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Wed, Nov 01, 2006

ANN's Daily Aero-Tips (11.01.06): CFI Duty

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.")

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. 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.

Look for our daily Aero-Tips segments, coming each day to you through the Aero-News Network.

Aero-Tips 11.01.06

Catching up on an aviation-oriented internet chatline I found a thread discussing the Cory Lidle crash. Stepping into the discussion of factors affected by having an instructor on board I quipped: "Providing flight instruction is one of the potentially most hazardous things a pilot can do." A list-reader asked me off-line to elaborate.

The CFI's World

Imagine getting into:

  • an airplane you may never have been in before,
  • with someone you do not know,
  • often (in my case, anyway) in unfamiliar airspace,
  • and presenting tasks the student either has never done before or very likely has not practiced in a very long time. Do this in a changing and unpredictable environment involving weather, traffic, airspace considerations and air traffic control.

Now, present a series of lessons, practice and evaluations while monitoring the total environment and providing guidance and quality instruction to the student. Your attention must be divided between the outside world, ATC communications and negotiations, navigation, chart review, traffic avoidance, aircraft performance, student performance and student psychology and mindset--"is he/she learning, and if not, what do I need to do differently to ensure learning occurs?."

Can you see why I think flight simulation and part-task trainers should be a part of every pilot's learning experience, not just for the turbine crowd?

Getting sucked in

It's no wonder that many midair collisions happen while one airplane's crew is engaged in dual IFR instruction, or that so many CFIs fail to catch a forgotten landing gear extension until the belly hits the pavement. It's far too easy of a CFI to get sucked into teaching the student and scanning the panel (being "instructor") instead of scanning outside for traffic (being "safety manager"). That's why one tenet of instruction is (or at least should be) that instruction itself has to be secondary to the instructor's safety responsibilities. Haven't you ever heard "the cockpit is a poor classroom"? Noise and communication aren't the issue -- overall distraction and division of attention are.

Aero-tip of the day: Instructors, remember that safety is your primary duty when providing instruction. The attitude you present will rub off on your students, so even if formal instruction needs to take a back seat at times the overall lesson is more effective.

FMI: Aero-Tips

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