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Improving the Pilot Pool


rollthbns
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Hi all!

 

I just wanted to post a new thread to renew discussion on what we can all do to promote improvement with the way we train and mentor new pilots. The HAI thread started to touch on this a little, but it warrants some dedicated dialog.

 

Something must change in my opinion. I am seeing more and more applicants that lack basic knowledge. While there is no shortage of 1,000 hours pilots out there, there is a shortage of quality professional pilots. A strong statement? Yes. I would like to say that it was simply my opinion, but the numbers of folks getting past the interview process has dipped significantly this year.

 

Instead of lamenting the condition of the marketplace, energy is better spent jumping in and making the necessary adjustments to assure that we are doing everything possible to set this ship back on course.

 

From an operators standpoint, we have tightened up our interview process, strengthened our training program, and added a higher level of scrutiny on our 135 check rides, both initial and recurrent. The bare minimum simply will not advance your career. (This should serve as a not so subtle hint to anyone out there looking for a job....)

 

From an initial flight instruction standpoint, we must get back to basics, with an emphasis on scenarios. Judgement is another criteria we look for that is starting to dip. Go arounds are not as common as they should be, and calling off an approach can be the difference between SAT and UNSAT. We too often reward bad decisions because the outcome was without incident.

 

I would like to get input from folks here on what we can do to improve the level of knowledge and judgement in the pilots who are training now. Your turn... GO!

 

On a side note, anyone who is operating a flight school who would like to have someone come in to brief instructors and students on what to expect with getting that first job, I am available to do so at no cost to you (other than a ride from the airport!)

 

Thanks in advance to anyone and everyone willing to get this discussion and a solution moving forward!

 

*Protect the Sacred Trust*

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I have seen a post or two recently where people have started talking about modern pilots coming into the commercial sector as low quality professional pilots. I'd like to know as far as quality goes, what specific areas are we talking about here?; Decision making, professional attitudes, currency experience, lack of knowledge of maneuvers, other areas, all areas?

 

I think this thread will get some interesting discussions going on. I'd especially like to hear what Mike has to say about this topic and maybe things he has seen change over the years in regards to quality of pilots around the community.

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Not to bring up an old argument, and a somewhat moot point,...but,

 

Maybe the quality of new pilots would improve if they were being taught by pilots who actually have real world experience,...and not just the simulated type?

 

How can Scenario Based Training work, if the CFIs creating these scenarios for their students, have never experienced them for real themselves?

 

You want better "new" pilots, use experienced pilots to train them! Internships would also probably help.

:rolleyes:

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Wow, a good lead in post to get some valid comments. Employers can be frustrated that pilots that are looking for employment do not have the flying or decisional skills to be hired or trusted to fly expensive turbine equipment and protect peoples lives.

 

Most of the pilots that I have flown with had flying skill sets that were acceptable or with some initial training could be adequate. With 80% or so of the accidents caused by Human Factors (Pilot Errors) it is obvious that pilots need to be developed ab initio that have Higher Order Thinking skills. If this training is not offered then the responsibility of the industry is to recognize what is missing, develop it correctly and offer it in modern training programs. This has happened and is being driven forward currently via the PTS changes and training reform from major groups. Acceptance and change is slow but being demanded!

 

A few rotary wing flight schools have stepped up to offer this training. Employers need to know who they are and recognize the pilots coming from those schools with HOTS.

 

I have been a helo pilot for almost 45 year and in this modern demanding world, learning to fly (control) a helicopter without decision making and risk management skills (head work) clearly is not acceptable to the operators and the passengers they carry.

 

r22butters, your comment about SBT stiil reflects your lack of understanding of the elements within the 3 Concepts of the FITS Methodology. It is not about CFIs using scenarios but rather about the ab initio & continuing development of HOTS at every Certificate level. If you will e-mail me I will gladly send you or anyone the FIRC/Wings presentation "An Introduction to the FITS SBT Methodology" as a Power Point presentation. mikefranz@embarqmail.com

Use FITS as a subject please to get thru spam filter.

 

Now is the time for employers to ask/demand flight schools and training reform groups to modernize training curriculums to provide the industry with pilots that can OPERATE aircraft and not just control/fly them!

 

Input from employers/operators can identify what the accident statistics already show. Human Factors are the main cause of accidents & fatalities. Support by employers for the schools that are producing pilots with HOTS and flying skill sets can drive the modernization forward. Imagine the quality of headwork skills that the CFII that has taught in these modern programs will bring forward to the industry. "Protecting the Sacred Trust" will be so ingrained in their mentality that it will have a positive effect on accident reduction.

 

I am not one to knock our current pilots. I have been in the give back mode for many years and hope to continue to do so. Anyone/everyone feel free to e-mail me for input or programs if you like.

 

Sincerely,

 

Mike

Edited by Mikemv
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I'd like to know as far as quality goes, what specific areas are we talking about here?; Decision making, professional attitudes, currency experience, lack of knowledge of maneuvers, other areas, all areas?

 

The areas where I need to see the most improvement fall under general airmanship. General knowledge such as airspace, charts, and regs. But not just rote knowledge, the ability to correlate those things into scenarios and situations. Knowledge of the machines you are flying is also important. We ask questions about EP's and systems in the aircraft that are on your resume.

 

The flight skill that we see on the interview flights is average, and it is to be expected since most folks we interview do not have any time in the airframe we test them in. That being said, a normal approach is a normal approach, and you should be able to hold altitude to at least commercial PTS standards.

 

Professionalism and work ethic are also on the decrease, but I cant really lay that down as a blanket statement. We still see exceptional candidates, they are just becoming fewer and farther between. Heli-Success has been instrumental in helping to develop that, and we have picked up some of our best pilots at that event. (GO to Heli-Sucess..... Beg, Borrow, but don't steal to get there)

 

My concern is that almost all of the folks we are interviewing are CFI's, actively instructing. If they are struggling with the basics, what will the next round of 1,000 hours guys entering those first tier jobs be like? I have discovered that the folks you are instructing will emulate your bad habits more readily than your good ones.

 

Im hoping this is just a blip on the radar that is a temporary anomaly.

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How can Scenario Based Training work, if the CFIs creating these scenarios for their students, have never experienced them for real themselves?

 

As Mike has said, FITS is a lot more than that. However, here are a couple of examples of how a CFI can incorporate a scenario that brings in elements of HOTS;

 

1. Assign a photo flight. You can define a lat/long, have the pilot in training find it on a chart, and execute the flight. I used to make sure they were right on the edge of tricky airspace, and always requested unsafe altitude and airspeed combinations posing as the photographer. It helped with airspace, regs, situational awareness, communication and performance considerations. I loved it when they would tell me NO to a particular flight parameter I requested. Failure to complete the mission CAN mean success.

 

2. Inaccessible Pinacle or Confined. This one came from a POI during a check airman observation and I love it. I will assign a confined space that does not allow for the traditional orbit to accomplish the high recon. Good example might be a parking lot adjacent to the runway on the airfield. You have lots of things to consider. Air traffic, overflight of people and cars, light poles! Again, a decision to abort the selected approach can be considered SAT and a success.

 

Just a couple ways that you can bring in extra elements for your pilot candidates to think about and process in real time as they go about solving the problems.

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I have to admit that this topic, and the way it's going, is MUSIC to my ears !! Mike and i had an hour long conversation today about this subject.. (we have had MANY hour long conversations about how we can get this program out there).

 

rollthbns.. you clearly get it.. and are in a position to make a difference, thanks for your input..

 

ragman, as usual you are on the right path as well.

 

One of the things that Mike said on the phone today was that most of the CFIIs that have moved on are unfortunately NOT in positions to look back and find out what 'SBT' really is.. that is, they don't NEED to learn about the program. Rollthbns, you give me hope, that there are many out there that will take the time to actually learn that 'SBT' is not just a scenario interjection on a regular training flight, but a complete program incorporating so much more.. Mike and i agreed that we need a better name, or term, for the program rather than SBT because many of the folks that could help make a difference, the one's that have moved past their CFII positions, see SBT as something they have been doing all along, but in fact, scenario interjection is just a very small part of the complete program.. VERY SMALL PART!

 

Butters, Mike beat me to it, but your comment about newer instructors not having the skills or experience to train with SBT just tells us you have not done your research about what the FITS program is all about. Not bashing you, just that this is one of the major challenges in our efforts to move this program forward. THIS IS NOT ABOUT INTERJECTION, THIS IS ABOUT A COMPLETE PROGRAM THAT WILL CHANGE THE FLIGHT TRAINING INDUSTRY FOR THE BETTER ! Now, that rant off, OF COURSE experienced pilots with commercial experience add dramatically to a training program, one of the reasons we have tried diligently to keep those sort of folks involved at Heli-Ops. I know that some of the best smaller schools in the industry have very experienced pilots at the helms.. and that is the best scenario of all. (i had to add here that it helps if they are honest as well.. it's not enough to just have experience or a background, they have to care about everyone involved with the school!!)

 

rolthbns, in case i didn't make myself clear, i am so glad you started this topic and that folks like you (and in your position) are trying to be a part of the solution.. thank you.

 

The rest of you; all of you, this is our industry and our responsibility to make it the best we can, take some time and contact Mike, or look it up on your own, he has said many times that these are not 'Mikeyisms', he was just one of the first to stick his neck out and start making noise. It has been tough as many don't want to hear it. Most of those are the one's that refuse to grow and or simply do their due diligence before they hit those keys.. it doesn't matter if you are getting ready for your first solo, or have 18K hours, YOU are the one that will make a difference.

 

At the Expo, HeliSuccess and Portland last year it was VERY clear that the industry wants and needs this program, it is coming and will be a better way.. we are seeing the damages done by a lack of this type of training over the past few years and something has to be done. If we don't do it ourselves it will be mandated by the FAA and others, something we are already seeing... i read a comment last week that hit home with me.. it was; 'if it's not broken, fix it' . Read that again in case you missed it, we have to continually improve ourselves, our programs and our industry, as i told Mike today on the phone, 'if WE don't do it... who will?'

 

If YOU don't do it, who will?

 

sincerely,

 

dp

 

ps for all of you flight school owners reading this, or chief instructors, we sign up on average four new students per month.. EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM says that one of the main reasons they looked in to Heli-Ops is our 'SBT' program.. that alone should be enough to get your attention.

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...My concern is that almost all of the folks we are interviewing are CFI's, actively instructing. If they are struggling with the basics, what will the next round of 1,000 hours guys entering those first tier jobs be like?...

 

Perhaps you should try interviewing non-CFIs? :lol: :lol: :lol: ,...just kidding, I know I'm the only one! :D

 

It is true that I still don't fully grasp what this SBT thing is.

 

Your examples were helpful and reminded me of a few "trick questions" I was asked during an interview once. I never expected the interview to be harder than my checkride, and I certainly wasn't prepared for him to say "no, you're wrong" even though I was right (testing to see if I would "stick to my guns" if you will).

 

I was also not prepared for scenarios that I was supposed to say "no" to (although I did), but I guess he wanted more than just a "no, its not safe to land there",...he also wanted a solution! I guess that's the type of stuff SBT addresses?

:huh: :)

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Perhaps you should try interviewing non-CFIs? :lol: :lol: :lol: ,...just kidding, I know I'm the only one! :D

 

I have. In fact we hired a guy that didn't even have a CFI rating. He stood out though, and is doing a great job so far. Its not common, but it happens.

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As a low hour private pilot I am amazed at the poor decision making of a lot of people I see flying, both private & professional

Towering take off with 4 & full fuel in R44 when no need, no or perfunctory walk around, leaving blades trimmed full forward on run down, not checking fuel for water on top up, one person posting X water with one mag!! (obviously a Darwinian contender), no maps?, GPS card out of date ( the worst 6 years) the list goes on.

You wonder at the rest of the decisions made.

We all blow it some time & most get away with it, I have made some real stupid errors some of which have been pointed out to me, others I realized later & hope I learn from them.

LOW hour CFIs they could be the best pilots out there but they still have little experience.

Insurance for commercial would suggest that 1000+ is a minimum they are happy with yet training you have 200+hours 0+ hours in a machine together, both are learning,

I have discovered that the folks you are instructing will emulate your bad habits more readily than your good ones.

 

 

Read somewhere that 7\800 hours was the accident black spot.

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In my opinion, the helicopter industry should petition researchers to study SBT practices in civilian helicopter operations. As Alex de Voogt and Robert R. A. van Doorn (2007) stated, research on learning and skill transfer in helicopter training is necessary to improve the current situation. Toward that end, I think there is much to be gleaned on SBT’s application in civilian helicopter training.

 

de Voogt. , A., & van Doorna, R. R. A. (2007). The paradox of helicopter emergency training. The International Journal of Aviation Psychology,17(3), 265 - 274. doi: 10.1080/10508410701343409

Edited by Tom22
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This started out as a great informational thread by an employer of many career helicopter pilots. Comments now have turned into pay and military statements that do not apply. Would the posters making these statements do so on the interview?

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It's sad mike, but I know of one guy who did. Needless to say, he didnt get the position, which leads back to the job interview training that you guys talk about.

 

All the knowledge and skill is great, but not knowing what to do or say on an interview can make landing a job difficult.

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Although this didn't happen to me I was fortunate enough to get the information first hand from my old Base Manager who recently got his first post-cfi-job in the grand canyon. He told me that after the interview and all of the official stuff was out of the way they took him aside and told him frankly that "they don't really look at the flight portion of the interview, because most pilots that come and interview with X hours, all pretty much fly the same". It's the oral interview that really counts, they want professionalism in the dress and attitude, but at the same time, they're mostly looking for fun friendly attitudes because they know that "this guy is going to be living in the pilot housing and can all of our other pilots live with this guy? Is he going to be a pain to work with?"

 

At an interview dress for the job you want, not for the job you have. As for the "friendly attitude" and "He needs to be easy to get along with" is this just a Tour-Job idea or is this a industry wide idea?

 

 

PS I really love this topic and we should stay on topic and keep this at the top of the forum because there's the potential for really good information here.

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This started out as a great informational thread by an employer of many career helicopter pilots. Comments now have turned into pay and military statements that do not apply. Would the posters making these statements do so on the interview?

 

There are plenty of us lurking and absorbing information. I for one appreciate the insight offered by the experienced pilots here and know it will probably be very valuable when I start my career. I hope we can ignore the frivolous post and continue this discussion. Has there ever been talk among employers for a apprenticeship program though?

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It's sad mike, but I know of one guy who did. Needless to say, he didnt get the position, which leads back to the job interview training that you guys talk about.

 

All the knowledge and skill is great, but not knowing what to do or say on an interview can make landing a job difficult.

 

Shows who attends functions such as Heli-success, and listens to Lyns presentations regarding this exact subject. And there are probably some that go, but think they already know everything and doodle the whole time expecting to get a job during the job fair. (probably the same scruffy guys dressed in jeans and t-shirts) Like the saying goes, you can lead a horse to water...

 

Don't let the fodder get in the way of continuing a great thread.

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To those of you who conduct interviews (or those of you who have recently been through one) some more examples of the types of oral test scenarios and questions would be greatly appreciated!

:)

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When I was interviewing pilots for various job positions, (flight school, aerial photo, and 135 PICs, CPs and company Instructors), I had a general oral about helicopter performance and density altitude factors. I expected them to fly the aircraft to their Certificate level and everyone did this as they were adequately taught to do so. If a new pilot showed sincerity and enthusiasm while being safe, they were acceptable.

 

It was always about the headwork skills that got them hired or not. I also believed in pilot/CFI development understanding that part of the responsibility was on me to make them safer within my SOP or Ops Specs. For 135 new hires, I had an outstanding new hire and recurrent training program and airframe specific training which again I viewed as a development process. After they passed the 135 check ride it was about adhering to company procedures.

 

One thing I would never tolerate was Procedures Intentional Non Compliance!!!!!!!!!!!!!! PINCs

 

Willful violation of Company SOP/Ops Specs and you were gone and when your next employer called for a reference this WAS discussed. I have noted this in various flight schools by CFIs that know everything and decide not to heed managements instructions or guide lines and SOP.

 

Now a days many of my questions (they have been suggested and accepted to current employers) would be about mission planning, hazard recognition, risk assessment & risk management. Then a general question of how they would "Protect the Sacred Trust" to see if they even have a clue about the most important PIC responsibility.

 

Almost every pilot I have ever flown with could control the aircraft and not scare me. Additionally they would all readily accept input and try to fly more proficiently. The need to develop pilots is recognized by employers.

 

I have incorporated most of the short comings and deficiencies that I found in pilots in my "C&E Seminar" to bring this forward to the up and coming pilot pool. Those of you that have attended can attest to the benefits of "C&E".

 

Enough from me now,

 

Mike

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