Dispatch minimums / IFR

Anyone know what kind of dispatch minimums exist at ATP? Would you actually expect to fly in IMC during instrument training, for example? Or are you restricted to VMC days only?

I’m considering signing up for one of the locations in the Pac NW, and most of our bad weather is of the “low clouds” type. Not too many convective storms up this way. I’d be starting with PPL, so I’m hoping that any low clouds that roll in wouldn’t be too disruptive to my training.

Thanks in advance.


ALL ATP instructors are CFIIs. That means not only are they instrument rated but they’re also rated to train students for their instrument ratings. The CFRs state that 40 hours of instrument flight is required for the rating (actual or simulated). I guess my question is why wouldn’t ATP train their instrument students in actual?


Nick, im going through instrument training now in NJ. I have 3.5 hours of actual instrument training. Thats 2 flights where I flew in the clouds!


Brady is a current instructor and pilot mentor so I’m sure he will chime in here soon. When I went through the program, the policy manual restricts taking off and landing at airports reporting IFR. Meaning, you could not takeoff or land in weather less than 1000’ ceiling and 3sm viz. You can however fly in IMC and will during your training. You can encounter it in cruise flight and shoot approaches through it as long as the weather at the airport is reporting MVFR or better. The remainder of your time will be simulated with a hood or foggles.



You can expect training to be conducted in both actual and simulated IMC, like Adam said why wouldn’t ATP want students to be exposed in actual conditions - when safety permits (note weather minimums below). I remember the first time I was exposed to actual IMC as a student, it was a whole new experience; I felt rushed and overwhelmed at first - needed to refind my balance of workload. Image going on your first long cross-country flight with another student on Crew and never being exposed to IMC; there would be lots of emotions going through the airplane. Most of your training could be done via hood (“foggles”), but there may be times you get into actual IMC, it’s a great experience.

In our Flight Operations Manual, we have an excerpt that states ATP operates under 14 CFR 141.93(a)(3)(i): The weather minimums required by the school for dual and solo flights;

The current minimums to conduct a Dual Training flight at ATP for Single-Engine airplane is expected to be at least 1,000-foot ceiling and 3 SM visibility at both the departure and arrival airport unless prior approval has been granted. Training in a Multi-Engine airplane the minimums are expected to be above circling minimums at both the departure and arrival airport. Airports that do not have circling minimums published, the weather needs to be at least 1,000-foot ceilings and 3 SM. (FOM, Pg. 16)

Minimums exist for a number of reasons but think to yourself “Would I want to fly a Piper Archer as a new Instrument Student on an Instrument Approach with an instructor to minimums on an ILS.” What happens if I get off course to much or I get disoriented, maybe something happens, and you need an immediate egress route? Minimums protect not just you but help build a safety-focused mindset. Later in your career you’ll have opportunities to shoot an Instrument Approach to minimums.




That’s great experience, happy you’re getting some actual IMC time in Morristown. You will get a lot of it at this time of the year with the fronts acting up in the region.


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Thanks for the quick replies, everyone! I appreciate all the input. And Brady, thanks for the specific details from the regs.

As for the reason behind my question - just a little rumor control :slight_smile: Someone tried telling me that ATP wouldn’t let you fly in IMC, and I thought that sounded unlikely. As you said Adam, I didn’t know why that would be the case.

Anyways, thanks for clearing it up. See you all in the skies soon.


I did my training at the PAE location a few years ago and was an instructor there for several months as well. I was able to rack up a decent amount of actual instrument time during that time, which was awesome! I will say, though, that there were days (particularly in the winter) when the airport was below required mins to take off and/or there was icing conditions that kept us on the ground. The biggest hang-up for students was the solo cross country flights as those required much higher weather minimums over a pretty large area, and that was often difficult to get during the winter. But if you’re coming in with your PPL already and starting instrument, you hopefully shouldn’t experience any program delays because of weather.


Thanks Kyle! That’s what I was hoping. I endured all the Pac NW weather delays this winter waiting to finish PPL and am looking forward to a sunny summer.

Glad to hear you had a good experience at PAE. I might end up at TIW, but I’m still deciding between the two options.

@nick7 I think they just misunderstood the policy. Don’t worry, you’ll get plenty of opportunities to spend in actual IMC.