IFR Training in Canada

Doug Robertson in Calgary is about to start training for his instrument rating, and has mentioned that there are few online resources specifically about IFR training in Canada. Obviously, though, there are a lot of American resources. Here are some of the differences between Canadian and U.S. IFR training, based on my own experience in Canada and many conversations with U.S. pilots:

  • Partial-panel work is heavily emphasized in the U.S., and forms part of the IFR checkride, where there is often (always?) a partial-panel approach as part of the test. In Canada, you might do a bit of partial-panel work on the sim or in your plane, but it is not automatically part of the flight test (though the examiner can simulate some kind of a failure), and you are very unlikely to be asked to do a partial-panel approach.

  • Recovery from an unusual attitude under the hood is part of the U.S. IFR flight test, but not part of the test in Canada.

  • In the U.S., NDB training is something that usually happens during IFR training and is then abandoned; in Canada, NDB is still a practical, day-to-day part of life, especially if you have to fly up north, so people seem to get less stressed about it, and thus, have a lot fewer problems with it (an NDB hold can actually be easier than a VOR hold).

  • The Canadian IFR flight test is almost unbelievably short. The in-air portion involves mainly tracking a radial from a navaid, performing one hold, and flying two approaches, one of which must be a precision approach for your first test (the second one is usually your return home). Other stuff, like showing an ability to accept clearances and talk to ATC, happens automatically during the test. You might spend more time checking your radios and taxiing than you will actually flying. There’s also an oral portion before the flight, as in the U.S.

  • On the other hand, you have to retake the IFR flight test every two years, while the U.S. test is valid for life.

Once you’ve passed, note also that the 6/6 rule (six approaches in the last six months to stay current) becomes in Canada the 6/6/6 rule (six approachs and six hours real or simulated IMC in the last six months). However, your flight test makes you current for a year, so you’ll have to worry about the 6/6/6 only every second year.

One other nice point about the Canadian test is that, since there’s no requirement for partial panel or unusual-attitude recovery, you can take the test in actual IMC. I managed to schedule my first test two years ago for a nice, foggy morning with 400 foot ceilings and silky-smooth air, and I ended up not having to wear the foggles (which I hate almost as much as the hood).


About David Megginson

Scholar, tech guy, Canuck, open-source/data/information zealot, urban pedestrian, language geek, tea drinker, pater familias, red tory, amateur musician, private pilot.
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4 Responses to IFR Training in Canada

  1. Paul Tomblin says:

    The three large controlled airports in the north west of New York state, Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse, have all had their NDBs decomissioned. Now if you want to do NDB training around here you have to go to Penn Yann which is uncontrolled and the NDB is right on the field. I find those ones with the NDB right on the field (instead of coincident with the outer marker for the ILS approach a lot easier to fly because even if you’re homing instead of doing proper wind correction you’ll end up at the end of the runway.

  2. david says:

    Most ILS approaches in Canada have an NDB where the outer marker would be in the U.S. (i.e. like an LOM). As Paul knows already from his IFR flying in Canada, there’s usually an NDB approach corresponding to each ILS approach, and it serves as a backup when the localizer is U/S. That’s what’s happening in Halifax right now.

  3. Training Guy says:

    Does anyone have the contact information for IFR schools in Canada?

  4. david says:

    Training Guy: a lot of the training in Canada takes place through flying clubs, which are typically large-ish non-profit FBOs, though we also have for-profit flying schools. What part of Canada are you interested in?

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