Upon reflection, it felt like I had combined two different scenarios and presented them as one in my previous post on safety pilot flying.
The first scenario is cross country flying. First off you don’t need a safety pilot to fly cross country. A lot of pilots might choose to fly with another pilot after obtaining their private pilot license as a means to cut costs, to gain confidence in flying and also to quickly attain the minimum required cross country flight time to qualify for the next higher rating. To enable the second pilot to log pilot in command (PIC) time, it is necessary for the pilot in the left seat to wear a view limiting device.
To obtain an IFR rating in an aircraft, FAR part 61 requires (among others):
- 50 hrs of cross country flight time as PIC of which 10 must be in an aircraft
- 40 hours of simulated or actual instrument time of which 15 must be with an an authorized instructor (CFII)
The hours accumulated on cross country flights wearing a view limiting device can be used for 2. above. It is not only economical while getting your instrument rating to share costs with another pilot but also a fast way to accumulate the necessary cross country and simulated hours. Flight time with view limiting device need not only be during cross country flights but can also be to practice approaches with a safety pilot while under going IFR training. While both pilots can log PIC time, there is some confusion on logging cross country time. In order to understand how time can be logged when flying as a safety pilot or with a safety pilot see here.
The second scenario is after obtaining the IFR rating. In order to maintain IFR currency a pilot must in the last 6 months, performed and logged, under actual or simulated in an aircraft or flight simulator or flight training device in the aircraft category:
- At least six instrument approaches;
- Holding procedures; and
- Intercepting and tracking courses through the use of navigation systems.
To maintain this currency it is fairly common for a pilot to fly with another safety pilot, or an instructor. It is also possible to accomplish all this in a flight simulator. If you fly frequently, and fly in actual IMC, then this can also be accomplished without a safety pilot. If more than a year has lapsed, then an Instrument Proficiency Check with a CFII is needed.
For scenario 1 the general expectation is that both pilots are flying for mutual benefit and hence must share the costs as agreed upon. For scenario 2 the pilot executing the approaches to maintain currency has to incur the full cost of the flight. The safety pilot is already contributing his/her time and aiding in the effort.
In terms of sharing costs, it varies from one individual to another. Some pilots prefer to split the cost in half, some prefer to split based on flight time that was flown by the pilot (during cross country flights). It is always best to lay down some ground rules on expectations in the cockpit and how costs will be shared before any flight with a safety pilot.