The FAA has issued updated guidance for flight instructors conducting flight reviews and instrument proficiency checks (IPCs), and AOPA is urging instructors to look closely at the changes.
The FAA’s new advisory circular AC 61-98C, Currency Requirements and Guidance for the Flight Review and Instrument Proficiency Check, adds stabilized approaches and landings, automation system failures, and English language proficiency to the sample checklists the FAA urges CFIs to use during flight reviews and IPCs.
Many of the recommendations grew out of the work of the General Aviation Joint Steering Committee, a government-industry group focused on reducing GA accidents.
In the advisory circular, the FAA cites the committee's finding that loss of control is the leading cause of GA accidents and a study showing that loss of control is most likely to occur when pilots lack proficiency, making flight reviews and IPCs, along with personal proficiency programs, particularly important in helping to prevent such accidents. Specifically, the FAA identifies traffic pattern operations, approaches to landing, and instrument conditions as the situations where loss of control is most likely to occur.
The FAA also notes that, while modern avionics and flight automation equipment deliver enormous safety benefits, over-reliance on such technology can create hazards of its own. To help mitigate those hazards, the FAA reminds CFIs conducting flight reviews and IPCs to “ensure that a pilot under evaluation is proficient” with any avionics and automated systems in the aircraft and “knows what to do if it fails.”
In another nod to the committee's findings, the FAA recommends that CFIs emphasize the importance of angle of attack indicators in GA aircraft. The indicators have been promoted by the FAA and General Aviation Joint Steering Committee as an important means of helping to reduce loss-of-control accidents. When working with pilots flying aircraft that already have angle of attack indicators, CFIs are urged to ensure that the pilots understand the equipment and how to use it.
The revised AC, released Nov. 20, 2015, also strongly urges pilots and CFIs to complete Form 8710-1 and file it with the FAA for all flight reviews and IPCs. The form is not required, but can provide a record of the training received, helping the FAA keep track of pilot proficiency and providing a backup source of information for a pilot whose logbook is lost or destroyed.
The advisory circular also reminds CFIs that a flight review or IPC can only be satisfactorily completed if the pilot meets English language proficiency standards in accordance with AC 60-28A.
“Flight reviews and IPCs are an important touchstone for pilots, and provide a meaningful opportunity for CFIs to provide training that can improve safety,” said Justin Barkowski, AOPA director of regulatory affairs. “We strongly encourage CFIs to review the updated guidance and adjust their practices as appropriate.”