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I had previously been under the impression that if a pilot held an instrument rating that it would apply to aircraft in another class. The requirements of 61.57 would seem to support that since currency can be maintained in aircraft of the same category.

However, reading section 61.133 leads me to believe that any check ride to add a class would require an instrument checkride as well:

A person who applies for a commercial pilot certificate with an airplane category or powered-lift category rating and does not hold an instrument rating in the same category and class will be issued a commercial pilot certificate that contains the limitation, “The carriage of passengers for hire in (airplanes) (powered-lifts) on cross-country flights in excess of 50 nautical miles or at night is prohibited.” The limitation may be removed when the person satisfactorily accomplishes the requirements listed in § 61.65 of this part for an instrument rating in the same category and class of aircraft listed on the person's commercial pilot certificate.

Am I correct in this interpretation? Are there any other CFR sections that might shed some clarity on this? Does any class rating add-on, (presuming one wanted to exercise the option of IFR in the new class) require a full blown instrument check even if one is already instrument rated and current in a different class?

ADDENDUM: After re-reading this almost seems self answering based on the quote I provided, but I know what sometimes regs can be interpreted differently based on other sections. I am just incredulous that a full-blown syllabus per 61.65 would be necessary when really IFR isn't any different from Single to Multi. Makes the upgrade that much more pricey!

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  • $\begingroup$ If so, this may explain the option of doing multiple checkrides at once, which never made sense to me risk-wise until I saw this question. $\endgroup$ – StephenS Dec 4 '18 at 20:33
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The Airman Certification Standards for the Airplane Instrument Rating shed light on this question. There are four classes of instrument rating for airplanes and that the tasks required for each class differ:

The abbreviation(s) within parentheses immediately following a Task refer to the category and/or class airplane appropriate to that Task. The meaning of each abbreviation is as follows:

ASEL: Airplane – Single-Engine Land

ASES: Airplane – Single-Engine Sea

AMEL: Airplane – Multiengine Land

AMES: Airplane – Multiengine Sea

Note: When administering a test based on this ACS, the Tasks appropriate to the class airplane (ASEL, ASES, AMEL, or AMES) used for the test must be included in the plan of action. The absence of a class indicates the Task is for all classes.

So your assumption is correct. You need an instrument rating in each class of airplane you wish to fly IFR. However, per §61.57 (c) (1) your currency can be accomplished in different classes in the same category but you can’t mix and match categories e.g. 5 approaches in a SEL and 1 in a MEL is OK. 5 approaches in a SEL and 1 in a helicopter is not OK.

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  • $\begingroup$ Do you not just need to attach a class to the instrument rating? The instrument rating is at the category level but you must demonstrate proficiency in various classes to exercise the privileges of the IR. You don't get an IR for each class, you get classes added to your IR. Sounds pedantic but it is an important distinction, else a CFII would be required to train for additional ME class rating to an existing SE Comm-Inst, for example. $\endgroup$ – acpilot Aug 8 at 20:13
  • $\begingroup$ @acpilot I’m not sure what you are saying. In the US you have a certificate eg Private Pilot, Commercial Pilot, or ATP. Then you have ratings added to it, eg. instrument, multi, seaplane, etc. The Flight Instructor certificate is a separate certificate with ratings e.g. Single-engine, multi-engine, airplane instrument. So for example, a typical CFI has a commercial certificate with Airplane Single Engine Land and Instrument Airplane ratings added to their Commercial Certificate. Their CFI certificate would have at least Airplane Single and Instrument if they are a CFII. The ACS sets rules. $\endgroup$ – JScarry Aug 9 at 18:05
  • $\begingroup$ The answer says you get an instrument rating in each class. You don't. The rating is for the category (ex. instrument airplane) and you demonstrate proficiency in each class to exercise instrument priviliges. OP reads the reg incorrectly; once the instrument rating in category is earned, it's earned. ACS simply tells the examiner what must be observed in order to authorize instrument privileges for an additional class. Please correct me if my understanding is incorrect. $\endgroup$ – acpilot Aug 10 at 1:04
  • $\begingroup$ @acpilot I think we are saying the same thing. You earn an instrument rating in a category and class of aircraft. I have a Private Pilot Certificate. My instrument rating is for SEL on my certificate. I do not have an instrument rating for Multi-Engine Land. To add a MEL rating to my Private Pilot Certificate, I must complete portions of the ACS for that Class of aircraft. (No need to take the written again.) Look up some CFIs in the FAA database. You’ll see that they have a Commercial Certificate and an Instrument rating. If they have a more than SEL it will list additional ratings they have. $\endgroup$ – JScarry Aug 10 at 3:47
  • $\begingroup$ The IR is category only. There is no such thing as a single engine land instrument rating or multi-engine sea instrument rating, just instrument airplane (or helicopter, etc). You get an IR in the category and then demonstrate proficiency by class. Failure to demonstrate proficiency on a class add-on leaves a pilot with a VFR only restriction for that class. 61.65 specifies nstrument rating aero experience for the category level only. $\endgroup$ – acpilot Aug 10 at 21:49

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