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Aviation Learning Center Document Conducting an Effective Flight Review
Author: FAA Date: August 2006
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Step 1 - Preparation
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Managing Expectations

You have probably seen it, or perhaps even experienced it yourself: pilot and CFI check the clock, spend exactly one hour reviewing 14 CFR Part 91 operating rules, and then head out for a quick pass through the basic maneuvers generally known as "airwork." The pilot departs with a fresh flight review endorsement and, on the basis of the minimum two hours required in 14 CFR 61.56, can legally operate for the next two years. This kind of flight review may be adequate for some pilots, but for others - especially those who do not fly on a regular basis - it is not. To serve the aviation safety purpose for which it was intended, therefore, the flight review must be far more than an exercise in watching the clock and checking the box.

AC 61-98A states that the flight review is "an instructional service designed to assess a pilot's knowledge and skills." The regulations are even more specific: 14 CFR 61.56 states that the person giving the flight review has the discretion to determine the maneuvers and procedures necessary for the pilot to demonstrate "safe exercise of the privileges of the pilot certificate." It is thus a proficiency-based exercise, and it is up to you, the instructional service provider, to determine how much time and what type of instruction is required to ensure that the pilot has the necessary knowledge and skills for safe operation.

Managing pilot expectations is key to ensuring that you don't later feel pressured to conduct a "minimum time" flight review for someone whose aeronautical skills are rusty. When a pilot schedules a flight review, use the form in Appendix 2 to find out not only about total time, but also about type of flying (e.g., local leisure flying, or cross-country flying for personal transportation) and recent flight experience. You also need to know if the pilot wants to combine the flight review with a new endorsement or aircraft checkout. Offer an initial estimate of how much time to plan for ground and flight training. How much time is enough will vary from pilot to pilot. Someone who flies the same airplane 200 hours every year may not need as much time as someone who has logged only 20 hours since the last flight review, or a pilot seeking a new endorsement in conjunction with the flight review. For pilots who have not flown at all for several years, a useful rule of thumb is to plan one hour of ground training and one hour of flight training for every year the pilot has been out of the cockpit. As appropriate, you can also suggest time in an aircraft training device (ATD), or a session of night flying for pilots whose activities include flying (especially VFR) after dark.

In preparation for the flight review session, give the pilot two assignments.

Review of Part 91

The regulations (14 CFR 61.56) state that the flight review must include a review of the current general operating and flight rules set out in Part 91. The Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM) also contains information that pilots need to know. Have the pilot complete the Flight Review Preparation Course now available in the Aviation Learning Center at www.faasafety.gov (http://www.faasafety.gov) in advance of your session and bring a copy of the completion certificate to the flight review. The online course lets the pilot review material at his or her own pace and focus attention on areas of particular interest. Alternatively, provide a copy of the list in Appendix 3 as a self-study guide.

Cross-Country Flight Plan Assignment

Many people learn to fly for personal transportation, but the cross-country flight planning skills learned for practical test purposes can become rusty if they are not used on a regular basis. Structuring the flight review as a short cross-country (i.e., 30-50 miles from the home airport) is an excellent way to refresh the pilot's flight planning skills. Ask the pilot to plan a VFR cross-country to another airport, ideally one that he or she has not previously visited. Be sure to specify that the flight plan should include consideration of runway lengths, weather, expected aircraft performance, alternatives, length of runways to be used, traffic delays, fuel requirements, terrain avoidance strategies, and NOTAM/TFR information. The GA Pilot's Guide to Preflight Weather Planning, Weather Self-Briefings, and Weather Decision-Making (http://www.faa.gov/pilots/safety/media/ga_weather_decision_making.pdf) may be of help to the pilot in this part of the exercise. Proficiency in weight and balance calculations is critical as well. If the pilot regularly flies with passengers, consider asking for calculations based on maximum gross weight.

It is within your discretion to require a "manual" flight plan created with a sectional chart, plotter, and E6B. In real-world flying, however, many pilots today use online flight planning software for basic information and calculations. Appropriate use of these tools can enhance safety in several ways: they provide precise course and heading information; the convenience may encourage more consistent use of a flight plan; and automating manual calculations leaves more time to consider weather, performance, terrain, alternatives, and other aspects of the flight. Encouraging the pilot to use his or her preferred online tool will give you a more realistic picture of real-world behavior, and the computer-generated plan will give you an excellent opportunity to point out both the advantages and the potential pitfalls of this method.

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