Recommendations target effective pilot training

June 9, 2011

The Society of Aviation and Flight Educators (SAFE) is recommending six projects for action to reduce fatal aircraft accidents, increase student pilot starts, and keep those trainees flying until their goals have been achieved.

The recommendations—mostly achievable without regulatory revision—headline the  preliminary report that has emerged from the 2011 Pilot Training Reform Symposium SAFE hosted on May 4 and 5 in Atlanta, Ga., attended by 148 industry leaders and educators.

“AOPA was proud to have actively participated in the symposium and served as a sponsor,” said Jennifer Storm, AOPA director of flight training initiatives. “We commend SAFE for compiling the important work of the symposium participants so quickly, which allows the industry to begin reviewing the recommendations and determining next steps for participation.”

SAFE Chair Doug Stewart presented an advance copy of the report to AOPA President and CEO Craig Fuller, Chief Operating Officer Rob Moran, and Storm on June 2.The group discussed ways in which AOPA and SAFE could work together to encourage improvements in the flight training industry.

During the symposium in May, six working or “breakout” groups assembled to discuss key areas of pilot training reform. Each group reported out its five top reform recommendations. SAFE then consolidated them into six “actionable and specific projects.”

“The changes that may result from the proposed work require no lengthy regulatory change,” said the report. “Rather, they may be implemented via changes in policy, publications, and procedures.”  The selected projects “do not constitute the whole of flight training reform, but “represent the beginning of a multi-year process that likely will branch off into other projects necessary to effect reform."

It was SAFE’s goal to issue a preliminary report within 60 days of the symposium, but the document was completed in only half that time. A progress report on the recommended projects is planned for release by Dec. 31.

SAFE noted that “ultimate outcomes” can only be measured over the long term, and “will likely require a cultural change in the community with regard to safety and especially attitudes toward risk management.”

These are the preliminary report’s six consolidated projects:

  1. Conduct a thorough general aviation fatal accident root cause analysis to pinpoint underlying accident causality as a means to create effective remedial actions.
  2. Create a new flight review option that can be enabled as an FAA-sponsored pilot proficiency award program.
  3. Revise FAA doctrine and standards to implement scenario-based testing, risk management, and other higher-order pilot skills.
  4. Modify flight instructor doctrine, initial testing, and renewal procedures to include the teaching of higher-order pilot skills.
  5. Implement voluntary flight instructor professional accreditation programs and continuing education that emphasize higher-order pilot skills, scenario training, and interpersonal relationship skills.
  6. Create and implement model curricula that incorporate higher-order pilot skills, scenario-based training, and integration of simulation and other teaching methods to include interpersonal relationship skills.

AOPA and other industry groups will be reviewing the recommendations and submitting responses to SAFE by Sept. 30.

Dan Namowitz

Dan Namowitz | Aviation Writer

Dan Namowitz is an aviation writer and flight instructor. He has been a pilot since 1985 and an instructor since 1990.