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10 Important Acronyms for the Instrument Pilot

Updated: Nov 16

If you are an instrument rated pilot who wants to refresh on important acronyms, or a student pilot who wants to impress your instructor, you've come to the right place.



GRABCARD (IFR Minimum Equipment)

I'm sure you're familiar with the VFR day checklist TOMATO FLAMES and VFR night checklist FLAPS. See Acronyms for the Private Pilot. For IFR flying, add GRABCARD to the list.

  • Generator or Alternator

  • Radio/Navigation Appropriate For Flight

  • Attitude Indicator

  • Ball (Inclinometer)

  • Clock

  • Altimeter (Pressure Sensitive)

  • Rate of Turn Indicator

  • Directional Gyro


CRAFT (Clearances)

Use CRAFT to help you prepare for ATC communication and correctly read back IFR clearances. In fact, you can write CRAFT on your kneeboard and fill in the appropriate information as ATC states your clearance.

  • Clearance Limit

  • Route

  • Altitudes

  • Frequencies

  • Transponder Setting


Missed Approach Cs

As you reach your approach minimums and decide to go missed, complete the following go-around checklist.

  • Climb

  • Clean

  • Click

  • Call/Communicate


VDMONA (Compass Errors)

  • Variation (True vs Magnetic)

  • Deviation (magnetic interference)

  • Magnetic dip (pulls toward Earth)

  • Oscillation (turbulence)

  • Northerly turning errors (UNOS)

  • Acceleration errors (ANDS)


ANDS (Acceleration Errors)

  • Accelerate = North

  • Decelerate = South


UNOS (Turning Errors)

  • Undershoot North

  • Overshoot South


AVE-F (Lost Comms: Route Clearance)

In the unlikely event that you lose your comms enroute, you should squawk 7600 and then continue your route based on this order.

  • Assigned

  • Vectored

  • Expected

  • Filed


MEA (Lost Comms: Altitude Clearance)

If you lose your comms enroute, you should squawk 7600 and then fly the highest altitude of the following options.

  • Minimum IFR Altitude (Often Charted)

  • Expected Altitude

  • Assigned Altitude


5 Cs Lost Procedures

In the unlikely event that you lose your comms enroute, you should squawk 7600 and then continue your route based on this order.

  • Climb

  • Call/Communicate

  • Confess

  • Comply

  • Conserve


ICE FLAGGS (Illusions In Flight)

Be aware of possible disorienting experiences so that you'll be prepared. Note that the best way to overcome spacial disorientation is to scan your instruments and interpret them correctly.

  • Inversion (Climb to straight and level = Tumbling backwards feeling)

  • Coriolis (Head movements in prolonged turns)

  • Elevator (Updraft/Downdraft causes a pilot to pitch up or down)

  • False Horizons (Sloping clouds, terrain, etc)

  • Leans (Banking illusion that occurs by relying on physical sensations rather than instrumentation)

  • Autokinesis (Stationary lights appear to move)

  • Graveyard Spiral (Constant rate turn downwards)

  • Graveyard Spin (Pilot recovers from spin but senses they are in a new spin, so re-enter that spin)

  • Somatogravic (Caused by rapid acceleration or deceleration that results in a pitch up or down)


Check out resources you'll need as an instrument rated pilot!

Instrument Pilot Oral Exam Guide - The comprehensive guide to prepare you for the FAA checkride

Instrument Flying Handbook

FAR AIM 2021 - Federal Aviation Regulations/Aeronautical Information Manual

Dauntless Instrument Pilot Ground School

BFR - By far the most concise well organized VFR flight review book on the market.

FAA Pilot Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge



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