Pilot Qualifications and Aircraft Airworthiness


Understand the limitations and equipment requirements of IFR flights.


This is the required reading for this lesson. Numbers in [brackets] indicate the starting and ending page in the referenced reading material. Read all the pages and sections referenced.


The notes below highlight the important parts in the referenced material. Reading the notes without having read the actual referenced material is generally not sufficient to pass the written exam!

IFH - Chapter 1

  • An IFR flight is one in which the pilot will perform navigation and approach entirely by instruments (NAV radio or GPS)
  • Air Traffic Control assumes responsibility for separation from other traffic
    • The pilot must adhere to the cleared route and any headings, altitudes, and speeds they are assigned
  • IFR is required when
    • Weather does not conform to VFR minimums
    • When planning to fly at or above 18,000 feet MSL (in the Continental US)
    • When flying a commercial air carrier (a "Part 121" operation) in the US

FAR §91.167

  • Fuel requirements for flight in IFR conditions are
    • First point of intended landing
    • Flight to filed alternate airport
    • An additional 45 minutes at normal cruising speed

FAR §91.205

  • In addition to the VFR required equipment as described in P1-PPL Section I.A Study Notes, the following equipment is required for IFR flights
    • Two-way radio communication and navigation equipment suitable for the route to be flown
    • Gyroscopic rate-of-turn indicator
    • Slip-skid indicator
    • Sensitive altimeter adjustable for barometric pressure
    • A clock displaying hours, minutes, and seconds with a sweep-second pointer or digital presentation
    • Generator or alternator of adequate capacity
    • Gyroscopic pitch and bank indicator (artificial horizon)
    • Gyroscopic direction indicator (directional gyro or equivalent)

FAR §91.213

  • Inoperative instruments and equipment
    • A Minimum Equipment List (MEL) is not required for:
      • Rotorcraft, non-turbine powered airplane, glider, or lighter-than-air aircraft
    • If a MEL is not required:
      • The inoperative instrument or item of equipment must not be required by certification, operational, or airworthiness regulations.
      • Any qualifying instrument or item of equipment that is inoperative must either be removed or disabled and the cockpit control for that item labeled as inoperative.
      • Pilot or a mechanic must verify that flying the aircraft with the inoperative instrument or item of equipment won't create a hazard resulting in an unsafe situation.

Sim Pilot Notes

These notes highlight the differences between simulator and real-world flying. These differences are most often due to simulator limitations or specific VATSIM rules.

IFH - Chapter 1

  • When relying on the GPS/FMC for navigation and RNAV approaches, care must be taken to ensure that the navigational database is current
  • With the limited ATC coverage on VATSIM, many normally controlled airports become Class G airspace. It is important that the IFR pilot clearly communicates his/her intentions over Unicom and even in IMC, maintains separation with other aircraft that may not have the same weather settings in their simulator

FAR §91.205

  • Almost all aircraft in the sim have the required equipment
    • If a model is selected that does not have one or more of the required instruments, this need to be identified by the student prior to the flight
    • Although a transponder is not required and some sim airplanes are not equipped with one, it is still a requirement on VATSIM to use one when taxiing and in flight. This can be accomplished through the VATSIM pilot client

FAR §91.213

  • Some more advanced GA aircraft do simulate equipment failures. Checking for this should be part of the pre-flight inspection
    • If inoperative equipment is found (or indicated by the instructor), determine if it can be fixed in the sim, if flight can take place with it inoperative or if the flight needs to be reset

Tomas Hansson (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)
Chief Flight Instructor, VATSTAR
DISCLAIMER: all information contained herein is for flight simulation purposes only.
March 2021

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