The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has taken a one-size-fits-all approach to decreasing the number of weather-related accidents - an approach that AOPA thinks is unnecessary.
"The NTSB calls for broad regulations that do not take into account the different types of flying pilots do," said Luis Gutierrez, AOPA director of regulatory and certification policy. "It also ignores the strides that voluntary educational programs have made in lowering the number of weather-related fatal accidents."
The NTSB recommends requiring pilots to receive detailed weather and basic instrument training during flight reviews. AOPA opposes this requirement because it fails to take into account the mandatory training that pilots already receive, eliminates flight instructors' flexibility to determine which areas a pilot needs to review, and ignores the different flying needs of pilots.
"Flight instructors should have the flexibility to determine how much weather review is necessary based on the type of flying that a pilot is likely to do," Gutierrez said. "The same goes for determining how much instrument review is needed - it must be decided on a case-by-case basis, not by a blanket requirement."
For example, VFR pilots who only fly when there's not a cloud in the sky would not benefit from a mandatory review of basic instrument flying skills during each flight review.
Plus, many voluntary educational programs already provide this training for pilots. The AOPA Air Safety Foundation produces live safety seminars and online courses that focus on how to recognize critical weather situations from the ground and in the air, obtain weather information, provide pilot reports, calculate fuel requirements, and select alternative airports.
The FAA also offers similar programs. And its Wings program, which pilots can complete instead of the traditional flight review, requires three hours of dual flight instruction, including one hour of basic instrument flying. It also requires the completion of an approved online course or live seminar. (Many of the AOPA Air Safety Foundation's online courses qualify for Wings credit.)
"These and other voluntary educational outreach programs already are proving to be effective in addressing the NTSB's concerns," Gutierrez said. "This is reflected by the more than 60-percent reduction in fatal VFR into IMC accidents in the last six years."
October 27, 2005