Training is a key element in maintaining safety in our daily flight operations. One of the most indefinable areas of training is the recurrent segment, despite the fact that this may be the most effective area for mitigating risk and maintaining proficiency. During recurrent training and flight reviews we are tasked with training to proficiency.
Proficiency can be interpreted at many levels, but most often it is kept to the minimum standards stated by regulation.
The FAA defines proficiency as “the outcome of the maneuver is never in doubt, be it a standards maneuver or emergency procedure.” Some training standards will specify maneuvers and tasks that demonstrate meeting these requirements. It is what is beyond these stated standards that should be considered most relevant to our safety. Proficiency should be taken to a personal as well as a professional level. If we can determine by an honest self-appraisal, the knowledge and performance that require additional training, our competency will improve. Practice in specific areas that we recognize as needing improvement will enhance our ability to make more confident decisions in all situations including emergencies.
Most of the time, this does not require a major change to standard training programs. Each training session should allow for the pilot to request practice and/or training in skills or maneuvers that might lose proficiency over time. There are many skills that fall into a “perishable skill” list especially when regular flight time does not meet certain conditions. The most obvious of these is flight in low visibility conditions. IFR and inadvertent flight into IMC are frequently addressed as an area of additional training.
Other perishable skills are often overlooked. Maneuvers and equipment not employed on a regular basis such as autorotations or night vision goggles may not be sufficiently addressed in recurrent training. Normal training sessions might avoid emergency procedures that are difficult to replicate in an aircraft without significant risk. This is an area where scenario based training in flight simulators is extremely effective. Most risk factors including visibility restriction and emergency procedures can be practiced to proficiency in simulators....
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This page was last updated: March 1, 2020
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