I am currently trying to understand 61.57 and it’s instrument currency requirements for pilots. I have made some 2 scenarios here, and it would be great if I could get some feedback to my questions.

Scenario #1 In this one, I have completed 6 instrument approaches and one hold in March. By counting back, I am current until the end of August 31. My question is how many approaches do I have to do in September to regain my currency if I am trying to act as PIC during IFR in that month?

Scenario #2 This is where I get a little confused. Say I did 5 approaches and one hold. Because I didn’t do a 6th approach, when am I not current? Also what is the staring date of my “6 month grace period?” And alternately, if I did not do anything during the grace period, what is the date when I must do and IPC check? enter image description here

  • $\begingroup$ First off are these approaches done either in actual or simulated IMC? $\endgroup$ – Carlo Felicione Nov 16 '18 at 20:07
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    $\begingroup$ Your scenarios are a little confusing. In scenario #1, you say that you did six approaches in March, but you only show two on your paper. In order to answer your question, we will need to know the exact dates of all six approaches which made you current as of March. Similarly, in scenario #2, if we are to assume that you are starting out current, we need to know all of the approaches which made you current in the first place in order to determine when your currency lapses. $\endgroup$ – Lnafziger Nov 16 '18 at 20:13

To answer question #1 (assuming you are flying an airplane): §61.57 (c)(1) states that:

Use of an airplane, powered-lift, helicopter, or airship for maintaining instrument experience. Within the 6 calendar months preceding the month of the flight, that person performed and logged at least the following tasks and iterations in an airplane, powered-lift, helicopter, or airship, as appropriate, for the instrument rating privileges to be maintained in actual weather conditions, or under simulated conditions using a view-limiting device that involves having performed the following—

(i) Six instrument approaches.

(ii) Holding procedures and tasks.

(iii) Intercepting and tracking courses through the use of navigational electronic systems.

As of Sept 1, to maintain instrument proficiency, you will be required to accomplish items i-iii in either an airplane under actual or simulated IMC (you must have at least passed the FAF and begun the final segment of the approach under these conditions for it to count) or have accomplished this in an approved simulator or FTD appropriate to the category and class of aircraft you seek currency in. See §61.57 (c)(2). Therefore in Sept, you would be required to accomplish at least 1 IAP in order to remain instrument proficient for that month. It is suggested at this point to accomplish the required 6 approaches, hold procedures and course tracking in Sept to avoid repeating this process often while still maintaining instrument currency, though this is not required to meed minimum instrument proficiency standards.

Question #2: see first paragraph of §61.57 (c)(1) - you must have accomplished tasks i-iii within 6 months of any IFR flight where you are acting as PIC. In scenario #2 you are never current as you have not accomplished tasks i-iii within 6 calendar months for any month shown. Assuming that you were instrument current in December of the previous year (items i-iii accomplished within that month), you still have a "grace period" to fly the approaches with a safety pilot starting in July of this year. If items i-iii of §61.57 (c)(1) are not accomplished by December of this year, an IPC will be required as of January 1 of next year to maintain instrument proficiency.

Item iii of §61.57 (c)(1) is a little bit of a contention, but if you are not flying contact or precision radar approaches only to maintain instrument proficiency, you will have used navigational electronic systems to fly these instrument approaches or fly the holding patterns with so item iii can be counted towards with the accomplishment of items i and ii.


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