Learning to fly should provide learners with an opportunity for exploration and experimentation. It should be a habit-building period during which learners devote their attention, memory, and judgment to the development of correct habit patterns. All aviation instructors shoulder an enormous responsibility because their learners will ultimately be flying, servicing, or repairing aircraft. Flight instructors may have the additional responsibility regarding evaluation of learner pilots and deciding when they are ready to solo. The flight instructor’s job is to “mold” the learner pilot into a safe pilot who takes a professional approach to flying. Other flight instructor responsibilities can be found in Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) part 61 and FAA advisory circulars (ACs). [Figure]

Aviation Instructor Responsibilities and Professionalism
The flight instructor has many additional responsibilities

Instructors should be current and proficient in the aircraft they use and encourage each pilot to learn as much as possible and to continually “raise the bar.” Flight instructors teach other pilots to remain focused on safety of flight and to use risk mitigation. It is also important to provide an understanding of why pilots are trained to standards, how these standards are set, and that meeting the standard provides a limited margin of safety.

Physiological Obstacles for Flight Learners

Although most learner pilots have been exposed to air travel, they may not have flown in light, training aircraft. Consequently, learners may react to unfamiliar noises or vibrations, or experience unfamiliar sensations due to G-force, or an uncomfortable feeling in the stomach. To teach effectively, instructors cannot ignore the existence of these negative factors, nor should they ridicule learners who are adversely affected. These negative sensations can usually be overcome by understanding the nature of their causes. Remember, a sick learner is preoccupied and may not have the mental or physical capacity to learn.

Ensuring Learner Skill Set

Flight instructors ensure learner pilots develop the required skills and knowledge prior to solo flight. The learner pilot needs to show consistency in the required solo tasks: takeoffs and landings, ability to prioritize maintaining control of the aircraft, proficiency in flight, traffic pattern operation, proper navigation skills, and proper radio procedure and communication skills. Learner pilots should receive instruction to ask for assistance or help from the ATC system when needed.

Mastery of the skill set includes consistent use as well as increased accuracy of performance. The decision to determine when a learner is ready for solo flight should be a joint decision between learner and instructor. Generally, this determination is made when the instructor observes the learner from preflight to engine start to engine shutdown and the learner performs consistently, without need of instructor assistance.

Flight instructors need to provide adequate flight and ground instruction for each item included in the applicable ACS/ PTS. The ACS integrates risk management and safety throughout and with supplementary appendix information. PTS lists special emphasis items. Some common items include:

  1. Positive aircraft control
  2. Procedures for positive exchange of flight controls
  3. Stall and spin awareness
  4. Collision avoidance
  5. Wake turbulence and low-level wind turbulence and wind shear avoidance
  6. Runway incursion avoidance
  7. Controlled flight into terrain (CFIT)
  8. Aeronautical decision-making (ADM)/risk management
  9. Checklist usage
  10. Spatial disorientation
  11. Temporary flight restrictions (TFR)
  12. Special use airspace (SUA)
  13. Aviation security
  14. Wire strike avoidance

Flight instructors should be current on the latest procedures regarding pilot training, certification, and safety. It is the flight instructor’s responsibility to maintain a current library of information. These sources are listed in the appropriate ACS/PTS, and other sources can be located on the Internet at www.faa.gov and www.faasafety.gov. The FAA websites provide comprehensive information to pilots and instructors. Other aviation organizations also have excellent information. However, an instructor should follow procedures in the manner prescribed by the FAA. If an instructor needs any assistance, he or she should contact a more experienced instructor, an FAA Designated Pilot Examiner (DPE), or the local Flight Standards District Office (FSDO).