How simmers get IFR knowledge and skills?

Rod Machado

And hours and hours of reading and flying.


You could read ICAO document 8168 volume 1 and 3, it explains the theory behind instrument procedures. Still does not teach you the principles about IFR flying though it really is a combination of multiple sources, most flightschools I have worked for have their own “Instrument Flying Study Guide” where they combine most of the knowledge in one book.

  • ATPL Airlaw covers the important aspects of doc. 8168.
  • ATPL Instrumentation covers working of instruments needed for IFR.
  • ATPL Radio Navigation covers the working of beacons, GPS, radio’s, transponders etc.
  • ATPL Human Performance and Limitations about disorientation, sensory illusions, also required knowledge for instrument flying.
  • ATPL Operational Procedure explains weather minima for operators, RVRs, ceilings for precision and non-precision approaches and alternates.

I guess the above includes most of the required knowledge for instrument flying although there might be other subjects with an overlap. There is little bits scattered through all the 14 ATPL subjects I’m afrand. There isn’t really one book.

I have started writing something like that during my COVID not flying period and convert all the lesson materials and manuals I ever wrote into one presentation but the IFR part isn’t finished and I’m flying again now. But if I ever manage to finish it I will drop it in the forums, its nearly 800 pages already describing basic VFR flying and procedures + navigation, IFR (work in progress), ACAS, TAWS, flying in NAT airspace, RVSM, performance, Radiotelephony (see my ATC mod, I published the RTF part with that) all the codes and tables needed for flight.


Skybrary is also a good (and credible) source.


it takes some time my friend… I have been 'playing around with sims for a bit now and once I understood vor/obs flying I was hooked…

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People here are coming up with great answers but the op asked about IFR for “simming” starting from nothing. Some of these answers are like telling a kid to start reading General Relatively and Calculus III textbooks when he asked how do I multiply 2 numbers. Was it to help the op or show off your knowledge?


This is one of the best books I’ve ever used as a reference: Everything Explained for the Professional Pilot 13th Edition (0792745031233): Richie Lengel: Books
I flew in the military for 20 years then 10 more as a commercial pilot. The mechanics of IFR flight are not too difficult to learn, the complications arise when you fold in company policy and federal regulations. IFR flight is conducted in the US under 3 FAR parts; 91, 121, and 135. 91 is general aviation but applies to everyone, part 121 is the scheduled airline section and 135 is the On Demand, Air Taxi section (oil and gas pilots, air ambulance, and most “for hire” operations). The rules can be quite different across these regulations.

The above book actually covers issues among all 3 parts and it is very easy to find the information. It is also available for iOS.


I bookmarked all the links and will take me a while to digest… I appreciate all your input… thank you all! Hope it also benefits others beginner simmer


As Jeremy mentioned earlier, I think this is right up your street:

FS Academy - IFR is a mission pack of 12 IFR training missions and comprehensive groundschool. Covering ILS, VOR, NDB, Holding, SIDs, Partial panel and lots more.

If you want to learn IFR in Flight Simulator, that’s exactly what it’s for.


It doesn’t take a huge amount of work to get a rough idea of what to do, but it’s not of much real benefit.

A multitude of sources are available online, YouTube etc, but some of what you watch is produced by novices, albeit with good intentions (and great video editing skills!)

I make the FS Academy training missions (as mentioned below) to be true to life and of genuine use for either real students or passionate simmers, with over 7000hrs real A320 hours to back it up and ensure authenticity.

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Thanks Jeremy!

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Your advice is great for committed simmers and flying students, as those FAA manuals are accurate, comprehensive and - best of all - free. But for the new / casual simmer, they’re a significant time commitment, and not always an easy read. While I have them all on my hard drive, when I have a question on technique, I’m more likely to hit the forums or a good youtube tutorial, especially when they can clarify whether my problems are caused by me or the sim.

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While I applaud the desire to learn, and agree that the available official manuals can be difficult to read, it is my experience that the majority of ‘advice’ you will get from forums, in particular, can be less than helpful.

Case In Point
I recently encountered a thread where a new simpilot was encountering a problem with IFR landings. It seems that the ILS was causing him to crash into the ground even though the “magenta diamond was perfectly lined up”.
About 60 posts to his thread agreed that there was a bug in the AP that the aircraft would fly into the ground without pulling up the nose and flaring at the right spot.
The OP thanked the posters and said he was glad it was a bug because he thought he must have been doing something wrong.

Not one post in the thread indicated the real reason for his difficulty.

  • The King Air does NOT have autoland capability.
  • The airport he was landing at onlly had a CATI approach.
  • Minimums for the approach was 250 AGL.
  • The OP did not know what an “Approach Plate” was.

This is unfortunately all too common. I am constantly running into “Bug Reports” for things that are clearly pilot error but errors that are common to untrained pilots and so enough new users have encountered the problem that they all agree it must be a bug.

The Lesson
If you really want to get the most from your sim experience, it is not necessary to be an expert, but it is necessary to arm yourself with the basics. Everytime you want to attempt a new task, look it up in an official source FIRST. At the very least, get an understanding of the basics.
If your FIRST source is “forums or You-Tube” and you don’t have the basic knowledge, you have no way to filter the wheat from the chaff.

Just because there is only one person telling you that the AP is NOT broken and that the plane will NOT land itself safely, does not mean that the 59 posters saying it is a bug are right.


Maybe some tutorials / flight lessons within MSFS would have done the trick although I doubt Asobo has the knowledge required to set this up properly.

All true. But RNAV glideslopes, and approaches in general, are in fact, still buggy (or, at best, are inconsistently implemented). Reading all 300 pages of the FAA instrument handbook, ~500 pages of the g1000 manual, and however many are in the King Air POH wouldn’t have answered some ILS problems I’ve run into. But an hour spent watching a few 101-level tutorial channels (like the one I linked) may have gotten them pointed in the right direction.

The OP isn’t looking to get rated, in this case it’s about people who are new to sims, or maybe just modern avionics, and need an introduction. “RTFM” just isn’t the correct answer in every situation.

wish I could fly with you to explain better… when I learned it was just hit and miss till I figured it out! Get a flight plan printed from simbrief or?.. and it will have VORs OBSs etc… what you need to do is ‘look’ where all the OBS/VOR signals are on your route… you’ll notice they ‘tie’ together… this basically is VOR flying… one station to the other… the lines between are your radials… you’ll notice them also… to fly VOR style. YOU set up all those as you go… very hands-on… no autopilot…

I did some VOR VFR with FSX, But now VOR is phasing out, most of VOR stations will be decommissioned in 10 years, what’s the point sticking to it… but I guess the VOR coordinates will remain as waypoints for GPS, … pilots comment on that?

May have…
Or maybe pointed them in the wrong direction.

I believe I agreed that the sanctioned training manuals and systems manuals can be a bit much. I also suggested that starting with the basics will allow the OP to filter out the massive amount of BAD advice offered on the internet.

One You-Tube video showing poor procedures, presented by a click bait simmer, can cause a new simpilot many hours of frustration. Better to learn it in small bites from reliable sources.


What if your GPS fail 0.o

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Good question, but they no longer repair the VOR stations that break down , just let them die… NDB is antique now

Here is an industry thumbnail of what’s going on with the FAA’s program to decommission VOR stations.

And here’s a Powerpoint Preso directly from the FAA.

In a nutshell, VOR stations are not being phased out entirely. The geolocation will be present for some time, as many Victor airways run through those coordinates. But in the day and age when pilots are using iPads instead of paper sectionals, VOR to VOR navigation is getting to be “old school.” That said, I fly VOR to VOR in Flight Sim all the time; it’s how I learned and old habits die hard.