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In chat, falstro mentioned the "UK IMC rating" and described it as "a lighter version of an instrument rating, allows enroute IFR, but no approaches or departures" (although to be fair he also said that he isn't familiar with the exact definition).

The name "IMC rating" implies that it allows flight in IMC, not just filing IFR in VMC for procedural reasons. But if so, and if approaches are not included, then it seems like it would allow a pilot to fly into IMC with no safe way out again if an emergency required an instrument approach.

So what exactly is a UK IMC rating, what does it not allow that a full instrument rating does, and what is the advantage of having it?

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  • $\begingroup$ From your description, it sounds like you would still have to have VMC at your arrival and departure fields, but that you'd be allowed for fly through IMC en-route. $\endgroup$ – reirab Nov 10 '14 at 21:14
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Falstro's referring to the european en-route IFR rating, not the UK IMC rating. The UK IMC rating (I have one) is a national rating which allows departures, approaches and flight in instrument meteorological conditions, albeit with higher minimums. It can only be used within the UK, not including the channel islands, which means once you leave UK airspace you are no longer allowed to use it.

Training for it is a similar curriculum as any other instrument rating:

  • NDB and VOR tracking
  • Partial panel
  • Unusual attitude recovery
  • ILS, VOR, NDB, and Surveillance Radar approaches

The reason for the UK rating is to give private pilots an attainable instrument rating option as the EASA one is aimed at commercial pilots and has a huge amount of unnecessary material and training requirements. This is supposedly being worked on but given it's the EU I'm not holding my breath.

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    $\begingroup$ I've edited my answer to incorporate your explanation that this is not the UK IMC rating, but EASA EIR. Thanks for pointing this out! $\endgroup$ – SentryRaven Nov 11 '14 at 14:24
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This is also know in Europe as an Enroute Instrument Rating or EIR, which allows flights under Instrument Flight Rules in the cruise phase, but not for departure or approach. It is based on EASA FCL 825

FCL.825 En-route Instrument Rating (EIR)

(a) Privileges and conditions.

(1) The privileges of the holder of an en-route instrument rating (EIR) are to conduct flights by day under IFR or in IMC in the en-route phase of flight, with any aeroplane for which a class or type rating is held.

The curriculum to obtain an EIR is lower than for a full Instrument Rating (IR), especially the number of hours for theoretical and practical instructions have been lowered:

(2) instrument flight instruction. (i) The instrument flight instruction for a single-engine EIR shall include at least 15 hours of flight time by reference to instruments.

As GdD has pointed out in his answer, this is not the same as the UK CAA IMC Rating. See his answer for more information on this.

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The advantage of having it is that is enables more pilots, due to the lower barriers to obtaining the rating, to fly IMC, for example "on top", if caught out by unexpected weather which has been a consistent killer of PPLs, particularly due to CFIT.

It also opens more opportunities when weather en-route would otherwise prevent a flight and, can provide a more comfortable flight with higher altitudes and guaranteed separation.

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