Visit SAFE @ Sun ‘N Fun C 53-55

It’s beautiful here in Florida as we count down the days to Sun ‘N Fun 2019 (2K overcast and 1 celcius back home…). The SAFE show booth this year (C building 53-55) will be a triple with the full Gold Seal Studio *and* a Redbird Horizon TD (3 Screens) for CFIs to practice teaching scenarios for the Pilot Proficiency Center. Thanks to collaborators Redbird Flight Simulations and Community Aviation for making this happen. Please stop by and try this fully provisioned simulator (Cloud Ahoy, ForeFlight all operational in a virtual flightscape). Jon Harden who writes the SAFE CFI Insurance Program will be at the booth every day from 1-2PM also.

The big news for SAFE is the release of the CFI PROficiency™ program. This amplifies and expands the core mission of SAFE; elevating the excellence of aviation educators. The release to the press will be at 11am on Wednesday and we will send the SAFE eNews shortly after with full details. If a connection allows we will livestream this event on SAFE FaceBook and YouTube to our channels. Very exciting. If you haven’t read previous issues of this blog click here for a couple of blog summaries. (The specific core websites are not active until our Wednesday release though)

Show specials include a FREE FIRC from Sporty’s for all instructors joining SAFE at the show. All SAFE members get the 1/3 off ForeFlight and CloudAhoy (along with a whole list of promotions and free subscriptions). Gleim publications has been a longtime SAFE sponsor and is again providing a free FAR/AIM to joining members. One of the huge opportunities to SAFE CFIs is FREE membership in Gold Seal Groundschools This not only gives you access to all the training materials, you get to create your own CFI website (with a dedicated url) and can track all your students in training (in detail; progress, quiz scores and wrong answers on quizzes!) Gold Seal was the first online groundschool.Stop by and see SAFE at the show! Fly safely (and often)

Apple or Android versions.

Join SAFE to support our safety mission of generating aviation excellence in teaching and flying. Our amazing member benefits pay back your contribution (1/3 off your ForeFlight subscription)! Our FREE SAFE Toolkit App puts required pilot endorsements and experience requirements right on your smartphone and facilitate CFI+DPE teamwork. Our CFI insurance was developed specifically for CFI professionals (and is the best value in the business).


“Mind the (CFI) Gap!” Go “Good to GREAT!”

FAA pilot certification is a carefully monitored pass/fail process, but surprisingly, only minimal performance is required to earn a pilot certificate or rating.  The PTS/ACS standards only ensure that all elements are completed successfully and that applicants meet at least the lowest acceptable level of skill, knowledge, and judgment. And by regulation, if the standard is met, the DPE must issue a temporary pilot certificate, despite any personal misgivings. So it is entirely possible to get a 70% in every area of operation – achieve a “minimum viable product” – and achieve certification. Not only does this system permit mediocrity, but that low level could also theoretically persist since the flight review is only designed to restore the same low standard. (See the AOPA Focused Flight Review for better). Excellence in aviation is entirely voluntary and a function of good people trying harder. The old joke about the person at the bottom of their medical school class still being a “doctor” comes to mind.

Thankfully, most pilots do much better than the bare minimum standards on tests thanks to their CFI’s extra preparation and a motivated applicant pursuing a higher personal standard. The important point here is that the impulse and effort to do better is voluntary and must be supplied by a good aviation educator and a culture that promotes excellence. Also notable here is the conspicuous lack of any official testing mechanism that requires “correction to 100%” of weak areas discovered (as occurs with the knowledge test). Since the FAA requires neither real proficiency over time nor personal improvement, aviation safety depends entirely on a pilot’s personal integrity and an urge for excellence. And this is where professional organizations like SAFE are critical; inspiring and enabling this excellence. Our modern cultural obsession with minimal effort (and also minimal time, money, and hours) is directly at odds with our aviation safety system. We also all realize that know most well-intentioned safety seminars and excellence programs end up “preaching to the converted” and often do not reach those in need of improvement.

I have seen disparaging remarks on social media for anyone getting more than a 70% on the FAA knowledge test; “you left a lot of effort on the table dude!”  Anything more than “minimum” requires the inspiration and effort of a good aviation educator and willing client. To create a safe pilot it is essential to embed this personal standard of lifetime learning and continuous improvement; an urge for excellence.

Now let’s consider the new CFI applicant who has just passed their flight evaluation (and perhaps only marginally). They certainly worked hard and attained a minimum level of skill and knowledge, but are they truly equipped to go forth and teach flying without seasoning or supervision? The new CFI certificate is a dramatic example of a “license to learn”.  But surprisingly, it is not regarded this way by the flying public. I am continually amazed by the trust and confidence the public grants every new FAA instructor. Extending the medical analogy, they might be putting their lives in the hands of an intern. But since the FAA says they are “good to go” so we are off to the races.

The Canadian aviation system, by contrast, requires all new CFIs to initially teach under the supervision of a senior CFI (seasoning and supervision). I have a sarcastic helicopter buddy who takes my new CFIs down a notch with his cynical advice; “Now all you need are five new students to mess up as you can learn how to teach.” SAFE CFI-PRO™ is designed to eliminate that kind of “trial by fire” learning. We are providing the tools and resources to address that gap between minimal and excellent. Both our 80% drop out rate and the Loss of Control epidemic are implicated in our current system of minimal education. Thankfully, many thoughtful, diligent new CFIs join professional organizations – like SAFE – (thank-you!) but these are usually the already the superior performers. Our membership roles are a “who’s who” of aviation professionals. Now we intend to more actively leverage this CFI experience and excellence.

As a though experiment, mentally compare a newly certificated CFI to the best veteran aviation educator you know. The huge unaddressed gap between “good and great” is the target of our CFI-PRO™ initiative. (And we have had diligent new CFI members asking for this kind of program-thanks!) Our goal is a more efficient path to the master performer that psychologist Anders Ericsson says takes 10,000 hours to develop. We know, careful training by our senior educators, national instructors and pilot examiners, and deliberate practice can accelerate the new or rusty CFIs’ transition to mastery by providing the “missing manual” of teaching tools, knowledge and maneuvering capabilities. There is no longer a need to flounder seeking resources. Loss of Control in particular requires specific “Envelope Expansion Maneuvers” (in lieu of Upset Training) to build proficiency and confidence. These work in non-aerobatic planes so are scalable to your local field and pilot. Every senior CFI employs some version of these maneuvers but they are often unknown (and not taught) to “modern” CFIs.

In aviation, every educator is the “impingement point” of aviation safety where improvement can be exponentially spread to raise all boats. If we reach out and improve each aviation educator, we also touch most pilots in the process. Safety is a group effort and that is the plan. Support our CFI-PRO™ initiative  (announced in detail at Sun ‘N Fun). Fly often – and safely! And LMK your thoughts?

Apple or Android versions.

Join SAFE to support our safety mission of generating aviation excellence in teaching and flying. Our amazing member benefits pay back your contribution (1/3 off your ForeFlight subscription)! Our FREE SAFE Toolkit App puts required pilot endorsements and experience requirements right on your smartphone and facilitate CFI+DPE teamwork. Our CFI insurance was developed specifically for CFI professionals (and is the best value in the business).

SAFE CFI-PRO™: Scenarios, Maneuvers, or Both?

This is one in a series of posts by special guest authors about SAFE's new CFI-PROficiency Initiative™ (aka SAFE CFI-PRO™). The goal of the initiative is to make good aviation educators great!

Rich Stowell authored many articles in the early 2000s on “The Problem with Flight Instruction” that helped precipitate the SAFE Pilot Training Reform Symposium in Atlanta. That SAFE initiative spawned the current FAA ACS. Now the focus is on raising the level of excellence among aviation educators with the new SAFE CFI-PRO Initiative.

Top instructors and examiners continually debate and lament the state of stick and rudder flying skills. The FAA flight training pendulum has swung from the traditional WWII maneuvers-based training (MBT) to the newer scenario-based training (SBT) standard. And though SBT is a vital part of risk management training and testing, inflight loss of control (LOC-I) continues to top the list of fatal accident categories. The number two occurrence category isn’t even close.

Should we resign ourselves to accepting LOC-I as inevitable? Or maybe the current focus on scenarios is as short-sighted as the focus on maneuvers once was? Perhaps aviation educators need to adopt a more balanced approach.

…what is chiefly needed is skill rather than machinery. – Wilbur Wright

Flight instructors teach in the psychomotor, cognitive, and affective domains. Maneuvers-based training falls in the psychomotor domain. It’s where pilots learn stick and rudder skills (aka manual flying skills). Scenario-based training overlaps the cognitive and affective domains. It’s where pilots learn aeronautical decision making skills.

Most anyone can learn specific patterns of movement. For instance, a person can follow steps laid out on the floor without ever looking in a mirror, getting a critique from a dance teacher, or listening to a beat. Does that make the person a dancer? Similarly, most anyone can learn how to apply a solution model to a scenario. A baseball fanatic with a grasp of analytics can choose statistically better options without having played the game. Is the fan a baseball player?

What does it take to train pilots capable of integrating body, mind, and emotion so the successful outcome of a flight is never in doubt? Memorizing a series of control movements without context, purpose, or rhythm won’t do that. As cognitive load increases, performance deteriorates and inputs become more spastic. Tackling complex scenarios without a solid foundation of stick and rudder skills won’t do it, either. Preoccupation with the mechanics of flying deflects mental focus from aeronautical decision making.

The psychomotor domain is the bridge to the other domains. We entice potential customers into aviation through the physical act of intro flights. Aviate, Navigate, Communicate is our most repeated mantra, with “fly the airplane” our default rule. The Aviation Instructor’s Handbook puts “Acquiring Skill Knowledge” several sections ahead of “Scenario-Based Training.” If word count is an indication, the skill section has nearly 40 percent more words than the scenario-based one. The handbook says skill acquisition is “the ability to instinctively perform certain maneuvers or tasks that require manual dexterity and precision [allowing] more time to concentrate on other essential duties such as navigation, communications with ATC facilities, and visual scanning for other aircraft.”

Developing competence in manual flying skills breeds confidence; injecting realistic scenarios counters overconfidence and develops better judgment. A path to follow to improve stick and rudder competency includes:

• Building from fundamental movements of the controls to skilled movements;
• Practicing manual skills often and with clear educational intention for growth; and,
• Striving to be able to do complex patterns of actions skillfully and automatically. [More here]

Could more technology be the answer to LOC-I? Is the purpose of technology to help well-trained pilots achieve peak performance with greater precision, or to conceal deficiencies in piloting skills?

Blue Threat author Tony Kern advises: “Error control will never be engineered out of existence with technology.” In fact, manual flying errors have increased because of overreliance on technology. This compelled the FAA to remind pilots to hand fly their aircraft more often in SAFO 13002 and SAFO 17007

Advisory Circulars 120-109A and 120-111 include templates for recovering from stalls and nose high and nose low attitudes. The first action listed in each case? Disengage the automation. The next steps in the procedures require (deeply ingrained) manual flying skills. And only greater proficiency and envelope expansion will give pilots fluid and immediate access to these often counterintuitive skills.

While the above ACs primarily target air carrier operations, they provide sound advice for general aviation pilots, too. When the time comes to prevent or recover from upsets that could lead to LOC-I, our lives, the lives of our trainees, and the lives of others will boil down to what the pilot does with the flight controls.

Stick and rudder skills will be relevant as long as flying involves pilots touching controls. Pilots interact with instructors throughout their flying careers; thus, improving the manual flying skills of instructors—and their ability to pass those skills on to others—is essential to reduce loss of control. This is why instructors are at the heart of the SAFE CFI-PRO Initiative.

Apple or Android versions.

Join SAFE to support our safety mission of generating aviation excellence in teaching and flying. Our amazing member benefits pay back your contribution (1/3 off your ForeFlight subscription)! Our FREE SAFE Toolkit App puts required pilot endorsements and experience requirements right on your smartphone and facilitate CFI+DPE teamwork. Our CFI insurance was developed specifically for CFI professionals (and is the best value in the business).

SAFE CFI-PRO™; Good to Great!

At the heart of flight safety is the aviation educator. Our cadre of professional instructors interact and wrestle with flight training and proficiency on a daily basis – we are on the front lines of safety. By elevating the level of skill and professionalism of the aviation educator, we exponentially improve every pilot and reduce loss of control accidents. At SAFE, inspiring and enabling aviation excellence is our core mission. We not only do this on a daily basis with resources,  tools and advocacy, but now have a great new program rolling out to enhance your learning; CFI-PRO (more soon!) What qualities/skills/aptitudes make a truly great aviation educator? And are these skills and secrets currently taught, or is that kind of education even possible – born not made? Let’s look at this together.

Our current FAA system for pilot (and CFI) certification is only designed to guarantee “good enough” (if everything is done correctly in training and testing). We work very hard and often only achieve a “minimum viable product.” Though some applicants are a lot better than the minimum, as DPEs we are counseled to assure each applicant that “perfection is not the standard.” Our FAA system assures that every new pilot achieves the ACS minimum level of safe, smart and skillful. And though I fought with this idea initially to raise the regulatory standards, would we really want a harder, more comprehensive CFI intitial? The process of achieving excellence and exceeding the standards is voluntary. This responsibility for continued improvement falls not only on the pilot but also directly on the educators. It is our responsibility to model excellence and to inspire, motivate and educate our aviators as they continue  to grow from “good to great.” With your FAA 8o60-4 (temporary), the learning has just begun!

So the challenge to every caring pilot and commited, safe educator is to exceed the minimum FAA standard and commit to lifetime learning and continued growth. Our aviation world is changing and growing daily and we need to adapt and grow to stay safe. Our job is also motivating and inspiring continuous improvement in our clients as we simultaneously persue excellence in our own careers. And though the Master Instructor is the obvious target for many CFIs, of the 101,000 FAA-certificated CFIs in the United States, fewer than 800 of them have successfully earned Master CFI accreditation.  For many part-time CFIs, full MCFI accreditation is a daunting challenge. But SAFE membership and commitment to CFI professionalism is worthy path to excellence.

There are two very different domains evaluated to become a flight instructor through the FAA system and each is a worthy target for improvement. The technical flying skill – piloting – is based on physical talent, training and experience. And for initial certification, a basic level is almost assumed here since every applicant has climbed the aviation ladder through at least the commercial level to apply for CFI. The new and challenging domain evaluated on the CFI test is mastering and demonstrating effective communication and teaching ability (on the white board and while simultaneously flying). And the term “flight instructor” is badly flawed because this person is actually an aviation educator, motivator, and coach all rolled into one. A great deal of “flight instruction” is more properly education that happens not just in flight but on the ground, online, in a simulator…etc.

For both newly certificated pilot and aviation educator, growing the flying skills requires pursuing more “exciting” flying – getting out of your “comfort zone” – to expand your personal flight envelope. This also keeps us motivated and charged up as educators combatting “right seat rust.” I personally think every flight instructor should be upside down a bit (because planes can go there). And the one or two spins required for CFI certification are an embarrassing minimum for CFI competence that should be continually refreshed. If you never go to the edge of the envelope you are vulnerable when suddenly tested by an “instructional surprise” (it might happen). I also personally think every pilot should try a tailwheel or a glider to experience the wonders of adverse yaw and the necessity for real rudder control. These opportunities are everywhere (and less expensive than you might think).

For the CFI we have many wonderful maneuvers that are perfectly legal in Part 23 trainers, that will expand your personal skills and be a great challenge for your clients. These include turning stalls (which are in the ACS and available to be tested at the private pilot level) rudder boxing, dutch rolls and steep turn reversals at 180 and 90 degrees of turn. If you don’t know what these are, find a CFI that is proficient and get some practice. Each of these maneuvers is a tool in the experienced instructors palette to enhance the safety of their clients. Surplus proficiency (margin) defeats LOC-I.

Free online as pdf or html

A second area to grow for your CFI abilities is in the human interaction world of communicating and teaching. Consider digging further into learning theory and the many wonderful books available free online. Refresh your perfunctory FAA exposure to learning theory with a good review here. Then dig deeper into the amazing new texts and courses to expand your technique and improve your effectiveness. A large part of aviation education improvement has nothing to do with flying but requires a keener understanding of human psychology and motivation. Working with youth groups like Young Eagles or the Aviation Explorers will expand your abilities and challenge your educator skills. And watch for our CFI-PRO clinic coming up this fall.

A third domain never trained or tested by the FAA but essential to success in aviation education is leveraging your emotional intelligence (a foreign world for many pilots). Though “failure to establish and maintain a strong student/instructor relationship” is repeatedly listed as the primary reason for the loss of instructional effectiveness and failure in training, there is no FAA training for emotional intelligence, compassion or empathy. And these are the qualities most often listed in surveys as the marks of a great flight instructor. But how do you teach passion and caring? The only way to develop and maintain this elusive quality is to invest daily and completely in what you are doing. Being a “people person” does not come naturally to many pilots. You need to truly like your job and socialize and be a good CFI in the community. Staying excited about flying keeps you motivated and fresh for teaching – all the repetition requires variety to avoid burn out (again, try to fly other aircraft and missions as much as possible). The ultimate secret is to realize that every lesson is the first time for your unique client. Making that very personal focus your primary awareness helps grow better pilots one individual at a time. Our next SAFE CFI-PRO™ Workshop is at Sporty’s in June. Fly safely (and often)!

Apple or Android versions.

Join SAFE to support our safety mission of generating aviation excellence in teaching and flying. Our amazing member benefits pay back your contribution (1/3 off your ForeFlight subscription)! Our FREE SAFE Toolkit App puts required pilot endorsements and experience requirements right on your smartphone and facilitate CFI+DPE teamwork. Our CFI insurance was developed specifically for CFI professionals (and is the best value in the business).

%d bloggers like this: