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Night and IFR Approval for Permit Aircraft

Hitherto Night and IFR flight has been available in the UK only to certified aircraft with a prescribed fit of equipment. After many years of discussion between the CAA and the Light Aircraft Association  the Authority has now announced the approval in principle of permit (as opposed to certified) aircraft for Night and IFR. To qualify, aircraft will demonstrate an ‘Acceptable Means of Compliance’ and be maintained to this standard.  

To fly such an aircraft IFR the pilot will need to hold at least a Class 2 EASA medical and an Instrument Rating (Restricted), i.e. the old IMC Rating. 

Your editor commends the skill of being able to control an aircraft in IMC as an important step towards safer flying for any GA pilot. The VFR only pilot can easily be caught out and reduced to dangerous scud running while the instrument equipped and qualified pilot can climb out of trouble to above the Minimum Safety Altitude, quite possibly emerging into sunshine. Statistically, the cases of IMC rated pilots getting into trouble in IMC are very rare and there is not one known case throughout the history of UK aviation of a mid air collision involving a GA aeroplane in IMC.  

Controllers seem far more likely to grant crossing clearance of controlled airspace to a light aircraft being flown under IFR rather than VFR. Flying IFR does not necessarily involve flying in IMC, just being willing if asked to accept a clearance or a direction that will take the aircraft into IMC; the ambition of most GA pilots flying IFR is to get above the cloud tops in the sunshine rather than groping along beneath. 

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