Aviators can be an ambitious lot. We want to go places (no pun intended), and feel like we should always be progressing toward larger airplanes, new ratings, more hours. Sometimes I’ll hear an aviator speak in apologetic terms about their flying because they “only” fly this or that. Whether the subject is their aircraft, training, or experience, there’s no cause for apologies. Quite the opposite. Don’t be fooled by the number of ratings on a pilot’s certificate, or assume they’re a better aviator because their logbook has more hours than yours. Read more →
Thus far, airline ab initio programs haven’t been a major part of the landscape here in the U.S. because our aviation sector is fairly robust. We are blessed with flying jobs which build the experience, skill, and time necessary for larger, more complex aircraft. But it might become an attractive option for airlines because the cost of learning to fly has risen dramatically over the past decade while the benefits (read: money) remain too low for too long. Airlines can cure the shortage by training pilots from zero hours… but at what cost? Read more →
Things happen quickly when the engine quits at low altitude. Doesn’t it makes sense that the time to prepare for emergent situations is before they occur? If the answer is yes, then I wonder why takeoff briefings are not typically taught or performed in single-engine airplanes. I think they should be, because they’re as important — if not more so — in a single than the multi-engine airplanes where they’ve long been standard procedure. Read more →
Corporate & charter flying is already pretty safe, but I believe we can do even better. Perhaps instead of focusing primarily engine failures, we ought to look at the things that are causing accidents for a particular aircraft type and add them to a database of training scenarios which can be enacted in the simulator without prior notice. In other words, more teaching and less testing. Read more →
Have you ever wondered why aviation fuel prices can vary by 50% or more between airports — even ones located just a few miles from each other? EAA’s Mac McClellan thinks it’s because big FBOs provide lots of services and we must pay for them via higher fuel prices. I take a differing view. Read more →
The FAA has seen fit to ban all personal electronic devices from the airline cockpit, as well as strongly recommend a similar prohibition for Part 135 and 91K operators. As one who flies a fair number of overnight, long-haul flights, I think this is a bad idea and one which will hurt rather than help flight safety. Read more →
For better or worse, the relentless march of technology means we’re more connected than ever, in more places than ever. For the most part that’s good. We benefit from improving communication, situational awareness, and reduced pilot workload in the cockpit. But there’s a dark side to digital connectivity, and in an era of internet-connected refrigerators, toilets, and a/c systems, I predict it’s only a matter of time before we start to see it in our airborne lives. Read more →
User fees for general aviation have been proposed — and rejected — over and over again for nearly two decades. Today something new is in the works: the Federal government has decided to start with the highways instead. It makes me a bit nervous, and I can’t help but wonder whether GA will be able to make the case against those fees after the “freeway” moniker has been fully transformed into a sad anachronism. Read more →
Just how important is the instructor when it comes to learning to fly? That might be a surprising question for an CFI to ask, but the longer I teach, the more cognizant I become of the many ways in which an instructor can function as a barrier to the student’s progress. And apparently I’m not the only one who feels that way.
Last month, Paul Bertorelli penned (keyed?) an editorial about simulator maven Redbird stepping into the training void created by Cessna’s shift away from the piston market. What caught my eye about the piece was this line: Read more →
As much as one may love flying, it can be a tough career choice. Many pilots struggle through the food chain only to end up discouraged, if not downright hating their job. We’re all aware of the reasons: low pay, long days, little respect, too much time away from home, difficult working conditions, commuting, regulatory hassles, bankruptcies, furloughs, and ruinously expensive training. Quite a list, isn’t it?
On the other hand, life is often what we make of it. From bush flying to firefighting, there are many different gigs out there for those willing to take Frost’s road-less-traveled. For the past three years, for example, I’ve been flying as a “contract pilot” and truly enjoy it. Read more →