Question about IFR training and real world application...
Is IFR training and real world practice focused on hands-on aviation or is it more about managing all the tasks while flying mainly under autopilot?
Obviously you need to be capable of flying, when necessary, hands-on with no outside visual references, but--just as obviously--I've learned in simming that all the tasks that need to be minded are vastly easier if you're not preoccupied with hands-on altitude and heading maintenance.
So the question--if I'm being clear-- is IFR training more for mastering all the systems and tasks; for white knuckle zero viz aviating...or a little of both?
Am I wrong to assume that the safest, most practical IFR flying is done mostly under autopilot?
my unprofessional 2 cents... both.
And from what I know autopilot in IMC conditions is safer than hands on, especially if you are on ILS approach down to minimums.
IMC training is considered to be the hardest for one reason, you have to be very accurate with your flying skills. You have to maintain very tight margins in relation to height, heading and airspeed.
I suppose the most important factor when starting an instrument approach is to ensure that your altimeter is set correctly, emphasis being on ensuring that you are not lower than what your altimeter is set to. Secondly the safest form of IFR/IMC condition training is with use of a simulator.
If you have a chance do the following with an instructor/spot pilot: close your eyes and bank 20 degrees to the right. Hold it for about 15 seconds. Then level out. Then bank 30 degrees to the left keeping the eyes shut for 8 more seconds, relying only on your sense of feeling.
My private pilot examiner made me do this for the express purpose of putting us in an unusual attitude to test my recovery. I thought I was banking left when I was actually steep right. It is a phenomenon that puts many inexperienced IFR pilots in a dangerous position.
In VFR it is very natural to use the motion and feeling of your body (ie feeling g-forces, shifting weight) as feedback to your visual references. In IMC you have to completely discount this and focus on instruments only. It is quite a different experience that simming cannot reproduce.
With IMC flight, there is of course always an emphasis on cockpit management and situational awareness, and an autopilot can do most of the work, however during the instrument exam, the examiner will test you extensively with the foggles... ie white knuckle zero viz aviating. And manually flying in low viz is always good experience to have.