Safety Publications/Articles

Advanced Flight Scenarios

Advanced flight scenarios are training simulations that help to develop your student's skill and confidence. With a little thought and a willing student, you should be able to develop a few unique training activities that will add to your student's overall education.

Here's an advanced training scenario that I provide to my advanced instrument students and my ATP students too.

I begin by informing my student (who's operating under simulated instrument conditions) that all of his or her navigation equipment has just failed except for the ADF. Then I lay a sectional chart in my student's lap and say, "I want you to make your own ADF approach to any suitable airport using a commercial broadcast station or NDB. Take me down to an MDA of 500 feet (or higher if necessary for safety) and let me know when we're above the center of the airport."

At this point the student usually says something in return, to which I reply, "No, I'm not kidding."

Instrument pilots are pretty good at flying official instrument approaches. But what happens if they're ever required to get to an airport quickly under IFR conditions? They may have a fuel leak, they may be alone or the only pilot on board and anticipate their impending incapacitation (food poisoning could do the trick), or they may have an increasingly rough-running engine that they expect will quit. It's important that students know they have the option of building their own instrument approach in an emergency, using the tools they have at hand.

This scenario requires that the student know how to determine his position by use of a cross bearing, interpret a sectional chart with sufficient skill to determine safe minimum altitudes, and track a homemade bearing, as well. Sure, you can accomplish the same scenario with VOR or GPS, but it isn't as great a challenge, nor is it as much fun (at least for you).

For this scenario, it's best to make the impromptu instrument approach to a nontowered airport that's not busy. If this isn't possible, then have your student add a thousand feet or so onto all the minimum altitudes he chooses for this approach.

This is just one of many training scenarios that help students develop their cockpit confidence. With a little creativity, you'll never run out of ways to make your student a better pilot.

By Rod Machado

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