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Aviation Learning Center Document Flight Review - What to Do
Author: Susan Parson Date: March 2006
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You have probably seen it, or perhaps even experienced it yourself: pilot and flight instructor 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 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 the instructional service provider - the CFI - 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.

The flight review is also intended as an opportunity for pilots to design a personal currency and proficiency program in consultation with a CFI. In effect, then, the flight review is the aeronautical equivalent of a regular medical checkup and ongoing health improvement program. Like a physical exam, a flight review may have certain "standard" features (e.g., review of specific regulations and maneuvers). However, just as the physician should tailor the exam and follow-up to the individual's characteristics and needs, the pilot and CFI should work together to tailor both the flight review and any follow-up training plan to the individual pilot's skill, experience, aircraft, and personal flying goals.

To better accomplish these objectives, the FAA has developed two new tools for enhancing the flight review. The first is new flight review guidance for flight instructors. (http://www.faa.gov/pilots/training/media/flight_review.pdf) Intended for use in conjunction with AC 61-98A, the guide to Conducting an Effective Flight Review offers ideas for structuring the flight review. It also includes tools instructors can use to help pilots develop a personalized "aeronautical health maintenance and improvement" program and establish realistic personal weather minimums.

Second, the FAA has developed a flight review preparation tool for general aviation pilots. Specifically, the Online Courses section of the Aviation Learning Center (http://www.faasafety.gov/ALC/) now includes a flight review preparation course that guides pilots through a practical, real-world oriented review of the regulations and advisory material. Completing this review with a passing score on the exam, which is built around mini-scenarios, will partially satisfy the flight review requirement (14 CFR 61.56 (a) (1)) for a review of Part 91 operating rules. Pilots who use this course to prepare can then use ground time more efficiently for discussion of decision-making, personal minimums, and flying goals.

The next chapters describe some of the ideas you will see in the guide to Conducting an Effective Flight Review.

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