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Mon, Apr 03, 2006

ANN's Daily Aero-Tips (04.03.06): Having FITS

Aero-Tips!

A good pilot is always learning -- how many times have you heard this old standard throughout your flying career? There is no truer statement in all of flying (well, with the possible exception of "there are no old, bold pilots.") It's part of what makes aviation so exciting for all of us... just when you think you've seen it all, along comes a scenario you've never imagined.

Aero-News has called upon the expertise of Thomas P. Turner, master CFI and all-around-good-guy, to bring our readers -- and us -- daily tips to improve our skills as aviators, and as representatives of the flying community. Some of them, you may have heard before... but for each of us, there will also be something we might never have considered before, or something that didn't "stick" the way it should have the first time we memorized it for the practical test.

It is our unabashed goal that "Aero-Tips" will help our readers become better, safer pilots -- as well as introducing our ground-bound readers to the concepts and principles that keep those strange aluminum-and-composite contraptions in the air... and allow them to soar magnificently through it.

Look for our daily Aero-Tips segments, coming each day to you through the Aero-News Network. Suggestions for future Aero-Tips are always welcome, as are additions or discussion of each day's tips. Remember... when it comes to being better pilots, we're all in this together.

Aero-Tips 04.03.06

Personal aviation is on the cusp of a major revolution. If you have any doubts listen to Pete Combs’ accounts of his initial experience with glass cockpits. Even some Light Sport Aircraft (LSA) "sport" glass-cockpit avionics.

Facing this revolutionary change and looking to a new generation of airplanes and pilots, the Federal Aviation Administration and industry have developed what’s called (appropriately enough) the FAA/Industry Training Standards, or FITS. I was fortunate recently to attend a FITS instructor’s seminar run by the FAA and hosted in Wichita by Cessna Aircraft. Representatives of various FAA departments, avionics manufacturers, Cessna’s training department and even what my Beech-centric friends call "that other Brand C" (Cirrus) made for an informative weekend.

Scenario-Based Training

Key to the FITS concept is a move away from skills-based education (fly a stall, practice a stall, evaluate a stall) to scenario-based training (simulate a traffic pattern at a higher altitude and put the pilot into a scenario where he/she might stall the airplane, then figure out how it might be avoided). In Federalese, "scenario-based training (SBT)…uses a highly structured script of real-world experience to address flight-evaluation in an operational environment." The idea is "training the way you fly and flying the way you train." SBT, according to FITS, "give the pilot an opportunity to practice…sound aeronautical decision-making" and "thus provides an effect method for the development of judgment and decision-making skills."

So what’s new?

Running the risk of taking on the new flight training establishment, scenario-based training is nothing new. It’s what good instructors have done with their students all along—put them in predicaments that require them to make decisions, and then deal with the consequences of their choices. The difference now is that FITS strives to make every lesson an SBT exercise. Will it work? Only if it provides the repetition needed to make airmanship the underlying foundation for those decision-making skills.

Aero-tip of the day: I’ll have a lot more to say about FITS (there’s a lot of good as well as some challenges) in coming articles. For now, let’s say this: airmanship and decision-making must receive equal attention to develop a safe pilot.

FMI: Aero-Tips

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