If we are honest with ourselves, we all know the secret to greater aviation safety: regular review and study, frequent training, and professionalism. Raising our level of currency and personal standards above the required “FAA minimums” in all areas would certainly lead to fewer accidents. Airplanes get an extensive annual every year with all deficiencies noted and corrected while their operators get a one-hour perfunctory review every two years!
Admittedly there is no scientific proof of these assertions, just good correlational data and the airline model of discipline and safety. Professionalism and safety require time, effort, money and discipline – all impediments that hold us back from pursuing this higher level. I also think there is an embedded “driving illusion” residing in many GA pilots: we learned this once and got it for life?! But 38,000 annual auto deaths argue otherwise (and no one is scared to drive to the funeral?!) Pilots operate in an even more challenging environment with greater consequences; continuous training required.
Pilots, as a group, tend to be pretty self-assured individuals (see pilot personality here). We all “think” we can analyze our own level of skill and personally assess our level of currency (my hand is up too). But honestly, humans are inclined toward optimism. Studies show 80% of drivers think they are “better than average” (and we know pilots are worse!). I also know personally from heading to Flight Safety every 6 months that rust and forgetfulness are a fact of life. We are only good at what we regularly do (center of the envelope). And none of us can really “surprise” ourselves with emergency procedures. When studying, we cannot “know what we do not know” either, we have blind spots. We need to work with a good instructor on a regular basis. FAA WINGS is a good format, knowledge source and reminder (and a new revamped version is on the way, take the survey here).For CFIs, the “every-two-year FIRC” (you bought the cheapest, good for the rest of your life model?) is a bit embarrassing and simple-minded. 141 chief instructors are required to renew every year. And the quality of these courses is amazingly variable. Let’s raise our level of proficiency and challenge ourselves a little here. We need to be especially sharp if we are going to be responsible for educating all future pilots. And bless the great guys at Sporty’s for providing a “no excuse price“ it’s now FREE, and this course is comprehensive and interesting; start your FIRC today…and stay safe out there!
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