PILOT COMPETENCE (Part 3)
Acknowledgements: CAA Skyway Code 2017
The average GA pilot only flies about 30 hours per year. Most would admit to not always finding this enough to maintain proficiency in their chosen aircraft. While it may be sufficient for a simple flight in good conditions, you may be surprised at how quickly handling skills and recollection of operating procedures fade, particularly if overall experience is low. Throw in some high winds, unfamiliar aerodromes or airspace and quickly the lack of currency may become more apparent. So:
- Be realistic about your current skill level – while you should not be afraid of taking on more challenging flights, some refresher training with an instructor may be necessary before doing so in more challenging conditions.
- Often it is pilots with some experience who have accidents, rather than those who have just gained their licence. As you build experience, but with the memory of the training environment fading, be wary of allowing bad habits to creep in. Pursuing further training towards additional ratings is a good way to guard against this.
- If you have an SEP (or similar) rating you will be required to have had an hour flying with an instructor every two years. Use this time to revise areas you may be rusty on, such as short field landings, steep turns or practice forced landings.
- If undertaking a proficiency check, do not be afraid to use the time to go over subjects you are unsure of after the check is complete – a good examiner should be more than happy to do so.
- If you have had a long period with your mind away from flying, set aside an amount of time to review the speeds and procedures for your aircraft, local operating procedures or any other pertinent subjects. Ease yourself back into it and wait until you are fully up to speed before taking passengers.
- If flying a new aircraft, even if differences training is not legally required, spend lots of time reading the AFM and find a knowledgeable instructor who can properly convert you onto type. Research any idiosyncrasies the type may have.
- Doing something new like aerobatics or converting onto a new type of aircraft can also be rewarding and is a good way to improve your skills.
- The General Aviation Safety Council (GASCo) produce a ‘personal currency chart’ which can be downloaded from their website – www.gasco.org.uk.