SAFE CFI Mentoring Reborn: Share Your Wisdom!

…please share your years of accumulated wisdom and help young CFIs.  Pay it forward!

From a recent FaceBook post by a VFR-only Cirrus pilot:

“First time in 800+ hrs I’ve had to scrub a VFR flight because of weather. The field quickly went marginal to IFR in minutes while I taxied out and did the run up. I waited for 10 min checking the weather and with ATC and it was a losing battle.”

As a responsible flight instructor, don’t the first 15 words of this post ring an alarm bell for you?  How likely do you think is it that a pilot could accumulate more than 800 hours of flight time without ever canceling a VFR flight because of weather conditions?

It’s possible, I’m sure, but there was something about the photo accompanying the post that sent chills up and down my spine. It was the juxtaposition of that beautiful, glowing always-VFR virtual reality screen with the obvious IMC conditions outside.

Cirrus Instruction

Save the nastygrams, I’m not singling out Cirrus pilots. Nearly all new airplanes these days come with glass panels, and all those easy-to-understand visual displays and additional information can help keep a pilot safer.

On the other hand, I believe that for some pilots all those whistles and bells give the false confidence to burrow ever-deeper into deteriorating weather. On Cirrus aircraft, the presence of the red ripcord handle for the parachute can add to overconfidence for judgment-impaired pilots.

In the early days of glass panels, grouchy old instructors would turn up their noses at non-pilots who bought fast, fancy new glass airplanes and expected to be taught to fly in them. The expression often used in those days was “he has more money than brains.”

Again, I’m not picking on Cirrus.  It’s just that this revolutionary aircraft with a parachute was one of the first and by far the most popular all-glass airplane type, and is still a natural choice for well-heeled newbie pilots. In the early years, the Cirrus aircraft accident rate, particularly in weather-involved accidents, was far greater than for other traveling-type airplanes. To its credit, Cirrus redoubled its training efforts and re-emphasized ADM and recurrency for pilots of this type. With that education, the Cirrus’ accident rate now compares favorably with similar GA aircraft.

Bravo, Cirrus!

For CFIs, much of this comes down to teaching pilot judgment. That was difficult enough in Cessna 152s with a single 360-channel navcom, but today some newbies are convinced that all the gadgets in their fancy new technologically-advanced airplane mean it can be used for “anywhere, anytime traveling.”  That makes teaching ADM even more important, also more difficult, and that’s where you, the experienced CFI, come in.

SAFE is re-energizing its Mentor program, which allows experienced SAFE CFI members to sign up via the SAFE web site to advise and counsel less experienced CFIs.  Such advice might be in marketing, transition training or a hundred other topics, not only on how to teach pilot judgment. There’s a convenient sign-up form on our website to share your hard-won expertise and judgment to the younger generation.

Please share your accumulated years of CFI wisdom and help younger instructors.  Login to the member side of the website and fill in the form, we will match you with the many new CFIs seeking an experienced mentor.


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And if you are not a SAFE member yet, this is your cue to join our group of aviation education professionals. Support SAFE in our mission of pursuing aviation excellence. The amazing member benefits alone make this commitment painless and fun. See you at the airport.
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FAA Issues New Guidance for CFIs Conducting Flight Reviews

A just-issued FAA Advisory Circular (AC 61-98C) is providing new guidance for how CFIs conduct flight reviews and instrument proficiency checks (IPC).  The recommendations came from a high-level FAA committee that included SAFE representatives.  It is available free here.

AC 61-98C reminds CFIs that flight reviews and IPCs should include a check on the pilot’s proficiency in English, urges CFIs to help pilots develop a personal currency program and strongly suggests that an FAA form 8710-1 be completed for each flight review and filed through the IACRA system.

Under the heading Reducing GA Accidents, the AC notes that inflight loss of control is the most common single cause of GA fatalities, lists typical areas where loss of control can occur and asks instructors to pay particular attention to those areas in flight reviews.  They include:

  1. Pilot Proficiency, where CFIs can help pilots develop personal currency programs.
  2. Traffic Pattern, specifically departure stalls, attempts to return to the field after engine failure and uncoordinated turns from base to final. It asks CFIs to emphasize the difference between Vx and Vy, go-arounds, and stabilized approaches.
  3. Criteria for Stabilized Approaches including proper glide path, heading, airspeed, configuration, rate of descent, power setting and checklists. It recommends a go-around if approaches become unstabilized at 300 feet AGL or below.
  4. Instrument Meteorological Conditions, where vertigo can affect both non-instrument-rated pilots and non-proficient instrument rated pilots.
  5. Manual Flight After Automation Failure. The FAA cites over-reliance on automation, including FMS systems or coupled autopilots, as a significant cause of loss of control.  It urges CFIs to emphasize knowledge of the equipment and navigation systems installed and proficiency in manual aircraft control.

The new AC also notes that CFIs are required to be knowledgeable and up-to-date on issues critical to aviation safety, and that staying current on that information will help build a positive safety culture to reduce GA accidents.  It suggests that CFIs use the free booklet Conducting An Effective Flight Review to prepare individual pilots for flight reviews.

SAFE has been promoting awareness of loss of control accident causes for several years.  There is material in the SAFE resource center with information on loss of control, including seminal works on the subject completed by SAFE’s Rich Stowell, here.   Additional advanced material for CFIs is available in the members-only section of SAFE’s resource center.  A login is necessary for members to access SAFE members-only information. Join SAFE in our mission of pursuing aviation excellence. The amazing member benefits alone make this commitment painless and fun. See you at the airport.

SAFE Introduces Institutional Memberships!

East Hill Flying Club in Ithaca, New York on January 1 became the first flight school in the nation to take advantage of SAFE’s new Institutional Membership.  The reduced-cost membership option for flight schools and aviation colleges extends SAFE benefits to the designated employees of the institution.

“Each of my seven CFIs now has the advantage of SAFE’s multitude of services and discounts for less than half the usual $45 for an individual membership,” said David St. George, Chief Instructor and manager at East Hill.  “It’s a way to reward our staff with most of the SAFE benefits and also promote excellence in aviation education among our people.”

The new SAFE Institutional Membership fees are based on the number of instructors employed by the flight school or aviation college and starts at $75 for up to six instructors at the institution.

GroupCFIatSchoolThe new SAFE Institutional Membership includes all SAFE benefits for each instructor except subscriptions to FLYING Magazine.  Benefits include SAFE’s Aviation Mentoring program, monthly SAFE eNews, quarterly SAFE The Magazine, a vibrant CFI-focused online resource center and substantial discounts on flight instruction products and services from nearly two dozen leading aviation companies.

Screen Shot 2016-01-06 at 11.23.32 PMJust one member discount, from SAFE partner Lightspeed, provides an active CFI up to $150 off top quality Lightspeed headsets, a benefit worth more than three times the cost of a regular individual SAFE membership and six times the cost of an institutional membership.  The most recent member benefit is 66 percent off a yearly subscription to the premier aviation and astronautics publication of the Smithsonian Institution, Air and Space Magazine.

SAFE is a member-focused group of aviation educators that fosters professionalism and excellence in aviation through continuing education, professional standards and accreditation.  Its nearly 1,000 members include many of the nation’s top CFIs.

The New ACS Explained (1 of 3)

by Kevin D Murphy

This is the first of three easy-to-understand articles on the new Airman Certification Standards, which are replacing the venerable Practical Test Standards. You’ll find these articles in each month’s SAFE eNews, as well as here in the SAFE Educational Opportunities! blog.

SAFESymposiumIn 2011, SAFE chaired a landmark gathering in Atlanta of major GA stakeholders to discuss lack of growth, decreased student starts, increased student attrition, and flat accident rate trends.

 The new Airman Certification Standards are the result.

WHAT IS ACS?

Over the next several years, the Airman Certification Standards will replace today’s Practical Test Standards. The new ACS tells an applicants much more clearly what he or she must know, do and consider to pass both the knowledge and practical tests.

The new ACS adds task-specific knowledge and risk management elements to each part of the former PTS. The ACS documents are being written now, and eventually there will be one for each certificate and rating. Draft versions for both the Private Pilot Airplane and Instrument Rating Airplane ACS are available here.

For checkrides, use of the new more-specific ACS documents are expected to reduce subjective judgment on the part of examiners.

SOURCES OF ACS

One of the objectives of the ACS system is to make sure the study guides and references commonly used by students in preparing for a knowledge test or checkride are consistent not only with the test questions, but with each other as well. So far, the FAA has reviewed the Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge, Airplane Flying Handbook, Risk Management Handbook, Instrument Flying Handbook, Instrument Procedures Handbook, and CT-8080 test supplements.

In the next editions of these and other handbooks and manuals, the FAA will incorporate many industry recommendations to make sure they all agree with each other and with the test questions.

IS ACS REALLY AN IMPROVEMENT?

Of course, and here’s why:

The skill evaluation requirements in the ACS remain the same as in the PTS, but ACS improves the process by:
• Better defining knowledge needed and flight proficiency standards (skills).
• Clearly answers the “why do I need to know that?!” question in each portion of the test.
• Defines specific safety behaviors instead of using the rather amorphous “aeronautical decision-making.”
• Eliminates duplicate or overlapping tasks in the current PTS.

WHERE CAN I SEE EXAMPLES OF THE NEW ACS?

There is a short ACS brochure with examples of knowledge test subjects keyed to exact references in handbooks here .

WHEN WILL THE NEW ACS START?

The FAA is targeting June of 2016 as the start for the Private Pilot Airplane ACS, as well as the Commercial Pilot Airplane and Instrument Rating Airplane ACSs. Don’t be surprised if this date slips, however, because deploying this represents a massive change in the FAA’s testing system.

The ACSs for Authorized Instructor and Airline Transport Pilot are still in development.

Next month: How will the new ACS change knowledge and flight check preparation for my students?

IFR Currency Clarified

IFRCurrency
Be legal. safe and savvy flying IFR!

If you are instrument rated, staying current is critical to your flight safety. Without maintaining this important requirement, you are a VFR-only pilot! In addition to legal currency you should also consider competency and comfort in the clouds. Statistically, rusty instrument pilots do not make out much better than VFR pilots when the stumble unprepared into the clouds.

The FAA recently clarified their interpretations of the six-month proficiency rule for instrument pilots. You’ll find the basic rules under FAR 61.57(c), “Instrument Experience.”

To stay current for IFR, either take an instrument proficiency check with an instructor or perform holding, course intercepting and tracking and at least six instrument approaches every six months. For the approaches, you must:

  • Be in IMC or under the hood.
  • Be established on each of the initial, intermediate and final portions of the approach and descend to the MDA or DA. If available, you may use radar vectors to final.
  • The missed approach does not have to be flown.
  • If in IMC and you enter VMC after the final approach fix and before MDA or DA, the approach still counts. If under the hood, you must stay under the hood until reaching the MDA or DH.
  • If under the hood and required to deviate for safety after the final approach fix (such as to avoid conflicting traffic), the approach still counts.
  • A safety pilot qualified in the aircraft and with a current medical is required for hood work. The safety pilot name must be logged.

*And here is an IFR extra tidbit for you true IFR geeks. A question which has been debated in FBO lounges for years…”what constitutes an official ‘loggable’ approach for IFR currency purposes?” (This was asked by Donna Wilt in the comments and I thought it was worth adding here) The FAA finally came out with official guidance in September of this year. If you are in simulated or actual conditions it is necessary to fly the entire approach from the IAP (or as vectored) and pass the FAF inbound before becoming visual. So long as you fly initial, intermediate and final legs this approach is valid for currency. Of course flying it lower is valuable if you have a safety pilot (and make sure you record their name in your logbook).

 

SAFE represents nearly 1,000 of the nation’s top flight instructors and aviation educators and works to create a safer aviation environment by supporting aviation educators with mentoring opportunities, educational resources, and other benefits; inspire professionalism through promotion and recognition of excellence and enhanced education; represents aviation educators through interaction with the aviation industry and government and promotes learning in all areas of aviation.