The IFR Quick-Review Study Guide

The IFR Quick-Review Study Guide


I created the IFR Quick Review Study Guide a few years ago to help readers study for their Instrument checkrides and maintain IFR proficiency. Since then, it has more than doubled in size from the original ten pages.

The guide condenses most of the knowledge required for an FAA Airplane-Instrument rating into a convenient short, yet comprehensive collection.

Since it focuses on breadth over depth, you should use it as a supplemental study resource. Any error corrections or feedback is appreciated. You can send those through PilotsCafe's contact page.

Pay what you want

The guide is sold under the "pay what you want" model. You can pay whatever you feel it's worth to you.

Why consider paying more than $0?

  • To support my work. Your support is a recognition of the effort and time spent in creating the guide and will help me keep it up to date over time.
  • 10% of sales profits go to charity at year's end (Direct Relief).

Direct Relief donates medicine and supplies to local healthcare providers in more than 140 countries, including the United States. It is one of the best-rated charities on

I want this!

What's covered?

  • ๐Ÿ‘จ๐Ÿปโ€โœˆ๏ธ When is an Instrument Rating required?
  • ๐Ÿ“– Logging instrument time
  • ๐Ÿ—“ Recency of experience
  • โœˆ๏ธ Minimum aeronautical experience required for an IF rating
  • ๐Ÿชช Documents required for flight
  • ๐Ÿ›  Maintenance inspection requirement
  • ๐Ÿง  Decision-making models
  • ๐Ÿ“ฃ Passenger & takeoff briefings
  • ๐ŸŒซ IFR flight plan requirements
  • โ˜๏ธ Alternate requirements
  • ๐Ÿ›ซ Takeoff minimums
  • ๐Ÿ›ซ DPs and STARs
  • ๐ŸŽง IFR clearance requirements
  • ๐Ÿ›ฉ IFR altitudes
  • ๐ŸŒŽ Flight instruments
  • โš™๏ธ Minimum equipment required for flight
  • ๐Ÿงญ Radio navigation instruments (VOR, NDB)
  • ๐Ÿ›ฐ Understanding GPS, GNSS, PBN, RNP & RNAV
  • ๐Ÿ›ฌ Components of ILS
  • ๐Ÿ’ก Approach Light Systems
  • ๐Ÿ•น Attitude instrument flying techniques
  • ๐ŸŽง Lost communication procedures
  • โธ Holding patterns
  • โ„น๏ธ Procedure turns
  • ๐Ÿ›ฌ Descent planning
  • โ„น๏ธ Airspace
  • โ˜€๏ธ Basic VFR weather minimums in US airspace
  • ๐ŸŒฆ Available weather products and services
  • โ›ˆ Weather hazards
  • ๐Ÿซ Aeromedical factors
  • ๐Ÿ“š Reference material
  • And more!

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Latest version: v3.8.0 (04 Apr 2023)

View changelog

v3.8.0 (04 Apr 2023)

  • Added Approach Lighting Systems symbols and configuration.
  • Added glossary definitions
    • RAIL
    • RVV
    • TDZ
    • TDZE
  • Added note "Highest for the route segment flown" in Lost Communications Procedure.
  • Added US Instrument Terminal Procedures Publication legends
  • Clarified 'Filing an Alternate' considerations for WAAS equipped GPS.
  • Clarified language of VFR in controlled airspace (ยง91.155)
  • Clarified text of instrument recency timeline infographic
  • Fixed paragraph numbering - instrument approach procedures
  • Fixed typos
  • New graphic for odd/even flight altitude sectors in controlled airspace.
  • Updated AIM reference. AIM 5-1-8 replaced with 5-1-6
  • Updated NOTAM definition
  • Special Thanks
    • Andrew Shacker
    • Ben Bratcher
    • Nadeem Toor

v3.7.0 (17 Nov 2022)

  • Added warning about IMC in class G without clearance.
  • Added information about cruise clearances and block altitudes.
  • Typographical and formatting fixes
  • Holding pattern race track drawing - minor graphical fix

v3.6.2 (08 Oct 2022)

  • Changed "IAP" to "IAF" in "starting at the IAP", page 2.
  • Add references to ยง61.57 in carrying passengers as PIC and instrument recency sections, page 1.
  • Fixed FAR reference to class B to ยง91.131, page 17.
  • VDA, change "Visual Descent Angle" to "Vertical Descent Angle".
  • Added GLS, SFRA, VDA, and VDP to glossary.
  • Special thanks:
    • Martin Kelly
    • Dan Sobczak

v3.6.1 (16 May 2022)

  • Rephrased optical illusion section for clarity.
  • Fixed: RNAV routes by default are RNAV 2, not RNAV 1 as stated previously.
  • ILS Categories: Added reference to AIM 1-1-9 and added the word "Lowest" to ILS CAT visibility and DH column headers for clarity.
  • Clarified instrument recency timeline graphic. This is a work in progress and may be improved further to be more concise.
  • Special thanks:
    • Bryce Spain
    • Doug Blischok

v3.6.0 (30 Jan 2022)

  • IFR Altitudes
    • Added descriptions for MCA and MRA definitions.
  • Lost Comm Procedures
    • Added in VFR conditions, continue the flight under VFR and land as soon as practicable.
  • Improved formatting
  • DME slant range explanation reworded
  • Remove reference to ยง61.51 in "When is an instrument rating needed" (it belongs only to "Logging Instrument Time")
  • Typo corrections
  • Special thanks:
    • Dave Dwyer
    • James Mahoney
    • Justin Jackson
    • Robert Haymond

v3.5.1 (11 Nov 2021)

  • More typo corrections
    • 'other mean available' -> 'other means available'
    • 'pop-ups are a mean to' -> 'pop-ups allow'
    • cancelled -> canceled
    • floatation -> flotation
    • minimas -> minima
    • scaleable -> scalable
  • Special thanks:
    • Chris Higgins

v3.5.0 (11 Nov 2021)

  • New: when can a pilot log instrument approaches.
  • Departure procedures:
    • New: Vertical Climb Over Airport (VCOA)
    • New: Diverse Departure Criteria and procedures
    • New: Diverse Vector Area procedures
  • Clarified description of Scalable RNP.
  • Changed "Mandatory reports under IFR" to "Required ..."
  • Changed "Types of class E" to "Functions of ..." to match AIM's language.
  • Added two more functions of class E.
  • Typos
    • Replace "Orthographic" with "orographic" lifting
    • Replace "uplosping" with "upsloping"
  • Terms and definitions
    • New: Night definition as per FAR 1.1
    • New: VCOA definition
  • Minor design and formatting improvements
  • Special thanks:
    • Eric Treworgy
    • Graeme Nichol
    • Jack Spellman
    • Michal Harel

v3.4.0 (29 Sep 2021)

  • Added DME Service Volumes
  • Fixed formatting and typos
  • Special thanks:
    • Diego Luna
    • William D. Palmer

v3.3.0 (13 Aug 2021)

  • Rephrased recency of experience section and added exceptions.
  • Rearranged first few pages of the guide to fit added content.
  • Added graphic for IFR recency of experience timeline.
  • Added 'A PTA TEN R' acronym for position reports.
  • Removed periods from acronyms
  • Fixed typo decent to descent

v3.2.0 (19 Jul 2021)

  • Added DME service volumes
  • Rearranged page
  • Fixed formatting and typos

v3.1.0 (17 May 2021)

  • Added information about pop-up IFR clearances.
  • Added types of weather briefings.
  • Added remark in "operating with inoperative items" that removing equipment affects W&B.
  • Added transponder code table.
  • Fixed typos.

v3.0.0 (28 Feb 2021)

  • Changed copyright - guide is now under the "pay what you want" price model $0+.
  • Formatting

v2.6.0 (26 Feb 2021)

  • Added "When is an Instrument Rating required?" paragraph.
  • Fixed text formating
  • Re-arranged first page layout
  • Special thanks: Dan Watkins

v2.5.1 (17 Feb 2021)

  • Fixed typos and minor text editing

v2.5.0 (25 Jan 2021)

  • Added sections about airspace and special use airspace.
  • Reformat design of weather section.

v2.4.1 (18 Dec 2020)

  • Fixed typo in example of descent planning calculation (replaced FL320 with FL350)
  • Special thanks: Ian Clark

v2.4.0 (16 Dec 2020)

  • Changed bank angle calculation for standard-rate turns from (KTAS / 10) + 5 (which is only correct for 100kts) to (KTAS / 10) x 1.5
  • Reports required in non-radar environment to reflect a change in section 5-3-3 of the AIM.
    • ETA ยฑ3 minutes changed to 2 min, or 3 min if in North Atlantic (NAT). This reflects a change made in the AIM.
  • Added QR Code for quick access to the updates page.
  • Special thanks: Ian Mastenbrook

v2.3.1 (14 Dec 2020)

  • Fixed typo in IFR Cruising Altitude graphics. Replaced 170ยบ with 179ยบ.
  • Special thanks: Ian Clark

v2.3.0 (10 Dec 2020)

  • Special thanks:
    • Captain (ret.) Phil Remmel, DPE of Scottsdale, AZ, for the many improvements, most specifically the revision of the AVIATES acronym.
    • Mahbubur Khan for pointing to the error in hyperventiation wording.
  • Replaced required inspections menemonic AVIATE with AVIATES.
    • Re-arranged meaning of letters in the acronym.
    • Added STC and AD's required inspections to the
    • Added progressive inspections
    • Clarified wording
    • Added examples of when 100 hours inspection is required or not.
  • Added Taxi Briefing (ARCH)
  • IFR Cruising Altitudes
    • Added details about IFR altitudes in controlled vs. uncontrolled airspace.
  • Rephrased Altimeter taxi check.
  • Min equipment required for IFR
    • Replaced "two-way navigational equipment appropriate for the route to be flown" with "two-way communication & navigational radios appropriate for the route to be flown"
    • Corrected DME requirements above FL240 to "at and above FL240".
    • Clock: added "... with sweep-second pointer or digital representation"
  • Basic VFR Weather Minimums section
    • Replaced Class E "above 10,000' MSL" with "at or above 10,000' MSL"
    • Replaced Class G "above 10,000'" with "at / above 10,000' MSL"
    • Replaced Class G "below 1,200' AGL" with "at or below 1,200' AGL"
  • Oxygen requirements
    • Replaced that "12,500'-15,000' (including)" with "above 12,500 to 14,000โ€™ MSL (including)"
  • Terms & Definitions
    • Added AD, STC, RVSM
  • Improved formatting
  • Fixed wording of hyperventilation definition.

v2.2.0 (07 Dec 2020)

  • Added info about VOR Minimum Operational Network program (MON) and new VOR service volumes graphic.
  • Terms & Definitions
    • Added MON

v2.1.7 (25 Nov 2020)

  • For published holding patterns clearance items, replaced "Direction" with "Direction of hold from fix (e.g., N, W, S, E)" for clarification.
  • Fix typos

v2.1.6 (23 Nov 2020)

  • Cleaned up missing chars
  • Fixed typo

v2.1.5 (23 Nov 2020)

  • Changed the phrase for hold turn requirements to "Follow Flight Director bank angle" to "25ยบ bank angle if using a Flight Director system" and added note: "*Whichever uses the least bank angle"
  • Added Report to ATC at the holding fix.
  • Fixed overflowing text in rate of descent example.

v2.1.4 (12 Nov 2020)

  • Added info about localizer and glideslope modulated carrier signals (at 90 and 150 Hz)
  • Formatting improvements.

v2.1.3 (03 Nov 2020)

  • Fixed decoding of winds aloft example
  • IFR cruising altitudes graphic, added text: "or Flight Levels"
  • Minor formatting changes

v2.1.2 (02 Nov 2020)

  • Replaced 'WKRAFT' acronym, preflight info required for IFR, with 'NW KRAFT', which adds 'N' for Notams to the mnemonic.
  • New language for ELT battery replacement requirements.
  • Minor layout improvements

v2.1.1 (31 Oct 2020)

  • Fixed explanation of flying from high pressure area to low pressure area. Altimeter will indicate higher than desired, not lower as stated before, causing pilot to fly low.

v2.1.0 (30 Oct 2020)

  • Updated requirements for use of FFS, FTD or ATD for acquiring instrument aeronautical experience
  • Added definition table of LIFR, IFR, MVFR and VFR weather reports flight categories.
  • Added information about SVFR
  • Fixed language and contents of O2 requirements.
  • Added SCUBA diving with controlled ascent (wait 24 hours regardless of flight altitude).
  • Added reference to the download webpage so that readers can check for updates of the document.
  • Fixed language describing Inversion Illusion

v2.0.2 (29 Oct 2020)

  • Fixed several typos.

v2.0.1 (28 Oct 2020)

  • Fixed recency of experience section, FAR Part ยง61.57, requirements for completing recency of experience in a FFS, ATD, or FTD.

v2.0 (25 Oct 2020)

  • Complete redesign
  • Corrections and updates throughout the document.
  • Improved graphics
  • Whats new (highlights)?
    • Using approved training devices for certification & recency of experience
    • Passenger and Takeoff briefings
    • Added information about pitot-static instruments
    • More information about RNP, PBN and RNAV
    • Attitude instrument flying concepts
    • Aeromedical subjects
    • Reference material
    • Terms and definitions

v1.4 (27 Jan 2011)

Last legacy version

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