Flight instructor Daniel decides his learner, Mary, has gained enough confidence and experience that it is time for her to develop personal weather minimums. While researching the subject at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) website, he locates several sources that provide background information indicating that weather often poses some of the greatest risks to general aviation (GA) pilots, regardless of their experience level. He also finds charts and a lesson plan he can use.

Daniel’s decision to help Mary develop personal weather minimums reflects a key component of the flight instructor’s job: providing the learner with the tools to ensure safety during a flight. What does “safety” really mean? How can a flight instructor ensure the safety of flight training activities, and also train clients to operate their aircraft safely after they leave the relatively protected flight training environment?

According to one definition, safety is the freedom from conditions that can cause death, injury, or illness; damage to loss of equipment or property, or damage to the environment. FAA regulations are intended to promote safety by eliminating or mitigating conditions that can cause death, injury, or damage. These regulations are comprehensive but instructors recognize that even the strictest compliance with regulations may not guarantee safety. Rules and regulations are designed to address known or suspected conditions detrimental to safety, but there is always the possibility that a combination of hazardous circumstances will arise.

The recognition of aviation training and flight operations as a system led to a “system approach” to aviation safety. This site discusses some of the practices found to make flight safer on a systemic basis including—aeronautical decision-making (ADM), risk management, situational awareness, and single-pilot resource management (SRM). These components should be included in a modern flight training program.