Effective Communication & Instructor Responsibilities


    Since students look to aviation instructors as authorities in their respective areas, it is important that instructors not only know how to teach, but that they project a knowledgeable and professional image. This chapter addresses the responsibilities of aviation instructors in the training process and role as safety advocates, discusses how aviation instructors can enhance their professional image, and offers suggestions and sources of information to assist in professional development

Aviation Instructor Responsibilities:

  • The job of an aviation instructor is to teach. Previous chapters have discussed how people learn, the teaching process, and teaching methods. As indicated, the learning process can be made easier by helping students learn, providing adequate instruction to meet established standards, measuring student performance against those standards, and emphasizing the positive. [Figure 7-1]
  • Helping Students Learn:

    • Learning should be an enjoyable experience. By making each lesson a pleasurable experience for the student, the instructor can maintain a high level of student motivation. This does not mean the instructor makes things easy for the student or sacrifices standards of performance to please the student. The student experiences satisfaction from doing a good job or from successfully meeting the challenge of a difficult task
    • The idea that people must be led to learning by making it easy is a fallacy. Though students might initially be drawn to less difficult tasks, they ultimately devote more effort to activities that bring rewards. The use of standards, and measurement against standards, is key to helping students learn. Meeting standards holds its own satisfaction for students. People want to feel capable; they are proud of the successful achievement of difficult goals
    • Learning should be interesting. Knowing the objective of each period of instruction gives meaning and interest to the student as well as the instructor. Not knowing the objective of the lesson often leads to confusion, disinterest, and uneasiness on the part of the student
  • Providing Adequate Instruction:

    • To tailor his or her teaching technique to the student, the flight instructor analyzes the student’s personality, thinking, and ability. No two students are alike, and a particular method of instruction cannot be equally effective for all students. The instructor talks with a student at some length to learn about the student’s background, interests, temperament, and way of thinking, and is prepared to change his or her methods of instruction as the student advances through successive stages of training
    • An instructor who incorrectly analyzes a student may find the instruction does not produce the desired results. For example, the instructor at first thinks the student is not a quick learner because that student is quiet and reserved. Such a student may fail to act at the proper time due to lack of self-confidence, even though the situation is correctly understood. In this case, instruction is directed toward developing student self-confidence, rather than drill on flight fundamentals. In another case, too much criticism may discourage a timid person, whereas brisk instruction may force a more diligent application to the learning task. A student requiring more time to learn also requires instructional methods that combine tact, keen perception, and delicate handling. If such a student receives too much help and encouragement, a feeling of incompetence may develop
    • A student whose slow progress is due to discouragement and a lack of confidence should be assigned subgoals that can be attained more easily than the usual learning goals. For this purpose, complex lessons can be separated into elements, and each element practiced until an acceptable performance is achieved before the whole maneuver or operation is attempted. For example, instruction in S-turns may begin with consideration for headings only. Elements of altitude control, drift correction, and coordination can be introduced one at a time. As the student gains confidence and ability, goals are increased in difficulty until progress is normal
    • Conversely, students who are fast learners can also create challenges for the instructor. Because these students make few mistakes, they may assume that the correction of errors is unimportant. Such overconfidence can result in faulty performance. For these students, the instructor constantly raises the standard of performance for each lesson, demanding greater effort. Individuals learn when they are aware of their errors. Students who are permitted to complete every flight lesson without corrections and guidance will not retain what they have practiced as well as those students who have their attention constantly directed to an analysis of their performance. On the other hand, deficiencies should not be invented solely for the students’ benefit because unfair criticism immediately destroys their confidence in the instructor
    • In some ways, an aviation instructor serves as a practical psychologist. As discussed in chapters 1 and 2, an instructor can meet this responsibility through a careful analysis of and continuing interest in students
    • Most new instructors tend to adopt the teaching methods used by their own instructors. The fact that one has learned under a certain system of instruction does not mean that the instructor, though well respected by the former student, used the best method. The new instructor needs to continue to grow in his or her role of instructor, seeking other resources and information to enhance his or her own teaching skills
  • Standards of Performance:

    • An aviation instructor is responsible for training an applicant to acceptable standards in all subject matter areas, procedures, and maneuvers included in the tasks within each area of operation in the appropriate Practical Test Standard (PTS). It must be emphasized that the PTS book is a testing document, not a teaching document. [Figure 7-2]
    • When teaching a particular procedure, an instructor might be tempted to point out the consequences of doing it differently, perhaps telling the student that failure to perform the procedure as taught will court disaster. The instructor may believe this “consequence approach” is necessary to ensure the student commits the procedure to memory, but the stated reasons for performing the procedure a certain way must contribute to the learning situation to be effective
  • Emphasizing the Positive:

    • Aviation instructors have a tremendous influence on a student’s perception of aviation. The way instructors conduct themselves, the attitudes they display, and the manner in which they develop instruction all contribute to the formation of either positive or negative impressions by students. The success of an aviation instructor depends greatly on his or her ability to present instruction in a manner that gives students a positive image of aviation. [Figure 7-3]
    • Chapter 1, Human Behavior, emphasized that a negative self-concept inhibits the perceptual process, that fear adversely affects student perceptions, that the feeling of being threatened limits the ability to perceive, and that negative motivation is not as effective as positive motivation. Merely knowing about these factors is not enough. Instructors must be able to detect these factors in their students and strive to prevent negative feelings from undermining the instructional process
    • Consider how the following scenarios conducted during the first lesson might influence and impress a new student pilot who has limited or no aviation experience:
      • An indoctrination in preflight procedures with emphasis on the critical precautions which must be taken before every flight because "... emergencies in flight can be caused by an improper preflight and are often disastrous"
      • Instruction and hands-on training in the care that must be taken in taxiing an airplane because "... if you go too fast, you may lose directional control of the aircraft"
      • Introduction and demonstration of stalls, because "... this is how so many people lose their lives in airplanes"
      • Illustrating and demonstrating forced landings during the first lesson, because "... one should always be prepared to cope with a rope break in a glider
    • These new experiences might make the new student wonder if learning to fly is a good idea
    • In contrast, consider a first flight lesson in which the preflight inspection is presented to familiarize the student with the aircraft and its components, and the flight is a perfectly normal one to a nearby airport, with return. Following the flight, the instructor can call the student’s attention to the ease with which the trip was made in comparison with other modes of transportation, and the fact that no critical incidents were encountered or expected
    • This does not mean stalls and emergency procedures should be omitted from training. It only illustrates the positive approach in which the student is not overwhelmed with information that he or she may not be prepared to digest. Again, this reinforces the need for the instructor to employ a syllabus that makes sense and consider student ability to comprehend new information. The introduction of emergency procedures after the student has developed an acquaintance with normal operations is not as likely to be discouraging and frightening, or to inhibit learning by the imposition of fear
    • There is nothing in aviation that demands that students must suffer as part of their instruction. Every effort should be made to ensure instruction is given under positive conditions that reinforce training conducted to standard and modification of the method of instruction when students have difficulty grasping a task. In essence, a student’s failure to perform is viewed as an instructor’s inability to transfer the information. Otherwise, the instructor fails to consider himself or herself as part of a broken learning chain. Emphasize the positive because positive instruction results in positive learning
  • Minimizing Student Frustrations:

    • Minimizing student frustrations in the classroom, shop, or during flight training is an instructor’s responsibility. By following basic rules, instructors can reduce student frustrations and create a learning environment that encourages rather than discourages learning
    • For example, lesson plans used as part of an organized curriculum help the student pilot measure training progress. Since most pilots don’t want to be students, the ability to measure their progress or “see an end in sight” reduces frustration and increases pilot motivation. [Figure 7-4]
    • Motivate students—more can be gained from wanting to learn than from being forced to learn. Too often, students do not realize how a particular lesson or course can help them reach an important goal. When students can see the benefits and purpose of the lesson or course, their enjoyment and their efforts increase
    • Keep students informed—students feel insecure when they do not know what is expected of them or what is going to happen to them. Instructors can minimize feelings of insecurity by telling students what is expected of them and what they can expect in return. Instructors keep students informed in various ways, including giving them an overview of the course, keeping them posted on their progress, and giving them adequate notice of examinations, assignments, or other requirements
    • Approach students as individuals—when instructors limit their thinking to the whole group without considering the individuals who make up that group, their efforts are directed at an average personality that really fits no one. Each group has its own personality that stems from the characteristics and interactions of its members. However, each individual within the group has a unique personality to constantly be considered
    • Give credit when due—when students do something extremely well, they normally expect their abilities and efforts to be noticed. Otherwise, they may become frustrated. Praise or credit from the instructor is usually ample reward and provides an incentive to do even better. Praise pays dividends in student effort and achievement when deserved, but when given too freely, it becomes valueless
    • Criticize constructively—although it is important to give praise and credit when deserved, it is equally important to identify mistakes and failures. It does not help to tell students they have made errors and not provide explanations. If a student has made an earnest effort but is told that the work is unsatisfactory, with no other explanation, frustration occurs. Errors cannot be corrected if they are not identified, and if they are not identified, they will probably be perpetuated through faulty practice. On the other hand, if the student is briefed on the errors and is told how to correct them, progress can be made
    • Be consistent—students want to please their instructor. This is the same desire that influences much of the behavior of subordinates toward their superiors in industry and business. Naturally, students have a keen interest in knowing what is required to please the instructor. If the same thing is acceptable one day and unacceptable the next, the student becomes confused. The instructor’s philosophy and actions must be consistent
    • Admit errors—no one, including students, expects an instructor to be perfect. The instructor can win the respect of students by honestly acknowledging mistakes. If the instructor tries to cover up or bluff, students are quick to sense it. Such behavior tends to destroy student confidence in the instructor. If in doubt about some point, the instructor should admit it

Flight Instructor Responsibilities:

  • Learning to fly should provide students with an opportunity for exploration and experimentation. It should be a habit-building period during which students devote their attention, memory, and judgment to the development of correct habit patterns. All aviation instructors shoulder an enormous responsibility because their students will ultimately be flying, servicing, or repairing aircraft, but flight instructors have the additional responsibilities of evaluating student pilots and making a decision of when they are ready to solo. The flight instructor’s job is to “mold” the student 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 7-5]
  • Flight instructors must provide the most comprehensive ground and flight instruction possible. They should be current and proficient in the aircraft they use for flight instruction, encouraging each pilot to learn as much as he or she can and to continually “raise the bar.” Flight instructors have the responsibility of producing the safest pilots possible with the overall focus on education and learning. It is also important to convey an understanding of why pilots are trained to standards and how they are set
  • Instructors should not introduce the minimum acceptable standards for passing the check ride when introducing lesson tasks. The minimum standards to pass the check ride should be introduced during the “3 hours of preparation” for the check ride. Keep the PTS in the proper perspective, with emphasis on the Practical Test Standard (PTS) increasing later in the training
  • Physiological Obstacles for Flight Students:

    • Although most student pilots have been exposed to air travel, they may not have flown in light, training aircraft. Consequently, students 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 students who are adversely affected. These negative sensations can usually be overcome by understanding the nature of their causes. Remember, a sick student does not learn well
  • Ensuring Student Skill Set:

    • Flight instructors must ensure student pilots develop the required skills and knowledge prior to solo flight. The student pilot must show consistency in the required solo tasks: takeoffs and landings, ability to prioritize in maintaining control of the aircraft, proper navigation skills, proficiency in flight, proper radio procedures and communication skills, and traffic pattern operation. Student pilots should receive instruction to ask for assistance or help from the ATC system when needed
    • Mastery of the skill set includes consistent use and continued growth as well as increased accuracy of performance. The instructor determines when a student is ready for his or her first solo flight. Generally this determination is made when the instructor observes the student from preflight to engine start to engine shutdown and the student performs consistently, without need of instructor assistance
    • Flight instructors need to provide adequate flight and ground instruction for “special emphasis” items listed in each PTS for airplane, helicopter, and light sport aircraft. The student needs to be knowledgeable in these special emphasis areas because examiners and authorized instructors place special emphasis upon areas considered critical to flight safety. Special emphasis items include, but are not limited to:
      1. Positive aircraft control
      2. Procedures for positive exchange of flight controls
      3. Stall and spin awareness (if appropriate)
      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 PTS, and other sources can be located on the Internet at and The FAA website provides comprehensive information to pilots and instructors. Other aviation organizations also have excellent information. However, an instructor is bound to follow any 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)

Aviator’s Model Code of Conduct:

  • The Aviator’s Model Code of Conduct presents broad guidance and recommendations for General Aviation (GA) pilots to improve airmanship, flight safety, and to sustain and improve the GA community. The Code of Conduct presents a vision of excellence in GA aviation. Its principles both complement and supplement what is merely legal. The Code of Conduct is not a “standard” and is not intended to be implemented as such. The code of conduct consists of the following seven sections:
    1. General Responsibilities of Aviators
    2. Passengers and People on the Surface
    3. Training and Proficiency
    4. Security
    5. Environmental Issues
    6. Use of Technology
    7. Advancement and Promotion of General Aviation
  • Each section provides flight instructors a list of principles and sample recommended practices. Successful instructor pilots continue to self-evaluate and find ways to make themselves safer and more productive instructors. The Aviator’s Model Code of Conduct provides guidance and principles for the instructor to integrate into their own practices. More information about the Aviator’s Model Code of Conduct can be found at
  • Safety Practices and Accident Prevention:

    • Aviation instructors are on the front line of efforts to improve the safety record of the aviation industry. Safety, one of the most fundamental considerations in aviation training, is paramount. FAA regulations intended to promote safety by eliminating or mitigating conditions that can cause death, injury, or damage are comprehensive, but even the strictest compliance with regulations may not be sufficient to guarantee safety. Rules and regulations are designed to address known or suspected conditions detrimental to safety, but there is always a chance that some new combination of circumstances not contemplated by the regulations will arise. It is important for aviation instructors to be proactive to ensure the safety of flight or maintenance training activities
    • The safety practices aviation instructors emphasize have a long-lasting effect on students. Generally, students consider their instructor to be a role model whose habits they attempt to imitate, whether consciously or unconsciously. The instructor’s advocacy and description of safety practices mean little to a student if the instructor does not demonstrate them consistently. For example, if a maintenance student observes the instructor violating safety practices by not wearing safety glasses around hazardous equipment, the student probably will not be conscientious about using safety equipment when the instructor is not around. One of the best actions a flight or maintenance instructor can take to enhance aviation safety is to emphasize safety by example
    • Another way for the instructor to advocate safety is to join the new FAA Safety Team (FAASTeam). The FAASTeam is dedicated to improving the aviation safety record by conveying safety principles and practices through training, outreach, and education. More information is available at


  • The aviation instructor is the central figure in aviation training and is responsible for all phases of required training. The instructor, either pilot or aircraft maintenance technician, must be a professional. As professionals, aviation instructors strive to maintain the highest level of knowledge, training, and currency in the field of aviation. To achieve this goal, instructors need to commit themselves to continuous, lifelong learning and professional development through study, service, and membership in professional organizations such as the National Association of Flight Instructors (NAFI) and Professional Aviation Mechanics Association (PAMA). Professionals build a library of resources that keeps them in touch with their field through the most current procedures, publications, and educational opportunities. Being a professional also means behaving in a professional manner. [Figure 7-6] An aviation instructor should strive to practice the characteristics on the Instructor Do’s list when teaching a student
  • Sincerity:

    • An aviation instructor should be straightforward and honest. Attempting to hide inadequacy behind a smokescreen of unrelated instruction makes it impossible for the instructor to command the respect and full attention of a student. Teaching an aviation student is based upon acceptance of the instructor as a competent, qualified teacher and an expert pilot or aircraft maintenance technician. Any facade of instructor pretentiousness, whether it is real or mistakenly presumed by the student, causes the student to lose confidence in the instructor, and learning is adversely affected
  • Acceptance of the Student:

    • The instructor must accept students as they are, including all their faults and problems. The student is a person who wants to learn, and the instructor is a person who is available to help in the learning process. Beginning with this understanding, the professional relationship of the instructor with the student should be based on a mutual acknowledgement that the student and the instructor are important to each other, and that both are working toward the same objective
    • Under no circumstance should the instructor do anything which implies degrading the student. Acceptance (rather than ridicule) and support (rather than reproof) encourage learning. Students must be treated with respect, regardless of whether they are quick to learn or require more time to absorb certain concepts. Criticizing a student who does not learn rapidly is similar to a doctor reprimanding a patient who does not get well as rapidly as predicted
  • Personal Appearance and Habits:

    • Personal appearance has an important effect on the professional image of the instructor. Today’s aviation customer expects an instructor to be neat, clean, and appropriately dressed. Since the instructor is engaged in a learning situation, the attire worn should be appropriate to professional status. [Figure 7-7]
    • Personal habits have a significant effect on the professional image. The exercise of common courtesy is perhaps the most important of these. An instructor who is rude, thoughtless, and inattentive cannot hold the respect of a student, regardless of the instructor’s ability as a pilot or aviation maintenance technician. Personal cleanliness is important to aviation instruction. Frequently, an instructor and a student work in close proximity, and even little annoyances such as body odor or bad breath can cause serious distractions from learning the tasks at hand
  • Demeanor:

    • The attitude and behavior of the instructor can contribute much to a professional image. The instructor should avoid erratic movements, distracting speech habits, and capricious changes in mood. The professional image requires development of a calm, thoughtful, and disciplined demeanor
    • The successful instructor avoids contradictory directions, reacting differently to similar or identical errors at different times, demanding unreasonable performance or progress, or criticizing a student unfairly, and presenting an overbearing manner or air of flippancy. Effective instruction is best conducted in a calm, pleasant, thoughtful manner that puts the student at ease. The instructor must constantly demonstrate competence in the subject matter and genuine interest in the student’s well being
  • Proper Language:

    • In aviation instruction, as in other professional activities, the use of profanity and obscene language leads to distrust or, at best, to a lack of complete confidence in the instructor. Many people object to such language. The professional instructor speaks normally, without inhibitions, and speaks positively and descriptively, without profanity

Evaluation of Student Ability:

  • Evaluation of a student’s ability is an important element of instruction. Used in this context, evaluation refers to judging a student’s ability to perform a maneuver or procedure
  • Demonstrated Ability:

    • Evaluation of demonstrated ability during flight or maintenance instruction is based upon established standards of performance, suitably modified to apply to the student’s experience and stage of development as a pilot or mechanic. The evaluation considers the student’s mastery of the elements involved in the maneuver or procedure, rather than merely the overall performance. For example, qualification of student pilots for solo and solo cross-country privileges depends upon demonstrations of performance
  • Keeping the Student Informed:

    • In evaluating student demonstrations of ability, it is important for the aviation instructor to keep the student informed of progress. This may be done as each procedure or maneuver is completed or summarized during a postflight or class critique. These critiques should be in a written format, such as notes, to aid the instructor in covering all areas that were noticed during the flight or lesson. When explaining errors in performance, instructors point out the elements in which the deficiencies are believed to have originated and, if possible, suggest appropriate corrective measures
  • Correction of Student Errors:

    • Correction of student errors does not include the practice of taking over from students immediately when a mistake is made. Safety permitting, it is frequently better to let students progress part of the way into the mistake and find a way out. For example, in a weight-shift control aircraft the bar is moved right to turn left. A student may show an initial tendency to move the bar in the direction of the desired turn. This tendency dissipates with time, but allowing the student to see the effect of his or her control input is a valuable aid in illustrating the stability of the aircraft. It is difficult for students to learn a maneuver properly if they seldom have the opportunity to correct an error
    • On the other hand, students may perform a procedure or maneuver correctly but not fully understand the principles and objectives involved. If the instructor suspects this, students should be required to vary the performance of the maneuver or procedure slightly. The maneuver or procedure may also be combined with other operations, or the same elements could be applied to the performance of other maneuvers or procedures. Students who do not understand the principles involved will probably not be able to successfully complete the revised maneuver or procedure

Aviation Instructors and Exams:

  • Knowledge Test:

    • When preparing a student or applicant for the private pilot certification or higher grade rating (i.e., commercial or instrument) a test is required to ensure the student has adequate aeronautical knowledge in those subject areas listed in 14 CFR part 61. The instructor may provide the student with an endorsement to certify he or she has the required knowledge to pass the test. Some additional ratings do not require a test. For information concerning additional aircraft certifications that do not require knowledge tests, refer to AC 61-65, Certification: Pilots and Flight and Ground Instructors. Flight instructors must take a short test for each additional category
    • An instructor should remember he or she is held accountable for a deficient instructional performance. This is important for any instructor who signs recommendations for applicants who were not trained by that instructor
    • If the applicant fails a test, the aviation instructor must sign the test after he or she has provided additional training in the areas the applicant failed. The applicant is given a retest. Prior to certification, the aviation instructor must make a statement that he or she gave the required training in the preceding 60 days and the instructor reviewed those areas of deficiency on the applicant’s knowledge test
  • Practical Test:

    • Provision is made on the airman certificate or rating application form for the written recommendation of the flight instructor who has prepared the applicant for the practical test involved. Signing this recommendation imposes a serious responsibility on the flight instructor. A flight instructor who makes a practical test recommendation for an applicant seeking a certificate or rating should require the applicant to thoroughly demonstrate the knowledge and skill level required for that certificate or rating. This demonstration should in no instance be less than the complete procedure prescribed in the applicable PTS
    • When the instructor endorses the applicant for the practical test, his or her signature on the FAA form 8710-1 Airman Certificate and/or Rating Application is valid for 60 days. This is also true with the flight proficiency endorsement that is placed in the applicant’s logbook or training record (AC-61-65). These two dates should be the same
    • Completion of prerequisites for a practical test is another instructor task that must be documented properly. Examples of all common endorsements can be found in the current issue of AC 61-65, appendix 1. This appendix also includes references to 14 CFR part 61 for more details concerning the requirements that must be met to qualify for each respective endorsement. The examples shown contain the essential elements of each endorsement. It is not necessary for all endorsements to be worded exactly as those in the AC. For example, changes to regulatory requirements may affect the wording, or the instructor may customize the endorsement for any special circumstances of the applicant. However, at a minimum, the instructor needs to cite the appropriate 14 CFR part 61 section that has been completed
    • If a flight instructor fails to ensure a student pilot or additional rating pilot meets the requirements of regulations prior to making endorsements to allow solo flight or additional rating, that instructor is exhibiting a serious deficiency in performance. The FAA holds him or her accountable. Providing a solo endorsement for a student pilot who is not proficient for solo flight operations, or providing an endorsement for an additional rating for a pilot not meeting the appropriate regulatory requirements, is also a breach of faith with the student or applicant

Professional Development:

  • Aviation is changing rapidly, and aviation instructors must continue to develop their knowledge and skills in order to teach successfully in this environment. The aviation instructor is well respected by other technicians and pilots because instructors must meet additional training requirements in order to be certificated. Flight instructors undergo comprehensive evaluations and a practical test to obtain a flight instructor certificate. 14 CFR part 147 requires all instructors teaching maintenance subjects to hold an FAA certificate as an aircraft maintenance technician
  • Successful, professional aviation instructors do not become complacent or satisfied with their own qualifications and abilities, and are constantly alert for ways to improve their qualifications, effectiveness, and the services they provide to students. Considered by their students to be a source of up-to-date information, instructors have the opportunity and responsibility of introducing new procedures and techniques both to their students and to other aviation professionals with whom they come in contact
  • Continuing Education:

    • A professional aviation instructor continually updates his or her knowledge and skills. This goal is attained in a variety of ways, such as reading an article in a technical publication or taking a course at a technical school. There are many different sources of information the aviation instructor can use in order to remain current in aviation knowledge and teaching
    • Government:

      • One of the first educational sources for the instructor is the FAA and other governmental agencies. The FAA either sponsors or collaborates in sponsoring aviation programs, seminars, and workshops for the public. For example, the FAA conducts safety seminars around the country in conjunction with the aviation industry. These seminars, although directed at pilots, can be a useful source of knowledge for aviation instructors
      • The FAA is a rich source of information that can be used to enhance an instructor’s knowledge. Regulations, advisory circulars, airworthiness directives, orders, and notices are some of the documents that can be downloaded from the FAA website at
      • As mentioned earlier in the chapter, participation in the Pilot Proficiency Awards Program is a good way for a flight instructor to improve proficiency and to serve as an example to students. Another way is to work toward the Gold Seal Flight Instructor Certificate. Accomplishing the requirements of the certificate is evidence the instructor has performed at a very high level as a flight instructor. See AC 61-65, Certification: Pilots and Flight and Ground Instructors, for a list of requirements for earning this certificate
      • Similarly, the Aviation Maintenance Awards Program affords the aviation maintenance instructor the opportunity for increased education through attendance at FAA or industry maintenance training seminars. Details for the awarding of bronze through diamond pins can be found in AC 65-25, Aviation Maintenance Technician Awards Program
      • The FAA approves the sponsors who conduct Flight Instructor Refresher Clinics (FIRCs) in accordance with AC 61-83. Nationally scheduled FAA-approved industry-conducted Flight Instructor Refresher Clinics (FIRC). These courses are available for flight instructors to complete the training requirements for renewal of flight instructor certificates
      • The FAA cosponsors Inspection Authorization (IA) seminars. These seminars are open to all maintenance technicians, and are a good source of additional training and education for maintenance instructors
    • Educational/Training Institution:

      • Professional aviation instructors can further increase their knowledge and skill in aviation specialties by attending classes at local community colleges, technical schools, or universities. These schools may offer complete degree programs in aviation subjects as well as single-subject courses of benefit to instructors
    • Commercial Organizations:

      • Commercial organizations are another important source of education/training for the aviation instructor. Some may be publishers of training materials while others may provide complete ground and flight training programs for professional pilots and instructors. These companies often provide a wide variety of study programs including videos, computer-based training, and printed publications. Many offer training that can be attended either at the home base of the company or in traveling classes/seminars so instructors can more easily attend
      • There are numerous organizations around the country that offer courses of training for aviation instructors. These are generally courses that are available to all pilots and technicians, but are especially useful for instructors to improve their abilities. Examples of such courses include workshops for maintenance technicians to enhance their skills in subjects such as composites, sheet metal fabrication, and fabric covering. For pilots there are courses in mountain flying, spin training, and tail wheel qualification. Flight instructors also may increase their aviation knowledge and experience by adding additional category and class ratings to their certificates
    • Industry Organizations:

      • Other significant sources of ongoing education for aviation instructors are aviation organizations. These organizations not only provide educational articles in their publications, but also present training programs or cosponsor such programs
      • Many industry organizations have local affiliated chapters that make it easy to meet other pilots, technicians, and instructors. These meetings frequently include presentations by industry experts, as well as formal training sessions. Some aviation industry organizations conduct their own training sessions on areas such as flight instructor refresher clinics and Inspection Authorization (IA) seminars. Properly organized safety symposiums and training clinics are valuable sources of refresher training. They are also an excellent opportunity to exchange information with other instructors
  • Sources of Material:

    • An aviation instructor should maintain access to current flight publications or maintenance publications. For the flight instructor, this includes current copies of regulations pertinent to pilot qualification and certification, Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM), appropriate Practical Test Standards (PTS), and pilot training manuals. The aviation maintenance instructor should have copies of applicable regulations, current knowledge and PTS, and maintenance training manuals. Aviation instructors must be thoroughly familiar with current certification and rating requirements in order to provide competent instruction. AC 00.2-15, Advisory Circular Checklist, is a listing of all current advisory circulars and other FAA publications sold by the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO) or available online at Many of the advisory circulars should be considered by the aviation instructor for inclusion in a personal reference library
    • In addition to government publications, a number of excellent handbooks and other reference materials are available from commercial publishers. Aviation periodicals and technical journals from the aviation industry are other sources of valuable information for instructors. Many public and institutional libraries have excellent resource material on educational psychology, teaching methods, testing, and other aviation related subjects
    • The aviation instructor has two reasons to maintain a source of current information and publications. First, the instructor needs a steady supply of fresh material to make instruction interesting and up to date. Second, instructors should keep themselves well informed by maintaining familiarity with what is being written in current aviation publications. Most of these publications are in printed form, but increasingly, information is available through electronic means. [Figure 7-8]
    • Printed Material:

      • In aviation, documentation in the form of flight publications or maintenance data must be immediately available for referral while flying or conducting maintenance. While the portability of printed material meets this need for immediate availability, printed material has two disadvantages. First, it takes up space for storage and second, it can be time consuming to keep printed material current. Many publishers of printed material now make their information available in electronic format. For example, most FAA regulations, standards, and guides are available either in electronic form or as hard copy
      • Non-FAA publications are available through the GPO and from the National Technical Information Service (NTIS). Publications not printed by the U.S. Government Printing Office are available from the many publishers and suppliers of books. Commercial publishers usually provide catalogues and toll-free numbers or websites for ordering their products
    • Electronic Sources:

      • Access to the Internet via personal computers has opened up a vast storehouse of information for the aviation instructor. In the past, aviation instructors had limited access to information, but the personal computer has greatly expanded sources of aviation information. This section lists some sources of information on the Internet. In the following discussion, several sites for accessing FAA materials are explored, and some non-FAA sites are included. Once instructors begin to navigate the Internet, they find sites which provide the information they use most frequently. Obviously, some FAA publications are more important to the aviation instructor than others. Many of the publications of interest to the aviation instructor can be accessed through the FAA website,
      • The FAA website is not the only source of aviation or education-related information on the Internet. The aviation instructor can access aviation-related publications at other government or non-government websites via published web addresses or by using the search function of the web browser. Keep in mind that most sites on the Internet are updated periodically, but some are not. In addition, new sites are added and old sites are discontinued on a regular basis. The aviation instructor can become more adept at obtaining information by entering and navigating around the Internet to become informed about the contents and how to best locate desired information. The more familiar aviation instructors become with the Internet, the better they are able to adapt to any changes that may occur
      • Professional aviation instructors must continue to expand their knowledge and skills in order to be competent instructors. The field of aviation is advancing, and the instructor also must advance. Instructors can best do this by taking advantage of the wide variety of materials available from the FAA, other government agencies, commercial publishers and vendors, and from industry trade groups. These materials are available at training sessions and seminars, from printed books, papers, magazines, and from the Internet and other electronic sources. Instructors who commit to continuing education are able to provide the highest quality instruction to their students


  • This chapter discussed the responsibilities of aviation instructors to the student, the public, and the FAA in the training process. The additional responsibilities of flight instructors who teach new student pilots as well as rated pilots seeking add-on certification, the role of aviation instructors as safety advocates, and ways in which aviation instructors can enhance their professional image and development were explored