Since flying has become more complex, the focus of training needs to address pilot decision-making and risk management, a concept the authors call Single Pilot Resource Management (SRM). Since SRM training requires practicing the decision-making process in real time and in real situations, a new form of GA training that goes beyond the traditional task and maneuver-based training is recommended. The FITS program emphasizes combining traditional task and maneuver training with Scenario Based Training (SBT) to teach the advanced pilot judgment and risk management skills required in the SRM environment.

In many respects, scenario-based training is not a new concept. Experienced flight instructors have been using scenarios to teach cross country operations, emergency procedures, and other flight skills for years. Scenario-based training puts the learner pilot into the normal cross-country environment much earlier than traditional flight training programs. The goal is to begin training the pilot, through meaningful repetition, how to gather information and make informed and timely decisions. We routinely refer to this process as “experience.” Scenario-based learning does not preclude traditional maneuver-based training. Rather, flight maneuvers are integrated into the flight scenarios and conducted, as they would occur in the real world. Those maneuvers requiring repetition may still be taught during concentrated settings. However, once they are learned, they are then integrated into realistic flight situations.

The flight instructor is crucial to the implementation of a scenario-based training program. In this capacity, an instructor serves in the learning environment as an advisor and guide for the learner. The duties, responsibilities, and authority of the flight instructor include the following:

  • Orient new learners to the scenario-based training system.
  • Help the learner become a confident planner and in-flight manager of each flight and a critical evaluator of their own performance.
  • Help the learner understand the knowledge requirements present in real world applications.
  • Diagnose learning difficulties and help the individual overcome them.
  • Be able to evaluate learner progress and maintain appropriate records.
  • Provide continuous review of learning.

The flight instructor is the key to success, and different instructional techniques are required for successful SBT. Remembering that the learning objective is for the learner to be more ready to exercise sound judgment and make good decisions; the flight instructor turns the responsibility for planning and execution of the flight over to the learner as soon as possible. The flight instructor will continue to demonstrate and instruct skill maneuvers in the traditional manner, however, when the learner begins to make decisions the flight instructor should revert to the role of mentor and/or learning facilitator.

Each situation a learner faces may not have one right, and one wrong answer. Instead, learners will encounter situations in training that may have several “good” outcomes as well as the potential for some “poor” ones. While the flight instructor should understand in advance which outcomes are positive or negative, the instructor allows the learner to make both good and poor decisions. This does not mean that the learner should be allowed to make an unsafe decision or commit an unsafe act. However, it does allow the learner to make decisions that fit their experience level and result in positive outcomes.