Posted 363 days ago ago by Admin
The premise of aviation safety is an expectation that all pilots, maintainers, or other persons associated with the operation of an aircraft are trained and checked to a standard. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) provides their expectation of a minimum standard for certification of pilots with the Airman Certification Standards (ACS) or Practical Test Standards (PTS). These references are the FAA’s minimum acceptable standard by which an individual is measured for airman related tasking and often have worldwide acceptance. Quite impressive really.
There is a perceivable gap within the training ranks regarding the journey taken to reach these minimum standards. Training providers come in varying sizes and capabilities, some holding FAA authorizations to include a 14 CFR Part 141 Pilot School. Conversely, most pilot training providers are operating within 14 CFR Part 61 and do not hold any specific FAA authorization to operate as a pilot training provider. The authorization is held by each of the individual Flight Instructors employed by the company. Although the path of pilot training may vary between these methods to complete a pilot training program, the FAA standard of each training program is the same.
It is assumed that Part 141 Pilot Schools are superior due to the FAA’s level of involvement. All aspects of the pilot school must be FAA Approved to include the Training Course Outline (TCO), Aircraft, Check Instructors, and School Management to name a few. However, many Part 61 flight schools operate at or above Part 141 Pilot School standards, and they do so voluntarily.
The ability to produce a quality-based pilot will never be a regulatory solution, a quality-based education is required. A quality-based education focuses on the whole student pilot—the social, emotional, mental, physical, and cognitive development regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, or geographic location. It prepares the student pilot for a career, not just for passing a test.
Once the training is complete, validation as to the quality of the training having been provided is paramount. This is conducted in the form of student evaluation or testing. As discussed earlier, the FAA utilizes the ACS or PTS as the documents to achieve a standardized evaluation. If the student completes the pilot evaluation successfully, the pilot is issued an FAA certificate accordingly. However, if the pilot is found to be unsatisfactory, no FAA certificate is issued. The pilot is sent back to their instructor for more training.
But what about the training program. Was the training program flawed and unable to develop a comprehensive pilot? As an industry, rarely is the core training program suspect during a failed pilot evaluation. In the example of an unsuccessful pilot evaluation, the pilot had completed all required training, received a minimum number of pre-test flight hours, and recommended for the exam. How could such gaps occur? Maybe the training program is lacking the foundation to provide a sufficient foundation to meet the minimum standards required.
Make time to evaluate the training program used to prepare pilots for FAA evaluations. The standards by which we check a pilot should be exceeded by the training program used to teach a pilot. A well-prepared pilot exceeding minimum standards will often feel over prepared at the completion of an evaluation.
Remember, your training is what prepares them for the evaluation. The better the training, the easier the evaluation! In the words of Abraham Lincoln, “give me 6-hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four-hours sharpening the axe”.
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. Rowles is the owner/president of Helicopter Institute.
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