Wednesday, November 13, 2019
Advanced Training corner Detecting Signs of Faulty Flight Instruction

Detecting Signs of Faulty Flight Instruction

Most aircraft owners and pilots no matter what level or ratings they may hold have come to rely upon their instructors and training centers as mentors for their wisdom and experience. By this time they have several flight instructor signatures in their logbook representing many hours of training and money spent. The early signs of faulty instruction have blinded some pilots.instructors


Several times aircraft owners and pilots have expressed complaints about their training and have perceived this to be faulty instruction. Unfortunately they have realized it too late. Their comment is always the same, if I had only known. Pilots and students must take charge of their training by pre-screening the instructors and the training facility and watching out for the signs of faulty instruction. First remember advanced training of any type is marketed to educated well-informed people like your self. Pilots love to fly and realize flying presents continual challenges to ones airmanship. Inversely always bear in mind that true aviation educators (CFI's), love to teach students who are motivated to learn and accept new challenges. This brings a personal comment. When you find an instructor that really takes a personal interest in your learning and goes the extra mile, don't be afraid to let him or her know that his efforts are appreciated. Personally I have written letters of critique and instructor appreciation to both SimuFlite and Flight Safety after attending initial and recurrent training when an instructor did an outstanding job of instructing, especially those who have gone the extra mile to get the knowledge across. On the other hand if you aren't satisfied with any of the instruction process at any school, always request to talk to a program manager in order to give them the opportunity to correct the problem to your satisfaction. Schools at all levels are very receptive to customer inputs as they realize as consumers we do have choices for training providers. As with any other business customer loyalty and satisfaction is the best form of repeat business. 


The key to the educational process is the instructor.

Instructing is an art form and isn't for everyone. Professional aviation educators excel in communication and instructor leadership skills. Additionally instructing involves the ultimate in creativity, patience, aviation knowledge and lastly stick hands on skills. Students shouldn't classify any professional experienced flight instructor with the simple term "Flight Instructor." He or she is experienced and deserves the title "Aviation Educator" specializing in flight. Just like any other Professional, who specializes in a particular field.


Warning signs of faulty instruction Watch for signs of instructor burn out.jet

Beware of instructor burn out. In some cases an instructor has been instructing for a long time and is burnt out of the instruction game, for one reason or another. One of the signs of instructor burn out is failure to motivate a students learning.

Ask about the instructor's prior aviation work history and future goals.

Direct questions such as, how do you like instructing or what else would you rather do in aviation? The responses will tell you a lot about the instructor's attitude, dedication and professionalism. Many students have been left hanging in the middle of training because their instructor got an airline or corporate job. And worse yet the next instructor fails to keep the continuity in the students learning and pick up where the other instructor left off. This usually occurs when there is lack of standardization.

Productive instruction should present a challenge and pilot's should learn new skills as well as revisit and refresh old skills.  Here comes your first challenge to find and match the right instructor, for you and your airplane. Sounds easy, but only if you know how to find that key instructor to open the doors of knowledge and present the learning as a challenge that only an experienced instructor can do.

Begin by asking for at least two references, preferably one student presently working with the instructor and one student who has passed a practical test. Students can give many insights about their instructor and learning experiences. The best compliment an instructor can have is a referral from another student.

Always remember instructor's value students feed back as to how they are doing and how effective they are as instructors. Professional instructors realize that they see themselves through their students. A typical example when a student pick's a habit that is incorrect a good instructor will ask himself I wonder if I do that or maybe I could have communicated that procedure a little better. This goes along with the old saying Monkey see monkey do theory. Or as one student said, I saw you do it that way so it must be right.


When the instructor doesn't have or use an organized curriculum be aware this a danger sign.

 Always receive a copy of the training curriculum and review it with the with the instructor. All professional instructors recognize the importance of an organized curriculum. If you are taking recurrent or transition training to a new airplane, be sure that the instructor has a curriculum specifically for that type of training. A well-organized curriculum must contain an orderly flow of instruction and phase checks to review the student's progress and instructor standardization. If it is recurrent training you are seeking then instructors must use and be able to modify training curriculum to do what is classified as alternate training. Alternate training should be based on areas of instruction that are weak areas of airmanship, plus are geared to the type of flying that a pilot does and additionally are often based on accident scenarios, cause and affect. Pilots be forewarned, If the instructor or school doesn't have a curriculum, walk away find another instructor and school that does. Curriculum will keep you on track and give direction and objectivity.


The instructor doesn't have the knowledge or specialization.

Nothing is worse than an instructor who tries to wing it, students pick up on this very quickly when an instructor doesn't have the knowledge. Specialization is the key when searching for the right instructor. If one specializes in a particular area he will do a better job and be a pro in the instruction process. Just as you would seek a specialist with extensive experience in any profession, the same should apply to flight instruction. It has been said many times, experience makes the difference. This is one reason way the insurance companies have required pilots of certain high performance pressurized aircraft to attend specialized schools on an annual recurrent bases, because of their specialized training and experience with a specific make and model of aircraft.

The flight instructor and school you choose is the single most important key to continued pilot education.


Check the instructors experience in your specific make and model of aircraft.

Without specific make and model experience it is the blind leading the blind as they say. Always discuss the instructor's background and experience. Total flight time with emphasis on experience and instruction given in make and model, is always a major concern to insurance companies. If your aircraft is a turbo prop or jet, be sure the instructor is type rated and has been to an insurance approved school and is current in make and model.


Warning sign of faulty instructor is when the instructor lacks the knowledge or ability to give instruction in advanced navigation or avionics.
Many of the high performance aircraft today including smaller aircraft are being manufactured with glass cockpits and advanced avionics. In the case of the jets and turboprop they are equipped with advanced EFIS/FMS systems and autopilots. The question remains does the instructor know how to use the advanced avionics and teach the operations of advanced equipment?


A definite sign of faulty instruction is when the instructor fails to provide Pre-and post ground briefings.
Quality instruction always provides enough ground time for the pre and post-flight briefing with each lesson. Listen closely to how the instructor critiques the student's performance. Constructive criticism is probably the most effective learning tool, as long as it's conducted honestly and in a professional, non-threatening manner. A thorough post briefing always includes not only what needs additional work, but also praise for the performance areas that were done well. Just as a side note, the best instructors are those who disseminate practical knowledge through their personal experiences and think of their students learning first. Lastly always in completion of any lesson, never walk away with questions and be sure that you are briefed about the next block of instruction to be completed?


Good communication and leadership skills go hand in hand

 A good instructor should be patient and exhibit good communication and CRM skills. An example of how critical communications can be at a very critical phase of flight came to my attention, while taking recurrent training and a chief pilot, who absolutely hated his job and most likely never should have been an instructor or chief pilot/check airman, started shouting at a very critical moment after V1 and during rotation. His actions could have easily caused a major accident. My first comment to him after landing was simply, No pilot can be expected to learn any thing from anyone shouting at them, and with out a doubt this is the most ineffective form of crew communication. The disappointing part of it all was when confronted with the issue he couldn't even apologize or admit his shortcomings. Needless to say respect was lost as well as the desire to train or fly with that instructor/chief pilot again.


cloudsBe sure the instructor isn't reluctant to fly in actual instrument weather and is weather wise.

 Be sure the instructor is weather-wise and isn't reluctant to train in actual IFR weather. Part of every instrument pilot's education is to feel comfortable and competent in actual IFR weather. This can be an issue especially if you fly in parts of the country where icing and adverse weather is a major factor during the winter months. Many of you have aircraft that are certified to fly in to known icing conditions. The instructor must have knowledge in how to use the weather tools that your aircraft is equipped with such as de-ice and radar.


Warning sign of faulty instruction is when the instructor is so booked Or has other priorities that he can not devote enough time to your time schedule to get the task at hand completed in a reasonable time schedule.

 Instructors and schools must accommodate your schedule. Lessons spread out over long blocks of time only impede learning. If you're a serious student, reserve the instructor's time in advance to ensure the time and frequency of instruction you desire. Be aware of instructors that stand you up at the last minute because they are called out on a charter flight. It will not take too long before you will realized where his priorities lye and you will be requesting another instructor. Your time is valuable and training time must be productive.

The types of flight instructors seem to fall in to two categories.

Instructing is an art and isn't for everyone. As an experienced aviation educator/ instructor, I've come to the conclusion that instructors seem to fall into two categories. The first is someone who can fly an airplane with precision and ease, but lack communication skills and patience to get the point across to the student. This doesn't necessarily mean that they aren't good aviators, they just are not the right instructor for you.

Then there are those who are great communicators armed with knowledge, creativity, discipline, patience and are able to recognize the student's weaknesses and strengths. Last but not least is the ability to fly well, set an example, and be a mentor. Instructors that fall in to the latter category usually like to teach and find it rewarding.


If the flight training center lacks organization this a Warning sign of faulty instruction.Instruments

The second most important element in the decision-making process is the evaluation of the flight training facility itself. The quality of flight instruction is often a reflection of the management and the school where they work.

Schools specializing in a particular area of instruction are usually more structured and tend to have a more business like attitude, with the student's interest in mind. You should begin by evaluating the teaching environment, the classrooms, and the training aids. Does the school have an audio-visual or interactive self-study learning center to help supplement the course of study? Think of the school not just as a fixed base operator, but as an educational training institute. As with a university or college, there must be personnel who monitor your progress. This is usually the job of an experienced chief pilot, or director of training.

Does the training facility have enough well-maintained aircraft available to meet your training needs, if you are not going to use your own aircraft.  Are the aircraft equipped with advanced avionics, flight director, HSI, GPS?


Concerns for airplane maintenance records and documentation.

A knowledgeable instructor will never fly in a customer owned aircraft without reviewing log books and documentation to determine if the required inspections have been completed. Remember it is the responsibility of the pilot in command to determine if the aircraft is airworthy, to include all AD's and required inspections. Additionally a responsible instructor will require a proof of insurance. If the instructor fails to meet the open pilot clause in the policy and an incident or damage occurs the insurance company may deny coverage.


Watch out for time builders, the instructor only wants to fly in the airplane and doesn't use a flight simulator.  model-ast_03

If the instructor you are considering for your training comes from a flight school with a simulator or flight training device (FTD), Ask what is the instructor's philosophy regarding its use? Often, many low-time instructors won't use a simulator/FTD because it doesn't count as flight time, and his/her primary goal is building time to move up the career ladder. If you encounter a time builder attitude, then most likely he or she isn't the right instructor for you. Simulators and flight training devices are the modern tools of all training. When it comes to instrument training, one of the most important tools of instruction is a quality simulator or ground training device. This is so important the FAA allows 50 percent (20 hours) of the 40-hour requirement for the instrument rating and the entire instrument proficiency check to be performed in the trainer/simulator. Simulators are probably the best tools to learn and practice emergency procedures such as engine out or other procedures that maybe much too hazardous to aircraft plus the wear and tear on aircraft. Additionally the simulator is extremely cost and time efficient. At the corporate and airline level, entire type ratings are accomplished in the simulator. Any quality training facility utilizes a simulator, as part of their curriculum. Be advised a simulator is only as good as the instructor utilizing it. The instructor must know how to use the Simulator to it's full potential and is cre­ative to maximize student learning. You will find that in the hands of a skilled instructor, that technology and simulator are the modern tools in flight training.

Another important consideration is what you pay for professional instruction. Experience makes the difference and should be compensated appropriately. The old axiom "you get what you pay for" applies when choosing a quality training facility and instructor.


Caution signs of lack of attention to safety as well as how the instructor treats your aircraft.

Other traits to look for when choosing the right flight instructor are.

Attention to safety, stemming from the pre-flight to how he goes about simulating emergency procedures. Typical example, instructors must be cognitive of how and when to do an engine cut with a multiengine airplane. One can crack cylinders or shock cool engines if they are not shut down correctly. Or cutting engines on the takeoff roll or V1cuts at the wrong time can lead to dangerous situations. A pilot should be thoroughly briefed on what to expect and how to handle V1 cuts before any are practiced.

V1 cuts are best accomplished in the simulator.


Signs of Quality instruction to be considered.

Quality instruction teaches team building, leadership and fosters decision making through communication.

Instructors set the pace and by example, they are our mentors. Good instructors know how to bring out the best in their students and help them achieve their full potential airmanship.

Effective instructors have camaraderie with their students and learn from them as well. The time spent choosing the right instructor can make all the difference a positive learning ex­perience. The instructor's communication skills, experience, dedication and professionalism are just a few of the attributes of the professional instructor. If you begin instruction and in the early stages you feel that you are not in sync or there is conflict with the instructor, always discuss the situation with the director or chief pilot and request another instructor By watching for the early signs of faulty instruction and taking the time to search for the right instrument instructor and training facil­ity will pay off with you gaining more knowledge, increased flying skills and a positive learning experience.


simbrokerRobert J. Crystal
CFI of the year 2007
Simulator & Instrument Training Center Van Nuys, Ca.
Ph:. (818) 988-7224
Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it