I have taken approximately fifteen “plus” CFI renewals. It is required every two years. Years ago it was simple. Just like anything else with the FAA it has gotten harder and harder with more studying on the chapters. It takes in time about 2 plus days if the study material was totaled up on an eight-hour day.
The course starts out on the premise that everything the FAA does and everything they “change” on a regular basis is going to save lives and prevent accidents. The problem is in all the years I have taken this course and gone over the NTSB and NALL report that the FAA wants the instructors to focus on, the accident rates have changed very, very little. There has never been a drastic downturn on accidents. This is the case even if they change, alter, adjust, remodel, or correct (in their opinion) training programs.
The FAA has added programs, adjusted programs, changed programs, modified programs, and renamed and re-positioned programs for years, all with the idea they are going to save lives. The training the CFI’s take is to teach the new and better “adjusted” programs in training to save lives. It has NOT worked. Accidents in general aviation have hardly dented the yearly accident levels.
Why do the airlines have such a great safety record and general aviation does not? Why, because of TRAINING. The FAA will not go to the level of training that the airlines will go to. General Aviation is treated as a “hobby.” Like all hobbies the more you put into it the more you get out of it. I have a Ham radio license. There are three levels and I have the highest. It was very difficult, and it has taught me a lot about this “hobby.” However, to be successful and to understand the complexity you have to study and engage the hobby at the highest level. I learn something every time I use the radios (yes, I have several) and I am getting better and better.
That is the problem with aviation. If you look at is as a “hobby” and do not pay your dues (and that takes a lot of time and money) your level of safety does not come up to airline standards.
I have, for ten years, taught classes for our facility. I have two types of students. I have the “I will sit here, play the game, and get my sign off.” Nothing is going to happen to me, so I am as safe as I want to be. The engine will never quit. I will never get in weather I cannot handle. I don’t need to worry about maintenance. I am the greatest pilot in the world and problems in other aircraft like mine happen to other people, not me. We actually had a medical doctor who found a “cheap” carrier who only wanted in the plane training in a turbocharged twin Cessna aircraft. He told us “I will come back to you guys later.” THIS WAS A DOCTOR WHO IS UNDER OATH TO SAVE LIVES, yet he was going to take the “cheap” way to appease the insurance company.
Then there are the professional guys. The airline guys and women. The military guys and women. These people who fly for a living are extremely worried about the general aviation twin they are buying. They know the Boeing 777 or 737 or Airbus 320’s but these “little airplanes” they know are walking time bombs without detailed training. These people take notes, ask a lot of questions, put everything they have into the emergencies we teach in the sims. They go out to the hangar looking at the open cowls and getting explained how our planes in the hangar work. They want the WHOLE picture. They want safety as they know General Aviation has a terrible safety record. They want to know every “quirk” these aircraft can have, and they want to know what the result is.
The FAA is NOT going to “upgrade” the large twins to a level that the airlines have in regard to training. Why, because the cost to put in simulators, train instructors, put together training for all the emergencies that could get you into trouble will cost a lot of money. At the present most of the “insurance” sign off facilities just want you to listen, take your money and give you a piece of paper to get the insurance qualified. I do not know how they live with this approach.
Finally, the FAA and the other training facilities are teaching on “antiquated” methods. We explain that in detail when you take our course. The FAA is still in the early 1950’s with aircraft such as the Piper Apache, an underpowered 160 horse carburetor aircraft. This plane was simple and was nothing more than a two seat twin bases on its design and power.
So what is the answer? Take your training to the airline level and you will be ready when “it hits the fan.” Learn the systems and emergencies the way we teach. We have numerous engine out pictures on our wall and they are there because our training worked. How do we know? They sent us the pictures after they landed on one engine.
The multi engine FAA training is wrong. I will debate that with anyone. So it just boils down to your passengers and your life. Think about it!
TRAIN HARD. FLY SAFE.