Instructors and Examiners
Flight Instructors adn Examiners are the backbone of the Aviation Industry. Without you there would be no aviation industry as there wouldn't be anyone to fly the aircraft.
The estimated requirement for Pilots worldwide is put at 28,000 a year, or half a million over the next 20 years.Each one of these new jobs starts with a newly qualified pilot, requiring ab-initio training and Flight Instructors.
AOPA UK will play its part in making the UK an attractive country in which to be trained, by lobbying for red tape and cost barriers to be removed for the flight training industry in the UK.
We also have to go further and make the Aviation Industry an attractive career prospect for our younger generations.
AOPA UK represents a significant number of UK Flight Instructors and Examiners and represent your interests at all levels. As an Instructor/Examiner member of AOPA you bring your voice to the table when we are dealing with Regulators and Government Departments.
Like it or not, as an Instructor, your Students and qualified Pilots alike look to you as a source of current knowledge and advice. Being a member of AOPA UK gives you access to sources of information, a personal service if you have any issues or queries and access to the AOPA Training Committee.
If you visited the website for specific information and could not find it, or found out of date information or broken links please let us know.
From our April 2017 AOPA Magazine:
Our AOPA Corporate members have told us that there appears to be a looming shortage of PPL instructors. Several of our IAOPA (Europe) colleagues advised that they are also beginning to see a shortage.
It’s reported that airlines are beginning to recruit again, so perhaps some existing instructors are heading that way - but why are so few people coming forward to replace them, unless they too are hoping to build hours before applying to the airlines?
Perhaps the main reason is that most PPL holders don’t actually know what options are available to them as potential instructors, so let’s have look at them:
Do I need a CPL to be paid if I want to teach at my local flying club?
If you hold a Part-FCL PPL, then no you don’t! Under FCL.205A(b), the holder of a Part-FCL PPL(A) with instructor or examiner privileges may receive remuneration for the provision of flight instruction for the LAPL(A) or PPL(A).
Do I need to sit loads of exams?
When EASA launched NPA 2008-17b, the intention was that an instructor only needed to hold the licence or rating for which instruction was being given. So to teach at PPL level, you should only need to hold a PPL. IAOPA warmly welcomed this, but some Member States and, it has to be said, perhaps a few self-interested organisations, objected to this.
So EASA was obliged to amend FCL.915.FI(b)(2)(i), requiring FI (Aeroplanes) applicants to have met the requirements for CPL knowledge. Which means passing the CPL exams even if you just want to instruct for the PPL.
What about the LAPL/FI?
LAPL holders may not include an instructor certificate in their licences; all ab initio LAPL instruction has to be provided by at least a PPL/FI. Originally there was to be an EASA rating termed a Light Aircraft Flight Instructor to support the needs of LAPL training, but with lower training requirements than are required for an FI.
This proposal was also rejected; as a compromise, following observations by certain Member States, the CPL exam requirement does not apply to FIs wishing to instruct only for the LAPL and associated ratings. So if you want to instruct for the LAPL, first persuade your local club to start marketing the LAPL rather more positively. Then, once you meet the precourse prerequisites, you can start an FI course without needing to sit any more EASA exams.
Paraphrasing FCL.915.FI, a PPL-holding applicant for an FI(A) certificate must have:
- Received at least 10 hours of instrument flight instruction on aeroplanes, of which not more than five hours may be instrument ground time in an FSTD.
- Completed 20 hours of VFR cross-country flight as PIC on aeroplanes.
- Except for an FI(A) providing training for the LAPL(A) only, met the requirements for CPL theoretical knowledge.
- Completed at least 200 hours of flight time on aeroplanes or TMGs, of which 150 hours must be as PIC.
- Completed at least 30 hours on single-engine piston powered aeroplanes of which at least five hours must have been completed during the six month period preceding the pre-entry flight test for the FI course.
- As PIC, completed a VFR cross-country flight of at least 300 nm, including two intermediate landings.
So an experienced PPL holder may well find that he/she already meets most of the prerequisites to provide instruction for the LAPL, but then if you’re hoping to instruct for the PPL, we come back to the topic of exams.
It’s becoming evident that the CPL exam hurdle is the one real obstacle faced by the suitably experienced PPL holder who would like to do some instructing, perhaps on a part-time basis as an escape from the day job. But in previous times, the pre-course requirements included an exam to check that the aspirant FI had the appropriate level of theoretical knowledge,rather than CPL knowledge.
Even the Basic Regulation states that flight instruction must be given by ‘appropriately qualified instructors’, who meet the theoretical knowledge and experience requirements ‘appropriate’ for the instruction being given, rather than any commercial level theoretical knowledge requirements.
So we think that it’s high time to press-to-test on this and to propose a return to rather more pragmatic previous ways. Hence at the forthcoming EASA FCL Implementation Forum I intend to elicit members’ views concerning a proposal for the amendment of FCL.915.FI(b)(2) to include an option of :
‘...a pre-course written exam approved by the competent authority and conducted by the ATO, which will confirm that the FI(A) course applicant has demonstrated an appropriate level of theoretical knowledge to be able to exercise instructional privileges for the PPL(A) and LAPL(A).’
Several European AOPAs are already supportive, as are the UK ATOs with whom I’ve spoken. AOPA already has the Ground Instructor Course pre-entry written exam, so with a little tweaking and titivating, a pre-FI course exam could be developed pretty quickly from the GIC exam.
Are there any other instructional qualifications available at PPL level?
Yes, the Class Rating Instructor. A CRI on single pilot aeroplanes may provide training for existing licence holders, such as the ‘training flying with an instructor’ required for revalidation and may also, if suitably qualified, conduct aerobatic rating training.
Quite a useful qualification, no CPL exams needed and the course itself only requires three hours of flight instruction, plus 25 hours of teaching and learning instruction and 10 hours of technical training.
A CRI who is an acknowledged expert in a specific field or on a particular aeroplane is a useful person from whom a pilot might seek the relevant training for such purposes.
What does the FI course include?
Having met the pre-prerequisites and passed the pre-entry flight test, the course itself consists of 25 hours of ‘teaching and learning’, 100 hours of theoretical knowledge instruction, 30 hours of flight instruction and finally the ‘assessment of
competence’ taken with a Flight Instructor Examiner, which also includes a ground oral examination.
Your own flying skills will need to be of a good standard and the pre-entry flight test will soon identify areas which might perhaps need a little more polish.
The ground training is intended to ensure that you can brief a student competently in both flying exercises and technical subjects, before you put them into practice with your FIC instructor in flight.
You will be taught to identify and rectify any student errors in a manner which will encourage your student, rather than the “Look, you numbskull, I’ve told you how to do it, I’ve shown you how to do it, I can do it, the aircraft can do it - so why the hell can’t you do it?” style which some of us may remember from the bad old days!
Of course you will also learn how to conduct a post-flight debrief for your student in a clear, concise and constructive manner.
Are there any restrictions on newly-qualified instructors?
Initially, you will be under the supervision of another instructor nominated by your training organisation and you will not be permitted to supervise first solos or first cross-country solos until you have gained more experience. But once you have flown 100 hours of flight instruction, supervised 25 student solo flights and gained the approval of your training organisation, these restrictions will no longer apply.
Are there any FI revalidation requirements?
Yes. The FI certificate is valid for three years and may only be revalidated if you have met the relevant criteria by completing two of the options of having either
1. conducted 50 hours of flight instruction,
2. received refresher training at an FI seminar or,
3. in the final year of the validity period, passed an assessment of competence.
For at least every alternate revalidation, the assessment of competence is a mandatory requirement.
Will I earn much money?
It’s perhaps not fair to accuse training organisations of paying their FIs as little as they can get away with, although at times some FIs might feel that this is indeed the case! In recent years, airline recruiting hasn’t been particularly buoyant and
there were few financial retention incentives for FIs, given that there were probably more around than the training world really needed.
But things are beginning to change; for example, one popular UK airline has recently announced significant expansion and has placed a pilot supply contract with a major European ATO, which itself has now launched an FI recruitment drive.
Faced with all its FIs rushing off to the airlines, it’s indeed likely that instructors’ pay might improve. But don’t forget that the cost of any pay increase will probably have to be recovered from the customers; to remain competitive, most flying training organisations try to keep their flying rates as low as possible, otherwise prospective trainees will look elsewhere.
If airline recruitment really does take off at the level many predict, training organisations are going to find it much harder to retain their FIs, particularly those who have already obtained CPLs.
Amending the Aircrew Regulation can often take many years, so if we are to avoid a dearth of PPL-level FIs in the coming years, we need to highlight the CPL exam problem to EASA without delay and that’s my intention.
Meanwhile, flying clubs can perhaps help themselves by looking more at the LAPL and by encouraging their more experienced PPL holding members to think about becoming LAPL-level FIs. Worth thinking about?
IAOPA (Europe) FCL Representative
FCL.940.FI FI - Revalidation and renewal.
(a) For revalidation of an FI certificate, the holder shall fulfil 2 of the following 3 requirements:
(i) in the case of an FI(A) and (H), at least 50 hours of flight instruction in the appropriate aircraft category during the period of validity of the certificate as, FI, TRI, CRI, IRI, MI or examiner. If the privileges to instruct for the IR are to be revalidated, 10 of these hours shall be flight instruction for an IR and shall have been completed within the last 12 months preceding the expiry date of the FI certificate;
(ii) in the case of an FI(As), at least 20 hours of flight instruction in airships as FI, IRI or as examiner during the period of validity of the certificate. If the privileges to instruct for the IR are to be revalidated, 10 of these hours shall be flight instruction for an IR and shall have been completed within the last 12 months preceding the expiry date of the FI certificate;
(iii) in the case of an FI(S), at least 30 hours or 60 take-offs of flight instruction in sailplanes, powered sailplanes or TMG as, FI or as examiner during the period of validity of the certificate;
(iv) in the case of an FI(B), at least 6 hours of flight instruction in balloons as, FI or as examiner during the period of validity of the certificate;
(2) attend an instructor refresher seminar, within the validity period of the FI certificate;
(3) pass an assessment of competence in accordance with FCL.935, within the 12 months preceding the expiry date of the FI certificate.
(b) For the at least each alternate subsequent revalidation in the case of FI(A) or FI(H), or each third revalidation, in the case of FI(As), (S) and (B), the holder shall have to pass an assessment of competence in accordance with FCL.935.
(c) Renewal. If the FI certificate has lapsed, the applicant shall, within a period of 12 months before renewal:
(1) attend an instructor refresher seminar;
(2) pass an assessment of competence in accordance with FCL.935.
FCL.940.CRI CRI - Revalidation and renewal
(a) For revalidation of a CRI certificate the applicant shall, within the 12 months preceding the expiry date of the CRI certificate:
(1) conduct at least 10 hours of flight instruction in the role of a CRI. If the applicant has CRI privileges on both single-engine and multi-engine aeroplanes, the 10 hours of flight instruction shall be equally divided between single-engine and multi-engine aeroplanes; or
(2) receive refresher training as a CRI at an ATO; or
(3) pass the assessment of competence in accordance with FCL.935https://www.easa.europa.eu/system/files/dfu/Part-FCL.pdf for multi-engine or single-engine aeroplanes, as relevant.
(b) For at least each alternate revalidation of a CRI certificate, the holder shall have to comply with the requirement of (a)(3).
(c) Renewal. If the CRI certificate has lapsed, the applicant shall, within a period of 12 months before renewal:
(1) receive refresher training as a CRI at an ATO;
(2) pass the assessment of competence established in FCL.935.
You can earn £50 as an introductory fee for every new Pilot or Instructor member that you recruit. The rules are simple:
- You must be a current AOPA UK Pilot or Instructor member resident in the UK.
- We must have a current Email Address for you.
- The recruit must be new to AOPA UK and join as a Pilot or Instructor member.
- The recruit must join online on this Website and enter your AOPA UK Member Number and Last Name in the form.
- When the new Pilot or Instructor membership application has been completed and payment received we will pay you £50 as an introductory fee (we will contact you by Email to confirm your details for us to transfer the money to your bank account.)
- You are responsible for any Tax liability.
- AOPA UK may withdraw this offer at any time.
If you are a current FI, FIE, FE or CR(I) member of AOPA UK you may advertise your availabiltiy to provided personal instructor services, examiner services or looking for employment with a training organisation please complete the form below. Your details will then be published on the AOPA until you ask for your details to be unpublished or until you cease to be a member of AOPA UK.
It is your responsibility to request any change to your details or ask for your entry to be unpublished.
Helicopter Services at Wycombe Air Park. These seminars are run by Geoff Day and are run approx every 3 months at Helicopter Services Ltd, Wycombe Air Park (Booker). They are 2-day seminars, are only open and applicable to helicopter instructors and usually held on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Please contact Helicopter Services on 01494 513166 or email email@example.com for details.
Instructor Liability Insurance
Covers legal liability arising out of the fault or negligence of an instructor in connection with them giving of advice, instruction, training or supervision given or provided by the insured as a flying instructor to a student under their supervision. Or if the policy extension is purchased also duties as an Examiner.
- Does this insurance cover the bodily injury of the Instructor? NO
- Does this policy cover damage caused to the aircraft by the Instructor? NO
- I’m an Instructor and Examiner, am I covered whilst acting as an examiner? NO, but you may extend cover to include insurance whilst performing your duties as a Flight Examiner.
- I’m a UK instructor but working abroad, am I covered? No, but coverage may now be extended to include EASA Countries subject to completing the required registration process in each EASA Country
- Will my policy cover me whilst instructing outside of Europe? NO, but other countries may be considered (exc USA and Canada), please contact Paul with any questions.
Definition of Student .
"Student" shall mean any person undergoing either ab-initio training with a view to acquiring a pilot’s licence or a qualified pilot undergoing continuation training in order to acquire a or revalidate licence, certificate or rating which at the time of the accident he or she does not have or requires revalidation. Student shall also mean a pilot who holds a licence and is undergoing re-currency training or a check flight. It is understood that any person accompanying the Insured for the purpose of training, tuition or supervision will record the flight as being Pilot under Training or Pilot under Supervision.
Types of Aircraft Excluded
Instruction given in Balloons and Microlights (microlights - all types as classified by Aviation Authorities) are Excluded Aircraft. Aircraft designed to carry more than 7 passengers are also excluded
United Kingdom and additional Countries where agreed.
Limit of Liability
Limit of liability under this scheme is £1,000,000 any one accident in respect of Instructor/Examiner Coverage.
Premises/Public Liability £1,000,000
Vehicle Airside £250,000
Pilot Personal Accident from £10,000 up to a maximum of £250,000 (depending on limit purchased)
Flying Schools & Clubs
Instructors and Examiners may purchase a group policy; this policy will provide coverage ONLY whilst acting/working for the named club / school. Polices will be in the name of the individual but may be administered by the club or school. RAF Flying Clubs/ Associations are classed as one club/organisation.
1 – 5 Instructors £205 per instructor + 12% IPT (£229.60)
6 – 10 Instructors £195 per instructor + 12% IPT (£218.40)
10 + Instructors £185 per instructor + 12% IPT (£207.20)
Discounts available if coverage for aircraft hull and liability is also purchased.
Instructors must be named but may be changed mid terms subject to prior advise to Heritage Insurance Solutions Ltd.
Changes are limited to 3 changes (1-5 band), 6 changes (6-10 band) and 10 changes (10+ band), after which each change is subject to a £25.00 + 12% IPT (£28.00) additional premium.
IPT will be applied at the standard rate current at the time of purchase. 12% is the current standard rate at the time of publication of this information and the associated documentation.
Policy Period & Premium
24th November 2017 to 23rd November 2018 (you may take out coverage at any time prior of after these dates, premium at pro rata)
Instructor Legal Liability: Non-Member £260.00 + 12% IPT = £291.20. AOPA Member £215.00 + 12% IPT = £240.80
Examiner Liability Extension: This section can only be purchased in addition to Instructor Legal Liability:
Instructor Liability Premimum Plus: £20.00 + 12% IPT = £22.40
Extend coverage to include EASA: £20.00 + 12% IPT = £22.40
Public Liability/Premises Legal Liability - Limit of Indemnity £1,000,000. This section can only be purchased in addtion to Instructor Legal Liability:
£200 + 12% IPT = £224.00
Vehicle Airside Legal Liability - Limit of Indemnity £250,000. This section can only be purchased in addtion to Instructor Legal Liability:
£75.00 + 12% IPT = £84.00
Pilot Personal Accident Insurance - Limit of Indemnity from £10,000. This section can only be purchased in addition to Instructor Legal Liability:
Limit of Indemnity & Premium:
Limit £10,000: £30.00 + 12% IPT = £33.60
Limit £15,000: £45.00 + 12% IPT = £50.40
Limit £20,000: £60.00 + 12% IPT = £67.20
Limit £25,000: £75.00 + 12% IPT = £84.00
Policy documents are issued in electronic format, hard copies upon request subject to an administration fee of £15. If your total premium exceeds £400 you may pay over two half yearly instalments subject to a £15 administration fee.
For more details, other insurance requirements and proposal form click here.
Flight instructors are in short supply and many are being snapped up by airlines and corporate flight departments - but we still need ever more pilots, and need standards to be maintained. Flight Instructor Refresher Seminars, such as those run by AOPA, play a central part.
AOPA held one of its Flight Instructor Refresher Seminars at its headquarters at 50a Cambridge Street in London. The seminar attracted 20 instructors from all over the UK and included several nationalities. The success of the two-day seminar, which was audited by a CAA inspector attending on the second day, has led AOPA to decide that future Seminars will also be held there.
David Scouller leads the seminars working closely with John Pett. Both are on the AOPA Instructor Committee and David is head of training at Western Air at Thruxton.
A quick poll of those in the room indicated that surprisingly only one was a full-time instructor, three were also airline pilots and a couple were corporate pilots. Four had lapsed and hoped to return to instructing. Half of the 20 were PPLs and the rest had CPLs, four also instructed IR/IR(R) and a couple also instructed multi. David was surprised to find that none were examiners but pointed out that the seminar was designed to be suitable for all, and that three in the room would be selected to do a presentation on their chosen topic on the second day.
“The purpose is the enhancement of flight instructor techniques,” David said. “There is now clear evidence of the erosion of basic skills [among pilots]” – especially among professional pilots who “sometimes [hand] fly as little as a few minutes per sortie.”
“With EASA the PPL became the first module of the ATPL so handlings skills have to be inculcated at that point,” added David.
The seminar then started with Charlie Brown, former Tornado pilot and long-time military and civil instructor, and for a few years CFI at Cranwell Flying Club, recounting core instructional techniques (IT). “It all started with the CFS Staff & Standards No.1 Course at Upavon in 1912,” he said. “This was formed to look at ‘flying’ to see if it had any military application. It was there that Lt. Smith-Barney gave us ‘demonstrate-teach-practice’.”
"The aim of such seminars", he continued, "is to revise basic IT. And of course a CAA-approved seminar is required within the past three years for any instructor to remain current, unless they have done 50 or more hours of instructing and had a test with an instructor rating examiner. Those without the 50 hours must do the seminar and the flight test."
“If you ask 20 different instructors on 20 different topics, you’ll get 20 different answers – so what you need is the integrity to distinguish between fact and opinion. And if another instructor has taught in a different way, you can often learn from that [rather than dismissing it].”
The building blocks Charlie highlights are the “Big Five”: SHT, PAT, LOI, LAI and PAAT. These are Select-Hold-Trim, Power-Attitude-Trim, Limitation-Operation-Indication, Lookout-Attitude-Instruments, finally, and Progressively Adjusting Attitude & Trim (especially with aircraft that have a wider speed range than light aircraft).
He stressed (referring to LAI) that the lookout should take into account that the central vision angle is only 2 degrees and it is therefore essential to teach the lookout properly, as beyond that is peripheral vision which will only detect movement. “So just thin about that physiology,” he said, referring to teaching “The Rolls-Royce lookout” with two figures of eight looking high, low, near and far. The usual in the civil world is to keep moving the eyes to different places to scan so the military technique is more structured. The key is not to look down for too long, however.
Charlie also reminded the instructors to “teach from the known to the unknown”, and to remember the importance not only of pre-flight briefings but also of thorough post-flight briefings. “Often doing 4-5 sorties a day there is little time apart from for flying but you could debrief in the aeroplane when taxiing back (if you take control, just allowing the student to do the shut down)…and make sure you summarise the sortie with key points.”
“You could also [pre-]brief students together if you can.” Electronic briefings can also be effective, he added, while admitting white board and pens are more effective if you have time. “Remember it’s the cheap bit!”
He then underlined the need for instructors to be clear from the start about the hand over routine, so someone always has control. “You want a relaxed but professional cockpit.” And when demonstrating he said that instructors should “aim for perfection” but admit when they’d got it wrong, and demo again – “Admit your mistakes, as the student will often have noticed anyway… Also, use simple, concise words, and appropriate praise…and fly the techniques you teach. You’re always on show!”
In response to a question from the delegates, Charlie said students often learned more and faster if the instructor said nothing and just let them try, only interjecting if something was unsafe. “You must break any dependence on voice control.”
However he warned against coming to the circuit too soon, before the basics were mastered. This was a common mistake among new instructors; they should complete Exercises 1-10 properly first – one delegate suggested doing a pretend circuit then away from the airfield, before trying the real thing.
Charlie then talked about teaching students to land, or checking experienced pilots later who tended to have started to land flatter. This leads to what is a common accident, as pitch oscillations as the aircraft bounces down the runway eventually breaks the nosegear (he showed a video of a Warrior doing this and the ‘bounces’ looked quite benign, until the gear went).
Also he noted with lining up, “People are often 15 degrees off the centerline, because they are looking at the runway threshold. You need to think of the centerline, extending it into the undershoot. He added that students need to be clear about the two types of approach/landing – ‘point and power’ where the elevator controls the flightpath and power controls airspeed (used for short field and instrument approaches in particular); and the second where elevator is used to control attitude/ airspeed and power is used to control the rate of decent.
“The coordination of pitch, attitude and power is the important thing in every case at low speed…when the angle of attack is 12-14 degrees - compared to a very low angle in the cruise” – so drag is easily increased. “The changeover speed is about 10 knots above the threshold speed,” he said, referring to where you go to a point slower than minimum drag speed and drag increases as speed decreases.
“You often find that a student on approach will change power, then attitude, and never coordinate, and never stabilize – and they’re probably fiddling with trim and flaps at the same time.”
Charlie continued, “Stress the need to keep an eye on runway perspective and control speed with attitude and rate-of-decent with power.” On runway perspective, one delegate commented on the need to ensure the student had a good view, so to use cushions where required. A point was also made about sideslipping, and the need to give students a visual reference and “practicing at a safe height first.” Scouller advised against continuing a sideslip below 50ft or so and noted that some aircraft, such as 172s, might ‘flick’ if sideslipped with flaps down and slowed. “So stop before you slow to the threshold.” [And always check the POH as sideslipping with flap may be prohibited]. Sideslipping is part of the PPL course, in Ex. 8, he added.
On the roundout and landing, said David Scouller, students should be told to “look well ahead and widely (your peripheral vision will help you ensure you’re not too high) at 30-50ft with attitude and speed OK, and numbers in the right place. The sightline is changing and you see the runway begin to flatten – so the nose can be raised to match the rate of flattening. And take account of the wind gradient too – remember the airfield anemometer is on a long pole, but at the surface the wind is zero!” With wind, he advised that if the headwind is greater than 10 knots, 25% of the headwind should be added to the threshold speed. So a little power may be required and then you approach slightly faster with a lower angle of attack.”
With cross-wind landings David said crabbing was best for low-wing aircraft. Wing-down is easier but more suited to high-wing aircraft as they have more ground clearance.
With crabbing, you need to use some wing-down to avoid drifting across the runway as you straighten up during the flare. “It’s hard to judge when to ‘de-crab’ though” – something he referred to as “the magic.”
David advised teaching one method during the course, “but you’ve got to teach the other as well at some point.” He also noted that airlines tended to crab as most airliners are low-wing, apart from turboprops such as Dash 8s and ATRs. He also advised on go-arounds adding full power first in all circumstances, and not rushing even to get the drag flap up unless the particular aircraft is really known not to be capable of a positive climb rate and there is some height to deal with any slight sink. “Most aircraft will climb with full flap. There is a risk that bringing a stage of flap up will cause someone to sink to the runway again due to the trim change.
The next session was on instrument flying and specifically the IF training in the PPL course. Charlie noted that there was no minimum requirement but it is “highly desirable to know why you shouldn’t be in cloud and to know how to do a 180 [degree turn].”
He said that after his ‘Big 5’, “the sixth is the Selective Radial Scan [of the instruments].” It effectively replaces “LAI” when on instruments, using the artificial horizon. Charlie said the RAF started late in the day with IF, in 1928, “and had to play catch up. The acid test then was needle and ball and airspeed, to fly a circuit,” but they hadn’t got round to landings. This is was in aircraft such as the Hawker Fury.
So things to underline with students include always making the AI the first thing they look at after looking away. The lesson always starts with a “disorientation demo” though, with a steep turn and a roll-out before seeing if, when the student shuts their eyes, they can fly straight and level. They are then told to open their eyes and see how they’ve lost it. [Ed: The other demonstration is asking the student to close their eyes, the instructor allows a gradual turn to develop which the student cannot detect, then turn more quickly to straight and level. The student of course says the aircraft has then banked but when they are asked to open their eyes, it is S&L].
Charlie noted that the F4 Phantom had an instrument first developed for the Apollo programme, that also had heading on the AI.
He concluded with his IF “Top Tips”
1. Trust your instruments;
2. Tap into previously learned skills and techniques; and
3. Smoothness – students need to learn to anticipate and stay ahead of the aircraft.
A couple of other tips were to anticipate levelling-off using 10% of the rate, so for 500ft/min you should start 50ft before the target altitude (this also works for a 737 doing 15,000ft/min, anticipating by 1500ft. “And it works,” said Charlie.
With more advanced instrument flying students must learn to fly in IMC with no vacuum instruments (so-called “partial panel”) with the AI and DI covered up, and recover from unusual attitudes. Brown said in this case the turn coordinator could be used to achieve wings-level but advised against using the rate-of-climb/descent indicator to level off. Instead, “just stop the altimeter!,” he said, by increasing or decreasing power as appropriate and levelling off.
For those going further and doing instrument training including approaches, he said “remember the basics, don’t chase the needles [of the ILS], and use Mental Dead Reckoning for headings and rate of descent.”
Charlie added that the air force had stopped teaching limited panel. “But I’m going to try to get it back as it’s a skill you may need to fall back on when you do GA flying.”
David talked about advanced instrument flying too, saying “The assumption with the IR/IR(R) is a reasonably competent instrument pilot. He also underlined the point that pilots should be encouraged to have a good feel for rates and speeds. “For example it’s well worth people to land without the ASI.” He also made a comment about teaching with glass panel cockpits as the “scan is much smaller…and you have the whole horizon line. People coming from ‘steam gauges’ were overwhelmed but they adapted very quickly.” But he also said “People seem more likely to chase as they can see so [values] so accurately.”
Also with EFIS-type displays Scouller suggested that it’s best to get pitch and bank information in one look at the middle, which is “quicker and more efficient” – adding that some manufacturers (e.g. Russian) have symbology in different places, which can really “topple the mental gyros.”
In a general comment, Scouller said that when instructors meet new students they should “paint the big picture first.” Then keep thinking of the big picture – so for an instrument flight, “outline the flight in 3D – SID, route, STAR, hold and approach. Get a mental picture of the plate, and also of the approximate speed, distance and time it will take. Once you have a mental ground plot, do proper plan with PLOG, estimate max drift, sequence navaid use, and make minimal notes. And for IR training always train generic – remember even some GA aircraft are very fast [so percentages are better than absolutes for dead reckoning, for example].
Some other pointers from David included, “All too often the instructor takes over the R/T” so the student doesn’t have time or sufficient opportunity to get a good grasp.
He also said that doing approaches, on the glideslope pilots are usually encouraged to use 5 times groundspeed (i.e. IAS corrected for wind) to give the number for descent rate. But “if the aircraft is configured and in trim, it may be better to pitch down precisely 3 degrees using the AI, power back and trim.”
On another go around point, he said often the student has pitch attitude too low and doesn’t climb, and often does the R/T call first. “Make sure they configure and clean up before they do the R/T call. It’s ANC [Aviate, Navigate Communicate] again.”
The last session of the first day was navigation. The lecture was led by Charlie Brown, who started by saying infringements were treated in such a way now that it's worth having a GPS map such as SkyDemon to maintain situational awareness, to ensure you don't even put "a wingtip in" to controlled airspace. "SkyDemon or similar tools are so useful as they let you file flight plans, check Notams and check weather. But I use it more for planning than flying - I put [the plan] on paper and use the stopwatch - you'll lose the skills otherwise." He added that SkyDemon was also good for debriefing the track.
"You need a simple and robust plan and don't [plan to] go right up close to controlled airspace." He said instructors should "engage" with students in planning. "I'd have a still air plan and then have a dead reckoning heading so they revisit the skill - so when you get airborne if the wind is different they can do the dead reckoning."
Brown noted that pilots are "positively encouraged" to request a Traffic Service now but this can make for quite disjointed training exercises while dealing with R/T all the time. "So it's refreshing sometimes to go to a quiet frequency and squawk 7000 for training."
His next topic was situational awareness, and he endorsed the use of tools such as SkyDemon on iPad, which is also good for filing flight plans, checking Notams and checking weather. However he noted that he used it "More for planning than for flying - I put it on paper then so I can use the stopwatch; I'm afraid I will lose the skills otherwise. But it's good to use SkyDemon as a back-up [even then]."
He said it was important to teach good navigational techniques including checks (e.g. HAAT for turning - heading, altitude, airspeed, time). And at the turning point, pre-turn from plan to aircraft, and post turn from aircraft to plan.
"We don't want to see track crawling - we only need to know roughly where we are; we don't have to find that roundabout on the edge of town," said Charlie. "Just the edge of the built up areas will do - don't get worked up about it." He continued: "Every time I fly a light aircraft, I use BIG to SMALL to find small features/towns. And the first rule of a good navex is the less time spent navigating, the better the navex. Chart down, LOOKOUT and FLY ACCURATELY. Then you can show the student that flying the plan works."
Brown then described the importance of being ready for dead reckoning, as it "means you are flexible and have gross error awareness." I know that on a half-mil chart two fingers is 21nm. That distance hasn't changed in 36 years!
Moving on to stalling and spinning, instructors were advised to "be current with spinning" even if the most you do is wingovers. "I've had to intervene 9 out of 10 times with pilots that think they know how to recover!"
With stalling he said to focus on teaching students to recognise the symptoms of a stall - and to understand no matter what the airspeed, it's all about the angle of attack. "You can stall at any altitude, attitude, weight, configuration or manoeuvre."
He said instructors should keep things simple. "It's not complicated - our job as instructors should be to provide clarity where there's been confusion."
Charlie said it was advisable to "clinically prepare for training - as there's always a gotcha out there."
To conclude the discussion on stall recoveries Brown described the Standard Stall Recovery (control column forward, full power, rudder to prevent further yaw) and then added that power is not just for the sake of power - it is also to increase the airflow to make the elevator more effective. Then a key message for those training future airline pilots - and that is following Air France AF447 and other accidents, Airbus changed its training and now advises that power should be fed back in, admitting that if it is added back all at once in an airliner at 32 degrees angle of attack won't recover even with full forward stick.
At the other end of the spectrum, he observed: "There are people out there doing aerobatics in Harvards etc who are afraid of doing a stall."
On the second day of the seminar Professor Michael Bagshaw got things underway with human factors - picking up the theme from stalling. He said 73 percent of accidents were due to HF, although in a way this may be closer to 100 percent. "I believe human factors goes through everything," he said.
He then moved through various elements of HF - saying the oxygen-haemoglobin dissociation curve means we can go to 10,000ft - but he noted that with the eye, the focal vision is good but only provided you're looking! Saccade is the repeated moving of the eye and looking. The danger of collision is out there...
"I bet everyone in the room has had this - there is nothing and then suddenly the windscreen is full..."
"So you have a duty to teach your students to move their head and eyes... to do the saccade [which is the name of this motion when you stop and look repeatedly in different places]." He suggested this could be the bad side of tools such as SkyDemon. "It's great to show where you've been but bad as you're pressing buttons, looking down. I love it though - and I'm an examiner - but you still have to look out the window."
Prof. Bagshaw said the HF syllabus is "probably about right" but it's just not being taught, and students tend to "do the exam, pass and forget it!"
He went through wellbeing (made up of psychological, physical and emotional factors), and the arousal curve (optimum in the mid-range), and said: "Your job [as an instructor] is not to be an amateur psychologist, but you do need to understand your students."
Then he reiterated that people are like buckets - and what's in the bucket is "what's going on in your life." Sometimes, "it doesn't take much to make it overflow. You as an instructor need to put a tap in that bucket." And he added: "Be careful not to mix up capacity with aptitude - the latter is so much more difficult."
When pilots become overloaded, Bagshaw said the first thing that goes is the hearing - "that's filtering - and the coning of attention".
Among other topics, he also touched on the difference between fatigue and tiredness - fatigue builds up and can't be reversed by sleep."
Moving on, David Scouller took the baton to run through performance, takeoff and landing factors, and urged instructors to "find out as much as you can" about any aircraft you're about to fly - with some aircraft there is very little information to help with performance calculations. He said this was often the case with private light aircraft.
After lunch a couple of the instructors gave presentations, having been selected (there not being time for everyone to have a go!) Edwin Manser, a part-time instructor at Booker, explained the lift formula in relation to why a wing stalls.
Then the second presentation was by Lavinia Hobbs, an instructor with Bristol and Wessex Aeroplane Club, delivered the preflight briefing for the lesson 'Straight and Level Part 2'. Lavinia did an excellent job and the main feedback was to say why you lower the nose when power is increased - i.e. what happens if the nose isn't lowered.
Airbus pilot and light aircraft instructor Tony Cooper did the Effects of Controls briefing very well, then Mike Bagshaw went through Forced Landings with Power (there is not space to do that justice here).
Last but not least David Scouller covered airspace infringements, "a hot topic with the CAA." He went through some interesting statistics and noted David Wood's article (AO&P Magazine, August 2016) where he suggested categories.
David Scouller said that as soon as an infringement happens the controller is taken off duty. So it's stressful for them.
He then closed the seminar and completed forms and certificates for the instructors.
Instructors are some of the most well trained, most current and experienced pilots operating GA types in the UK. However, recent airspace infringement statistics reveal that, year on year, a significant percentage of infringements happen with an instructor as the pilot in command. The root causes and contributory factors leading to an infringement are often many and varied, but clearly this trend is highly undesirable and as an instructor community we need to work on reducing the rate.
Unlike many GA PPLs who enjoy touring and landaways with their licence, when instructors get airborne it is often to a ‘well known’ local area for training, then a recovery back to home base. So it should be easy then? Well, clearly there are a number of ‘Threats’ facing us and ‘Errors’ that can be made that keep catching us out.
The aim of this article is to discuss some aspects of ‘sortie management’ for instructors that may be useful ‘Mitigations’ and may help you avoid becoming one of the statistics. No-one has the monopoly on good ideas, and many of you will have your own thoughts and views so please take this in the spirit intended – if nothing else, I hope it stimulates some debate and reflection. Perhaps a good activity for an instructor crew room discussion on a rubbish weather day (and we haven’t been short of those lately!).
UK airspace is incredibly complex, especially in the South East, and has many shapes, layers and protrusions ready to catch out the unaware.
It is vitally important that you have a good ‘mental model’ of the airspace where you are going to operate and how that relates to the landscape over which you fly. As we all increasingly use flat screen tablet computers and phones, our ability to think in 3D is apparently being degraded over time. To keep yourself sharp, make sure you can verbally describe the key features of your operating area that can help you maintain a safe operating area clear of airspace.
For example, at Wellesbourne I know Birmingham airspace is above the airfield at 3500’ so I never climb above 3000’ until I am certain I am well clear to the South or West. I also know that Birmingham airspace comes down to 1500’ at Junction 15 of the M40 just to the North, so I always make sure I have turned away towards Stratford area well before that visual reference. If you can keep ‘not above’ altitudes and references likes this in your head, it can help keep you clear.
What’s the situation today?
Complacency can creep in to the best of us, and it is also too easy to trot out the well trodden and timeworn ‘TEM’ or ‘Airmanship’ points each sortie. However, what we should be doing, and coaching our students to do, is assess the specific conditions and environment of the day and making judgements based on that. I suggest the following considerations:
What is the wind direction and strength? Is there a large gradient today? How will it affect us during the flight? How much drift could we suffer?
Is the visibility poor? How will it affect our ability to see features and the airfield?
What is the cloud base like? Are we likely to be kept low? If we go above cloud layers, how much space about the cloud tops do we have?
Are there rain showers around that could cause us to divert around them?
What pressure setting are we going to operate on? Is it appropriate for the operating area? If a low pressure day, could it cause a dangerous differential?
Review that mental model in relation to where we are going to operate today.
Are there are restrictions or temporary airspace that could affect us?
If weather means I have to move from my intended area, where can I safely go to continue the sortie?
Ideally we don’t want to go where lots of potential airborne threats will distract us or cause to move to an unintended area.
Is it good weather - are there large amounts of other local or airborne traffic that could distract me?
If it is a good gliding day, beware of operating near to cloudbase or near to concentrations of gliders.
Where are my other school aircraft likely to be going?
Where is the sun? How strong is it? A student will struggle to see and maintain attitudes if being blinded facing into sun, and the sun / haze can seriously degrade visibility of ground features.
Make sure you select some visual ‘anchor points’ or ‘handrails’ (line features) ground features that you can keep in sight when manoeuvring around to keep your positioning. These will also help you keep an eye on drift by watching the sight line angle perspective maintained.
Select an appropriate Altitude for training that gives you an adequate buffer from airspace and caters for inaccuracies in altitude maintenance when training. Equally operating near to cloudbase can degrade your visibility and make accurate altitude maintenance more difficult than necessary.
If possible, an upwind operating area is desirable. It will facilitate an efficient return to base post training and gives you the opportunity to see and avoid approaching weather. If teaching turning or long straight legs, beware of drift.
Think about how your profile, especially altitude changes, will fit with the intended exercise – stalling, climbing and descending exercises for example will need some thought and planning to select an appropriate start altitude and operating area.
Try and ensure the profile gives you an efficient end position for recovery back to base, and gives you options to space appropriately for other traffic and airspace on the rejoin.
This is also where you need to take an honest view of the training value of the sortie on the day. It is always tempting to try and get airborne, but if it is a poor weather day, strong wind and you are going to try and get a turning exercise done in a small gap around a load of airspace, you might just be stacking too many cards against yourself….
How you position the aircraft during a sortie can significantly improve the training experience for the student and help you reduce the risk of an infringement. Some more considerations:
There are a wealth of GPS moving map type display devices now available, either as apps on tablets or dedicated GPS devices. The situational awareness that a GPS display can give you is immense and can significantly reduce your workload when instructing. Moreover, pretty much every PPL student will go straight out and buy an app or a device as soon as they can, so I believe it is incumbent on us to introduce the safe and correct usage of these aids during the training process. It is complete urban myth that GPS cannot be used during PPL training; yes the student must demonstrate a level of dead reckoning navigation skill on their test, but we have moved on from Tiger Moth navigation days!
Dos and Don’ts for GPS usage during training:
DO make sure the device is appropriately mounted and secure. DON’T put it near the compass (an iPad underneath will cause a 30 degree swing!!)
DO make sure your app and airspace is up to date.
DO make sure you fully know how to use the app/device.
DO understand how it works – e.g. how GPS altitude relates to barometric altitude.
DO use the GPS position to back up and confirm your other sources of location.
DON’T degrade your LOOKOUT by getting focussed on the device. DON’T get caught out by inappropriate airspace depictions, e.g. IFR tailored displays on Garmin 430/540 units.
DON’T use GPS to fly right up to the edges of airspace – leave an appropriate buffer.
Radio / Transponder Usage
Selecting an appropriate Air Traffic Service is sometimes a difficult call. A purist answer would be to always try and obtain a Traffic Service, however we all know how that is not always available and what busy frequencies can be like when trying to instruct… A Basic Service is often most appropriate, but remember what it actually means the controller will and won’t provide – collision, terrain and airspace avoidance remain your responsibility even if a friendly, alert controller might warn you if he/she spots an impending issue. Many areas of the UK now have listening squawks so please try and use one if possible when operating near to airspace.
Transponders - everybody always uses Mode C or Mode S if fitted don’t they?? No excuses, ever. Enough said…
We all know and love the ‘Aviate, Navigate, Communicate’ adage don’t we? Well, why when instructing is it one of the first things that often goes out the window?! The point is, don’t over prioritise instructional patter and neglect checks, positioning and LOOKOUT. Sometimes, it is entirely appropriate and right to break off the instruction, take control, tell the student to relax for a few minutes, and reposition the aircraft or take a breather to update your situational awareness. Equally, don’t let a bad student position or error develop too far so that you deny yourself options to maintain your position or altitude. Also be careful of apparently benign sorties like trial lessons – a flurry of questions, talk or photo taking can be just as distracting.
I hope these points have been of some interest and may stimulate some thoughts of your own – no-one is immune from errors, but we can all try and take some mitigating actions to reduce the risk and pass on this ethos to our students for their flying careers.
AOPA has a very strong, corporate membership, many of whom are involved in flight training. In addition to this many of the pilot members are current flight instructors, chief flying instructors and examiners. Until the inception of JAR, leading now to the EASA regulation, AOPA oversaw the appointment of PPL flight examiners and most of the syllabus that pilots train to was written and produced by AOPA. The Training Committee is responsible for all matters that revolve around training and flight safety. The committee itself comprises some of the UK's most experienced instructors and examiners, bringing with them great depth of experience and knowledge.
When it comes to new regulation and legislation this is paramount in combating unnecessary regulation and also ensuring that new regulations are fit for purpose challenging changes that add nothing and lead to an escalation in overall cost as well.
The committee meets four times a year and reports to the Executive.
Over the years the Training Committee has developed for AOPA a number of training modules that extend pilot experience and safety. These include: The AOPA Aerobatics Course at three levels developed in conjunction with the British Aerobatic Association, the AOPA Radio Navigation Course and the AOPA Flying Companion Course.
Additionally, as it is now a statutory requirement that instructors attend a flight instructor refresher seminar every other renewal, the AOPA Training Committee is the UK's major provider of these courses and offers discounts to instructor members.
The Training Committee has been working with the Members' Working Group on the AOPA Mentoring Scheme aimed at enabling people to develop their flying skills with other pilots without the expense or requirement of a full flying instructor. The Committee also produced the criteria and syllabus for the AOPA Wings Scheme, again designed to encourage pilots to extend their experience levels.
The Training Committee was also a prime mover in developing the NPPL and IMC ratings, produces the original concept document and syllabus for the licence and continues to offer advice in this respect.
All Instructor members also benefit from the free 'first aid' legal advice available through AOPA in the event of an incident.
Training Committee Terms of Reference
- The Training Committee will seek to further the aims and objectives of AOPA UK and IAOPA.
- It will concern itself with instructional standards and other matters relating to flight instruction.
- It will endeavour to remain abreast of developments regarding instructors and instructional standards that are being discussed outside AOPA and make recommendations to, and aim to influence thinking within, the CAA and EASA.
- It will develop and update flight training syllabuses and products for the benefit of flight training in the UK and organise flight instructor refresher seminars.
- The Committee will report to the AOPA Executive Committee and provide advice and opinions on matters relating to flight training.
- Membership is by invitation from the Chairman or AOPA Chief Executive.
- Meetings will take place about four times a year.
- At least half the membership shall consist of currently practising flight instructors.
- A member who misses four consecutive meetings without reasonable cause shall become a Corresponding Member, at the discretion of the Chairman.
- A Corresponding Member will continue to receive Minutes of meetings but the Agenda and next meeting date and venue will not be sent in advance.
- The Chairman will write to thank a member for his/her service to the Committee following cessation of membership or corresponding membership.
- Publicising the work and findings of the Committee in the AOPA house journal, General Aviation and, where appropriate, farther afield.
The list of members is provided below:
Chairman AOPA Training Committee
Seawing Flying Club, Southend Flying Club, PPL IMC SEP MEP Examiner, FAA CFI and CFII, Officer Commanding 614 Volunteer Gliding Squadron MDPGA Wethersfield, Airline Pilot flying A340 and A330.
Royal Institute of Navigation and CFI RAF Waddington Flying Club
Head of Training and CFI, Andrewsfield Aviation
Chairman AOPA UK
Head of Training, RAF Brize Norton Flying Club. Deputy CFI, 637 VGS, RAF Little Rissington
Retired CFI & Examiner, still instructing after 32 years at Exeter
Flight Instructor Refresher Seminar Coordinator, AOPA UK Board Member
Head of Training, Pooleys Flying Instructor School
CEO AOPA UK, Senior Vice President IAOPA Europe
CRI, West London Aero Club, AOPA UK Board Member
Head of Training, Western Air (Thruxton) Ltd
AOPA UK Board Member, Chairman NPPL P & SC, IAOPA Europe representative EASA Part-FCL Partnership Group
Aviation software consultant and Flying Instructor specialising in historic aircraft, advanced handling and ab-initio flying training.
I have been a member of this group for years and it has been a very enjoyable experience. A great opportunity to exchange experiences, opinions, and frustrations with some of the most qualified instructors in the land. Now I find myself having to ask what have we managed to achieve for the AOPA members in all aspects of flight and ground training?
Yes we have scared off some of the more ludicrous EASA and CAA nonsense, addressed some student’s problems and established a nationally recognised
programme of instructor seminars. But now the real question is: how can we improve the future for training?
Let us look at one of the basic issues. Anyone catching the flying bug – and let’s face it – it is pretty infectious, is incredibly vulnerable. They can be talked into flying knackered old aircraft, with willing but inexperienced flying instructors who are usually earning less than the living wage. The student has nowhere to turn to for advice except perhaps their fellow trainees whose help often goes along the comrades in adversity line.
So here is a start; lets change the name of the instructors committee to the Training Committee/Group/Workshop or whatever you like to reflect the need for partnership between instructor and student. I have therefore put it to the group that we must embrace the concept of being accessible to all AOPA instructors and students to offer support, advice and, if need be, mentoring. This has been adopted unanimously and with enthusiasm.
So you will see in the future training tips being published, senior instructors attending major AOPA events and, shortly you will be able to contact instructors with over 20,000 hours' experience via my AOPA e-mail (In the meantime the office will forward any emails).
BRITISH GA NEEDS ADDRESSING
Ever increasing prices, regulation, and airspace restriction drive more and more people to do other things. I know one 1000hr pilot who stated in torment that one more bit of aggravation, and he was giving up flying after 30 years. I know exactly how he feels. Trying to get circuit slots for students, having to carry GPS trackers to ensure noise abatement, buying PLB beacons in case I come down in inaccessible and wild Surrey, 8.33khz radios that nobody wants; not even ATC. All of this drives me up the wall to the point that I am having sailing lessons!
When I started flying instruction I went and saw the CAA regulator about setting up a company flying club at Old Sarum. You could actually visit them in those days, which was refreshing. The brief I got was, and I quote: "Get your boys and girls together, write two pages of basic rules and get on with it." Nowadays we need documentation, which is a drift down from the airline world, just to punt around in a C152 teaching straight and level. The sad fact is that for all this incomprehensible twaddle we are bombarded with by various authorities, we are still pottering around providing good and safe flying instruction.
When there is this level of disconnect between the governed and those doing the governing then something is wrong!
Look at airspace. After 25 years flying out of Heathrow and White Waltham I am a firm believer that we in proper aeroplanes should not mix with the big boys. They are just too big, fast, and deadly. However I also think the sky was not given by nature to airport operating companies for the sole purpose of making money. We have as much right to be in the sky as they do.
So, if they want to control their environs then airport companies should be made to make provision for accessible radar coverage. This will allow other aeronautical traffic to do their best to avoid that airspace. Yes it is going to cost money but it will be less than the annual rent of a terminal shop at most of these airports. If we want to avoid infringements then airports need to get their financial priorities right.
I am going to finish on a message of hope. Four of us hired the club's PA32 and spent a couple of days at the Friedrichshafen Aero Fair. Why is this a great place to be cheered up at? Well simply it is the energy exhibited. Company after company are ignoring all the tradition mend-and-makedo attitude of GA and are actively providing the flying community with wonderful new toys. There is someone there who will sell you a brand new Bucker Jungmann, another will provide you with a Stampe made out of lightweight materials and powered by a Rotax engine, and yet another will get you flying in a people-carrying drone-based aircraft!
All of these lovely shiny machines bring joy to the heart and the reassurance that there is a future for light aviation. That is of course if we don’t get legislated out of existence in the meantime.
Ian has more than 17,000 hours of Air Transport, Flight Training, Air Taxi, Freight, and Aerial Work in his logbook. He pioneered twin engine aerial advertising, worked as a contract flyer for the military and has been instructing since 1981.
Why is an interesting and grossly underused word in flight training! Why for example do people do so many strange things when flying aeroplanes?
There you are on final approach, power set, flaps deployed and trundling down the glide path nice and stable, when at about 50ft above the ground you chop the power. Go stand next to your favourite GA runway and watch.
See if you can spot the wobble when the power comes off, the nose tries to drop, and the trim goes to pot. Why do we do this? Please somebody explain to me the advantages of destabilising a perfectly good approach!
How about a gentle reduction of power during the initial flare thus giving better elevator control, and a civilised harmonious return to what Neil and Buzz described as ‘the good earth’.
Here are a few more ‘whys’! Why are there nine examinations to pass to obtain a PPL? Most of the information a student has to force into his or her brain is pretty irrelevant. I have never used the 1 in 60 rule in my life and please somebody tell me – where is the signals square at Heathrow? I once had an Aldis lamp conversation with the old tower at London Airport but we were just showing off as the radio was working perfectly well!
Staying with examinations – why on earth is there a requirement to pass them all in six sittings? What’s that all about and how is this relevant to leisure flying?
Another question is why are we so short of flying instructors and why do they move on so quickly? Could it be that nobody can afford to live on an average instructor’s wages? I recently came across a flying school paying the national minimum wage to its part time instructors on a zero hour’s contract. I suppose you could live with this if work was available for 10 hours day, there is lots of lovely daylight all year round, and the weather never strays from that portrayed in English Heritage brochures.
It would also help if all the students bother to turn up.
So it really is not that surprising that when the airlines' seductive call is heard, the response is amorous.
Why do pilots fly so close to controlled airspace? I am getting pretty bored with providing the training required by the CAA to expunge the sin of an airspace incursion. Keep at least two miles and 500ft vertically away from these blasted zones. Remember your transponder only has to be plus or minus 100ft accurate, therefore bombing along just below controlled airspace can easily trigger an alert leading to a letter dropping on the door mat!
Another quandary with asking "why?" can be when you get a reasonable answer. However this can be very refreshing! Years ago you could come and go in and out of the country as a pilot by just waving your flying licence at customs. The Commercial licence actually stated that the holder had the right of entry into the UK.
One day, all of a sudden, our passports were demanded at what was usually the end of a heavy day. This was very annoying so one day I tackled the border guards. To my horror my hostility was met with a perfectly good explanation. The UK had become a flying training centre of excellence and considerable numbers of overseas citizens had gained UK licences. Therefore this system was no longer viable.
Mind you there were consequences of having to report to customs as one evening we arrived late and duly trudged off to their office. We were greeted by scuffling noises from behind some lockers, followed shortly by silence and then the appearance of a young couple of somewhat embarrassed border officers, who had been indulging in what my mother would have described as ‘courting’.
So what is the point of asking why? Well if you are under training you are probably overwhelmed by all the rules, regulations, and training information. By asking why a little more often you will be able to make your own mind up about the efficiency of your training. Does your instructor understand the subject sufficiently to explain why you are doing something? Is your flight school giving you the very best it can? Are you doing something just to appease officials in EASA? Asking why will put you in command of your training and develop the self-reliance to be the captain of your aircraft.
Meanwhile back at the Training Committee we have been trying to answer some of other people’s why’s.
Why does the Wings scheme not cover people undertaking Tiger Moth type flying or indeed give instructors an improvement route?
Why are pilots still coming to grief using flap 40 in Cessna 150s? It must be a training issue as the go around at this flap setting has been known as all-but impossible for decades.
What is the industry doing about the flying instructor supply? My club has been using European instructors to supplement supply for years, but due to Brexit uncertainty, and the falling pound, that source has dried up.
I have spoken with many retired airline pilots who started their careers instructing with the aim of getting them back into the training industry. Unfortunately very few are prepared to go back to basics and teach again. I think the cost of renewing their instructor privileges outweigh any desire to pass on their invaluable knowledge. Shame.
We have electric aeroplanes on the horizon so what are the regulations going to be about them, and of course there are drones to avoid. Or should it be they must avoid us? Sadly there are far more drone owners than active pilots so guess where the votes are.
Two last thoughts. If you are flying in the hot weather or are popping over to the continent please be careful with pressure altitude. Your engine may well be struggling in the heat and the wing won’t work that well.
The second is my AOPA email account is now up and running, Hurrah! So if you have any training issues or comments please drop me a line. AOPA is here to help!