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Scenario Based Training Flight Schools!

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There's a new guard of CFI's coming to aviation training. Soon there will be a whole new idea in the progressive movement of how we teach the most advanced career fields on the planet. The FAA Industry Training Standards (FITS) group has started training particular schools in the future of aviation training:




This might seem long-winded, but those who get on board early, will reap the inevitable rewards.


I had the opportunity this last weekend to personally take part in a scenario based training conference through Leading Edge Aviation helicopter school in Bend OR. I was immediately surprised to see how much I still don't know. At least according to our FAA leadership, namely the FAAST team representative Mike Franz who's name I'm increasingly becoming more familiar with, and respecting. (See Advisory Circular 61-140 to further your autorotation skills. Anybody saving lives by education earns my respect.)


I learned more than I thought I would! I walked in there knowing everything that the Helicopter Flying Handbook had to say about SBT. And everything the Aviation Instructor's Handbook had to say about SBT. I even knew everything that the older Rotorcraft Flying Handbook and the test prep books had in them about it. I had been informally educating pilots in training using SBT, using the knowledge I possessed, and have been very successful with it thus far. My pilots in training are passing check rides with a very high percentage, and I felt that I couldn't do a whole lot better.


What Mike Franz taught me though went above and beyond what I thought was acceptable in terms of SBT. Our school had been informally preaching SBT for months, we had created a vast library of CFI generated scenarios that would have helped our pilots in training get a "real world" experience while doing their tried and true training that has been around for half of a century.


Here's a couple terms that we all recognize and probably use daily:

-Single Pilot Resource Management (SRM)

-Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS)

-Aeronautical Decision Making- (ADM)


Here's a couple of new terms that are now branded onto my brain, and soon will be burned into yours:


-Facilitator/Instructor (F/I)

-Pilot in Training (PT)

-Learner Centered Grading (LCG)


The first three are emphasis items and common terms used by all facilitator/instructors and pilots in training throughout our education.


The latter three were introduced to me this last weekend and I've been watching as my fellow facilitator/instructors and pilots in training who attended Mr. Franz conference assimilate the new terminology into their everyday conversations.


You'll notice my vocabulary has dumped the student tag and replaced it with Pilot in Training (PT). It's been made clear to us that the student title has lost its appeal, and can even be construed as derogatory. Especially considering the level of skill and enormous amount of training we go through, as well as the level of responsibility we accept as Pilots in Command which is so much more deserving than that of a subordinate role of student. As Mike expressed in the conference, many of the people who become pilots have also raised their level of achievement in their lives before becoming pilots and despise the idea of being retro-graded back to student.


And I've also replaced Instructor with Facilitator/Instructor (F/I). Its our role now to wear two hats, which we should have been doing all along. The pilot in training (PT) should be taking on the PIC mentality immediately in their training, where we as Facilitator should be predominantly guiding and instructing when needed, and not wholly instructing the PT. So now we are both facilitator and instructor.


This all leads to the third term, that Learner Centered Grading would be the result. Ideally the pilot in training would create a PIC mentality early in their training, to include the pre-flight briefings, the flights from start to finish, and even include their own interpretation of critiquing their performance. The idea that the PT is guiding their training, hopefully begging to get ahold of the Cyclic and Collective (wiggling the sticks as Mike jokingly referred to it) as soon as possible and kicking the F/I out of the cockpit as soon as possible for some solo time! Ownership of their training is huge in truly understanding aviation. I've been handing my students the keys to the helicopter as soon as possible and watched them all thrive.


Here's a little piece of advice, based on my progressive stance on this planet: Welcome the newest ideas, newest technologies, newest theories. Nobody wants to go back to tube-style televisions. Nobody likes flip-phones. Nobody wants a 1998 Honda Civic (I would know). If I can teach my students using the newest cognitive/psychomotor skills available, you better believe I'm going to.


Scenario Based Training is the future in aviation training. I'm all-in on a hunch that Mr. Franz and the FITS team is onto something big, something important.


I've been told that writing this may elicit criticism from the old guard who believe that the current model of training is perfectly acceptable. That's probably true. It is acceptable. Its acceptable like Velcro shoes. They cover your feet. They're easy to strap into. They're similarly comfortable. But they're also worn by the oldest people on the planet, and the youngest people on the planet. Why? Because its acceptable for people who drool and get lost easily to wear them. Professional men and women don't wear Velcro. We want the good stuff. Give me the good stuff.


In summary, get on board, Scenario Based Training is coming your way. Those who miss the ride will be watching the rest of us school you kids in the field. Earlier, faster and with deeper knowledge. This stuff works.


I've gathered a list of the Helicopter schools who are currently on board with SBT, trained and certified. Its very short.


-If you are reading this while thinking of becoming a pilot, look to this short list and enroll with them.

-If you are a Facilitator/Instructor (CFI) already, send them your resume.

-If you own a flight school, contact Mike Franz with the info I've compiled at the bottom of the page. Or me, I'll get you in touch with him.


"Heads up, mind right everybody!"

Aaron Vane- CFII


Leading Edge Aviation:

Bend, Oregon



Colorado HeliOps:

Broomfield, Colorado



Suncrest Aviation:

Grand Junction, Colorado and Spanish Fork, Utah



Elite Flight Training and Management:

Las Vegas, Nevada


To reach Mike Franz and see his ridiculous list of accomplishments and credentials, visit www.modernflighttraining.com



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dude... iceman

I understand that when someone teaches you something new you get all jacked up. Then you realize it is the same as the old with a new name and fancy terms and lots of hype. Now you're saving the world, everyone is smarter etc..


Reminds me of the article in the early 1990's about communism being discreditied and then being repackaged and relabled as "environmentalism"


I'm all for people learning new stuff... more stuff...I'm skeptical of better stuff. But go ahead and try to sell your school with it.

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I walked in there knowing everything that the Helicopter Flying Handbook had to say about SBT. And everything the Aviation Instructor's Handbook had to say about SBT. I even knew everything that the olderRotorcraft Flying Handbook and the test prep books had in them about it.



Ah, but what about the Helicopter Instructors Handbook? Looks like one more book to read! :D

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Well I guess that there's probably some validity in Apiaguy's opinion, that I'm encouraged by the training I got last weekend. But Mike Franz wasn't selling me a set of steak knives or tempting me with some Kool-Aid, he's training aviators to be better aviators from their very first, very expensive lesson.


Skepticism is easy. Especially when you haven't seen it in real life. So I'm going to dismiss Apiaguy's opinion as a typical internet troll who thinks he knows more than the guy who was at the conference. But I'll give Apiaguy some credit, comparing Scenario Based Training to Communism makes perfect sense and is not at all a giant leap into ridiculousness.



And I've of course read the Helicopter Instructor's Handbook, I'm a helicopter CFI. Pilot#476398 thanks for the smiley face emoji with the big teeth! Levity makes a big difference in responses.

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Franz appears to be a very experienced and qualified pilot, but he didn't invent scenario based training, so break this down for us. Besides renaming things, what's actually new here?


By the way, it's not revolutionary to let a student walk out to the helicopter by themselves. In some places, the student can even *gasp* dispatch it.

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First I'm no expert on the subject matter, it appears to me as a combination of military standardization with a civilian twist. Definitely something we can use and apply to the civilian world! (I am a civilian myself, but I train and work with foreign military pilots. I have seen both sides of the fence) We currently have the blind leading the blind in our civilian industry (our major flaw), but this seems to be a bandage to the wound of the civilian industry. We may think of it as rebranding or repackaging the old, but it's an attempt to make things better. We should support it and suck it up if we don't like it and try it and see if it doesn't make a difference. The goal is safer pilots and ANY STANDARDIZATION in the civilian world is better than what we already have with low experienced CFIs teaching new pilots!


It is going to require CHANGE and WORK, so don't be lazy and mediocre- that's the problem we already have- mediocracy!

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SBT has been the basis of law enforcement training for forever, train like you fight, fight like you train... I think HeliVane's enthusiasm should be encouraged not dismissed. Although I have not taken Mike's class, I have spoken to DP many times and I can see the benefits. I know if when I was training this was a standard, it would have saved me having to go through 3 instructors until I found one that I felt comfortable that could actually teach me how to fly and not be a nervous nelly 200 hour pilot (first was a 200 hour pilot, second was the owner of the aircraft so uber cautious with his investment, third was a 10,000+ pilot who was amazing) Which to HeliFun's point, I agree, the fundamental problem we have of the blind leading the blind in this industry is bassackwards and doesn't make sense, but it is what it is and if we can improve on the newer instructors experience level coming into the industry it is a win/win across the industry.

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Maybe I can clarify the term SBT, how it has been used in the industry and how it applies to the FITS SBT Methodology.


In researching the methodology to become a recognized SME for FITS and being evaluated by the head of the FAA FITS entity, I learned so much about the usage of what we individually perceive as SBT.


I think we can separate SBT into three areas.


In the evaluation of pilot applicants, DPEs/ASIs are tasked with placing/grouping Areas of Operation/Tasks into scenarios to judge the head working skills along with the flying (maneuvers) skills. Also, the PTS requires a diversion (scenario) to address. These diversion type scenarios are called Scenario Interjection Training (SIT). CFIs train applicants to address these scenarios, usually weather or fuel related issues to address decision wise. They are valuable in flight training.


Mission focused entities like the military, S&R, CAP, airlines, 135 operators, utility operators, etc. can use SBT revolving around Line Oriented Flight Training (LOFT) where qualified PICs are exposed to the realities of various missions/scenarios and can make decisions based on the situation/s at hand.


The FITS SBT Methodology is designed to be an ab initio training program continuing through various certificate levels. It revolves around the teaching/instilling of the elements of the three core concepts. It addresses flying skills to the application level(PTS) or beyond and head working skills to the correlation level and graded on every flight. This methodology requires training of CFIs/educators to understand and apply. This is what the Facilitator Course that I offer addresses. It is NOT the same old thing with some new acronyms! Familiarization with the methodology will validate this fact.


A link to my web site with a brief description of the FITS SBT Methodology is here:





There is a Power Point presentation I can offer that is "Wings" approved and also in the TCO of a FIRC. Anyone interested in the PP can request it via e-mail. (on the web site). I have offered this here on VR in the past.


On another note, I do not claim to have invented anything, especially not SBT! I did see the need for a course to educated flight school owners, administrators, college professors, CFIs, etc. and created one. There are now 106 qualified FITS SBT Facilitators. This includes 3 DPEs.


I do not try to bring FITS SBT to flight schools. Flight schools must approach me with a total buy in/revamp of curriculums mentality.


The Methodology is working as shown with feedback from the field and it is also gaining recognition & respect from operators.


I hope this post clarifies the differences in what SBT means to us. FITS SBT is not about me but rather about accident reduction with the production of pilots that have both flying skill sets and Higher Order Thinking Skill sets. (HOTS)





Edited by Mikemv
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So I'm going to dismiss Apiaguy's opinion as a typical internet troll who thinks he knows more than the guy who was at the conference.


Easy cowboy…. Understand some of us has seen the quality of helicopter flight training ebb and flow over the many years. Plus, it's highly dependent on the particular institution…



My first flight instructor was an ex-Viet Nam pilot who had tons of experience in the commercial world and the techniques he utilized didn’t come from a syllabus, lesson plan or any acronym. And, back then, the training regimen didn’t have any acronyms that weren’t made up by the instructor. It was simply “training” based on an expectation of “real world” simulated operations. After that, my first job was a CFI with zero previous experience, but still, the school I attended prided itself as “training for the real world” program and even though there were syllabuses, the training was often centered on scenarios. It was only sometime thereafter the training sector declined to a “train to pass the test” philosophy. Or better yet, train to the PTS, -only paradigm….. Sadly, this decline propagated throughout the sector due to competition and the goal for a lot of the schools became focused on pumping people out the door i.e. quantity. When this happens, quality is lost…….


In my opinion, what you consider new is not new at all. It just something that needs an identity because todays folks have a hard time accepting or learning things that aren’t spelled out or spoon fed to them. Couple this with todays “risk averse” culture and the result is a problem the industry now believes needs a course of corrective action(s) to reestablish the bar, which subsequently had been lowered over the years…


Thankfully, Mr. Franz experience allows him the perspective to see these issues from the inside-out and he obviously is in a position to enact appropriate actions to reset the standards (bar).. And, apparently he has the flare to motivate, which is awesome…. However, the question newer graduates and students need to ask is; why wasn’t this methodology taught in the first place? Isn't this what I paid for the first time around?



Teaching, as a whole, is only limited by ones imagination…..


Edited by Spike
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I earned my first private certificate in Gliders when I was in High School. My instructor was a P-51 Mustang pilot who flew in Europe and had 3 kills. In a glider, your instructor sits behind you. Whenever I would mess something up that we had previously gone over, he would reach up and smack me in the back of the head. I was 15 :D Is that anywhere in the SBT outline?

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