"Small" general aviation (GA) fatal accident statistics are between two and three orders of magnitude (that is 100 to 1,000 times) worse than air carriers, the military, and corporate "big" GA. As Figure 1 shows, the accident rates for all categories of flying have improved over the past 80 years but has now become asymptotic to a virtually fixed number. For the air carriers, the military, and corporate GA, that fixed number is "acceptably" small. However, the fact that small GA is stuck on a number that is two or three orders of magnitude larger than other segments of aviation is a real call for action.
Figure 1. The fatal accident rate for all categories of flying has improved.
Each small GA fatal accident carries with it a large load of grief for family and friends.
NTSB Number: LAX06LA068. The non-instrument-rated private pilot flew the airplane during a dark, night, cross-country flight, in marginal visual to instrument meteorological conditions. The airplane impacted mountainous terrain at the base of a hill. During the accident flight, a witness observed the airplane flying low in foggy conditions. Click here.
Among the things that differentiate small from big GA is that big GA, like the airlines and the military, has a significant dedicated operational support structure that small GA does not have. Big GA uses detailed written operating instructions including flight dispatch procedures that govern departure and enroute go, no-go decisions. With small GA, the Pilot in Command (PIC) has total discretion – within the FARs – to decide whether or not to launch a particular flight. Big GA also requires of itself periodic ground and flight training that is much more frequent and thorough than that required by the FARs.
Clearly the FAA is not interested in encumbering all GA with uniformly stringent operating and training procedures. One of the main strengths of GA in the United States is its flexibility to operate in a multiplicity of operational environments while guided with very general and broadly stated safety regulations based upon years of lessons learned.
Within this context, the Certificated Flight Instructor (CFI) is in a pivotal position to influence the small GA fatal accident rate by advocating to his clients that they should voluntarily adopt a culture of periodic training (such as the WINGS - Pilot Proficiency Program) and operating procedures (such as the PAVE Personal Minimums Checklist) that incorporate key features used by big GA. Much of this can be done within the context of pre-flight preparations.
Therefore, this course, at the Master Wings Level, is intended to aid CFIs in teaching and performing pre-flight preparations. For the purposes of this course, the pre-flight tasks can begin days prior to the flight. Indeed, the case will be made that for most GA business and pleasure flights an early start on pre-flight activities should be the rule rather than the exception.
THIS COURSE IS NOT INTENDED TO REPLACE NOR SUBVERT CURRENT FAA REGULATIONS OR POLICIES, NOR IS IT INTENDED TO IMPLY A CHANGE IN ANY PRACTICAL TEST STANDARD FOR ANY PILOT CERTIFICATE OR RATING. THIS COURSE IS NOT CAPABLE OF CONVEYING INFORMATION OF A TRANSITORY NATURE NOR CAN IT REFLECT "LATE BREAKING" INFORMATION CRITICAL TO FLIGHT SAFETY. TO FULFILL THE REQUIREMENTS OF FAR 91.103, PILOTS MUST BECOME FAMILIAR WITH ALL AVAILABLE INFORMATION PERTINENT TO THAT FLIGHT INCLUDING NOTAMS.
The course assumes a good basic understanding of the fundamentals of instruction, aircraft operations, air navigation, and air traffic control procedures. You can take the course at your own pace, exit at any time, and come back whenever it is convenient. Course notes, checklists, and other documents are available for download.
To receive appropriate course credit for this course you must:
Have an account on FAASafety.gov
Be logged into that account
Be enrolled in the course
You must visit each chapter of the course, using the navigation bars at the top or bottom of each screen, and complete all the course material found on each.
Some links may take you to other sites or open windows on top of the course window. You will need to return to this course on FAASafety.gov to complete the exam. This might be as simple as closing all the additional windows. However, you may find it necessary to return to FAASafety.gov, log in again, and then "continue" the course from the Course List.
Upon completion of the review section the button will turn blue indicating you are ready to start the examination. Upon successful completion of the exam you are given the appropriate course credit automatically.