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ALC-49: Teaching and Performing Pre-Flight Preparations
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Presented by:
Bill Castlen
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Chapter 1) Initial Training Pre-flight Preparations

When teaching PPC candidates, a significant challenge for the CFI's is to instill a culture – a habit – in his students to incorporate "big GA" principles into his "small GA" flying. This means starting early on comprehensive pre-flight preparation and planning, adopting and using a Personal Minimums Checklist, and being conscientiously involved in a continuous training effort such as the WINGS - Pilot Proficiency Program. The pre-flight preparations should start as far in advance of the flight as practical so the PIC can keep his decision space as large as possible for as long as possible. Then the student needs to be taught to recognize that when pre-flight planning options are reduced to a singularity, risk has increased.

Chapter 2) Post-Private Pre-flight Preparations (Instrument, TAA, Multi)

By their very nature, post-PPC ratings suggests that the PIC will be engaging in more purposeful flying, that is, flying longer distances on tighter schedules and having a higher probability of seeing adverse weather. The CFI's challenge, then, is to maintain the client's enthusiasm for his new operational objective while teaching him to use the equipment effectively, AND arm the client with an operational culture that will keep him and his passengers safe for the long haul. The CFI must maintain a balanced approach that continues to encourage the advanced PIC client's enthusiasm for his flying objective while either gently persuading or boldly insisting that the client adopt the life-saving operational habits used by big GA.

Chapter 3) Homebuilt Aircraft Pre-flight Preparations

The CFI's job with any client is to transfer knowledge and encourage the use of "best practices." To the extent that the CFI is less familiar with a particular aircraft, he is going to be less able to "transfer knowledge" to his client. The Experimental Aircraft Association is a rich resource for coaching and advising the homebuilder with his new aircraft. They encourage using a rigorous and systematic approach in preparing for the first flight. If the CFI has not flown the specific aircraft he is faced with, he should proceed with extreme caution. As EAA's website article on preparing for the first flight states, "Statistics show that 20% of all homebuilt accidents happen during the first two flights and are usually caused by pilot error," and goes on to suggest a methodology that could mitigate that statistic. The CFI involved in this situation would be well advised to recommend his client follow EAA's methodology as well as all the best practices covered in Chapters 1 and 2.

Chapter 4) Post-Sport -Recreational Pre-flight Preparations

The biggest challenge for the CFI with respect to working with sport and recreational pilots is the fact that these certificates are intended to be for "fun" flying. Thus, the CFI's perhaps very difficult job is to be both a cheer leader to encourage the client to enjoy and experience the fun of flying, and to be the firm coach who requires the client to perform to standards that reduce risks. First of all, the pre-flight preparation must include verification of what you and your client will be legally allowed to do in the aircraft you are preparing to fly. Then, your instruction should emphasize the pre-flight principles advocated in Chapters 1 and 2 and the need to adopt a culture of pre-flight procedures that include setting of personal minimums well ahead of any flight, and having a personal policy of regular and frequent flight and ground refresher training sessions – such as the WINGS - Pilot Proficiency Program.

Chapter 5) Online References

There are many online references available to today’s pilot to supplement traditional sources such as published NOTAMs, and FSS briefings. Online resources are especially rich with weather and airspace information. There are also several fine sites that can be used for continuous refresher training. Small GA pilots should use these resources to adopt a culture of training analogous to big GA.

A simple weather log can be helpful in making Plan A and B and C . . . Figure 10 is an example.

F10Wx Log.jpg

Figure 10. An example of a simple weather log.

The I'M SAFE checklist (Figure 11) should be an inherent part of all pre-flight preparations. You can see a discussion of this checklist at page 16-6 in The Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge, FAA-H-8083-25.  Click here.

F11IM SAFE.jpg

Figure 11. The I'm Safe checklist.

All pilots should consider something like the PAVE Personal Minimums Checklist (Figure 12a and b) as a central feature of their pre-flight preparations. These figures are shown full size on the next two pages.  A discussion of this checklist can be found at pages 16 and 17 of the FAA/Industry Training Standards, Personal and Weather Risk Assessment Guide.  Click here.




Related Media for this Section
View the file F10Wx Log.jpg
An example of a simple weather log.
F10Wx Log.jpg (91.77 KB)
View the file F11IM SAFE.jpg
The I'M Safe checklist
F11IM SAFE.jpg (47.26 KB)
View the file PAVEa.jpg
Side A of PAVE Personal Minimums Checklist
PAVEa.jpg (232.13 KB)
View the file PAVEb.jpg
Side B of PAVE Personal Minimums Checklist
PAVEb.jpg (258.51 KB)

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