Instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) is an aviation flight category that describes weather conditions that require pilots to fly primarily by reference to instruments, and therefore under Instrument Flight Rules (IFR), rather than by outside visual references under Visual Flight Rules (VFR). Typically, this means flying in cloud or bad weather. Pilots sometimes train to fly in these conditions with the aid of products like Foggles, specialized glasses that restrict outside vision, forcing the student to rely on instrument indications only.

Experience Requirements. An applicant for an UK IMC rating must have:

25 hours experience as an aeroplane pilot since date of application for their PPL (A)
The 25 hours must include 10 hours PIC of which 5 hours must be cross country flights
IMC rating course flying (15 hours) may be included in the 25 hours experience
A Flight Radiotelephony Operators Licence (FRTOL)
The weather conditions required for flight under VFR are known as Visual Meteorological Conditions (VMC). IMC and VMC are mutually exclusive. In fact, instrument meteorological conditions are defined as less than the minima specified for visual meteorological conditions.[1] The boundary criteria between VMC and IMC are known as the VMC minima, around which are known as “marginal VMC”.


The flight training to include:

15 hours dual instrument flying training of which up to 2 hours may be in an approved simulator
Not less than 10 of the 15 hours must be flown by sole reference to instruments (simulated, using a hood or foggles or actual)
Note: Holders of a pre JAR Night Rating (not the Night Qualification) may be exempt 3 hours dual flight instruction including but not more than 2 hours by sole reference to instruments, providing they can show logbook evidence of completing the pre Night Rating instrument flying training.
With good visibility, pilots can determine the attitude of the aircraft by utilising visual cues from outside the aircraft, most significantly the horizon. Without such external visual cues, pilots must use an internal cue of attitude, which is provided by gyroscopically-driven instruments such as the Attitude Indicator (or “Artificial Horizon”). The availability of a good horizon cue is controlled by meteorological visibility, hence minimum visibility limits feature in the VMC minima. Visibility is also important in the avoidance of terrain.

The UK IMC rating is unique to the UK, IOM & Channel Islands. The IMCr entitles the holder to fly in IMC weather, VFR on top of cloud and also to undertake instrument approaches such as the ILS, NDB and Surveliance Radar (SRA) procedures. The rating only allows the full privileges outside of class ‘A’ airspace but just the same increases the SVFR privileges within class A. Class A airspace is confined to only a few areas of the UK; airways, the London Control zone and a number of TMAs including the Channel Islands TMA. Therefore the full privileges of the rating can be used extensively within the UK.

Flight Outside the UK:

For flight within the rest of Europe the rating itself is not recognised but an increase in basic licence privileges are extended. VFR allows flight down to a visibility of 1500 metres in most non-UK countries but the UK PPL restricts you to a minimum of 3000 metres (3K) and also to remain in sight of the surface at all times. The IMC rating removes these restrictions allowing you to fly on top of cloud and in an inflight visibility of 1500 metres wherever it is allowed.

Use of the IMC Rating:

Pilots use the privileges of the rating in many different ways. Many exploit it fully by regularly flying for business or pleasure. The IMCr offers a reasonable degree of certainty of not having to turn back because the weather conditions are VFR limiting. Others are provided with a skill that enables them to safely navigate through patches of imc weather en route but to then position for a visual landing at the destination or on return. Many retain and maintain the rating but use it little other than to be sure that they have the skills should IMC conditions be encounted enroute but unforcast.

So, however you will wish to use your IMC rating there are benefits much wider than the rating itself.

Minimum of 20 hours of theoretical knowledge training covering:

Physiological Factors
Flight Instruments
Aeronautical Information Service
Flight Planning
Privileges of the IMC Rating
IMC Rating Ground Examination
A written paper consisting of 25 multi-choice questions covering the IMC theoretical knowledge. The pass mark is 75%. The examination must be passed within the 12 months preceding the date of rating application. It can be taken before or after the flight test.

The IMC will provide an excellent base on which to achieve an IR should that be a further aim. The EASA rules do not allow hours done during the IMC course to reduce the IR syllabus hours but many pilots do more than the minimum hours and holding an IMC will reduce that likelyhood.

Validity: 25 months | Revalidation / Renewal: Pass a revalidation/renewal flight test prior to rating expiry


The applicant must show logbook evidence that in the period between flight tests has successfully completed a let-down, approach to minima, go-around and missed approach using a different aid from that in the flight test. This must be signed by an FI qualified to give instrument flying instruction.


Carry out 2 approach procedures using different aids during the revalidation / renewal flight test

IMC Rating Revalidation / Renewal Flight Test: Conducted by a Flight Examiner (FE) or Instrument Rating Examiner (IRE).

Additional charges are Examiner Fees and plane hire for skills test. We will tailor a course to suit your needs – we can provide residential courses if that is what you require and will take care of all your needs prior to arrival.
Contact us via email to find out more or for further information, please call us on: 01286 830800