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I am a new private pilot with absolutely no intentions of a career in
aviation. All of my flying will be in rental planes to nearby
airports (around 100nm) in good weather, returning the same day. I
was wondering if it makes sense to get the instrument rating, which
will be a significant expense for me, if most of it is going to be
useless in just four years. But then, GPS does not seem to be so
precise yet. Are all VORs, ILSs, etc still going to go in 2010?
Thanks for your help.
Suvrat P Lele
-- S Lele, December 29, 2005
"Returning the same day" is not something you can guarantee in New England unless you have an instrument rating! The instrument rating teaches you to divide your attention, watch the gauges, read the plate, talk to ATC, and not get the airplane upside down. Less than five percent of your in-flight training will be in any way specific to the navaids used. A pilot who knows how to tune an ILS frequency and follow guidance from the localizer and glide slope will certainly have no trouble following guidance from a corrected GPS.
What would make a standard instrument rating somewhat pointless is not GPS replacing ILS/VOR, but the synthetic vision systems and "highway in the sky" guidance. These already exist in higher-end aircraft equipped with the Chelton panel.
The world of aviation moves very slowly, however. If you think that things could be remade in an improved fashion by 2010, it will probably not happen until 2025.
-- Philip Greenspun, December 29, 2005
I highly doubt that much will change within the next four years in aviation that will make any work you now put toward an insturment rating pointless. As Philip mentioned, it is going to require a very long time to begin decomissioning any land-based navigational aid. Consider all the private, night-cargo, and even passenger airline service in this country that relies on these facilities. The government will may enhance the systems, but for sure not rid themselves of anything in the near to medium future. ILS will be around for a very long time.
You seem to really be limiting yourself by having determined that all your flying will be in VMC or better to nearby airports. Why not find a day with some reasonable IMC and an instructor and go somewhere for a hamburger. Hey, take a friend too and make an outing of it. You don't have to commit to earning an instrument rating by taking one jaunt; however, I am sure you will find it lots of fun and a great experience. No need to delve into the finer points of IFR operations on this day-long adventure, just basic control under IMC and some new radio communications. Let the instructor take care of the rest. It might be a neat intro to IFR flying.
-- Bradrick Pretzer, December 31, 2005
Thank you for your replies. All the information (and more details in Philip's emails) were greatly helpful. I already started the training.
-- S Lele, February 5, 2006