When Not to Fly

From NAFI's Chair

When Not to Fly

What is the most important thing we instructors can teach our clients? There are a lot of lessons: regulations, aerodynamics, weather theory, some physiology, and a host of other subjects.

When we send applicants for their checkride, the appropriate Airmen's Certification Standard (ACS) is used, as we all know. The introduction to the ACS states that "During the ground and flight portion of the practical test, the FAA expects evaluators to assess the applicant's mastery of the topic in accordance with the level of learning most appropriate for the specified task," and "The flight portion of the practical test requires the applicant to demonstrate knowledge, risk management, flight proficiency, and operational skill in accordance with the ACS." In other words, the applicant should be well prepared to fly at the level being tested.

Events over the last couple of weeks have caused me to think about the emphasis being placed on risk management in the ACS. Although I will not comment about on-going investigations, as I am not privy to them and certainly don't have the facts, I am moved to ask you to consider how we talk to our clients and our peers about assessing the risk involved in making a flight.

At the most fundamental level, a flight never has to take place. In fact, one of the reasons the U.S. airline industry has such a phenomenal safety record is that it would rather inconvenience you than take the chance of hurting you.

And that's my challenge to you: take on the challenge of helping each other to know when not to fly. To help recognize that part of a safe flight is the willingness to be inconvenienced. After all, at least in civilian aviation, there is no such thing as an emergency take off.


Bob Meder,
NAFI Board Chair
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