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Just wondering if actual instrument time can be added with simulated instrument time for the requirements of the Private Pilot minimums (3 hour instrument). I have actual instrument time from when my CFI showed me what it was like to fly in clouds. (USA)

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Yes.

The requirements for a private certificate are stated in 14 CFR 61.109(a)(3) as “flight training ... instrument flight”.

In 14 CFR 61.1, Instrument training is defined as:

Instrument training means that time in which instrument training is received from an authorized instructor under actual or simulated instrument conditions.

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Provided your CFI and you were flying on a filed and ATC cleared IFR flight plan at the time of the real instrument time was acquired, then yes, you can use that instrument time toward your PPL Aeronautical Experience requirements. It does not necessarily need to be done under the hood. 61.109(a)(3) just requires the applicant log 3 hours of dual instruction time flying solely on reference to the instruments, whether simulated or real IMC conditions.

The downside here is that unless you did the dual instrument time with a CFII, you cannot use that time toward an instrument rating or advanced pilot or flight instructor certificates per 61.109.

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    $\begingroup$ Just to be clear - the flight instructor must only have an instrument rating (duh), but need not be a CFII. Also, yes, you can get in trouble if not on a flight plan or IFR clearance, but actual can be logged in rare circumstances where fight by sole reference to instruments is necessary... so almost but not quite on this answer. $\endgroup$ – Pugz Jul 15 '18 at 13:19
  • $\begingroup$ No the flight instructor must hold a commercial pilot certificate in the airplane category and class used for instruction here with an instrument rating AND must hold a flight instructor certificate in the airplane category and class used here for instruction along with a separate instrument rating on the flight instructor certificate (CFII) in order for you to log actual IMC time during instruction. $\endgroup$ – Carlo Felicione Jul 15 '18 at 15:13
  • $\begingroup$ ever think about how they give flight training in Seattle with the 80% of the days being rainy and overcast? A CFI may conduct any flight training under IFR toward a private certificate or commercial or CFI, but may not train students for an instrument rating or CFII. ALMOST EVERY TRAINING FLIGHT IN THAT PART OF THE COUNTRY INCLUDES AN INSTRUMENT APPROACH. $\endgroup$ – Pugz Jul 15 '18 at 15:16
  • $\begingroup$ It appears as though you are correct, at least for training toward a PPL. The downside is that if the student wanted to proceed with instrument training toward an instrument rating, they would not be able to use that accrued time toward the rating unless the instructor was a CFII. Nor could it be used toward CPL or ATPL. Also in the case of Seattle, most training flights get cancelled there or they simply wait for VFR weather minimums to conduct the flight in, which does happen there, even in winter time. Very rarely are instrument approaches conducted as part of primary flight training. $\endgroup$ – Carlo Felicione Jul 15 '18 at 16:15

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