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This question is somehow related to question: Can a non-instrument rated safety pilot log PIC during an IFR flight? , but the scenario is different.

Scenario

Pilot A and Pilot B are BOTH instrument rated. Pilot A wants to fly under the hood to practice and Pilot B will be the safety pilot. They will be flying in an IFR flight, in VMC conditions.

Question

Can both pilots log PIC time? Pilot A would be logging PIC time for being the sole manipulator of the controls, and Pilot B would only log PIC as a required crewmember/safety pilot when Pilot A was under the hood.

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  • $\begingroup$ Fly what you want...log what you need. 😎 $\endgroup$ – Scooter Aug 14 '16 at 17:40
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I believe the key to this scenario is in the FAA Counsel Office's interpretation to Speranza (2009)

Quoting from the FAA's interpretation letter:

The FAA has previously stated that there is a distinction between logging PIC time and acting as a PIC. See Herman Interpretation. To act as a PIC (i.e., the pilot who has final authority and responsibility for the operation and safety of the flight), a pilot must be properly rated in the aircraft and be properly rated and authorized to conduct the flight. In your example of an IFR flight, being properly rated and authorized would include having an instrument rating. Accordingly, only Pilot A may act as the PIC, and Pilot A has final authority and responsibility for the safety of the flight regardless of who is manipulating the controls.

They also clarify the circumstances under which Pilot B may log PIC time for this flight, and what that means for Pilot B logging PIC time:

Accordingly, Pilot B may log PIC time for the portion of the flight during which Pilot B was the sole manipulator of the controls.
. . .
However, Pilot A may not log PIC time for the portion of the flight during which Pilot B is the sole manipulator ofthe controls, and is logging PIC time, because there is no provision for this logging in §61.51(e). Section 61.51(e)(1)(iii) allows the pilot acting as PIC to log PIC time only if more than one pilot is required under the type certification of the aircraft or the regulations under which the flight is conducted, and only one pilot is required for the flight in your example. Although Pilot B properly may log PIC time for a portion of the flight as discussed previously, Pilot B could not act as PIC and was not a required flight crewmember for any portion of the flight under the aircraft's type certificate or the regulations under which the flight was conducted.

(Emphasis mine in both quotations.)


So, because the flight is conducted under instrument flight rules you must hold an instrument rating (be "properly rated and authorized" to conduct the flight) in order to act as PIC and log PIC time on that basis, regardless of the weather conditions (VMC/IMC) under which the flight is conducted.

A key difference between your case and the one in the interpretation is that both of your pilots have instrument ratings. Since the safety pilot in your example holds an instrument rating they are rated for the aircraft and authorized to conduct a flight under Instrument Flight Rules, therefore they can act as PIC, and would be eligible to log PIC time for this flight (as a required crewmember under FAR 91.109).

This would, as best I can tell, revert to the same logging situation as a safety pilot under VFR: For any portion of the flight in which the safety pilot is also manipulating the flight controls the pilot under the hood would be unable to log PIC time, and for any portion of the flight where "Pilot A" is not under the hood they safety pilot would (generally) be unable to log PIC time.

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    $\begingroup$ I agree with your interpretation of the reg but the specific question asked says Pilot A and Pilot B are BOTH instrument rated. Perhaps edit your TLDR slightly? $\endgroup$ – Steve V. Aug 15 '16 at 22:14
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    $\begingroup$ @SteveV. Actually I misread that part of the question, and that may change my interpretation of the regs: 91.109 requires a safety pilot any time you're operating in "simulated IMC", 61.51(e)(1)(iii) says a safety pilot can act as PIC as provided they're rated (and per the interpretation, authorized) to conduct the flight -- both of those conditions would appear to apply if the safety pilot is instrument-rated, so in absence of an interpretation from the FAA to the contrary I think in this case both pilots could log PIC time & have updated accordingly. $\endgroup$ – voretaq7 Aug 16 '16 at 2:10
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They can both log PIC in VMC, IFR flight regardless of whether one or both of them are IFR current or rated also regardless of which one of them is flying the simulated instrument and which one is acting as the safety pilot.

The accepted answer in the linked question is wrong.

It is the same whether the safety pilot is instrument rated or not as long as the other pilot is.

The IFR current pilot is acting as PIC regarding the IFR duties and flight control manipulating duties of the flight. The safety pilot is acting as the PIC handling the see and avoid duties.

Simulated IMC is invalid in actual IMC conditions, therefore this question would not apply in that situation.

This was actually linked above the other, incorrect, yet accepted, answer in a comment PILOT COUNSEL: SAFETY PILOT WHEN YOU NEED SOMEONE BESIDE YOU

"If the pilot under the hood is instrument rated and acting as pilot in command, even though the flight is IFR, the safety pilot is not required to have an instrument rating or be instrument current."

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  • $\begingroup$ Hi Ryan. I'm going to disagree with you. You say: They can both log PIC in VMC, IFR flight regardless of whether one or both of them are IFR current or rated also regardless of which one of them is flying the simulated instrument and which one is acting as the safety pilot. Suppose Instrument rated Irene and Private pilot Paul go flying. Irene gets her IFR clearance, puts on a hood, and shoots three approaches. Paul never touches the controls and only watches for traffic. Where in 61.51(e)(1)(i) or 61.51(e)(1)(iii) allows Paul to log PIC? $\endgroup$ – Steve V. Aug 14 '16 at 9:21
  • $\begingroup$ @SteveV. my interpretation would be the last part of 61.51(e)(1)(iii), "...the regulations under which the flight is conducted." You make a great point, but the thing is, if this were true during IFR that a safety pilot may not log PIC, it would also appear that a safety pilot could never log PIC ever not even under visual flight rules, but it is clearly legal to do so under VFR. You are right though; the regs are pretty much a bare skeleton on this matter. $\endgroup$ – Ryan Mortensen Aug 14 '16 at 12:25
  • $\begingroup$ Your interpretation seems to differ from the FAA Counsel Office's interpretation - To act as a PIC (i.e., the pilot who has final authority and responsibility for the operation and safety of the flight), a pilot must be properly rated in the aircraft and be properly rated and authorized to conduct the flight. In your example of an IFR flight, being properly rated and authorized would include having an instrument rating. $\endgroup$ – voretaq7 Aug 15 '16 at 18:55
  • $\begingroup$ Specifically, my read of that interpretation is that a flight conducted under IFR (even in VMC) requires that the person logging "acting as PIC" (responsible for the operation & safety of the flight - which is what gives a safety pilot the ability to log PIC time) would require an instrument rating to be "authorized to conduct the flight" -- you can't (legally) operate an IFR flight without an instrument rating, even in VMC. If the flight were conducted VFR with "practice approaches" then both pilots could log PIC as they're both properly rated & authorized to conduct the flight. $\endgroup$ – voretaq7 Aug 15 '16 at 18:59
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    $\begingroup$ Your last quoted sentence is absolutely correct, but doesn't go against what we are saying. The safety pilot is not required to have an instrument, however, it doesn't mention that he is unable to log PIC in that situation even though he is legal to be the safety pilot. $\endgroup$ – Lnafziger Aug 15 '16 at 20:08
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Short version: yes, but only if the pilots agree in advance that the safety pilot is acting PIC.

When to log PIC

Per 14 CFR 61.51 there are only three ways - ignoring training scenarios - to log PIC (my emphasis):

(i) When the pilot is the sole manipulator of the controls of an aircraft for which the pilot is rated, or has sport pilot privileges for that category and class of aircraft, if the aircraft class rating is appropriate;

(ii) When the pilot is the sole occupant in the aircraft;

(iii) When the pilot, except for a holder of a sport or recreational pilot certificate, acts as pilot in command of an aircraft for which more than one pilot is required under the type certification of the aircraft or the regulations under which the flight is conducted; or

In your scenario, both pilots are qualified to operate the aircraft under IFR, and two pilots are required for simulated IMC by regulation. Therefore both the first and third reasons are applicable, the question is how to 'match' them to the pilots and the key question there is: who is acting PIC?

Option 1: the safety pilot is acting PIC

If the safety pilot is acting PIC then he can log PIC time under point 3 because the regulations require two pilots for simulated IMC. And, since the 'pilot flying' (to borrow an airline term) is the one physically flying the aircraft, he can also log PIC as the sole manipulator of the controls.

Option 2: the pilot flying is acting PIC

If the 'pilot flying' is acting PIC then he can log PIC time under point 3 as described above. However the safety pilot can't: he isn't acting PIC, and he isn't manipulating the controls. In this case, the safety pilot can only log SIC time per 61.51(f)(2):

(f) Logging second-in-command flight time. A person may log second-in-command time only for that flight time during which that person:

[...]

(2) Holds the appropriate category, class, and instrument rating (if an instrument rating is required for the flight) for the aircraft being flown, and more than one pilot is required under the type certification of the aircraft or the regulations under which the flight is being conducted.

Of course, if the safety pilot ever takes the controls, then he can log PIC for that time under the first reason.

PIC responsibility

This might all seem like playing with words, and two friends going for a flight might not even discuss explicitly who's acting PIC, although they should. 14 CFR 91.3 says:

The pilot in command of an aircraft is directly responsible for, and is the final authority as to, the operation of that aircraft.

What that means for this scenario is that if something goes wrong during the flight or a regulation is broken, the FAA will ask who was the acting PIC. If the pilots agreed that the safety pilot was PIC then the flight is his responsibility and he can't say that "I was just the lookout". Possibly even worse, if the pilots don't know who was acting PIC, then the FAA will give both of them a hard time.

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