Are ILS approaches taught as part of instrument rating? What categories specifically?

  1. CAT I?
  2. CAT II?
  3. CAT III A?
  4. CAT III B?
  5. CAT III C?
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Are you asking about a specific country, or just in general? $\endgroup$
    – Pondlife
    Dec 7, 2021 at 3:43
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Others have covered what is taught for the instrument rating, but it's important to note that having an instrument rating is actually a prerequisite when applying for ILS CAT II authorization, so higher level CAT ratings are covered by separate training and licensing - you work your way up. $\endgroup$
    – J...
    Dec 7, 2021 at 15:31

5 Answers 5


In the US, almost all instrument students learn how to fly an ILS CAT I because that's what's installed in most aircraft. You could get an instrument rating by using an LPV approach instead, though. The FAA's Instrument Rating Airman Certification Standards say (emphasis mine):

Localizer Performance with Vertical Guidance (LPV Minimums)

Localizer performance with vertical guidance (LPV) minimums with a decision altitude (DA) greater than 300 feet height above touchdown (HAT) may be used as a nonprecision approach; however, due to the precision of its glidepath and localizer-like lateral navigation characteristics, an LPV minimums approach can be used to demonstrate precision approach proficiency if the DA is equal to or less than 300 feet HAT.

In my flying club, we have a Piper Cherokee without a functioning glideslope indicator in the panel. It's still fine to fly it under IFR using GPS (RNAV) only because the GPS display can provide lateral and vertical guidance. In theory, a club member could get their instrument rating in that aircraft without ever flying an ILS.

(But even in that case, LPV is designed to act like ILS anyway, so the pilot's skills would transfer well to an actual ILS approach.)

  • $\begingroup$ Garmin now makes an IFR GPS/COM unit with no NAV (VOR/ILS) functionality, so maybe there’s a market, but I wouldn’t recommend it for a trainer. $\endgroup$
    – StephenS
    Dec 8, 2021 at 21:22

What exactly your training (and checkride) includes will be dictated by what the plane you’re using is equipped for. These days, that typically means ILS/LOC (Cat I only), VOR/DME and RNAV.

Some students might get a few ASR or PAR approaches if they are near a military base that offers them. If you’re training in a very old plane, you might also do NDB approaches, but most ADFs have been removed (or at least deactivated) by now specifically to avoid that nightmare.

In theory you could get an authorization to do ILS above Cat I, but few trainers are suitably equipped, and few airports are either for that matter—and the ones that do are typically major airline hubs unlikely to welcome training flights.


Generally, ILS (Cat 1) approaches are taught in the course of meeting (U.S.) FAR Part 61.65 required instrument approach flight proficiency (training) requirements.

However, the Airman Certification Standards (ACS), formerly know as the Practical Test Standards (PTS), requires a demonstration of a "Precision Approach, which includes an ILS or GLS approach. Also, an LPV approach, although not technically a "Precision Approach" can be used to demonstrate competency in Precision Approaches if certain criteria are satisfied.


Yes, for my Pat 61, FAA issued, Private Pilots License based, Instrument Rating, ILS's were a routine part of the training, we only flew CAT I since we were flying a Piper Archer and not equipped for anything beyond that. There is a good overview of the differences here.

To fly a CAT II approach in a category A aircraft you would potentially need special authorization as noted in FAR 91.139 but that also specifies

Such authorization does not permit operation of the aircraft carrying persons or property for compensation or hire.

And recent rulings by the FAA may consider flight training "for hire" so it might not be legal either way.


In Europe approaches below CAT I are considered as "low visibility operations" (LVO). Each operator (airline) has to apply for the authorization to perform LVO from their CAA. They need to have LVO procedures described in the manual, provide training for the pilots and have capable aircraft in their fleet.

For the pilots the rating to fly LVO is tied to the operating procedures of each airline so even if you have instrument rating you have to prove yourself to every operator you intend to fly LVO with. Rating is valid for six months.


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