Posted 7 years 19 days ago ago by Admin
As a pilot examiner, I have the opportunity to work with many flight
schools and instructors throughout my district. I sometimes take it for
granted that my visits to flight schools are a rare benefit to me not
often afforded to other flight schools in our local area. The ability to
see varied procedures and techniques provides insights into how the
average flight school conducts business. I often get to see curriculum
development, local airport procedures, internal instructor training, and
other aspects of day-to-day operations.
Although many flight schools are co-located at the same airport, very
few flight school operational procedures are consistent. Attempting to
maintain a standardized evaluation methodology between schools with
differing procedures at the same airport can prove challenging.
Therefore, I was led to engage the leadership within each school to find
out why such a lack of consistent methods and procedures exists between
co-located flight schools.
It didn’t take long to figure out the problem. After speaking with each
flight school, I found they simply do not communicate. In many cases,
flight instructors share the traffic pattern with their peers for hours
each day, however they have never met those other flight instructors.
When you ask why they haven’t met other instructors from competitive
schools at the same airport, the response is often, “Why would I want to
I can’t speak for anyone else, but part of the enjoyment I get out of
each day is meeting new people. In an industry as small as the
helicopter industry, much of your career successes—and failures—will be
determined by the relationships you craft and foster. I still maintain
relationships with industry peers I met in the early days of my flight
training and the operational learning-to-walk stage of my career.
Sharing experiences with them provides stimulating memories of exciting
and—more importantly—humbling events. It helps keep us grounded in the
fact we’re all just one “watch this” away from disaster!
Simply put, taking the time to engage with peers sharing the same block
of airspace provides for a safer flight environment. Although improving
safety should be enough to motivate the most cynical, other tremendous
benefits include sharing techniques and experiences, and mentoring when
the opportunity presents itself. Common procedures shared among
operators helps to support important issues like noise abatement, and
provides interaction with our fixed-wing counterparts (we so diligently
try to avoid).
Holding quarterly meetings provide neutral ground to share common issues
and facilitate communication. In many cases, each flight school can
alternate hosting a meeting. This is another great way to learn how the
competition does business. You’ll often find your competitors are not
that different from you.
Flight schools set the stage for each of their student’s perspective on
the industry, and the culture by which that pilot will enter service
within the ranks. Maintaining a culture of positive communication,
operational standardization, and a willingness to accept that
competitors are not the enemy is a great foundation for a successful
career. The alternative is a less safe environment … period. Take the
time to get to know your neighbors. The continued success of our
industry depends on it.
About Randy: Randy Rowles has been a FAA pilot examiner for 20
years for all helicopter certificates and ratings. He holds a FAA Gold
Seal Flight Instructor Certificate, NAFI Master Flight Instructor
designation, and was the 2013 recipient of the HAI Flight Instructor of
the Year Award. Randy is currently Director of Training at Epic
Helicopters in Ft. Worth, Texas.