Susan (learner) and Bill (flight instructor) are flying a lesson scenario which consists of a short cross-country leg to a local airport for some practice landings followed by a return to the home airport located in Class C airspace. While practicing landings at the nontowered airport, Susan notes that the ceiling is lowering, and the crosswind is beginning to increase. In his own mind, Bill is convinced that they can practice landings for another 30 minutes to an hour and still return to home base. However, instead of telling Susan this, while taxiing back after a full stop landing, he first asks her several questions.

  • Has the flight situation changed since they left the home field?
  • What does she think of the weather situation?
  • How can we gain more information?

– Check with Flight Service by cell phone or on the radio?

– Stop at the local Fixed Based Operator (FBO) and call back to the home FBO to check on weather?

  • Are there other issues?

– Fuel?

– Schedule?

  • Aircraft equipment (instrument flight rules (IFR)/visual flight rules (VFR)) and pilot capability?

Susan decides that she would be more comfortable returning to the home airport and practicing landings there to stay out of the weather. Although not his plan, it is a good plan based on accurate situational awareness and good risk management skills, so Bill agrees. Susan is now beginning to gain confidence by practicing her judgment and decision-making skills. In the postflight critique, Susan leads a discussion of this and other decisions she has made in order to learn more about understanding hazards and mitigating risk.

In the past, the aviation instructor was a capable pilot or aviation technician with a general understanding of basic teaching methods and techniques. Currently, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) places greater emphasis on the instructor’s role and skill as a teacher and mentor. The instructor should understand how to create and use lesson objectives and lesson plans. The instructor should know how to assess learning and motivate learners through proper feedback and by setting a good example. The learning that takes place is a direct result of the instructor’s active lesson preparation, delivery, observation, and assessment.

Historically, aviation instruction focused on the performance of specific procedures and/or maneuvers, and measured learning with objective standards. Changing technology and innovations in learning provide today’s aviation instructors with the opportunity to use new methods and teach to new standards. One of these methods, introduced in The Teaching Process, is scenario-based training (SBT). While SBT is an integral component of today’s aviation training, the instructor is crucial to its implementation. By emphasizing SBT, the instructor functions in the learning environment as an advisor and guide for the learner.

This section reviews the planning required by the professional aviation instructor as it relates to four key topics—course of training, blocks of learning, training syllabus, and lesson plans. It also explains how to integrate SBT, aeronautical decision-making (ADM), and risk management into the aviation training lesson.