I find a letter in my mailbox from Transport Canada. My anxiety level increases. What do they want? I recall that the really bad ones are sent by registered mail, so they can prove you got it, so anxiety goes down a little. It's a window envelope, and the paper through the window looks like the kind government cheques are written on. Anxiety decreases further. Maybe I paid a licence fee than my company had already paid on my behalf and I'm getting a refund? I open the envelope.
Inside is a licence booklet sticker. When I pass a flight test to renew my instrument rating, the examiner will sign my licence booklet, and her signature is valid to prove my renewed rating for ninety days. If I haven't received a new sticker within the ninety day period, then I am not legal to fly. I have not taken a flight test in the last ninety days. My company does renewals in the spring. If I didn't receive my renewal sticker back in April, then I have been flying illegally all summer and fall. My anxiety level increases.
I look at the licence sticker. It has the same type ratings, endorsements, expired instructor rating and English language proficiency certification as the old one. I dig out my licence booklet to compare. Yep, everything is the same except there's no expiry date printed next to my instrument rating. What? My anxiety moves sideways.
I have a hunch. I google Transport Canada instrument rating expiry and quickly find Advisory Circular 401-004. Transport Canada in its wisdom has decided that instrument ratings no longer expire. Anxiety goes way down. Pilots still need to take a biennial Instrument Proficiency Check to ensure we still know what we are doing. Anxiety level reset to where it was before I opened the mailbox. All this means is that the format of the instrument test has changed slightly, it has a different name, and I need to keep track myself of when the thing expires, instead of having it conveniently printed on my licence. I have to keep track of it anyway, because as chief pilot I have to track it for all company pilots. Plus I am required to do a pilot proficiency check for each type I fly every year. Under the old system we simply paid a little extra every second year to have the test also renew the instrument rating. So no difference at all for me.
I read some more. The document says, "failures of instrument flight sequences during Pilot Proficiency Checks (PPC) or IPC no longer invoke suspensions of instrument rating privileges". That takes some stress off. Under the old system, you screwed up on any ride, even if you were just being the other pilot for someone else's test, and you lost your whole instrument rating. The examiner was instructed to scratch it off your licence. So it's a small difference, but worth going to the mailbox for.
I may blog later on the new IPC format. Anyone taken it yet? These changes took effect November 1st, but I was distracted.