Safety Publications/Articles

Professionally Speaking

The ground floor

Is opportunity calling?

Throughout my memory of aviation, as airplanes became more complex and/or more valuable, insurance companies have required more training and better training. Eventually, training facilities emerged with reputations as quality trainers for pilots of highly valuable and highly complex aircraft.

During recent years, specialized training by known schools has spread to cover other segments of aviation. Retractable single-engine aircraft are a good example, as are light piston twins. Insurance carriers started requesting recurrency training, and they wanted this training to come from a reputable source.

Sometimes the aircraft doesn't have to be particularly complex or valuable. Insuring sailplanes, float planes, and homebuilts requires specialized knowledge. To a great extent, insurers depend on quality training to keep them out of trouble on these risks.

Will such specialized training pop up for light sport aircraft? True, they are neither complex nor, relatively speaking, very expensive. They are, however, very much a new group of aircraft and pilots. Insurance carriers don't have a history to go on, and that--for obvious reasons--worries carriers. In fact, nobody knows for sure how this new breed of airplane will fare in the safety field.

I wonder if it might be smart for the CFI to get involved with this market. Get a reputation as someone who understands the arena. It might be a lot of trouble, but you can pretty much bet that FlightSafety and SimuFlite aren't going to try to compete with you in this field. This is a grass-roots, grass-strip industry. Since it is just emerging, you know about as much about it as anyone else. Maybe you can get in on the ground floor and learn with the industry.

Ralph Hood, an aviation speaker and writer, has been flying since 1971 and has more than 3,000 hours of flight time. He is a multiengine commercial pilot with an instrument rating. Visit his Web site.

By Ralph Hood

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