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Thu, Aug 03, 2006

ANN's Daily Aero-Tips (08.03.06): Instructor-Induced Stupidity

Aero-Tips!

A good pilot is always learning -- how many times have you heard this old standard throughout your flying career? There is no truer statement in all of flying (well, with the possible exception of "there are no old, bold pilots.")

Aero-News has called upon the expertise of Thomas P. Turner, master CFI and all-around-good-guy, to bring our readers -- and us -- daily tips to improve our skills as aviators. Some of them, you may have heard before... but for each of us, there will also be something we might never have considered before, or something that didn't "stick" the way it should have the first time we memorized it for the practical test.

Look for our daily Aero-Tips segments, coming each day to you through the Aero-News Network.

Aero-Tips 08.03.06

A surprising number of aircraft mishaps happen during the conduct of flight instruction. Although instructional flight is one of the safest classes of general aviation, my research into aircraft accidents shows that, at least in one make of personal/business aircraft, roughly 10% of all accidents happen with an instructor on board. For one specific type of mishap, gear-up and gear-collapse incidents (in retractable-gear airplanes), the most common correlative factor is dual flight instruction.

Why is dual instruction so frequently a factor in aviation mishaps?

Instructor-Induced Stupidity

A student of mine coined the term Instructor-Induced Stupidity (IIS) to describe the phenomenon of deferring decision-making and missing flight-critical tasks with an instructor on board. It's easy when flying with an instructor to think (consciously or not) that the instructor will take care of critical tasks and make all the decisions -- especially if that instructor is more experienced than you. After all the CFI is always logging the time as "pilot-in-command".

Your IIS booster shot

To inoculate against IIS, before flying with a student I brief him or her that:

  • You will be acting as pilot-in-command of the flight (if qualified and current).
  • Fly as if you are alone in the airplane…don't depend on me to tell you what to do.
  • If you see anything abnormal, or feel the need to fly a go-around, a missed approach, or any emergency procedure, go ahead-you won't be wrong, although we may discuss indications and options in detail during the post-flight debrief.

I'll be providing near-continuous instruction and occasionally demonstrating things along the way, but mostly my job is safety and quality control-I'll step in as necessary for purposes of safety or training, but otherwise you should act as though I'm not in the airplane.

Hopefully a preflight briefing like this will help eliminate instructor-induced stupidity.

NOTE: Instructors, be on the lookout for signs of IIS, let your student go as far as is safe, then point out the departure from safety. None of the briefing items above is meant to imply the instructor is not ultimately in charge of safety during an instructional flight.

Aero-tip of the day: When receiving instruction, don't delegate decisions or actions to the instructor pilot. Instructors: inoculate your students against IIS with a thorough preflight briefing.

FMI: Aero-Tips

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