An Underwriter's Wishlist for Every CFI


An Underwriter's Wishlist for Every CFI~Guest Blogger Marci Veronie, Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing Avemco Insurance Company

When John Niehaus invited me to write for the new NAFI NOTAM, my initial thought was, “Well, I am not a CFI, so not sure what I could offer.”  However, on my drive home that night, I knew that as a 30+ year veteran aviation underwriter, I had a whole lot that I wanted to impart, so I titled this piece “My Wishlist for Every CFI” and I hope you learn something you can pass on.

Aviation underwriters develop a unique perspective on things that go wrong in and around an aircraft. We see most of the accidents that are reported to the FAA and many of the incidents that are not, and I can tell you that we pay numerous claims where there is a CFI in the right seat.  Many of these events have one thing in common:  The accident chain started in the habits and attitudes that were formed early on, often during primary flight instruction.

That’s where you come in. You may have the ability to prevent an accident before it ever happens by planting the seeds of safety and caution from Day One.

aircraft accidentYou might teach a student pilot something that will keep him or her out of trouble ten years from now. In a very real way, your students continue to learn from you long after their check ride is over, even if you never see them again. In fact, the attitude that the check ride is the day that a student is done with flying lessons is part of my Wish #1.  Please teach your students that skills deteriorate over time, and recurrent training is a must (and one that helps with insurance premiums!). Encourage them to go for other ratings, even ratings they’ll never use. A seaplane rating teaches a lot about wind intensity and direction; a tailwheel endorsement teaches the importance and use of the rudder, commercial maneuvers improve precision and encourage smoother flying. An instrument rating sharpens skills that will serve a VFR pilot well even on the most beautiful days. Even if they don’t get additional ratings, just learning something about flying on the gauges could be a lifesaver when the weather unexpectedly goes bad. If you can instill that belief in your students from their first lesson, you will perform one of the most essential services you can imagine, along with the fact that you have a customer for life!

Wish #2 is to reinforce that as a pilot, THEY are in charge of the flight.  One of the things many new pilots have trouble with is knowing when to say no. ATC is their friend, not their boss, though it may not sound that way when a controller is issuing an instruction. As an experienced CFI, you know you always have the right to say, “Unable”, but students and less experienced pilots are easily intimidated. We see a number of landing claims because the tower asked a pilot to change runways on short final, and the pilot didn’t have the confidence to say “Unable,” even if it meant a go-around or leaving the pattern and coming back for another try.

Wish #3 is Practice landings!  You know how they say the secret of success in real estate is “location, location, location?”  Well, in aviation, it should be, landings, landings, landings. Last week I reviewed 19 accident claims, and 12 of them were landing mishaps. Some of the comments read, “Lost it on landing.” Or “Got hit with winds on landing.” Frequently, what didn’t need to be said was “Too slow.” or “Too fast.”

Wish #4, fuel and flight planning vs. fuel and reality.  Instill the need to carefully calculate fuel consumption for the planned trip and then honestly monitor and measure fuel consumption vs. flight time.  Don’t let your student be the pilot “that lost engine power” because there wasn’t any useable fuel left in the tank(s).

Wish #5 may be the most important one I have to offer. In all things related to aviation, please teach your students to crawl before they walk and walk before they run. Those are tough attitudes to implant in the kinds of people who want to become a pilot. Pilots are, by nature, driven. They want to get from point A to B as fast as possible. They want to challenge themselves to reach the next level, then the one after that. They want to fly in more kinds of weather and land beneath lower ceilings. They want to impress their friends with their stick and rudder skills or take their family on long, cross country trips.

It’s easy for them to get in over their heads. You can change that before it happens. Your students look up to you as the seasoned professional who knows it all. Please take the opportunity to show them from their first lesson what it means to fly like a pro.

Marci Veronie, Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing Avemco Insurance Company
NAFI# 214161


 (Featured Photos Courtesy of Avemco Insurance Company)


Blogs are intended for educational purposes only and do not replace independent, professional judgment. Statements of fact and opinions expressed are those of the author individually and, unless expressly stated to the contrary, are not the opinions or position of the National Association of Flight Instructors. NAFI does not endorse or approve, and assumes no responsibility for, the content, accuracy or completeness of the information presented. Readers should note content may appear in various media, including print, email, enews without further notice.
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Comments on "An Underwriter's Wishlist for Every CFI"

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Karen Kalishek - Thursday, October 01, 2020

Marci speaks from experience. Her wishlist is a great reminder of the importance of positive role modeling and the long lasting impact we have as flight instructors.

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