Course of Training

Whatever the method of teaching, the key to developing well-planned and organized aviation instruction includes using lesson plans and a training syllabus that meet all regulatory certification requirements. Much of the basic planning necessary for the flight instructor and maintenance instructor is provided by the knowledge and proficiency requirements published in Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) parts 61 and 65, approved school syllabi, and the various texts, manuals, and training courses available.

As discussed in The Teaching Process, a course of training is a series of studies leading to attainment of a specific goal such as a certificate of completion, graduation, or an academic degree. An instructor plans instructional content around the course of training by determining the objectives and standards, which in turn determine individual lesson plans, test items, and levels of learning. For a complete discussion of these items, see Course of Training.

Blocks of Learning

After the overall training objectives have been established, the next step is the identification of the blocks of learning which constitute the necessary parts of the total objective. Just as in building a pyramid, some blocks are submerged in the structure and never appear on the surface, but each is an integral and necessary part of the structure. Thus, the various blocks are not isolated subjects, but essential parts of the whole. During the process of identifying the blocks of learning to be assembled for the proposed training activity, the instructor should also examine each block to ensure it is an integral part of the structure. Extraneous blocks of instruction are expensive frills, especially in-flight instruction, and detract from, rather than assist in, the completion of the final objective.

While determining the overall training objectives is a necessary first step in the planning process, early identification of the foundation blocks of learning is also essential. Training for any such complicated and involved task as piloting or maintaining an aircraft requires the development and assembly of many segments or blocks of learning in their proper relationships. In this way, a learner can master the segments or blocks individually and can progressively combine these with other related segments until their sum meets the overall training objectives.The blocks of learning identified during the planning and management of a training activity should be fairly consistent in scope. They should represent units of learning which can be measured and evaluated—not a sequence of periods of instruction. For example, the flight training of a private pilot might be divided into the following major blocks: achievement of the knowledge and skills necessary for solo, the knowledge and skills necessary for solo cross-country flight, and the knowledge and skills appropriate for obtaining a private pilot certificate. [Figure]

Planning Instructional Activity
The presolo stage or phase of private pilot training is comprised of several basic building blocks. These blocks of learning, which should include coordinated ground and flight training, lead up to the first solo


Use of the building block approach provides the learner with a boost in self-confidence. This normally occurs each time a block is completed. Otherwise, an overall goal, such as earning a mechanic’s certificate, may seem unobtainable. If the larger blocks are broken down into smaller blocks of instruction, each on its own is more manageable. Humans learn from the simple to the complex. For example, a learner pilot should understand and master the technique of a normal landing prior to being introduced to short-field and soft-field landings. A helicopter pilot should be proficient in running landings before the instructor introduces a no hydraulics approach and landing.

By becoming familiar with the learner’s aviation background, an instructor can plan the sequence of instruction blocks. Does the applicant have previous aeronautical experience or possess a pilot certificate in another category? This information will help the instructor design appropriate training blocks. For example, if the learner is a helicopter pilot who is transitioning to an airplane, he or she will understand speed control, but not necessarily know how to achieve it in an airplane. The instructor can plan blocks of instruction that build on what the learner already knows.