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Aviation Learning Center Document Flight Review - What to Do
Author: Susan Parson Date: March 2006
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Preparation and Ground Review
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First, bear in mind that the times specified in the regulations - one hour of ground review and one hour of flight training - are intended as a floor, not a ceiling. If you are a flight instructor, 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, 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.

If you are a pilot in need of a flight review, remember that 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.

Second, a little bit of preparation goes a long way toward making the flight review an interesting, meaningful, and effective learning experience. If you a re an instructor, ask the pilot to complete the online Flight Review Preparation Course (http://www.faasafety.gov/ALC/) in advance of your session and bring a copy of the completion certificate to the flight review. If you are the pilot, take the course even if your instructor doesn't assign it. The course gives you plenty of time to review material at your own pace, and focus on areas of particular interest.

A cross-country flight plan is another useful flight review preparation activity. 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 flight planning skills. Be sure to include consideration of runway lengths, weather, expected aircraft performance, alternatives, length of runways to be used, traffic delays, fuel requirements, terrain avoidance strategies, weight and balance, 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 help in this part of the exercise.

If you are the flight instructor, it is within your discretion to ask for 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. A critical point to emphasize is that automated flight planning tools can be enormously helpful, but the pilot must always review the information with a critical eye, frequently supplement the computer's plan with additional information, and never simply assume that the computer-generated package must be okay because the machine is smarter. Asking these kinds of questions is also key to critical thinking, which is in turn the secret to good aeronautical decision-making (ADM) and risk management.

Aviation security is another important topic for the ground portion of the flight review. In the post-September 11 security environment, any security incident involving general aviation pilots, aircraft, and airports can prompt calls for new restrictions. Pilots and instructors share a special responsibility to avoid such incidents by knowing and following basic security procedures at all times. These include not only respect for temporary flight restrictions (TFRs), but also for the importance of securing your aircraft against unauthorized use. Pilots should never leave the aircraft unlocked or, worse, unattended with the keys inside.

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