If you're planning on getting your instrument rating have you thought about getting the rating with a buddy? The FAA requires that you have 40 hours of actual or simulated instrument time before taking the practical test for the rating, but only 15 of those hours need to be with an instructor. By carefully planning your instrument training with your instructor and a friend you can get better training at a reduced cost.
One thing to note, this isn't accelerated instrument training, in fact for this to be successful you'll probably need more of a time commitment rather than less, that's where the better training comes in. Much of that training, or at least experience, comes while observing your buddy or flying as safety pilot, time you won't be paying for.
The basic premise is that you and your buddy schedule your flight lessons together. On each lesson one person is being taught while the other person sits in the rear of the plane and observes. That way you get to see each lesson twice, once flying the plane and once observing. In between lessons you and your buddy can practice with each of you taking turns as safety pilot.
An outline of the syllabus for such a training program might look like this. This syllabus is presented for a single pilot, remember that the other pilot is either riding along as an observer in the training sessions or acting as safety pilot during the practice sessions.
|Flight by Reference to Instruments||2.0||5.0|
|VOR and NDB Approaches||2.0||4.0|
|Misc. Approaches - DME Arc. etc.||1.5||2.0|
|Putting it all together||2.0||5.0|
|The Long X-Country||4.0||-|
Actual training and training times may be different depending on the availability of approaches in your area and some of the training can be done in a simulator. There is also a considerable amount of ground school for you to cover to be able to successfully fly in the IFR system and this syllabus does not cover that ground school. You can self-study, attend a ground school or work with your flight instructor to get this learning, but you need to be well prepared BEFORE each lesson to do the work in the plane.
Student's who are not well prepared may well take many more flight hours to be successful.
Getting an instrument rating takes come commitment, and using the buddy system requires more commitment than usual Not only do you need to be able to schedule and attend each of your lessons, but you need to ride along on your buddies lessons and be available to safety pilot.
If you're committed to the training program make sure that your buddy is equally committed. Before jumping into the program get the three of you together, you, your buddy and your instructor and have a heart to heart discussion of expected schedules etc. so that nobody is under any illusions. If you want to get your instrument rating in a couple of months but your buddy is thinking more like a couple of years, well already you can see the problem.
Make sure that your buddy is prepared for the extensive amount of ground school that is required to be a proficient instrument pilot. You can study together or apart, self-study or attend a ground school, but for the buddy training program to work you must BOTH turn up for each lesson well-prepared with the knowledge to make the flying go well.
To be eligible to take the practical test you need 50 hours of cross-country time as Pilot in Command (PIC). For this rating cross-country time includes a landing at an airport greater than 50NM from the original point of departure.
The regulations are very clear that the sole manipulator of the controls may log PIC time, and a required crewmember, i.e. the safety pilot, may log PIC when ACTING as PIC (for more detail see the article on logging time). This means that you AND your buddy can build PIC cross-country time together, both of you logging the same hours, one as sole manipulator, one as acting PIC.
What's legal may not necessarily be a good idea, so if you need to log additional cross-country time as you embark on the training for this rating you should discuss with your instructor the best way for you to obtain not just the logged hours, but the experience those logged hours need to represent.
One final note, make sure you understand any restrictions that may be placed upon who acts as PIC in the plane. If it's a rental plane the FBO may have restrictions and even if the plane is owned then the insurance company may have restrictions. What the FAA allows in terms of acting and logging PIC may be restricted further by the owner, operator or insurer of the plane.
A buddy instrument rating training program can get you quality training at a low cost, but it does require a significant time commitment. If you and your buddy are willing to make that commitment, and you instructor is willing to work with both of you, then I think you'll enjoy sharing your instrument training as you acquire the skills to be make you a more accomplished pilot.