The Instrument Meteorological Conditions (IMC) rating equips the pilot with skills to fly an aeroplane in much poorer weather conditions than the basic PPL.

The course for the IMC Rating comprises of a minimum of 15 hours training plus a flight test.

The initial part of the course develops flying skills such that the pilot is able to fly an aeroplane safely by sole reference to the cockpit instruments. Once these techniques have been mastered the pilot is then taught how to fly the aircraft with simulated failure of one or more of the primary flight instruments, again without recourse to any external reference.

Having attained competence in the basic instrument flying skills the course moves on to applied instrument flying. During this phase of the course the pilot is first taught how to navigate the aircraft using a variety of ground based radio beacons. Finally the pilot is taught how to make approaches to airfields, in conditions as poor as 1800m visibility, and a 500ft cloudbase, using published instrument approach procedures.

At the conclusion of the course the pilot is tested for his ability to take-off and then enter cloud (actual or simulated), conduct a cross-country flight by sole reference to instruments whilst using radio beacons for navigation and then execute a published instrument flight approach down to the minimum altitude for that approach. In addition the test involves instrument flight with simulated failure of the direction indicator and attitude indicator.

G-BNKI is suitably equipped for IMC training. A number of nearby airfields have a variety of approved instrument approach procedures, including RAF Benson, thus it is possible to practice all of the types of approach currently available within the UK. Halton is also within the service areas of Benson and Brize Norton Radars which means that we can obtain a Radar Information or Radar Advisory service when operating in actual cloud.

Whilst it is a requirement that all instructors who teach the IMC Rating hold at least an IMC Rating themselves the full time instructors at Halton hold instrument ratings (IR). The IR is similar in many ways to the IMC Rating but demands a much higher degree of skill and knowledge.


An IMC Rating extends the privileges of a PPL(A) holder to allow flight as PIC:

  • Out of sight of the surface
  • In a control zone on SVFR clearance with a flight visibility less than 5 nm but not less than 1.5nm
  • Outside controlled airspace in a flight visibility less than 1.5 nm
  • To fly in Class D and Class E airspace in IMC
  • Carrying passengers above 3000ft amsl in IMC or in flight visibility less than 3 nm at or below that height when outside controlled airspace
  • During take-off or landing with a flight visibility below cloud of not less than 1 nm.

The IMC Rating is only valid in UK territorial airspace, Channel Islands airspace and Isle of Man airspace


The course comprises:

  • 15 hours instrument flying training (12 hours for night rated pilots)
  • Flight test
  • Written Examination

Requirements to apply for the rating:

  • 25 hours experience since date of PPL application, to include:
  • 10 hours Pilot in Command (PIC), of which 5 hours are cross country flights.
  • 10 hours flight by sole reference to instruments (covered by course)
  • Current and valid licence
  • Current and valid SEP rating
  • Current medical
  • Evidence of a pass in the IMC ground examination (pass mark 72%)
  • Ground examination valid for 12 months
  • Ground examination valid for 12 months
  • A Flight Radiotelephony Operators Licence
  • Have reached a suitable standard in basic instrument flying before starting the course


Flight training includes:

  • 15 hours dual instrument flying training of which up to 2 hours may be in an approved simulator
  • Not less than 10 of the 15 hours must be flown by sole reference to instruments

Minimum of 20 hours theoretical knowledge training covering:

  • Physiological Factors
  • Flight Instruments
  • Aeronautical Information Service
  • Flight Planning
  • Privileges of the IMC Rating

IMC Ground Examination

25 multi-choice questions covering the material.

IMC Flight Test

  • A Full Panel Instrument Flying
  • B Limited Panel Instrument Flying
  • C Radio Navigation Aids
  • D Let-Down and Approach Procedures
  • E Bad Weather Circuits

Keeping your IMC current

Validity – 25 months

Revalidation – by flight test with both precision and non-precision approaches examined. Alternatively, evidence of one type of approach having been flown since last test means only the other type of approach will be examined.

Renewal – rating expired by less than 5 years, renewal is as per revalidation


Providing the rating is issued before April 2019 you can complete the UK IMC Rating training with an approved instructor and after a successful ground examination, flight test and application, have it added into an EASA PPL as an IR(R) – an Instrument Rating (restricted). This will have all the privileges and restrictions of a UK IMC rating, but will be valid in suitable UK registered aircraft whether EASA or non-EASA. The IMCR or IR(R) is restricted to UK airspace only.

Under the new EASA Regulations anyone converting their licence to an EASA licence that have an IMC rating will get an IR (R) on their new EASA licence

An IMC rating can also be added into a national UK PPL, but cannot be used in EASA aircraft after 8 April 2014.