So You Want to Be a Flight Instructor?

Thinking in becoming a Flight Instructor only to build flight time?  Here goes a very interesting article of Doug Stewart.

How would you respond to a help wanted advertisement that stated, in part:

“… applicant must be very responsible and of the highest integrity; must have effective communication skills; must be capable of human, mechanica technical and meteorological analysis; must be adept in managing risk; a continuing education program is mandated; proficiency in working in cramped spaces is required? Work hours can be long. No guarantee of a climate-controlled work environment. Pay commensurate with experience. Benefits include: high respect from your clients; a lofty perch from which to view the world; travel to exciting places; and the knowledge that your job is the most important job of all those available in this field of endeavor.

Sound good? Well, I have just such a job. I am a full-time flight instructor. True, there are more lucrative ways of earning a living in aviation, but I assert that there is no other aviation endeavor that is as rewarding and satisfying as sharing the gift of flight by teaching others to be safe, knowledgeable, and proficient pilots. And those flight instructors who teach primary flight students undoubtedly play the most important role of anyone in aviation. The reason that the primary flight instructor has this most critical position is because of the immutable law of primacy — the things welearn first are the things we retain — and also the hardest things to change. To this day, I remember my first flight lesson. It was pretty much a “kick the tires, light the fires” kind of experience, certainly not a great way to lay the first stones of the foundation. And even to this day, after many thousands of hours of flying, I have to consciously overcome some of the bad habits I acquired on that first flight. That’s why the primary flight instructor has the most important job of anyone in aviation, bar none. Do You Have the Right Stuff?  With this point in mind, what qualities and attributes should be instilled, developed, nurtured, and embraced by those who teach flight, especially by those who will be teaching primary flight students?  Here’s my list:

Responsibility is at the very top of the list. The flight instructor is the single most important element in creating safe pilots. The flight instructor bears responsibility for ensuring that clients embrace not only solid stick-and-rudder concepts and skills, but just as importantly the elements of risk management critical to being safe pilots. The flight instructor is the person who sets the stage for the rest of the entire flight career of each primary flight student.That’s why the most important thing we need to instill in the minds, hearts, and souls of flight instructors is to ensure that they not only understand the critical responsibility they are being entrusted with, but also to make certain that they buy into that responsibility. They need to understand that even if they are only going to use the flight instructor certificate as a means of building hours so that they can move on to air carrier flying, they still have an immense responsibility during every hour logged in the right seat of a training airplane. It is no exaggeration to say that these hours matter enormously not only to their clients, but also to the future of general aviation.

Integrity follows in the list of qualities crucial to being a flight instructor with the right stuff. It is integrity that dictates being honest when answering questions. That includes admitting when we don’t know the answer, but promising to do research before the next meeting and deliver the answer then, without fail. It is integrity that dictates declining to provide training in aircraft or avionics unfamiliar to you. It is integrity that mandates a flight review be a genuine review and not just a short hop to a nearby airport for lunch and back. It is integrity that drives a “do as I do” mentality, understanding that the flight instructor is a role model for the primary flight student, and that every observed action will most likely be modeled by the client.  And it is integrity that mandates a high level of situational awareness. This means that the instructor is not only aware of the client’s wants and needs, but is constantly aware of, and diligent in managing, the risks of flight. An instructor who is truly effective in this area is teaching the elements of risk management (at a level that the client can understand) right from the very first lesson.Senior Student

Communication is another quality integral to being a proficient aviation educator. Understanding that communication is a sharing of information — a two-way endeavor and not just a one-sided lecture — is vital to success both for instructor and client.  You need to have (or develop) the knowledge and skills to communicate in a variety of fashions, including non-verbal, and to recognize that effective communication can be highly dependent upon the situation at hand. A good educator must be able to teach with regard to the myriad learning styles, preferences, and experiences that clients bring to the table. A flight instructor must also learn that proactive communication is essential, as is the ability to deliver critical messages in a way that does not demean, demoralize, or demotivate.

Continuing Education is another item on my list of “right stuff ” qualities for the aviation educator. It very quickly becomes evident to anyone who starts to teach that the true learning only begins once the teaching starts… and it never ends.  After providing more than 10,300 hours of flight instruction, I can truly say that part of the excitement of my job is that I can look forward to learning more on virtually each and every encounter with a client. It is critically important that the concept of continuing education be instilled not only in the neophyte instructor, but even more importantly in the earliest hours of a student pilot’s engagement with aviation. The aviation educator must inculcate the mentality and instill the habit of continuing education into every client, leading them to understand that training doesn’t end at the conclusion of regulatory minimum requirements. Rather, lifelong learning is a core part of being a pilot. If we succeed in this area, then we will have gone an immeasurable way toward reducing the GA accident rate.

Mentoring is an important element of continuing education. How nice (and how beneficial) it would be if every beginning flight instructor had a mentor to consult for advice and counseling. It is interesting and noteworthy (but not in a good way) that the United States is one of the few countries, if not the only country, where a low-time CFI is granted the authority to recommend a pilot for a certificate or rating. Most other countries mandate an apprentice period for low-time instructors, much as air carriers do for new hires and new captains, as a way of ensuring that continuing education occurs and develops experience. I strongly believe it would be advantageous if we in the United States voluntarily adopted this mentality.

It’s Worth It

So, you’d like to be a flight instructor? Yes, it can be daunting. Yes, it requires high levels of responsibility, respect, integrity, communication and continuing education. Yes, it means that you will be working in environments that at times are less than conducive to teaching/learning. But it also means that you will be fulfilling one of the most critical roles in aviation — that of creating safe pilots. It means that you will be gaining the respect and friendship of those you teach. It means that you will be part and parcel of the sustenance of aviation as we know it. And if you are doing it right, it means that at the end of the day you will have a marvelous sense of satisfaction in knowing that your job is the most important of all those to be had in aviation!

Doug Stewart is the 2004 National CFI of the Year, a Master CFI and a DPE. He operates DSFI, Inc. ( based at the Columbia County Airport (K1B1), and he serves as Executive Director of the Society for Aviation and Flight Educators (SAFE).

Photo Credits:  AOPA Blog




More Automation, or less Automation?

Although the final report has not been finalized yet, experienced Boeing pilots have independently determined that the accident of Asiana 214, B777 may have been caused because the pilots had a use misunderstanding of an autoflight mode called Flight Level Change – FLCH.

The experts, stated that entry into Flight Level Change (FLCH) during the approach would have caused the engines to remain at idle despite the pilots having set the autothrottles to maintain 137 kt., the target approach speed. One group of pilots has concluded this based on intimate knowledge of the 777-200ER’s automation systems; the other by flying scenarios in a 777 simulator.

Their analyses draw in large part on information presented in four NTSB briefings after the crash from pilot interviews and the cockpit voice and flight data recorders.

A case where a mix of automation and manual flight could have created an accident?

Boeing has always stated that the final authority on any of their aircrafts is the pilot, for that reason on any Boeing family airplane you can withdraw all the automation and fly it the way you fly a small Cessna.

Airbus is a completely different story, their automation philosophy is based on the premise that humans are prone to mistakes and for that reason in the lowest level of automation the final authority is always the on board computer. 

The accident of Asiana B777 shows that pilots can make mistakes in the use of automation combined with manual flight and generate and accident with their actions.

But on the other hand, we have the accident of Air France 447 A330, that shows that when all automation was lost and the flight mode of the aircraft reverted to a mode called “alternate law” , the pilots were not able to recover the aircraft from a high altitude stall. 

Complacency on automation related accidents, started to appear several years ago and still aviation industry has not find a way to match pilots and computers.

Capt. Ivan


First Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner Features New Livery

Boeing 787-9 New Livery

Boeing continues to make progress on the first 787-9 Dreamliner, which also has become the first 787 to don the new Boeing Commercial Airplanes livery. The airplane has just rolled out of the paint hangar.

This refreshed look for the Boeing family began with the 747-8 and evolved with the 737 MAX. The new livery retains many of the features of the original 787-8 livery, adding a prominent number on the tail to help distinguish among models within the same product family.

The 787-9 will complement and extend the 787 family, offering airlines the ability to grow routes opened with the 787-8. With the fuselage stretched by 20 feet (6 meters), the 787-9 will carry 40 more passengers an additional 300 nautical miles (555 kilometers), with 20 percent less fuel use and 20 percent fewer emissions than similarly sized airplanes. The 787-9 leverages the visionary design of the 787-8, offering the features passengers prefer such as large, dimmable windows, large stow bins, modern LED lighting, higher humidity, a lower cabin altitude, cleaner air and a smoother ride.

Boeing is on track to roll out and fly the 787-9, currently in final production, in late summer. First delivery to launch customer Air New Zealand is set for mid-2014.

Source:  Boeing Press Release

FAA Proposes $2.75 Million Civil Penalty Against Boeing for Quality Control Violations

The Federal Aviation Administration – FAA, released an statement proposing U$S 2,75 Million fine against Boeing Co. for quality control violations.

In September 2008, Boeing discovered that it had been installing nonconforming fasteners on its model 777 airplanes. On October 2008, the FAA sent Boeing a letter of investigation that requested a response within 20 working days. The FAA alleges that Boeing repeatedly submitted action plans that set deadlines for the accomplishment of certain corrective actions, but subsequently failed to implement those plans. The company implemented a plan to address the fastener issue on Nov. 10, 2010, more than two years after Boeing first learned of the problem.

Boeing stopped using the nonconforming fasteners after officials discovered the problem. However, some of the underlying manufacturing issues continued to exist until after the corrective action plan was in place.

Boeing has 30 days from the receipt of the FAA’s civil penalty letter to respond to the agency.

Back to Basics – Aeronautical Desicion Making – Video

This presentation was developed by the FAA Aviation Safety Program to highlight the many direct, indirect, and internal pressures that cause commercial pilots to accept a flight, or continue a flight already in progress under unsafe conditions. The segments are designed to “trigger” an interactive discussion with a live audience.

B-777 Wing Flap Found on Farm Near Narita Airport

A wing flap presumed to be from a Boeing 777 airliner, the same type of plane that crashed in San Francisco earlier this month, was found at a farm in the vicinity of Tokyo’s Narita International Airport last week.

Japan’s Jiji Press reports that authorities are investigating but do not know which airline the flap came from. Narita airport has advised all airlines to take special precautions to prevent mechanical parts from falling off their planes, and to report whether they find any planes that have lost a wing flap.

Source:  The Chosunilbo

NTSB: Southwest B737, landed nose gear first

According to witness and video evidence, the NTSB has determined that Southwest flight 345, a Boeing 737-700 which nose gear collapsed on landing at La Guardia airport on July 22nd, made contact with the runway “nose gear first”.

NTSB Statement:

“The National Transportation Safety Board today released factual information from the July 22 accident involving a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-700 landing at New York’s LaGuardia Airport. The airplane’s front landing gear collapsed on landing”

  • Evidence from video and other sources is consistent with the nose-gear making contact with the runway before the main landing gear.


  • The flight data recorder on the airplane recorded 1,000 parameters and contained approximately 27 hours of recorded data, including the entire flight from Nashville to New York.


  • The cockpit voice recorder contains a two-hour recording of excellent quality that captures the entire flight from Nashville to New York and the accident landing sequence.


  • Flaps were set from 30 to 40 degrees about 56 seconds prior to touchdown.


  • Altitude was about 32 feet, airspeed was about 134 knots, and pitch attitude was about 2 degrees nose-up approximately 4 seconds prior touchdown.


  • At touchdown, the airspeed was approximately 133 knots and the aircraft was pitched down approximately 3 degrees.


  • After touchdown, the aircraft came to a stop within approximately 19 seconds.


  • A cockpit voice recorder group will convene tomorrow at NTSB laboratories in Washington to transcribe the relevant portion of the accident flight.

Southwest Airlines Flight 345Southwest Airlines Flight 345 - Electronics Bay

Source:  NTSB Press Release

First A319 with Sharklets handed over to American Airlines

First A319 with Sharklets to American Airlines

Last Tuesday 23rd, American Airlines took delivery of its first A320 Family aircraft at a special ceremony at Airbus facilities in Hamburg, Germany. Teams from American Airlines, Airbus and CFM International celebrated the first of 260 Airbus single-aisles the airline has selected to fly it into the future. American’s A319s will seat 128 passengers in a two-class configuration, and will be used initially on the airline’s domestic route network, and then into Central America this fall. The aircraft are powered by two CFM56 engines.

In addition to the delivery being a notable first for American Airlines, this aircraft is the very first A319 to feature Sharklets – lightweight composite wingtip devices that offer up to 4 percent fuel burn savings, providing the flexibility of either adding 110 nautical miles range or increased payload capability of over 1100 pounds (up to 500 kilograms). The American A319 is also the 100th A320 Family aircraft produced with Sharklets. Sharklets are an option on all new-build A320 Family aircraft, and will be standard equipment on all members of the A320neo Family.

“Everything about the new A319 aircraft has been designed with the customer at the center,” said Virasb Vahidi, American Airlines chief commercial officer.  “The introduction of the A319 is another important step in building a strong foundation for the new American. We’re pleased to be partnering with Airbus.”

“It’s our great pleasure to welcome back American Airlines to the Airbus family,” said John Leahy, Airbus Chief Commercial Officer – Customers. “With its introduction of the A320 Family, the airline is demonstrating its confidence in a single-aisle product that has proven to be a game-changer for airlines around the world. American is undertaking a major strategic evolution and we are pleased to watch the A320 Family becoming an integral part of the airline’s future success.”

The A320 Family is the world’s best-selling and most modern single aisle aircraft Family. To date, over 9,600 aircraft have been ordered and over 5,600 delivered to more than 380 customers and operators worldwide. With proven reliability and extended servicing periods, the A320 Family has the lowest operating costs of any single-aisle aircraft.

Source: Airbus Media Release

Photo Credits: Airbus

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