Flight Instructor Resources Your Guide to Lifelong Learning

by Jennifer Caron, FAA Safety Briefing

Who has the most important job in aviation? Many would argue it’s the flight instructor. He or she has the leading responsibility to impart the knowledge, skills, and attitudes fledgling pilots will need in order to operate safety in the National Airspace System (NAS).

Knowledge in particular is a hugely dynamic thing in the aviation industry — nothing stays the same for very long. In order to provide learners with both (a) the up-to-date knowledge, skills, and abilities, and (b) the desire and aptitude to be the lifelong learners that they must be, the instructor has to set the example by being a lifelong learner as well.

Keeping up may seem daunting, but this article presents some resources for you and the pilots you teach.

FAA Resources

Airman Testing

The FAA’s Airman Testing page (www.faa.gov/training_testing/testing) is an online resource for certification requirements and airman knowledge testing. There you can find testing resources such as the Airman Certification Standards (ACS), practical test standards, and reference handbooks. Topics that contain new and revised material are featured in the “What’s New and Upcoming in Airman Testing” section, located at the bottom of the page. Subscribe to receive email notifications, updates to new information and material, and much more.

The WINGS Pilot Proficiency Program

Reviewing and refreshing your knowledge is just as important as actual flying. The WINGS Pilot Proficiency Program is designed on the premise that pilots who maintain currency and proficiency in the basics of flight will enjoy a safer and more stress-free flying experience. Participation provides opportunities to help improve your skills and knowledge with online courses, seminars, and webinars.

Encourage pilots you train to participate in the program and take advantage of the wealth of information and proficiency training available. They can also benefit from the on-going training programs that provide opportunities for pilots-in-training to fly with a flight instructor. Many third party activities, such as those offered by pilot groups and organizations, qualify for WINGS credit. Check out the WINGS program at the FAA Safety Team’s website, faasafety.gov.

Professional Organizations

Flight instructor organizations are great resources for continuing education, access to new flight training information, accreditation programs, resources and techniques for flight instruction, and the ability to network with flight training peers. Notable organizations geared to support the professional development of both independent and flight school-based instructors include the National Association of Flight Instructors (NAFI), nafinet.org, and the Society of Aviation and Flight Educators (SAFE), safepilots.org.

Pilot organizations such as the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), aopa.org, and the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), eaa.org, bring like-minded aviators together for information and resources, and the promotion of general aviation. These and many other organizations provide instructors and pilots-in-training with access to speakers and aviation experts, workshops, and webinars. Some also offer discounts on trade publications to keep you up to date on the latest pilot techniques, tips, and advances in aviation technology.

Groups like the EAA/IMC and EAA/VMC Clubs provide opportunities for instructors and pilots from a wide range of aviation interests and backgrounds to share knowledge, learn and discuss different ways to approach flight scenarios, promote safety, and improve decision-making skills in both IMC and VMC flight conditions. The club’s founder, Radek Wyrzykowski, is an instrument and multi-engine flight instructor who started the clubs as an opportunity for pilots to exchange practical experience and knowledge in a group setting. Members bring real-life, in-flight scenarios for group discussion and input on new ways to approach unexpected events during flight.

“These scenarios are not what you’d read about in any book,” explains Wyrzykowski. “It’s an exercise to develop a thinking process — everyone learns from group interaction. It also provides a great opportunity for pilots to promote safety and build proficiency in instrument and visual flying,” says Wyrzykowski. Located at GA airports throughout the United States, these clubs are EAA proficiency programs that you can find at eaa.org/imcclub.

Type Clubs

Type clubs enable instructors, pilots, and pilots-in-training to connect with professionals and enthusiasts interested in a particular type or brand of aircraft. If available, consider joining a type club to learn more about the specific airplane you’re using for flight instruction. Point your pilots to this resource as well to pick up additional skills in the aircraft they’re flying now, or to find information about transitioning to another airplane.

Guiding Principles for Instructors

The Aviators Model Code of Conduct advocates safer operating practices for instructors, and the entire aviation community. Visit their website at secureav.com.

New and Updated Regulations

Keep up to date with the evolution of GA, new information, and updates to existing regulations in the NAS. Visit faa.gov/regulations_policies often for new and revised regulations, and subscribe to updates on Airworthiness Directives (ADs) and Special Airworthiness Information Bulletins (SAIBs) at service.govdelivery.com/accounts/USFAARGL/subscriber/new. Pass the information along to your pilots as well.

Here’s some important information, updates, and new regulations you need to know.

New English Language Proficiency Standards

Just released on June 2, 2017, Advisory Circular (AC) 60-28B changes the English language proficiency testing procedures for student pilots. English language proficiency, as per the new FAA Aviation English Language Standards (AELS) must be evaluated before any student pilot applications, endorsements, or additional ratings are issued. These changes resulted, in part, in response to findings that poor communication is often a contributing and causal factor in aviation accidents. Visit go.usa.gov/xN7RP to take a look at the requirements in AC 60-28B.

BasicMed — An Alternative to the Third-Class Medical Certificate

Pilots can exercise student, recreational, and private pilot privileges in certain small aircraft without holding a current medical certificate. AC 68-1A outlines the required medical education course, medical requirements, and aircraft and operating restrictions that pilots must meet to act as pilot in command (PIC) for most Title 14 part 91 operations. See faa.gov.go/BasicMed for all the details.

Update to Currency Requirements and Guidance for the Flight Review and Instrument Proficiency Check

An update to AC 61-98C, the flight review guidance, is due out later this year — keep a look out for it at faa.gov/regulations_policies/advisory_circulars. In the meantime, check out the helpful job aides found at the end of the AC in Appendices 2 through 9.

Guidance for Transition to Unfamiliar Aircraft

AC 90-109A provides guidance on the transition to any unfamiliar fixed-wing airplanes, including type-certificated and/or experimental aircraft, and provides information to flight instructors who teach in these airplanes. This AC can also help pilots develop the necessary skills and knowledge when transitioning aircraft types.

Lessons Learned from Civil Aviation Accidents

Knowing the cause of an accident can help you, as well as the pilots you teach, to mitigate unnecessary risk. The FAA’s Aviation Safety Information Analysis and Sharing System (ASIAS), go.usa.gov/xRbg4, allows users to search an extensive warehouse of safety information compiled from accident and incident data. Click on the “Lessons Learned” tab to view the library of small airplane accidents, along with key safety information resulting from those aviation events.

National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)

The NTSB conducts independent investigations of all civil transportation accidents, and is also an excellent source of information on the leading causes of GA accidents. The NTSB’s aviation accident reports are available online at go.usa.gov/xRbgW. After an aviation accident investigation is complete, a final description of the accident and its probable cause, along with its associated safety recommendations, are added to the report.

The NTSB also issues Safety Alerts to GA pilots and mechanics to highlight safety issues identified in recent accident investigations. You can find these important text and video alerts at go.usa.gov/xRbgK.

Lifelong Learning

Sharpen your own skills — pursue new certificates, ratings, or endorsements. Hangar flying is good — talk to other instructors, other pilots, and remember that you can also learn from your students. Being an effective lifelong learner is the key to enhance skills and proficiency for yourself and for the pilots you train.

You, the flight instructor, have the most important job in aviation. By inspiring, motivating, and educating fellow pilots to be the best they can be, you help provide a foundation for the safety of all users in the NAS.

Jennifer Caron is an assistant editor for FAA Safety Briefing. She is a certified technical writer-editor, and is currently pursuing a Sport Pilot Certificate.

This article was originally published in the September/October 2017 issue of FAA Safety Briefing magazine.
Created By
FAA Safety Team

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a Copyright Violation, please follow Section 17 in the Terms of Use.