
Pilot Resources:
AOPA Online - Pilots' Guide to Getting Back Into Flying
IPC Checkout Form

IPC Prep Guide

Cover - IFR Checkride Reviewer

This 314-page review package is designed to help you to regain currency.  Includes the Radio Communications Guide (below). This package can be used as a self study guide or by flight instructors to provide IPC/checkride preparation.  More Info...

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All content is Copyright 2002-2010 by Darren Smith. All rights reserved. Subject to change without notice. This website is not a substitute for competent flight instruction. There are no representations or warranties of any kind made pertaining to this service/information and any warranty, express or implied, is excluded and disclaimed including but not limited to the implied warranties of merchantability and/or fitness for a particular purpose. Under no circumstances or theories of liability, including without limitation the negligence of any party, contract, warranty or strict liability in tort, shall the website creator/author or any of its affiliated or related organizations be liable for any direct, indirect, incidental, special, consequential or punitive damages as a result of the use of, or the inability to use, any information provided through this service even if advised of the possibility of such damages. For more information about this website, including the privacy policy, see about this website.