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As I understand it, if you want to use a GPS for IFR enroute or approaches, you have to install an approved GPS unit, along with annunciators and indicators, in the same positions and to the same standard as is required in a certified aircraft, but you may do the installation work and sign the release.
EDIT: I see there is a restriction for homebuilts but you can apply to have it lifted:
549.115 Instrument Flight Rules (IFR)
[(a) Upon receipt of a Special Certificate of Airworthiness with modified operating conditions issued pursuant to Chapter 507 of this Manual, the owner of an amateur-built aircraft may apply for the removal of the "Visual Flight Rules only" restriction.
[(b) The application shall contain a declaration by the owner that the aircraft is equipped in accordance with Air Navigation Order (ANO), Series V, No. 22.
[(c) The aeroplane and the installed equipment shall be maintained according to the applicable maintenance requirements of Chapter 571.
As for OM, the same rules as for certified aircraft apply. The only change is who can do the work.
I am looking to purchase a homebuilt Zenair 650B. It is well equipped avionics wise with 2 Dynon EFIS screens, non certified GPS, etc. I know I would need to add a VOR/ILS and/or a certified GPS. And I know I need another ADHRS module for back up. Not sure exactly what else to properly equip it.
Now I have talked to people that said they would NEVER fly this type of plane into IMC, EVER, regardless of equipment. Keep in mind, I do not have an IFR rating and am completely new to this realm. Why not? I assume turbulence or icing? If the plane is properly equipped, and I mean not just legal, but actually properly equipped, and I am properly trained, then why not?
If I upgrade the panel for lets say 15K, maybe more... down the road, and get my IFR rating, would it be a problem flying IFR with a plane like this. My main goal for buying this airplane would be for recreational flying. But I would also like to upgrade my skills. And if I am IFR rated and I want to do an XC somewhere and the weather isn't bad (IE no storms) but the ceilings are low either at my destination, or at my home base or both, I would like to be able to go. Of if the weather deteriorates en route I can switch to IFR instead of descending or turning around and cancelling.
Keep in mind, if any of this doesn't make sense, I know very little about IFR flying.
I would appreciate any advice.
After spending all that money though, you're going to find the number of days you can fly IFR will be very limited. In winter the freezing level is going to ground you most to all of the time depending on where you are in the country. In summer if there are any thunderstorms active or forecast for your area you're going VFR or not at all.
Having said that, there could be a few days a year where it comes in very handy. The biggest problem is how are you going to get the experience necessary to tell the ok days from the bad if you're only flying 40 hours a year, .5 of which is IMC.
Very topical question though. I had plans to go camping this weekend but there's no way I'm going anywhere VFR. I'd have no problem flying a small single IFR today though (except that my wife isn't going camping in the rain obviously).
You have actually cleared up quite a bit for me with a fairly simple comment. It seems as a recreational pilot, opportunities for IFR flying will likely be uncommon. If I am not flying regularly in IFR like I would be as say a corporate pilot, or bush pilot or whatever as my job, in my private life I probably won't even feel comfortable doing it. And like you said, the part about knowing which situations are OK will be tough with so little experience. Part of it for me is the learning aspect of it. I may do the training just for that part which would make me a better pilot overall.
I have also talked to a couple people who think it's crazy to fly single engine IFR period. He mentioned a situation of an engine failing. I didn't see the problem at first thinking that ATC knows where you are, and you are trained to use the instruments, but his point is that you are going down, and you have no idea what is underneath you or when you would break out that you would have no chance of planning a forced landing in any reasonable place. He said the same thing about night flying especially in remote areas. If your engine goes down, you are done and what you think might be a field, is actually a bunch of trees.
I am actually seriously considering attaching a parachute to whichever airplane I get which could come in handy in any of these situations making them a non concern. I have been doing reading on them, and the stats are quite impressive. about 7k for a small one. Lots of piece of mind. And I certainly don't care about all the "a real pilot would have dead sticked it in" comments that could possibly occur if I ever pulled it.
If you plan on flying 500hrs a year, and frequently during fall/spring, you might find the ability to fly IFR helpful and safe. I'd rather be at 6000' in the blue skies above the layer than skud running at 500' because you "need to get there".
If you find you are flying 100hrs a year, you'll have enough fun flying VFR.
I equipped my RV-10 for IFR flight (though I just finished construction a couple of months ago and have only had the application to remove the "VFR Only" restriction in with Transport Canada for about a week, so I can't tell you yet how easy the process is). Not because I intend to go flying in all kinds of nasty weather, but because IFR flight, with proper training and experience, can be safer than VFR. Insurance companies often provide lower rates to pilots with instrument ratings - they wouldn't do this if an instrument rating made the pilot a higher statistical risk to them. I think the danger of an IFR ticket is where it gives a pilot of a single engine, non-icing equipped aircraft a false sense of security into thinking they can launch into all kinds of conditions. Flying IFR on its own doesn't have to bear a close correlation to being willing to fly in hard IMC.
I like being "in the system" when flying so I have ATC helping to look out for me. As far as I'm concerned, there's no better way to have that accomplished than to fly IFR, even on beautiful VFR days.
When I was debating getting my single engine instrument rating, I ran into two kinds of people. Those who said they would never fly IFR in a single engine plane. They, of course, were people who either had just their VFR rating, or flew twins all the time and got used to having that level of redundancy... none were people with the experience of actually having done so. The other group of people were those who did have their single engine instrument rating, and invariably, everyone I met in that category were glad they did. Most single engine instrument rated pilots I know file IFR all the time on cross countries whether they need to or not, both to keep their experience level up, and also because they just enjoy flying that way. Sure, it can be hard to keep current and proficient, but that can just be an excuse to go flying more And so long as a pilot limits him or herself to conditions they are comfortable and proficient in, I personally think that having good instrument skills makes one a better and safer pilot.
When I was planning the avionics for my plane, I decided to get my single engine instrument rating first to see if I liked it enough to justify the expense. Instrument flying may not be for everyone, so it's something you might want to consider. It's true that thunderstorm activity and icing levels can restrict a single engine, non-icing equipped plane significantly in our country, but it does open some options that would otherwise be closed.