Our Responsibilities

From NAFI's Chair

Our Responsibilities

The topic of a flight reviews, also known as "Biennials," is always intriguing. It amazes me the number of times I hear someone cite the basics of paragraph 61.56 of the Federal Aviation Regulations stating it is "all" that is required of a pilot to fly safely for the next 24 calendar months. The basics to which I'm referring, of course, are the famous "one hour of ground/one hour of flight" that we hear about so often. And, sadly, it seems that a lot of people expect that of a flight instructor or, worse, that's all they get.

Obviously, getting a new rating or completing a phase of Wings, both of which are acceptable ways of fulfilling the requirements, will be of higher quality and greater depth. However, if an individual decides to go with a flight review, a great source document for both instructors and pilot is the FAA's Conducting an Effective Flight Review. It provides a framework for ensuring that nothing is missed and provides insights to both the pilot and the instructor. As a bit of perspective, when I've used it as my syllabus for the flight review, it takes about two hours of ground training and roughly 90 minutes of flight to get through everything with a proficient student. In fact, when I recently returned to flying after nine months on the bench, I flew with an instructor I trained for my flight review, the ground portion having been waived by my CFI renewal, and that took us roughly 2.5 hours before we were both satisfied with my performance.

Of course, if you really want to be acquainted with the responsibilities we bear when we sign someone off for flight review, consider this: I am currently working with a certificated pilot who is somewhat out of currency. The fact of the matter is that the last entry in his logbook was in 1986. In other words, an entire generation has matured since the last time he flew as pilot in command. Airspace has changed to the "new" ICAO alphabet since he learned how fly, along with changes in the format for weather observations (METARS) and forecasts (TAFs). Electronic flight bags are now the rage. And all that stands between his being grounded and being part of the National Airspace System is one endorsement and signature from a flight instructor. Fortunately, this individual is conscientious and safety oriented, so I believe that I'll think he's ready before he does.

So, next time you're asked to give someone a "biennial" or when you get yours, don't forget its purpose. It's a chance for the pilot to review what they know and even learn more about aviation and how to remain safe. Not to mention an opportunity for the flight instructor to learn, and pass on some wisdom.

Bob Meder,
NAFI Board Chair
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