Sad Fact: We All Rust and Forget. FREE FIRC!

If we are honest with ourselves, we all know the secret to greater aviation safety: regular review and study, frequent training, and professionalism. Raising our level of currency and personal standards above the required “FAA minimums” in all areas would certainly lead to fewer accidents. Airplanes get an extensive annual every year with all deficiencies noted and corrected while their operators get a one-hour perfunctory review every two years!

Screen Shot 2020-04-25 at 1.08.43 PMAdmittedly there is no scientific proof of these assertions, just good correlational data and the airline model of discipline and safety. Professionalism and safety require time, effort,  money and discipline – all impediments that hold us back from pursuing this higher level. I also think there is an embedded “driving illusion” residing in many GA pilots: we learned this once and got it for life?! But 38,000 annual auto deaths argue otherwise (and no one is scared to drive to the funeral?!) Pilots operate in an even more challenging environment with greater consequences; continuous training required.

Pilots, as a group, tend to be pretty self-assured individuals (see pilot personality here). We all “think” we can analyze our own level of skill and personally assess our level of currency (my hand is up too). But honestly, humans are inclined toward optimism. Studies show 80% of drivers think they are “better than average” (and we know pilots are worse!). I also know personally from heading to Flight Safety every 6 months that rust and forgetfulness are a fact of life. We are only good at what we regularly do (center of the envelope). And none of us can really “surprise” ourselves with emergency procedures. When studying, we cannot “know what we do not know” either, we have blind spots. We need to work with a good instructor on a regular basis. FAA WINGS is a good format, knowledge source and reminder (and a new revamped version is on the way, take the survey here).For CFIs, the “every-two-year FIRC” (you bought the cheapest, good for the rest of your life model?) is a bit embarrassing and simple-minded. 141 chief instructors are required to renew every year. And the quality of these courses is amazingly variable. Let’s raise our level of proficiency and challenge ourselves a little here. We need to be especially sharp if we are going to be responsible for educating all future pilots. And bless the great guys at Sporty’s for providing a “no excuse price it’s now FREE, and this course is comprehensive and interesting; start your FIRC today…and stay safe out there!


Join SAFE and get great benefits (1/3 off ForeFlight!) This supports our mission of increasing aviation safety by promoting excellence in education.  Our FREE SAFE Toolkit App puts required pilot endorsements and experience requirements right on your smartphone and facilitates CFI+DPE teamwork. Our CFI insurance was developed by SAFE specifically for CFIs (and is the best value in the business).

Building Awareness With the “Cooper Code”

Colonel “Jeff” Cooper, developed the “Color Code of Awareness” for the military to inspire self-assessment and vigilance. Warfighters know that situational awareness is just as important for success as physical skill or conditioning. A tuned-up awareness is critical for pilot safety too. “Fat, dumb and happy” is no way to fly safely. Unfortunately, we *do* see this attitude with lots of flying where the purpose is solely enjoyment when there is no obvious threat. It is only self-discipline that enforces a higher level of awareness and keeps us re-engaging our “what if” thinking for critical phases of flight. Awareness is something we can practice every day and in every situation- we don’t have to be flying.

Situational awareness is a mindset that you have to purposefully cultivate. You want to get to the point that it’s just something you do without having to think about it. To get to that point, you have to practice it regularly…Don’t be paranoid, just mindful.

IMG_2439Code White in this system represents total relaxation, the basic “fat, dumb and happy” where a person is not on guard or self-aware. This level is appropriate for viewing NFL with a beer, but a highly vulnerable awareness state inappropriate for any complex or demanding task. Code white is the most common human mental state;  “human screen-saver” mode. Psychologists call this the “default mode” as is most often internally focused and characterized by “mind wandering.” Psychologists estimate we spend 70% or more of our time on “autopilot.”

Code Yellow is “relaxed aware;” scanning and vigilant. Awareness in Code Yellow is wide-ranging but not specifically directed, kind of like ATC radar. Once we focus on a specific threat (“I smell smoke”) the mind moves to Code Orange – target acquisition. This state is “game on” with a higher attention level and a more narrow focus. This “specific alert” gathers more data but introduces some vulnerability because some global awareness is lost with focus. Code Red is characterized by intention – a plan is generated and action is taken. This is where the aviation paradigm “Perceive-Process-Perform” can be integrated. Aeronautical decision making is the best option within the constraints of time, equipment and processing power. Remember, “the perfect can be the enemy of the good.” Time to do that “pilot stuff.”

Code Black was added by the Marine Combat Warrior Program and is a state of too much stimulation or panic. This is a natural neurological state driven by instinct to assure the survival of the body when we are overwhelmed and panic. This state automatically prioritizes survival circuits like breathing and muscle activity (shutting down digestion, narrowing the focus etc). Unfortunately, here the brain is swamped with cortisol and adrenalin preventing consciously-directed action: “immobilized by panic” or “overwhelmed by fear.” We are consciously out of the game at this point.

As you can see, for a pilot engaged in flying, awareness at the Code White or Code Black level is inappropriate and harmful. Unfortunately, the fatigue of long hours or just boredom forces the mind down into the Code White level of awareness. The human neurological system needs novelty and surprise to remain alert; hours of “sameness” dulls the senses. Here is where self-discipline is critical to keep awareness in the yellow.

At the Code Black level, a pilot is overwhelmed by the “startle response.” Ideally, a perfect scan repeatedly switches from code yellow to orange “macro/micro scan” attending to details, tasks, and investigating hypothetical or potential problems (what if). It is essential to continuously shift back to “the big picture” about every two to three seconds. Remember “landmark accidents” like Eastern Air Lines Flight 401 where exclusive focus on a small problem led to loss of all situational awareness.

This is a good time to explain that the human mind really cannot “multi-task.” We only seems to do this by ‘task-switching.” It is a maddening fact of life that whenever we engage with fixing some detail, we get blind-sided by a surprise in the environment we missed due to our narrow focus on a problem (texting and driving). In flying, we best accomplish multiple tasks by switching “micro to macro,” in a very disciplined manner; tune a radio, then wide view for control, then back to the next specific task.

I personally add “meta” to my scan to add the time-line into the scanning process. “What’s next?” is always important since we are always moving and the most important thing after control is the next thing; “micro/macro/meta (timeline)”.

If all the ducks are mercifully walking in a row and I have a few extra neurons to spare I also personally add self-analyzing and looking for “blind-spots or counterfactuals” to my scan. This is actively challenging the plan in action to see if I missed something.  This is Don Rumsfeld’s famous “unknown unknowns.” This actively scans for “did I miss anything here?” and “am I thinking straight?” In a crewed environment, this might be an actual verbal question if it is a critical planning item. How many times do we fool ourselves by engaging in a plan and it either is on totally the wrong track or there was something important that was neglected that might change the whole situation (no fuel available at that destination I diverted to…) So “how can this go wrong” without being too paranoid is a good question to ponder occasionally. But conscious competence is a whole different blog. Practice your awareness and stay safe out there!


Join SAFE and get great benefits (1/3 off ForeFlight!) This supports our mission of increasing aviation safety by promoting excellence in education.  Our FREE SAFE Toolkit App puts required pilot endorsements and experience requirements right on your smartphone and facilitates CFI+DPE teamwork. Our CFI insurance was developed by SAFE specifically for CFIs (and is the best value in the business).

 

Active Learning; Rewire Your Brain!

What is the secret to getting really good at something? As in, how does one shabby Russian tennis club turn out more top 20 women tennis players in a year than the whole USA? What are the secrets of top performers (and their instructors)? Listen to this excerpt from the Talent Code by Daniel Coyle. (Great performers are made not born) Rewire your brain with deep practice!

• Deep Practice–Everyone knows that practice is a key to success. What everyone doesn’t know is that specific kinds of practice can increase skill up to ten times faster than conventional practice.

• Ignition–We all need a little motivation to get started. But what separates truly high achievers from the rest of the pack? A higher level of commitment—call it passion—born out of our deepest unconscious desires and triggered by certain primal cues. Understanding how these signals work can help you ignite passion and catalyze skill development.

• Master Coaching–What are the secrets of the world’s most effective teachers, trainers, and coaches? Discover the four virtues that enable these “talent whisperers” to fuel passion, inspire deep practice, and bring out the best in their students.

Have you ever had a professional that excelled at everything in their life but was a painfully slow learner in the cockpit? Want a clue why this is a predictable (and solvable) problem? Read “Teaching Smart People How to Learn” by Chris Argyris. A shorter review is here. Spoiler alert;  these are people who never struggled with anything (everything they tried came easy) and they have never learned *how* to learn properly. And “double-loop learning” is valuable for accelerating everyone’s learning curve.

Double-loop learning is part of action science — the study of how we act in difficult situations. Individuals and organizations need to learn if they want to succeed (or even survive). But few of us pay much attention to exactly how we learn and how we can optimize the process.

If you have some free time (and who doesn’t) read How People Learn. This is an amazing book for educators and is  FREE  from the National Academy Press. You can download as a pdf or read online html (available chapter by chapter in either format) There are some amazing insights in this book for every educator! If you are like me you will realize the FAA preparation is a very perfunctory beginner course.

Have a great holiday weekend. More tools for educators from SAFE here  (and on our website). The single FAA  portal for the current COVID waivers, actions and news is HERE. Sorry, but there are still no extensions for flight training deadlines (despite promises of “soon”). Stay busy and keep learning!


Join SAFE and get great benefits (1/3 off ForeFlight!) This supports our mission of increasing aviation safety by promoting excellence in education.  Our FREE SAFE Toolkit App puts required pilot endorsements and experience requirements right on your smartphone and facilitates CFI+DPE teamwork. Our CFI insurance was developed by SAFE specifically for CFIs (and is the best value in the business).

 

Ready to React? “Reflexive Skills!”

Any fan of action sports, whether it’s football or air racing, knows that the greatest moves and memorable moments are not in the huddle (reflective) but during time-critical (reflexive *1) action. These “snapshot moments” are automatically deployed (but previously trained) skills that occur in a few microseconds. The reflective, thoughtful mind is not even in gear. We certainly should make plans (prebrief) on the sidelines or in the huddle, but the amazing moments come when the surprise blitz occurs and we must respond reflexively. This is true for pilots as well as in sports.

A fastball at 90mph takes only 4/10ths of a second (400 milliseconds) to reach the batter. It takes more than half that time, 250 milliseconds, just to make a decision whether to swing or not and execute that action perfectly. Psychologists still do not totally understand this subconscious process but some insights are available and important for pilots with time-critical challenges.

The neural circuit that makes this “snap judgment” to swing (or not) and tunes the response correctly, is not reflective and language-based. There is no time for this “slow thought.” Reflexive action is immediate and subconscious and comes only from hours of practice and rehearsal. These tuned-up brain circuits are developed through careful practice that is then myelinated for immediate, appropriate response. These memories are even stored in a different part of the brain (and this too requires a time investment). Though the practice and development occur as a methodical, conscious process, the resulting “immediate action capability” is then stored like books on a shelf ready to go with the correct triggers from the environment. Scenario flight training can develop judgment for the “when” but drill and repetition are essential to sharpen these reflexive pilot reactions.

Our action timeline for pilot decisions varies considerably depending on the challenge of the day.  In most operations, we have time to research, plan, and adapt a fairly predictable flight. And most challenges we face allow time to consider and decide a plan of action. But there are definitely moments in flying that require immediate, reflexive action that must be both appropriate and accurate to assure safety. These challenges require confidence and an appropriate “automatic” trained response.

In aviation the times that require “reflexive action” are usually during take-off and landing or when “surprises” like loss of control inflight occur. These are time-critical and the brain circuit at work here is not the reflective (language) part, but the embedded, trained reflexive part. Not surprisingly, this is also where most accidents happen. (We spend only 5% of our time in the pattern, but 60-70% of accidents occur here.) Similarly, startle and loss of control require immediate and appropriate reactions, but this is the primary cause of fatal accidents. In both areas, drill and repetition practice is required to build the necessary basic skills for “immediate action” responses and safety. Without this practice, we are stepping up to the plate for a fastball and complacently capable of only a slow pitch game.

Many researchers talk about “cognitive unavailability” when analyzing LOC-I or landing accidents. But cognitive (reflective) brain function is not involved here at all.  During time-critical reactions, especially with “startle incapacitation“, it is the “reflexive,” immediate action brain circuits that must respond appropriately to save us. These deeply-trained “reflexes” are either honed sharp from appropriate and recent practice, or we fail and crash (see “startle response“)

To be clear, cognitive “rehearsal” before every expected challenge is valuable to prepare for potential surprises (e.g. pre-take-off briefing) This highly effective technique improves pilot response by creating an alert state of mind (“code yellow“). But the kinetic skills in time-critical maneuvering must be automatic and appropriate, ready to deploy. Any “out-of-the-blue” surprise is going to require the subconscious implicit brain domain not “cognition.” There is a lot more to examine and explain in this area of operation – especially tips for the instructors who need to build these skills. We will examine those in future articles.

Please visit our “WIngs Up” YouTubes from Gold Seal this week and enjoy some aviation learning and FUN during the CV-19 lockdown. We’ll be flying more soon!*1) “reflexive” is used herein as “subconscious, habitual and unthinking behavior, not subject to conscious reflection or review”


SAFECFI-PRO™ workshop is open to every aviation educator at every level (even if you are working on your CFI?) June10/11 at Sporty’s Pilot Shop.

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 facilitates CFI+DPE teamwork. Our CFI insurance was developed by SAFE specifically for CFIs (and is the best value in the business).

Go Fly (Solo!) and Join Us (LIVE online!)

These are tough times for pilots in flight training with our inability to “social distance” safely in little planes while flying. For this reason, doctors advise against sharing the same “respiratory space” in a small plane with untested students and passengers. But solo flying seems to me to be available and encouraged (and therapeutic). Pilots thrive on the freedom of flight and most controllers will actually appreciate a little company at the (mostly empty) airport; go flying solo! Please be careful to check for fuel and FBO services at the smaller fields, since most are suffering from lack of traffic. And there is that nagging question of whether it is legal to drive in some locked-down states (not my call!)

We do know that federally-funded airports cannot be closed by state or local laws and the federal guidance on “essential services” protects “flight training” and aiports specifically. If you are qualified to fly solo – as a student or as a certificated pilot – going flying by yourself is a great break from the home-bound routine. And we all need to keep both our skills and the aviation infrastructure lubricated. It is too easy to get rusty with a layoff of even a few weeks so please take an opportunity to go stretch your wings (solo) and preserve our freedom to fly as aviators.

Other great ways to stay mentally sharp and connected to aviation is the wonderful library of resources. AOPA has put together a collection specifically targeting aviation addicts during this quarantine.

Also, this next week SAFE will be collaborating with Gold Seal Ground Schools to offer a live substitute for the canceled Florida Flight Expo. Check here for times and channels. This launches Tuesday at 15:00 on Gold Seal Facebook, YouTube and GoldSealLIVE. See you soon (LIVE) and support aviation excellence with SAFE.


SAFECFI-PRO™ workshop  is open to every aviation educator at every level (even if you are working on your CFI?) June10/11 at Sporty’s Pilot Shop.

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 facilitates CFI+DPE teamwork. Our CFI insurance was developed by SAFE specifically for CFIs (and is the best value in the business).

Brief and Understand “ATC ZERO”!

Several recent ATC outages have caught pilots by surprise at busy locations. “ATC Zero!” (No ATC Services) puts a shiver into any pilot at a busy airport. This has recently occurred at Midway in Chicago, McCarran in Las Vegas, and also NY Center – the busiest airspace in the U.S. – leaving 270,000 square miles of airspace “uncontrolled” for pilots to operate according to non-radar separation procedures. ATC specialists have been real heroes during this pandemic but keeping them healthy will no doubt necessitate more closures. The Midway tower is still closed –  Click here for SouthWest operating there very professionally. Pilot resilience and flexibility is a key attribute to continuing as a safe system.

If you are still flying, it is now essential to brush up on your non-tower rules and non-radar separation procedures. If you are grounded, what better to than improve your knowledge while “hunkering down?” Tune in KMDW and listen. Above all, it is important to remember, these procedures are safe, but were never designed for such busy operations as Midway with daytime traffic so some adjustments and accommodation are essential to safety.

Pilots do not like surprises, and fortunately,  ATC-Zero has been historically rare. Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, this is an increasingly plausible possibility anywhere due to random infection. During ATC Zero the ATC system is designed to “gracefully degrade” to the next lower level of control. Download this brand new FAA guidance from our SAFE webpage. Pilots familiar with non-tower IFR procedures (small Echo fields, Bahamas?) will adapt quicker to these surprise occurrences; and  this article might help. The FAR AIM basics are in 4-1-9 (and scattered elsewhere), please review these essentials if you are still flying.

One of the critical safety concerns is to understand that every pilot/crew needs to exercise a cooperative attitude to successfully (and safely) work through these emergency situations. There are procedures but often no precise playbook. And though everyone wants to be efficient and on time, the usual consequence of non-sequenced arrivals is delay and accommodation. Patience, knowing the rules and compliance are the key attributes every pilot needs to exercise to get through these situations safely. Be especially careful during ground operations in non-tower operations. Many of these airfields were not designed for elegant “cooperative operations.” Fly safely out there (and often!)

 

As always, comments and corrections welcome here! Stay SAFE.


SAFECFI-PRO™ workshop  is open to every aviation educator at every level (even if you are working on your CFI?) June10/11 at Sporty’s Pilot Shop.

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 facilitates CFI+DPE teamwork. Our CFI insurance was developed by SAFE specifically for CFIs (and is the best value in the business).

 

Support “Essential Workers!” But #stayhome

These are unique and frightening times. Every day we watch the COVID-19 virus spreading further out of control across the whole globe, killing many in a terrible fashion. Government authorities have shuttered “non-essential services” to slow the spread of this infection and flatten the curve.” Here in NY State, a full lock-down starts tomorrow. Obviously, CV-19 is very contagious and also often asymptomatic so it’s mostly undetectable in any social setting.

Since flight training does not permit “physical isolation” to prevent the spread of COVID-19, it seems prudent for schools to cease flight training/testing. Though there is a clause that makes it technically legal  for schools to continue (as essential transportation service)  this seems short-sighted in light of the greater community benefits of isolation. Can we really claim flight training is “essential” when real heroes are out there struggling to keep our ATC, infrastructure and health care systems functioning? In our flying world, this is like continuing “1sm/clear of clouds.” Even if it is legal, it is unwise. We don’t want to make this problem worse. #stayhome And support our brave “essential workers” in any way you safely can.

In 1665 when Cambridge University closed for a year because of the Great Plague of London, a young scholar named Isaac Newton was sent home.

While at home, he discovered Calculus and refined the ideas that later became his theory of gravity.

In 1606, Shakespeare wrote Macbeth, King Lear, and Anthony and Cleopatra while quarantined at home.

The positive spin here is that this break from training provides an opportunity to review, reinforce and improve your knowledge. A home ATD is a wonderful tool to practice some tougher scenarios and improve skills. SAFE is collaborating with Gold Seal to Livestream a week of aviation excitement during the canceled week of the Florida Expo; sign up here for notifications! Be SAFE…


SAFECFI-PRO™ workshop  is open to every aviation educator at every level (even if you are working on your CFI?) June10/11 at Sporty’s Pilot Shop.

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 facilitates CFI+DPE teamwork. Our CFI insurance was developed by SAFE specifically for CFIs (and is the best value in the business).

Managing COVID-19 Risk in Flight Training/Testing

In facing the COVID-19 threat, it is fortunate that aviators are trained in the factual analysis of environmental threats and risk management. Pilots mostly deal with reality and physical laws. If we avoid the social media-driven hysteria, it is still possible that flight training at some level can proceed (but carefully!)

From the information we’ve seen, COVID-19 is transmitted through environmental contact with infected surfaces or airborne close contact with infected people. Though avoiding infected people is the key, COVID-19 has a “stealth mode” of “infected but asymptomatic” that makes this virus tricky (it can take 5 days to show symptoms). To avoid asymptomatic carriers,  considering location, mobility, and honest historical record are key factors for assuring your safety (unless you totally isolate yourself). Regarding everyone as infected (social distancing) is the wisest strategy (but not possible in a training aircraft!)

To be clear, the only absolute safety from COVID-19 (like absolute safety in flying) means total avoidance. To paraphrase Wilbur Wright on being “perfectly safe” in aviation; stay on the ground!  Similarly, wIth COVID-19 please stay home (and perhaps fumigate your mail and groceries) if that is the level of “perfect safety” you are seeking. Personally, I think if we carefully manage the COVID-19 risk by applying careful precautions and protocols, we can continue to flight train and test. For the best, very detailed, analysis of the COVID-19 virus and propagation see this blog post by our SAFE Treasurer, Dr. Parvez Dara.

Obviously, all the now fully understood CDC protocols should be followed: avoiding unnecessary travel, social distancing, frequent hand-cleansing etc. But since”social distancing” in a training aircraft is obviously not possible, constant cleansing, by the pilot before (and after) every flight of all surfaces with approved disinfectants is essential. Obviously, NO sharing of any personal items (especially headsets) is axiomatic. And to be honest, there is an element of trust here too. People training together have to be personally careful and absolutely truthful about previous recent travel and contacts if the group of pilots sharing airplanes and facilities is going to be safe. If there is even one confirmed case, everybody has to go into quarantine and these fliers are done until cleared. A good (and simple) precaution before flying is a simple body temperature check with a non-contact digital thermometer. This will not eliminate risk (or identify all infections) but catch any undetected symptoms. Elevated temperature is one of the first symptoms of COVID-19 infection.

Regarding this issue, an urban setting with a more transient clientele is going to be more dangerous since the chance of exogenous COVID-19 contact from social mixing is greater. If you are a smaller club of less-mobile, regular known members in northern Idaho, you are probably going to be safer. I would highly recommend eliminating “Discovery Flights” to strangers for the same reason – potentially bringing germs into your “protected zone of known operators.”

And ultimately, flight training is not all “yank and bank” requiring flight to learn and grow. Safe flying also requires building knowledge and keeping your mind in the game which can be done safely at home through webinars and “chair flying.” If you have a personal simulator, you have a great method of currency. And accessing quality online education will keep your mind in the game and prevent backsliding.

SAFE is working with Gold Seal Ground School to present a weeklong aviation experience for frustrated aviators disappointed by cancellations. We are still working on a title but the idea is to simulate the canceled event in Florida. Gold Seal will have a daily live game show featuring aviation trivia questions with prizes. And live evening programming will feature guests and new products you would have seen in Florida. Log-in here to get on a list for upcoming announcements and more details about this exciting week-long show as we build it out!

Many schools have closed due to the threat of COVID-19 infection and spread. Please comment below on the precautions your flight school is taking in these challenging times. In our district three schools have suspended training and two DPEs are not flying any flight tests due to COVID-17 threat.


SAFECFI-PRO™ workshop  is open to every aviation educator at every level (even if you are working on your CFI?) June10/11 at Sporty’s Pilot Shop.

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 facilitates CFI+DPE teamwork. Our CFI insurance was developed by SAFE specifically for CFIs (and is the best value in the business).

CFI/DPEs Need Proficiency Too!

Most CFIs log thousands of hours as PIC but unfortunately often do not personally fly enough to stay sharp. DPEs are even worse about flying on their own and maintaining their personal proficiency – and by regulation, a DPE does not log their flight time during tests as PIC. The FAA recently discovered that some DPEs were flying for years and not getting any experience as PIC.  This can be a tragic situation since these people are the professionals we trust to be experts in the cockpit. The FAA is now enforcing new guidance requiring a minimum of 60 hours of PIC annually for every DPE to be recertified – but no “commander time” is yet legally required for CFIs!

“Right seat rust” is a common problem in our industry but it is largely not exposed or addressed. Retaining piloting privileges as a CFI or DPE only requires the same flight review every pilot gets, signed off every two years by a CFI. This is despite flying at the edges of the flight envelope with clients and applicants. (a CFI teaching aerobatics also has no extra requirements) And we all know a flight review can be a brief and perfunctory experience. Since DPEs and CFIs are regarded as “industry flight experts” it is easy to believe they are not vulnerable to loss of proficiency through inactivity. The joke in our flight school used to be that every “expert in the right seat” instantly loses 20 IQ points and lots of skill when they grab the yoke – “why did I say “I have the flight controls?” There is no magic assuring flight proficiency for anyone; we all need to get out and stay sharp!

SAFE worked with the Flight Safety Institute and other industry partners to develop the Focused Flight Review and highly recommends this program for pilots at all levels. The training here is fun and exceeds the minimum FAA requirements. Following this guidance enhances and expands every pilot’s skills and knowledge. If you have not reviewed this excellent series of flight profiles, please check it out and use it with your clients http://focusedflightreview.org  We also recommend finding a current and qualified instructor and flying the more challenging maneuvers in our SAFE Extended Flight Envelope syllabus. To be safe in flight we all need to be deeply and recently trained to respond correctly to an upset – instinctively unloading and controlling our aircraft. It is especially important for our “aviation professionals” to be current and sharp. Fly safe out there (and often).


SAFECFI-PRO™ workshop  is open to every aviation educator at every level (even if you are working on your CFI?) June10/11 at Sporty’s Pilot Shop.

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 facilitates CFI+DPE teamwork. Our CFI insurance was developed by SAFE specifically for CFIs (and is the best value in the business).

 

CFI-PRO™ “Better Training=Safer Flying!”

The ASI Study on stall/spin accidents provides a very comprehensive analysis of the dilemma that has haunted pilots since the time of the Wright Brothers; Loss of Control In-flight followed by stall/spin (crash/burn). Poor flight training is implicated in this continuing carnage:

The stubbornly high percentage of stalls associated with personal flying (more than two-thirds) may indicate a weakness in typical pilot training. Most pilots are taught to recognize and recover from stalls in a controlled, predictable, and stable environment, with focus on recognition of aircraft response followed by proper recovery technique. Outside the training environment, though, pilots continue to maneuver into the stall envelope unexpectedly with little time to recover. Seemingly, some pilots fly closer to the critical angle of attack than they realize. Adding a little more bank, G-force, or both can trigger an accelerated stall without the slow, predictable performance indicators pilots are taught to recognize…

Stall accidents usually arise from sloppy control inputs and a weak understanding of aerodynamics, which means that an improved training focus on the areas identified in this report can continue to drive down the number of inadvertent stalls.

This analysis provides direct support for SAFE’s Extended Envelope Training (now FAA mandated for the airlines) We all need to train more thoroughly to the edges of the maneuvering envelope. This will be presented in detail at our Sporty’s CFI-PRO™ June 10/11th (canceled due to COVID).

One additional takeaway from this study was highlighting where the stall/spin threat is the greatest; 50% on take-off and initial climb (not the usual base-to-final turn!). Take-Off and initial climb represents 24% of fatalities according to the NTSB.

SAFE member and long-time educator, Dudley Henriques, posted on FaceBook and was most incisive and is copied here (with permission) for your consideration. We all need to teach stall/spin more frequently (and accurately) and emphasize “Code Yellow” vigilance during single every take-off.

The problem here is insidious. First of all stall “training” for the most part is ridiculous and has been for many years. There is a huge emphasis driven by a strange dichotomy within a flight training industry caught between a need to “sell” aviation as a comfortable and safe endeavor and an unwritten law that stresses a need to avoid “scaring” students Add to this in many cases instructors who themselves feel “uneasy” in any stall entered above 1g and you have what we have now, a GA community where everybody is happy “avoiding” stalls as opposed to feeling comfortable and completely trained in what stalls are and how to be comfortable with them.


All this has resulted in a training community dedicated to keeping exposure to the stall environment as comfortable as possible for the student AND the instructor!
The answer to the stall problem isn’t obvious and needs to be said over and over again by instructors who DO understand what is needed.


To train a safe and competent student working within the current FAA structure, CFI’s MUST teach above and beyond the flight test requirement. Instructors must first become comfortable themselves in the stall environment by adding to their own training, especially in the area of stall above 1g and in cross control where the real danger lies.


Instructors have to learn to talk to students; make them comfortable in the left side of the envelope, and TEACH their students that there is absolutely nothing to fear from stalls when a pilot knows what to expect and how to deal with it.


To address the point on takeoff stall:
This is obviously a training issue. Students HAVE to be taught to control angle of attack on rotation. No pilot who understands what is present at rotation will have any issue avoiding a stall as the plane leaves the runway. All the bad guys are present as a plane rotates; low airspeed, increasing alpha, P Factor as the prop disk forms an angle with the relative wind, gyroscopic precession as the prop rotates in pitch, spiraling slipstream forces, and of course torque (in roll).


The solution requires instructors to stop reading the FAA requirements that attempt to dot every I and cross every T and instead start TEACHING PEOPLE TO FLY THE DAMN AIRPLANE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

SAFE highly recommends exposure of all students in training to secondary stalls. Failure to understand angle of attack (“an airplane only stalls nose high” training myth) is at the root of many accident surprises. Failure to automatically “unload” in an upset is critical to safety.

Get ready for spring with ASI’s new “Spring Tune-Up” advice: https://youtu.be/G4EstJP2N9E Fly safely out there (and often!)


 

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