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Is there a way to log instrument approaches in VMC when all you own is single-place aircraft? (or aircraft with only one pilot station - I own a Long EZ). The regs seem to indicate that I have to rent another aircraft, which seems to defeat the entire purpose of maintaining currency, as I would be logging my approaches in an aircraft of a different type, with potentially different avionics.

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    $\begingroup$ If you are talking about practice approaches under VFR with a hood and safety pilot you ought to clarify that. Because if you are flying actual IFR approaches under IMC then there should be no problems keeping current, right?! $\endgroup$ May 4, 2021 at 20:00
  • $\begingroup$ Remember, maintaining currency is different than maintaining proficiency. Proficiency is very important. But, currency is the crux of this question. $\endgroup$
    – Dean F.
    May 4, 2021 at 22:10
  • $\begingroup$ @Michael Hall, Yes, that is what I meant. Unfortunately, actual IMC weather is rare here in Arizona (Prescott). $\endgroup$ May 5, 2021 at 0:19
  • $\begingroup$ @Dean, "Currency" is statistics about how often and how recent an individual has performed an activity. I would think the objective of tracking currency IS to maintain proficiency. Can't think of any other reason to remain current in an activity. $\endgroup$ May 5, 2021 at 0:23
  • $\begingroup$ @CharlesBretana - Currency is meeting the regulatory requirements to fly a particular kind of operation. Proficiency is your ability to perform in that particular kind of operation. For an instrument rated airplane pilot-in-command, currency would be performing HIT 6 in the preceding 6 calendar months in any airplane. Proficiency would be being comfortable in performing an IAP down to minimums through the recent practice and experience of actually performing an IAP in the actual aircraft you will be flying. Currency in a TAA turbine multi does not make you proficient in a steam-gauge single. $\endgroup$
    – Dean F.
    May 5, 2021 at 0:43

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Unfortunately, the only way for you to get simulated instrument time will be to rent a dual-control aircraft, or to use an approved simulator. Since you can do back-to-back approaches in a simulator, you may be able to find one that charges almost as little as the equivalent amount of fuel in your Long EZ. Especially since you can forego, startup, run-up, taxi, takeoff, landing, and shutdown.

The alternative to the above is to plan on dropping everything whenever you have a suitable IFR day, and go flying. Surely, there are a couple of IFR days in which the weather is not too severe every six months.

If you can deal with the fact that your flight time will not be within your control, you could partner with another aircraft owner of a two pilot place aircraft. That pilot will need a safety pilot as well. Then, you can just alternate who is under the hood.

Another, less convenient and effective, but more productive option is to schedule and budget a regular flight and ground lesson with a CFII once a year. If you make this a recurring lesson with the same career instructor, you can coordinate with them to make this a combination IPC/BFR. This and the random IFR day you may get in a years time should keep you current. It also has the additional advantage of possibly learning something new or relearning something forgotten.

All of the above options address the issue of staying current. None of them address the issue of staying proficient in your aircraft with your avionics. For this I suggest making half of our VMC approaches as actual or practice IFR approaches. You may not get the visceral experience of being in IMC. But, it will allow you to practice your proficiency.

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  • $\begingroup$ did you possibly mean "cost-effective" in last paragraph? $\endgroup$ May 4, 2021 at 21:20
  • $\begingroup$ @quietflyer - Although cost-effective is a valid point, I meant time-effective. There may be a period of time when the pilot who tries this method will not meet currency requirements. $\endgroup$
    – Dean F.
    May 4, 2021 at 21:26
  • $\begingroup$ This FAA document amplifies on what Dean wrote: faa.gov/other_visit/aviation_industry/airline_operators/… You don't have to be in IMC all the way to the DH/MDA to log an approach in actual IMC, but there has to be actual or simulated IMC to log it for currency. And single-seat, the "simulated" option is unfortunately out. $\endgroup$
    – Ralph J
    May 4, 2021 at 23:12
  • $\begingroup$ I already have plans to exercise your last suggestion. Obviously I do not wear a view-limiting device as it is VMC out and I need to exercise good visual lookout for other VFR traffic. I do think about and feel a bit anxious about the little heads-down time on the instruments that I need to invest to fly the approach properly. But it is necessary to become proficient with the new flat-screen avionics - the menu structure on these things requires that you practice, practice, practice... $\endgroup$ May 5, 2021 at 0:13
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    $\begingroup$ @CharlesBretana - Simulator time may be your best option in this case. It will give you a nice safe environment to practice your buttonology. It will also count towards your currency. In lieu of that, I would invest in a battery charger. I spent a lot of time off the Hobbs just sitting on the ground practicing the G1000 with the aster on and the engine off. Another option is procedural training with a tablet app or even a set of pictures of the the avionics. It really is just a matter of practice, practice, practice. $\endgroup$
    – Dean F.
    May 5, 2021 at 0:54

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