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Clubs that are permitted by publicly owned airports to conduct flight training as an integral part of their regular programs have the opportunity to develop their own membership. Student pilots who complete their primary training as club members frequently remain in the club after receiving their certificates and add a stability to operations. An active student base also helps the club gain maximum utilization of its aircraft.
Each club must decide whether or not flight instruction fits in with its purpose. For example, clubs operating high-performance aircraft that are utilized mostly for business flying will not be interested in offering extensive flight training in these aircraft. On the other hand, clubs operating less sophisticated aircraft and doing a lot of pleasure flying may want to include flight training for higher ratings as part of their program.
Flight training is among the responsibilities of the Operations Officer. This individual is responsible for keeping the training program running smoothly and up to club and FAA standards. The first step is to decide what type of flight instruction will be offered: primary, commercial, instrument, multiengine, or a combination. That decision will be based in part on the types of equipment a club flies. The club must also consider if it will use non-member instructors.
When a club decides on the type of instruction it will offer, the next step is to develop a curriculum that will provide all the training required by FAR Part 61 for the license or rating concerned. A source of information and somewhat more-than-minimum training curriculum might be adopted from the standards required by FAR Part 141 for FAA-approved flight schools. It isn't necessary for a club's school to be FAA-approved or to meet all of these standards, but the curriculum requirements of FAR Part 141 are a good starting point for planning and developing a flight training program.
All club instructors should be required to follow the club's approved curriculum. Providing a written copy of the curriculum to each student will keep training orderly and give him or her the best possible chance of becoming a proficient pilot. More importantly, if a student changes instructors, both the student and the instructor will be able to continue the training program without a break in continuity. And it's a safe operating procedure. If all club members know how the flight training program functions, then they know what to expect during training sessions.
A potential problem for clubs wishing to offer flight instruction comes from commercial flight schools located on the club's home field. Many flight schools will look upon any club offering flight training as a competitor. Naturally, this could present a problem if not handled sensibly. One possible solution might be to use the flight school's instructors to teach club members in club aircraft.
Clubs using their own instructors have to develop a reliable system for selecting them. The safety committee, board of directors, or club officers should set the standards or minimum qualifications for each instructor. They can be as lenient or as strict as a club desires. For example, clubs flying mostly high-performance aircraft will probably want higher qualifications in their instructors than clubs flying less complex aircraft. In any case, flight training standards should include the stipulation that only designated instructors be allowed to teach in club aircraft.
Flight training and insurance rates go hand in hand. Extra training leading to advanced ratings, particularly the instrument rating, can help a club lower its insurance premiums. If enough club members earn an instrument rating, a club may substantially reduce its insurance costs. To encourage members to earn instrument ratings through a club training program, a club can consider setting limits for VFR pilots, such as no VFR at night for non-instrument rated pilots, or more stringent VFR weather minimums for cross-country flying than those specified by Federal Aviation Regulations.
The overall well-being of a flying club can sometimes be enhanced by flight training operations. Furthermore training can promote maximum utilization of club aircraft. While flight training by a flying club may be an effective way of enhancing the club's operations, there are also other considerations which should be part of the decision to conduct flight training.
Updated October, 2011
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