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Aviation Learning Center Document Conducting an Effective Flight Review
Author: FAA Date: August 2006
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Step 4 - Post-Flight Debriefing
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Most instructors have experienced the traditional "sage on the stage" model of training, in which the teacher does all the talking and hands out grades with little or no student input. There is a place for this kind of debriefing; however, a collaborative critique is one of the most effective ways to determine that the pilot has not only the physical and mental airplane skills, but also the self-awareness and judgment needed for sound aeronautical decision-making. Here is one way to structure a collaborative post flight critique:


Rather than starting the post flight briefing with a laundry list of areas for improvement, ask the pilot to verbally replay the flight for you. Listen for areas where your perceptions are different, and explore why they don't match. This approach gives the pilot a chance to validate his or her own perceptions, and it gives you critical insight into his or her judgment abilities.


The reconstruct stage encourages the pilot to learn by identifying the "would'a could'a should'a" elements of the flight -- that is, the key things that he or she would have, could have, or should have done differently.


Insights come from investing perceptions and experiences with meaning, which in turn requires reflection on these events. For example:

  • What was the most important thing you learned today?
  • What part of the session was easiest for you? What part was hardest?
  • Did anything make you uncomfortable? If so, when did it occur?
  • How would you assess your performance and your decisions?
  • Did you perform in accordance with the Practical Test Standards?


The final step is to help the pilot relate lessons learned in this flight to other experiences, and consider how they might help in future flights. Questions:

  • How does this experience relate to previous flights?
  • What might you do to mitigate a similar risk in a future flight?
  • Which aspects of this experience might apply to future flights, and how?
  • What personal minimums should you establish, and what additional proficiency flying and training might be useful?

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