One commenter was really asking an unrelated question, so I'll quote it here and offer my opinionated answer:
I'm doing my initial issue multi engine instrument rating here in Aus, and everything is based off the NDB/ADF. You cannot gain an initial issue without demonstrating use of those.Good question Tony. NDBs are being phased out in the U.S., but they still quite common in some parts of the country. There are very few NDB stations remaining in California, but a large number are in service in the Midwest and Eastern states. I know at least one part 121 freight operator that requires pilot applicants to demonstrate an NDB approach. Whether or not an instrument rating candidate in the U.S. will be asked to demonstrate an NDB approach or NDB navigation depends to a large extent on where the practical test is being conducted.
In the US it seems the NDBs are being switched off, so I'm assuming the fundamentals of the rating is not geared around this antiquated piece of equipment.
Is this the case? How is the thing structured in the US?
Thanks if you have time to reply.
The other obvious issue is the equipment installed in the aircraft the applicant is using for the practical test. If you don't have a functioning Automatic Direction Finder, the examiner can't very well ask you to demonstrate its use. This doesn't preclude an examiner from asking you theoretical questions about NDBs and their use during the oral portion of the test, it just makes it less likely. The same principal holds true for an IFR-approved GPS receiver and an autopilot. If you don't have a GPS in the plane or if the GPS database isn't current, the examiner can't ask you to use it. If your aircraft has a functioning autopilot, you'll be required to demonstrate its use on an approach.
Isn't it interesting how many old ADF receiver and flakey autopilots are suddenly placarded INOP just before a check ride?
There's an amazing amount of variety (or is it inconsistency?) in the approach facilities available in the U.S. where the list of possible navigation aids include ILS (instrument landing system), Localizer, LDA (Localizer-type Direction Aid), SDF (Simplified Directional Facility), VOR, NDB, and GPS/RNAV. Oh, I forgot to mention the MLS (Microwave Landing System): It was supposed to replace the ILS but it never really ... er ... took off. There are only a dozen or so SDF approaches in the entire U.S. and none in California, where I live and work. This situation has all the hallmarks of a system that grew up over time with a little being added here, then a little there. This means instrument pilots who fly to a variety of destinations in the U.S. need an almost encyclopedic level of knowledge on all these systems and their limitations.
NDB navigation outside the U.S. is generally alive and well, as I found when I flew through the Caribbean. So I do my best to expose instrument applicants to NDB navigation. I don't have access to many aircraft with a functioning ADF and there are just a few nearby NDBs around with which to navigate - Stockton and Watsonville come to mind. One can still use the G1000 to simulate an AFD/NDB setup.
Expanding this scenario further, consider flying IFR in a steam gauge aircraft (with separate, round instruments) versus flying a glass panel aircraft with integrated electronic displays. A pilot who learns in a steam gauge aircraft and earns his or her instrument rating could theoretically jump into a glass cockpit and launch into the soup. And vice versa. So while there are plenty of regulations and equipment in the U.S., I'm not sure how much "structure" there actually is.
Did I say that out loud?