Its All About Safety…

Thanks to CFI Paul Beaulieu, owner of Perception Aviation/Flight School (KBVY) for this guest article.

itsallaboutsafetyThat is a wonderfully over-used statement in aviation; of course, the danger in over-statement is the eventual effect of dulling it’s impact. Safety as a bottom line is the sum of so many links in a chain: equipment, maintenance, training, quality of training, situational awareness, currency, weather conditions, other operators, managing distractions, risk management, crew resource management, and more.

I would like to focus in on a critical safety concept that is embedded in one of the above items: quality of training. This is impacted by the preparedness and expertise of the trainer, the quality of the material, and the readiness of the learner to learn. This brief article will focus on the trainer’s impact on the learner’s readiness.

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One of the key concepts absorbed by Certificated Flight Instructors is the Hierarchy of Human Needs as realized by Abraham Maslow.

This five tiered pyramid is an excellent tool for understanding what generates the best outcomes in learning and it is the responsibility of the trainer to pave the way for success.

The first, or base, level is the physiological well-being of the learner. There are numerous points of influence at this level, some of which can be controlled by the trainer and others that are not directly controlled but should be used to inform the appropriateness of selected tasks or topics. For example in the first category are simple things like hydration, hunger, and comfort of the learner. Having healthy snacks and bottles of water as well as coffee and tea go a long way in setting the learning environment up for success. Comfortable chairs, sturdy tables, and well lit rooms also have a big impact. The latter group of considerations, those not influenced by the trainer, should be observed as considerations for the type and intensity of training. If the student arrives well rested and focused, have at it; but if he is lethargic, admits to coming directly from an overnight shift, or is distracted by home or other life stress, then select only appropriate, likely review, materials. Perhaps even a demonstrative lesson on the effects of stress and distraction and application of the IMSAFE checklist.

If we focus on delivering our syllabus to our learners, our mentees, in positive exchanges that enhance their confidence and their self image as members of our community, they will be better prepared to make good decisions as pilots in command.

It is the second level of the pyramid that is the inspiration and focus of this article, SAFETY. We have enormous impact on this level and it is malpractice to ignore its importance. It goes far deeper than the belief that one is not going to meet their fate in an airplane today, rather it gets at the extraordinary courage it took for this person to present themselves to you in pursuit of a dream. Becoming a pilot is no small goal, especially to an outsider. Its easy, sometimes, to forget or minimize the status we hold as pilots in the eyes of the beholder. Nowadays, in order to stand before a licensed pilot instructor, one must also navigate tall fences and signs that inform of a federal government that will descend on the first person who dares enter these gates unescorted.

Here’s where our responsibility begins. This prospective learner possibly also called ahead to the school and was hopefully met by a friendly, attentive, empathetic voice who has contemplated the importance of this first contact. The caller shyly states that she would like to become a pilot. Imagine if the representative of the school is dismissive, or worse, gives the distinct impression that one has to earn that kind of aspiration. (school owners: see how critically important it is that we control who answers the phone on our behalf?!). Conversely, it is possible to embrace the caller with genuine excitement at the idea of inducting a new pilot, and a new member of this warm learning community which you have created. Now that you have warmly greeted and embraced this new friend the real work begins. Every interaction from here and beyond needs to be filtered with an eye toward supporting the student’s belief that its okay to be here, to want to become a pilot, and to make mistakes. One false move on our part and the student is shut down.

Here’s one sample interaction that may seem innocent but can have devastating impact on the learner: “Beverly Tower November 12345 ten miles out, inbound for landing.” (instructor interjects to the tower) “Tower, 12345 is ten miles to the East and we have information Charlie.” Now, it is conceivable that a busy environment would necessitate this interjection, but in that case the instructor should have offered an opportunity to rehearse the call beforehand. In most situations it would be better for the instructor to give the learner the chance to realize their error and wait for the controller to request the clarification. This way the learner not only fixes the problem, experiences the procedure for making the correction, and retains PIC-esque responsibility, but they emerge with their sense of safety in being able to handle the situation without intervention. When the instructor jumps in, the learner is jolted into a reality where they are not up to the task. Positive transfer of learning has stopped.

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Just as a side note, there’s a perfectly good reason for the instructor to want to jump in. He is human too, and has the need to fit in, and control his surroundings. We sometimes even want to elevate ourselves at the expense of the learner, just to put them in their place. In the best of us this is purely subconscious but that is still self serving and denies the learner an important opportunity. Worse, it knocks him down a peg. Not our immediate goal.

The third tier is love and belongingness. This is perhaps the simplest, but only works if it is genuine. You simply can’t fake this one and it separates the great instructors from the time-builders.

These first three levels of the pyramid is where the rubber meets the runway. The final two pinnacle levels are ego and self actualization. When we succeed, the ego is in tact and the learner is set up to succeed at the appropriate task we have chosen for them today. Hopefully we have been able to identify the important nature of how our actions can influence our learners’ experiences.

The final statement here is to tie the importance of these concepts into the importance of the quality of our training on overall safety in aviation. If we focus on delivering our syllabus to our learners, our mentees, in positive exchanges that enhance their confidence and their self image as members of our community, they will be better prepared to make good decisions as pilots in command.

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Please “follow” our SAFE blog to receive notification of new articles. Write us a comment if you see a problem or want to contribute an article. We are always seeking more input on aviation improvements and flight safety. There are many highly qualified aviation educators out there! If you are not yet a SAFE member, please Join SAFE and support our mission of generating aviation excellence in teaching and flying. Our amazing member benefits alone make this commitment worthwhile and fun. Lastly, use our FREE SAFE Toolkit App to put pilot endorsements and experience requirements right on your smart phone and facilitate CFI+DPE teamwork. Working together we make safer pilots!

FAA Basic Med has Finally Arrived!

The FAA has published the BasicMed rules, however, the regulations do not go into effect until May 1, 2017. (This is to allow time for a comment period on the information collections, as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995) After that point, if you meet the BasicMed requirements, you can operate without an FAA medical certificate.

faabasicmedwebBasic Pilot Requirements:

  • Possess a U.S. driver’s license
  • Have held a medical that was valid at any time after July 15, 2006.
  • Have completed a medical education course described in FESSA within the past 24 calendar months
  • Have received a comprehensive medical examination from a State-licensed physician within the previous 48 months.
  • Is under the care and treatment of a physician for certain conditions
  • Make certain health attestations and agree to a National Driver Register check

Basic Aircraft Requirements:

Any aircraft authorized under federal law to carry not more than 6 occupants

Has a maximum certificated takeoff weight of not more than 6,000 pounds

Basic Operating Requirements:

Carries not more than five passengers

Operates under VFR or IFR, within the United States, at less than 18,000 feet MSL, not exceeding 250 knots.

Flight not operated for compensation or hire

CFIs can instruct with BasicMed! (within A/C limits)

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Click here for pdf of rule   Click here for FAA Basic Med FAQ  A/C

Please “follow” our SAFE blog to receive notification of new articles. Write us a comment if you see a problem or want to contribute an article. We are always seeking more input on aviation improvements and flight safety. There are many highly qualified aviation educators out there! If you are not yet a SAFE member, please Join SAFE and support our mission of generating aviation excellence in teaching and flying. Our amazing member benefits alone make this commitment worthwhile and fun. Lastly, use our FREE SAFE Toolkit App to put pilot endorsements and experience requirements right on your smart phone and facilitate CFI+DPE teamwork. Working together we make safer pilots!

DPE Tells All: New CFI/DPE Initiative!

Chris Palmer podcast with Ken Wittekiend, Master CFI, DPE (and SAFE Board Member)

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Ken Wittekiend, DPE, Master CFI SAFE Board Member

Those pilots following our blog know we at SAFE are focusing on improving CFI professionalism. The aviation industry needs more compassionate, effective “CFI Pros” that can efficiently educate our students and create safe pilots while still having fun in the process. Unfortunately, to become a “CFI pro” (and eventually Master CFI) takes time and continual learning beyond the point of the initial FAA certificate (Canada has four levels of CFI improvement). As Rod Malchado has written here, and Greg Brown points out here in his blog, finding a really effective aviation educator is quite difficult. There are many beginners out there; some good, some trying hard…but all can benefit from learning and growing through apprenticeship with senior educators and DPEs. As a “CFI Pro” you will know exactly the format and expectations on each checkride.

SAFE is promoting more CFI/DPE collaboration to spread the wisdom of truly master aviation practitioners into the CFI population. This has occurred informally for years in “feedback” from checkrides and even FAA Wings meetings featuring local DPEs. This year at Sun ‘N Fun you will see specific seminars geared toward CFI level improvement…look for “CFI Pro” seminars. We also hope to have a dedicated gathering of DPEs and CFIs in a round table format (work in progress).

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This podcast by our webmaster Chris Palmer (Angle of Attack Media) with SAFE Board member Ken Wittekiend (DPE and Master Instructor) is exactly the kind of sharing that can educate our industry’s aviation educators. Please listen in and share *your* comments and ideas!

Please “follow” our SAFE blog to receive notification of new articles. Write us a comment if you see a problem or want to contribute an article. We are always seeking more input on aviation improvements and flight safety. There are many highly qualified aviation educators out there! If you are not yet a SAFE member, please Join SAFE and support our mission of generating aviation excellence in teaching and flying. Our amazing member benefits alone make this commitment worthwhile and fun. Lastly, use our FREE SAFE Toolkit App to put pilot endorsements and experience requirements right on your smart phone and facilitate CFI+DPE teamwork. Working together we make safer pilots!

 

CFI Pro: Rod Machado’s Five Tips for CFIs

Rod Machado is a veteran flight instructor (40+ years) and a continuous positive force in aviation supporting both flight safety and also promoting fun flying. His humor and warmth help make even the most difficult aviation topics fun and exciting. His products have helped thousands achieve their goals in aviation.

His 1997 article advocating for the improvement of CFI technique still stands as a milestone effort in bringing our aviation educators up a notch in their technique. Both Rod and SAFE know there are obvious problems to be solved in aviation education and the improvement of our CFI ranks could greatly help both student retention and our safety record in aviation…remember if it’s not safe it’s not fun.

howpeoplelearnThe basic problem in “aviation education” is not the “aviation” part. CFIs are generally “aviation addicts” with excellent knowledge base and skills-that is usually why they became instructors! The real problem is more often with the “educator” part. The FAA preparation for the CFI is pretty thin on educational technique and pedagogical tools. Take a quick scan through this text to see the depth of required knowledge to become a fully-formed educator.  (This amazing text is FREE on-line and I guarantee it will improve your instructional technique)

Amazingly, once approved as an new FAA CFI, there is no required student teaching or mentoring system required for our new educators. Each new CFI is out there in the field fully functioning ready or not. I think every honest veteran CFI will confess their first couple students were mostly a “learning experience.” Rod offers this video presentation summarizing his original article as a helpful tool for new, returning (and just curious “always learning”) CFIs. At SAFE we are advocating a new “Pro CFI” system for those CFIs seeking to improve their technique. We will continue to provide resources to help our aviation educators. Enjoy this video and please send your comments.

Thanks for your interest in flight educator professionalism and stand by for more information and resources on raising the bar on educator professionalism. Rod’s free CFI e-tools are available here.


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Rod Machado is a professional aviation speaker who delights his listeners with upbeat and lively presentations. His unusual talent for simplifying the difficult and adding humor to make the lessons stick has made him a popular lecturer both in and out of aviation. Rod speaks on both aviation and non-aviation topics, including risk assessment, IFR charts, aviation weather, in-flight emergencies, and safety awareness. He has over 10,000 hours of flight experience earned the hard way—one CFI hour at a time. He also holds degrees in aviation science and psychology. His blog has a special section with free tools created specifically for CFIs.


Please “follow” our SAFE blog to receive notification of new articles. Write us a comment if you see a problem or want to contribute an article. We are always seeking more input on aviation improvements and flight safety. There are many highly qualified aviation educators out there! If you are not yet a SAFE member, please Join SAFE and support our mission of generating aviation excellence in teaching and flying. Our amazing member benefits alone make this commitment worthwhile and fun. Lastly, use our FREE SAFE Toolkit App to put pilot endorsements and experience requirements right on your smart phone and facilitate CFI+DPE teamwork. Working together we make safer pilots!