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So how would you fix it?


Rogue
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Since it came up in another subject recently.

 

How would you fix flight training?

 

Quite honestly, being new to the aviation world I was a little shocked - and I'm sure I'm not alone - that most instructors are newly minted pilots with only a couple of hundred hours of experience. Now I totally understand how and why being an instructor is good for a pilot to continue their journey but for the purpose of this discussion I'm focusing on how the student does or doesn't benefit.

 

Now my personal experience on the matter. After having getting some flight time under my belt I see that having instructors with only a couple of hundred hours of experience isn't as big as a stretch as it would seem, however relating this to what I know. I was a certified Master automotive repair technician at the tender age of 22. At 22 years of age, though I was capable of performing most any repair I was in no shape or form comfortable enough with my trade to actually teach someone else. Sure I could go on at length about all the intricate details of how something worked but that just overloaded the perspective "student" with information and left them asking "so what does that mean to me" I have now at 34 years of age taught several budding mechanics the ins and outs of my trade and I can do it in a way that instills confidence and relates it to them.

 

Sooo..... after having twenty hours of fixed wing time with two inexperienced instructors I still have little confidence and have yet to solo. On the other hand I've had a total of two hours of helicopter instruction with a very experienced instructor and was able to maintain a good stable hover ( of only 30 to 45 seconds in a 30 foot square area mind you - at one point I held it steady in reference to the ground for a fair amount of time ) and did it with confidence.

 

So my "educated" opinion would be - only experienced instructors should teach new students. Say for example someone enrolled in a professional pilot program - they would obtain their Private with the crusty old guy and then move on to the Commercial with the atypical hour builiding guy.

 

What say you?

Jeff

Edited by Rogue
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I agree that the system is far from perfect. It is not everyone that is cut out to be an instructor. The older guys that are into instruction are doing it because they love the flying experience. Most have "been there, done that". We do it because we get a rush out of watching one of our students hover for the first time unassisted, or their first solo. We like to cut the shirts off their backs and add it to the wall. We like the late evenings sitting in the lounge and talking amongst ourselves about how one of the students tried to kill us. Most of the commercial helicopter flying is dictated by the insurance industry. People call it "paying your dues", instructing to build time, I call it paying the insurance. 9 out of 10 new instructors are doing it to build time. The occasional 1 does it for the love of teaching. Not knocking anyone, it's just the way of things right now. Until someone in the industry comes up with another way, it's what we have. It is far from perfect. That's why the flight school owners and chief pilots need to closely monitor their instructors and fly frequent internal check rides with them. I like to get in and try to see their recovery techniques.

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You make some good points Rogue, but at the same time I've got about 100 hours TT in helicopters and I've flown with eight instructors. 7 of those instructors were either spectacular or just plain good instructors who not only have the knowledge but also the ability to effectively pass that information along. Only two of those guys had more than 1000 hours.

 

Maybe I've been lucky so far. I'm not sure, really. I've heard plenty of stories about sub-par instructors, people who didn't really want to be in the job. Heck, I've even known one or two guys like that, I've just never flown with em. I'd say if I could fix one thing in this sector of the industry, I'd say let's only hire people who not only have the knowledge, but the passion for teaching and the ability to do it effectively.

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Good topic Rogue,

 

In my perfect world, Instructors would be 10K-20K hour pilots with a wealth of experience under their belts and like Bossman said, doing it for the love of teaching. It would be a profession where some of the "battle weary" pilots could settle down to a particular area in order to have a steady job and a family. They could pass on all their knowledge that they picked up throughout the years and teach people to fly while relating the basic maneuvers to "real world" scenarios. Ooh, and they would get paid a real wage that would make it worthwhile for them.

 

In that perfect world, the FAA(or whatever authority you operate under) would have changed the rules to ensure you couldn't get an instructors certificate in under 5000 hours or something like that. And all those freshly minted 150 hour pilots would be able to apply for some sort of apprenticeship jobs or SIC positions that would bring them to the next level. Ooh, and there would be some sort of aptitude tests needed to get a student pilot certificate or at least a private.

 

To achieve this we would probably have to see changes from the insurance companies, the FAA and commercial operators simultaneously. We would need the FAA involved because as long as you can still get an instructors certificate in under 200 hours schools will continue to hire low timers and pay them peanuts in order to maximize profits, and who would blame them. I can't ever see the FAA changing the rules this drastically, but it's nice to dream! You would need the commercial operators on board in order to ensure "apprenticeship" positions for all the new guys coming along or else flight training would come to a standstill in the civilian world. I think this system might work for some large commercial operators as it would give them a chance to weed out the "no hopers" and sign up their good guys for 4 year contracts or something like that, this could help reduce costs for them also. And for the insurance companies to lower rates they would have to see that the new system would drastically reduce training accidents across the board, which it probably would. They would have to see that accidents during commercial operations wouldn't rise with this system also as just 1 accident in a big turbine would be more costly to an insurance company than 5 or more training accidents in a R22 or 300Cbi.

 

So that's my little dream, crazy and all as it is, I think it could be a better system than what's in place right now.

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I don't think that is crazy at all Darren. In fact to put it in terms I'm familiar with even if we hired a tech school graduate with all the certifications you sure as heck don't put them on an intense engine overhaul their first day on the job. You start them out at the "apprentice" level with oil changes and brake jobs. Believe it or not you wouldn't believe how many guys come in the door and cannot even do an oil change properly !!!

 

Yea I didn't think the industry was going to change, just propagating intelligent discussion. ;)

 

Jeff

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One thing everyone seems to forget to mention: More experience CFI = Higher CFI wages (I'm not against that) = Higher training costs for the student. Our system may not be perfect but it works to keep training affordable, which is why pilots from all over the world come here to train.

 

It's a vicious cycle, but it's also not quite a case of the blind leading the blind, the CFI's that taught me were all great at transferring their knowledge and while their "real world," experience was mostly in a training environment (what could be more real than a new student on the controls)

 

I love to teach and when the day comes, where I'm the one sitting in the left seat, I hope the student sitting next to me is not just thinking about how little time I may have under my belt, but of what I know, that he or she doesn't.

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Never having owned a helicopter company I dont know what insurance rates are, but I assume they are reasonably high. You would think that the insurance rates of hiring experienced pilots would be low enough to be able to offset paying higher wages to the more experienced instructors. between a lower insurance rate and even maybe a higher student rate, it should be somewhat reasonable to raise a CFI's wage by 10-15 dollars per hour. A student picking up $10 more per hour even if it took them 50 hours for a private would raise cost by $500. Yes I know its already expensive for training but if that is what was being paid now it would be excepted under the whole "paying your dues" as some say.

I would think the insurance rate would be low enough to cover this higher pilot rate and cost to students would be the last resort but maybe necessary to some extent.

 

Statistics show however that accidents are lower below 2k hours then rise significantly from 2-5k hours and then down turn again after 6k hours. I would have to believe that the 6k hour insurance rate would be lower than the 0-2k hour rate but as I said I'm not an owner and am only speculating.

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One thing everyone seems to forget to mention: More experience CHI = Higher CFI wages (I'm not against that) = Higher training costs for the student. Our system may not be perfect but it works to keep training affordable, which is why pilots from all over the world come here to train.

 

As Darkhorse puts it, the lower insurance costs would offset the higher CFI wages. And with higher requirements to become a CFI you'll be left with less instructors competing with each other in the industry for hours. That would then in turn leave you with a higher demand for instructors. You will also with that higher demand, leave those instructors busier and better able to make a real living at the profession which would mean you would not have to pay a ton more than what the current rate is per hour.

 

It's a vicious cycle, but it's also not quite a case of the blind leading the blind, the CFI's that taught me were all great at transferring their knowledge and while their "real world," experience was mostly in a training environment (what could be more real than a new student on the controls)

 

I agree, but imagine the amount of extra knowledge you could learn during your training from those high time pilots that have a genuine passion for teaching. Then imagine taking it to the next level and going from that high time instructor and being put under the mentorship of another medium-high time cheif pilot in an apprenticeship program for a further 1000 hours where they would transfer even more knowledge to you during morning briefings or as SIC during multi crew flights. There would be a lot less learning the hard way and a lot more learning the smart way!!

 

Statistics show however that accidents are lower below 2k hours then rise significantly from 2-5k hours and then down turn again after 6k hours. I would have to believe that the 6k hour insurance rate would be lower than the 0-2k hour rate but as I said I'm not an owner and am only speculating.

 

Those are interesting figures Darkhorse. Could they indicate a trend of pilots leaving the Vegas Tours/GOM work at 2K to move on to riskier work like longlining, crop dusting and firefighting? Maybe a lot of pilots move on to the cushier corporate VIP jobs around 6K. Or maybe is indicates towards some people thinking "well I know it all now & nothing's happened so far" and getting lax in their concentration. Maybe post 6K people start to realize that they will never know it all start paying more attention. I don't know, I'm just spitballing.

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[quote name='Darren Hughes' date='Oct 18 2008, 13:15 ' post='73399'

Those are interesting figures Darkhorse. Could they indicate a trend of pilots leaving the Vegas Tours/GOM work at 2K to move on to riskier work like longlining, crop dusting and firefighting? Maybe a lot of pilots move on to the cushier corporate VIP jobs around 6K. Or maybe is indicates towards some people thinking "well I know it all now & nothing's happened so far" and getting lax in their concentration. Maybe post 6K people start to realize that they will never know it all start paying more attention. I don't know, I'm just spitballing.

 

I supose it could be linked a little to the change in the flying type. For example as you said going from tours to firefighting. However, I think a larger portion of that is really due to a different factor. That would be as you said, complacentcy. A new or low time pilot tends to use much more caution and planning that those with more time such as 2,000-6,000 hours. I don't think it's a fact of "I know it all" but rather just getting to comfortable with the type of flying mission being conducted. That can happen in any part of the industry not just tours.

 

As we get more and more comfortable with our aircraft and mission, we get complacent. Flying is much bigger in the mental sense than physical. You can teach most anyone to fly. Can you teach them as easily how to make proper judgements? How about how to detect the start of a chain of events that can lead to an accident including complacency? Those are much harder to teach, requires expierance and varies person to person.

 

Food for thought.

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Those figures are 4 service statistics. The board of study determined exactly what you speculate. People are much more attentive while learning and for a time afterward and then become somewhat complacent, not as much preparation, thinking they are equipped to make it through a situation they have made it through before (weather). Then experience catches up again and figures come down, they speculate age and maturity have a factor along with the experience.

 

I would venture to say even though these are military statistics, the civilian market probably follows the trend closely.

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Does flight training need to be fixed? I don't think so. Most newly minted instructors are

at the top of their game, having spent a year or more just honing the fundamentals. And

that's what you are learning. The fundamentals. You're not learning much more than

how to pass a checkride. Just because you were hovering in a couple of hours has

almost no reflection on the instructor. The instructor is only there to try to relax you

and keep you from crashing. You can't "teach" someone to hover. Just like you can't

"teach" someone to ride a bike. I have had I high and low time instructors. Didn't

matter much how much time they had. Come back in 500 hours and you will have

a different outlook. Then your opinion may be "educated".

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helonorth - your post seems combative. I never thought my opinion was educated - hence the quotes. I definetly beg to differ on quality of instruction recieved. Your mileage may vary. Hovering most certainly had to be taught to me and the way it was taught to me instilled confidence in my ability to do it and hence my ability to do it. Do I think that I am the greatest thing since sliced bread - hardly. You seemed to miss the part of this that said this is discussion carried over from another thread where by chance the suggestion was made that the training environment isn't perfect and you also seemed to miss the part where this is merely for discussion purposes. Relax brother B)

Edited by Rogue
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The missed part in training is an experienced instructor being involved, not necessarily in the left seat flying with every student. I believe just about anyone, a few exceptions, that has met the FAA minimums and passed a CFI checkride can teach/supervise learning safely in the aircraft. Where we miss is in adequate supervision of the low time instructors and in senior pilot contact opportunities.

Ground training sessions are another story. An effective instructor for book teaching and such is hard to find. Most of the training money spent on ground training is wasted. Most students could make better use of training money by working hard with other students and on their own vs. hiring a CFI for ground training. By the way, effective instructors must have good dental hygiene, most don't.

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The instructors amount of expieriance makes a HUGE differance. I started training fixed wing with a "high" time instructor, then was moved to a brand new instructor. There was no comparison between the two.

I learned more in the the first two hours with the more expierianced instructor than i did in the last 12... which may have pretty much been a waiste of money (other than it was alot of fun flying).

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I learnt with a high time pilot.

If companies\insurers require 1000 hours to fly, why do the insurers allow 200 hour pilots to fly with a novice at the controls

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because the training helicopter only costs 200-500k vs the turbine ship at 1m+.

Insurance wants more time based on the cost of investment risk.

 

 

I dont think there is anything wrong with the current system.... if you want a higher time instructor you can find it and pay for it... that said most students don't care who teaches them (they say they do but they don't) they just want to get their hours as cost effectively as possible.

Even If I offered everyone a chance to build time for $200/hr today with or without instructor most people would pass because other criteria doesn't meet their liking... location, number of helicopters available, "reputation", etc..

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Didn't mean to be harsh. I just find it odd that someone with so little aviation experience

would conclude (already) that flight training needs to be "fixed". I have had a lot of

CFI's and IP's in the last 12 years. Some were terrible. Some were very good. The

amount of time had very little to do with it. I have had brand new instructors that were

really knowledgable and good teachers. I have had high time pilots that looked at you

as just another 1.5 in their logbook or just wishing they could get a "real job". The

amount of time a pilot has does not directly correlate to their ability. It' a common

misconception that gets perpetuated because it should make sense. But it's often NOT

true.

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Didn't mean to be harsh. I just find it odd that someone with so little aviation experience

would conclude (already) that flight training needs to be "fixed". I have had a lot of

CFI's and IP's in the last 12 years. Some were terrible. Some were very good. The

amount of time had very little to do with it. I have had brand new instructors that were

really knowledgable and good teachers. I have had high time pilots that looked at you

as just another 1.5 in their logbook or just wishing they could get a "real job". The

amount of time a pilot has does not directly correlate to their ability. It' a common

misconception that gets perpetuated because it should make sense. But it's often NOT

true.

I see your point, my apologies good sir. It is wrong of me to make the assumption that a higher time instructor is thereby a better one. I have just had the misfortune of being just another 1.5 and didn't know any better until I flew with someone who didn't treat me that way and they just happened to be a very experienced instructor.

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I also don’t think there is anything wrong with the current system of flight training. You are free to choose whom you pay to train you and that means you are free to discriminate. I am meticulous about who I’m going to pay for flight instruction but I’m willing to pay more for good instruction. For example, I look for maturity, level of education, ratings, experience, and I might even ask a few behavior interview questions. One thing that important to me is if our personalities jive.

 

I have been fortunate to have outstanding flight instructors on the helicopter side with the one exception of a screamer. Ten minutes into the flight the screaming started and I told him take the controls were going back to the airport. I gave him some verbal abuse of my own after he shut down the helicopter after all I couldn’t let him get away with it. The sad thing was the lame excuse he gave me when I told I was discontinuing my flight at that school. His pathetic excuse was, “I was being hard on you because that was the way my instructor treated me when I was a student”. The point I’m trying to make is don’t pay for crap plan and simple.

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It was not the cost of the helio that I was thinking of, personally I think I am worth more than 250\300k my personal insurers do as well.

My thoughts say if Fred the CFI has survived for 10.000 hours hopefully he would last a further 30\40 hours with me, +he would never live it down if I killed him :)

I also appreciate there are gifted\natural low time pilots about, and am glad people find them.

The pilot with the more hours has seen a lot of the mistakes we all make before, where as the low hour pilot has seen maybe 40%, & made another 40% this leaves 20% he has maybe heard or read about, and there is my problem has he got the knowledge to see the last 1% before it becomes a NTSB report

It would be interesting to see training accident figurers broken down into hours flown by CFI.

I know they would be distorted due to large number of low hour Instructors,

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The

amount of time a pilot has does not directly correlate to their ability.

 

I agree 100%, i should have made my piont of view alittle more clear. I guess when i was refering to "high time" i meant an instructor that has spent alot of time as an instructor, vs a pilot that has flowen many hours but not as an instructor.

Quick example:

With my first Ins. my second 1 hr lesson, we made 10 trips around the pattern on the third landing i asked him if he were still helping me, he laughed and said "nope, she's all yours" then he slid his seat all the way back to show me he wasnt helping me.

I was totally calm with his cool demeanor, and it made me feel better about what i was doing.

 

The second "fresh" ins. would always "jump" on the controls, which would make me very nervous all the time, it always had me questioning what i was doing wrong.

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badz my experience was almost to a tee like your experience

 

both my fixed wing instructors would just seemingly wait for the slightest thing wrong and be itching to grab the controls. When I didnt' know any better I thought I was screwing up bigtime. Now that I have a SMALL amount of experience it didn't take long for me to see I was just being milked for money. I guess I related their nervousness with their "newness".

 

i went up for a flight in a 300 yesterday with another very experienced instructor. like you said both my helicopter instructors have had that totally calm demeanor and I've flown two different model helicopters with two different instructors and done to my amazement very well. He actually wrote "strong aptitude" in my logbook.

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