Friday, October 10, 2008


Particular attention should be paid to the fuel quantity, type and grade, and quality. [Figure 2-7] Many fuel tanks are very sensitive to airplane attitude when attempting to fuel for maximum capacity. Nosewheel strut extension, both high as well as low, can significantly alter the attitude, and therefore the fuel capacity. The airplane attitude can also be affected laterally by a ramp that slopes, leaving one wing slightly higher than another. Always confirm the fuel quantity indicated on the fuel gauges by visually inspecting the level of each tank.

The type, grade, and color of fuel are critical to safe operation. The only widely available aviation gasoline (AVGAS) grade in the United States is low-lead 100-octane, or 100LL. AVGAS is dyed for easy recognition of its grade and has a familiar gasoline scent. Jet-A, or jet fuel, is a kerosene-based fuel for turbine powered airplanes. It has disastrous consequences when inadvertently introduced into reciprocating airplane engines. The piston engine operating on jet fuel may start, run, and power the airplane, but will fail because the engine has been destroyed from detonation.

Jet fuel has a distinctive kerosene scent and is oily to the touch when rubbed between fingers. Jet fuel is clear or straw colored, although it may appear dyed when mixed in a tank containing AVGAS. When a few drops of AVGAS are placed upon white paper, they evaporate quickly and leave just a trace of dye. In comparison, jet fuel is slower to evaporate and leaves an oily smudge. Jet fuel refueling trucks and dispensing equipment are marked with JET-A placards in white letters on a black background. Prudent pilots will supervise fueling to ensure that the correct tanks are filled with the right quantity, type, and grade of fuel. The pilot should always ensure that the fuel caps have been securely replaced following each fueling.

Engines certificated for grades 80/87 or 91/96 AVGAS will run satisfactorily on 100LL. The reverse is not true. Fuel of a lower grade/octane, if found, should never be substituted for a required higher grade. Detonation will severely damage the engine in a very short period of time.

Automotive gasoline is sometimes used as a substitute fuel in certain airplanes. Its use is acceptable only when the particular airplane has been issued a supplemental type certificate (STC) to both the airframe and engine allowing its use.

Checking for water and other sediment contamination is a key preflight element. Water tends to accumulate in fuel tanks from condensation, particularly in partially filled tanks. Because water is heavier than fuel, it tends to collect in the low points of the fuel system. Water can also be introduced into the fuel system from deteriorated gas cap seals exposed to rain, or from the supplier’s storage tanks and delivery vehicles. Sediment contamination can arise from dust and dirt entering the tanks during refueling, or from deteriorating rubber fuel tanks or tank sealant.

The best preventive measure is to minimize the opportunity for water to condense in the tanks. If possible, the fuel tanks should be completely filled with the proper grade of fuel after each flight, or at least filled after the last flight of the day. The more fuel there is in the tanks, the less opportunity for condensation to occur. Keeping fuel tanks filled is also the best way to slow the aging of rubber fuel tanks and tank sealant.

Sufficient fuel should be drained from the fuel strainer quick drain and from each fuel tank sump to check for fuel grade/color, water, dirt, and smell. If water is present, it will usually be in bead-like droplets, different in color (usually clear, sometimes muddy), in the bottom of the sample. In extreme cases, do not overlook the possibility that the entire sample, particularly a small sample, is water. If water is found in the first fuel sample, further samples should be taken until no water appears. Significant and/or consistent water or sediment contamination are grounds for further investigation by qualified maintenance personnel. Each fuel tank sump should be drained during preflight and after refueling.

The fuel tank vent is an important part of a preflight inspection. Unless outside air is able to enter the tank as fuel is drawn out, the eventual result will be fuel gauge malfunction and/or fuel starvation. During the preflight inspection, the pilot should be alert for any signs of vent tubing damage, as well as vent blockage. A functional check of the fuel vent system can be done simply by opening the fuel cap. If there is a rush of air when the fuel tank cap is cracked, there could be a serious problem with the vent system.

The oil level should be checked during each preflight and rechecked with each refueling. Reciprocating airplane engines can be expected to consume a small amount of oil during normal operation. If the consumption grows or suddenly changes, qualified maintenance personnel should investigate. If line service personnel add oil to the engine, the pilot should ensure that the oil cap has been securely replaced.


The pilot should inspect for any signs of deterioration, distortion, and loose or missing rivets or screws, especially in the area where the outer skin attaches to the airplane structure. [Figure 2-6] The pilot should look along the wing spar rivet line—from the wingtip to the fuselage—for skin distortion. Any ripples and/or waves may be an indication of internal damage or failure.

Loose or sheared aluminum rivets may be identified by the presence of black oxide which forms rapidly when the rivet works free in its hole. Pressure applied to the skin adjacent to the rivet head will help verify the loosened condition of the rivet.

When examining the outer wing surface, it should be remembered that any damage, distortion, or malformation of the wing leading edge renders the airplane unairworthy. Serious dents in the leading edge, and disrepair of items such as stall strips, and deicer boots can cause the airplane to be aerodynamically unsound. Also, special care should be taken when examining the wingtips. Airplane wingtips are usually fiberglass. They are easily damaged and subject to cracking. The pilot should look at stop drilled cracks for evidence of crack progression, which can, under some circumstances, lead to in-flight failure of the wingtip.

The pilot should remember that fuel stains anywhere on the wing warrant further investigation—no matter how old the stains appear to be. Fuel stains are a sign of probable fuel leakage. On airplanes equipped with integral fuel tanks, evidence of fuel leakage can be found along rivet lines along the underside of the wing.

Thursday, October 9, 2008


The inspection should start with the cabin door. If the door is hard to open or close, or if the carpeting or seats are wet from a recent rain, there is a good chance that the door, fuselage, or both are misaligned. This may be a sign of structural damage.

The windshield and side windows should be examined for cracks and/or crazing. Crazing is the first stage of delamination of the plastic. Crazing decreases visibility, and a severely crazed window can result in near zero visibility due to light refraction at certain angles to the sun.

The pilot should check the seats, seat rails, and seat belt attach points for wear, cracks, and serviceability. The seat rail holes where the seat lock pins fit should also be inspected. The holes should be round and not oval. The pin and seat rail grips should also be checked for wear and serviceability.

Inside the cockpit, three key items to be checked are: (1) battery and ignition switches—off, (2) control column locks—removed, (3) landing gear control— down and locked. [Figure 2-3]

The fuel selectors should be checked for proper operation in all positions—including the OFF position. Stiff selectors, or ones where the tank position is hard to find, are unacceptable. The primer should also be exercised. The pilot should feel resistance when the primer is both pulled out and pushed in. The primer should also lock securely. Faulty primers can interfere with proper engine operation. [Figure 2-4] The engine controls should also be manipulated by slowly moving each through its full range to check for binding or stiffness.

The airspeed indicator should be properly marked, and the indicator needle should read zero. If it does not, the instrument may not be calibrated correctly. Similarly, the vertical speed indicator (VSI) should also read zero when the airplane is on the ground. If it does not, a small screwdriver can be used to zero the instrument. The VSI is the only flight instrument that a pilot has the prerogative to adjust. All others must be adjusted by an FAA certificated repairman or mechanic.

The magnetic compass is a required instrument for both VFR and IFR flight. It must be securely mounted, with a correction card in place. The instrument face must be clear and the instrument case full of fluid. A cloudy instrument face, bubbles in the fluid, or a partially filled case renders the instrument unusable. [Figure 2-5]

The gyro driven attitude indicator should be checked before being powered. A white haze on the inside of the glass face may be a sign that the seal has been breached, allowing moisture and dirt to be sucked into the instrument.

The altimeter should be checked against the ramp or field elevation after setting in the barometric pressure. If the variation between the known field elevation and the altimeter indication is more than 75 feet, its accuracy is questionable.

The pilot should turn on the battery master switch and make note of the fuel quantity gauge indications for comparison with an actual visual inspection of the fuel tanks during the exterior inspection.


The accomplishment of a safe flight begins with a careful visual inspection of the airplane. The purpose of the preflight visual inspection is twofold: to determine that the airplane is legally airworthy, and that it is in condition for safe flight. The airworthiness of the airplane is determined, in part, by the following certificates and documents, which must be on board the airplane when operated. [Figure 2-1]
  • Airworthiness certificate.
  • Registration certificate.
  • FCC radio station license, if required by the type of operation.
  • Airplane operating limitations, which may be in the form of an FAA-approved Airplane Flight Manual and/or Pilot’s Operating Handbook (AFM/POH), placards, instrument markings, or any combination thereof.
Airplane logbooks are not required to be kept in the airplane when it is operated. However, they should be inspected prior to flight to show that the airplane has had required tests and inspections. Maintenance records for the airframe and engine are required to be kept. There may also be additional propeller records.

At a minimum, there should be an annual inspection within the preceding 12-calendar months. In addition, the airplane may also be required to have a 100-hour inspection in accordance with Title14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) part 91, section 91.409(b).

If a transponder is to be used, it is required to be inspected within the preceding 24-calendar months. If the airplane is operated under instrument flight rules (IFR) in controlled airspace, the pitot-static system is also required to be inspected within the preceding 24-calendar months.

The emergency locator transmitter (ELT) should also be checked. The ELT is battery powered, and the battery replacement or recharge date should not be exceeded.

Airworthiness Directives (ADs) have varying compliance intervals and are usually tracked in a separate area of the appropriate airframe, engine, or propeller record.

The determination of whether the airplane is in a condition for safe flight is made by a preflight inspection of the airplane and its components. [Figure 2-2] The preflight inspection should be performed in accordance with a printed checklist provided by the airplane manufacturer for the specific make and model airplane. However, the following general areas are applicable to all airplanes.

The preflight inspection of the airplane should begin while approaching the airplane on the ramp. The pilot should make note of the general appearance of the airplane, looking for obvious discrepancies such as a landing gear out of alignment, structural distortion, skin damage, and dripping fuel or oil leaks. Upon reaching the airplane, all tiedowns, control locks, and chocks should be removed.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


During flight training, there must always be a clear understanding between the student and flight instructor of who has control of the aircraft. Prior to any dual training flight, a briefing should be conducted that includes the procedure for the exchange of flight controls. The following three-step process for the exchange of flight controls is highly recommended.

When a flight instructor wishes the student to take control of the aircraft, he/she should say to the student, “You have the flight controls.” The student should acknowledge immediately by saying, “I have the flight controls.” The flight instructor confirms by again saying, “You have the flight controls.” Part of the procedure should be a visual check to ensure that the other person actually has the flight controls. When returning the controls to the flight instructor, the student should follow the same procedure the instructor used when giving control to the student. The student should stay on the controls until the instructor says: “I have the flight controls.” There should never be any doubt as to who is flying the airplane at any one time. Numerous accidents have occurred due to a lack of communication or misunderstanding as to who actually had control of the aircraft, particularly between students and flight instructors. Establishing the above procedure during initial training will ensure the formation of a very beneficial habit pattern.


Checklists have been the foundation of pilot standardization and cockpit safety for years. The checklist is an aid to the memory and helps to ensure that critical items necessary for the safe operation of aircraft are not overlooked or forgotten. However, checklists are of no value if the pilot is not committed to its use. Without discipline and dedication to using the checklist at the appropriate times, the odds are on the side of error. Pilots who fail to take the checklist seriously become complacent and the only thing they can rely on is memory.

The importance of consistent use of checklists cannot be overstated in pilot training. A major objective in primary flight training is to establish habit patterns that will serve pilots well throughout their entire flying career. The flight instructor must promote a positive attitude toward the use of checklists, and the student pilot must realize its importance. At a minimum, prepared checklists should be used for the following phases of flight.

  • Preflight Inspection.
  • Before Engine Start.
  • Engine Starting.
  • Before Taxiing.
  • Before Takeoff.
  • After Takeoff.
  • Cruise.
  • Descent.
  • Before Landing.
  • After Landing.
  • Engine Shutdown and Securing.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


14 CFR part 61 requires that a student pilot receive and log flight training in stalls and stall recoveries prior to solo flight. During this training, the flight instructor should emphasize that the direct cause of every stall is an excessive angle of attack. The student pilot should fully understand that there are any number of flight maneuvers which may produce an increase in the wing’s angle of attack, but the stall does not occur until the angle of attack becomes excessive. This “critical” angle of attack varies from 16 to 20° depending on the airplane design.

The flight instructor must emphasize that low speed is not necessary to produce a stall. The wing can be brought to an excessive angle of attack at any speed. High pitch attitude is not an absolute indication of proximity to a stall. Some airplanes are capable of vertical flight with a corresponding low angle of attack. Most airplanes are quite capable of stalling at a level or near level pitch attitude.

The key to stall awareness is the pilot’s ability to visualize the wing’s angle of attack in any particular circumstance, and thereby be able to estimate his/her margin of safety above stall. This is a learned skill that must be acquired early in flight training and carried through the pilot’s entire flying career. The pilot must understand and appreciate factors such as airspeed, pitch attitude, load factor, relative wind, power setting, and aircraft configuration in order to develop a reasonably accurate mental picture of the wing’s angle of attack at any particular time. It is essential to flight safety that a pilot take into consideration this visualization of the wing’s angle of attack prior to entering any flight maneuver.


A runway incursion is any occurrence at an airport involving an aircraft, vehicle, person, or object on the ground that creates a collision hazard or results in a loss of separation with an aircraft taking off, landing, or intending to land. The three major areas contributing to runway incursions are:

  • Communications,
  • Airport knowledge, and
  • Cockpit procedures for maintaining orientation.
Taxi operations require constant vigilance by the entire flight crew, not just the pilot taxiing the airplane. This is especially true during flight training operations. Both the student pilot and the flight instructor need to be continually aware of the movement and location of other aircraft and ground vehicles on the airport movement area. Many flight training activities are conducted at non-tower controlled airports. The absence of an operating airport control tower creates a need for increased vigilance on the part of pilots operating at those airports.

Planning, clear communications, and enhanced situational awareness during airport surface operations will reduce the potential for surface incidents. Safe aircraft operations can be accomplished and incidents eliminated if the pilot is properly trained early on and, throughout his/her flying career, accomplishes standard taxi operating procedures and practices. This requires the development of the formalized teaching of safe operating practices during taxi operations. The flight instructor is the key to this teaching. The flight instructor should instill in the student an awareness of the potential for runway incursion, and should emphasize the runway incursion avoidance procedures contained in Advisory Circular (AC) 91-73, Part 91 Pilot and Flightcrew Procedures During Taxi Operations and Part 135 Single-Pilot Operations.

Monday, October 6, 2008


All pilots must be alert to the potential for midair collision and near midair collisions. The general operating and flight rules in 14 CFR part 91 set forth the concept of “See and Avoid.” This concept requires that vigilance shall be maintained at all times, by each person operating an aircraft regardless of whether the operation is conducted under instrument flight rules (IFR) or visual flight rules (VFR). Pilots should also keep in mind their responsibility for continuously maintaining a vigilant lookout regardless of the type of aircraft being flown and the purpose of the flight. Most midair collision accidents and reported near midair collision incidents occur in good VFR weather conditions and during the hours of daylight. Most of these accident/incidents occur within 5 miles of an airport and/or near navigation aids.

The “See and Avoid” concept relies on knowledge of the limitations of the human eye, and the use of proper visual scanning techniques to help compensate for these limitations. The importance of, and the proper techniques for, visual scanning should be taught to a student pilot at the very beginning of flight training. The competent flight instructor should be familiar with the visual scanning and collision avoidance information contained in Advisory Circular (AC) 90-48, Pilots’ Role in Collision Avoidance, and the Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM).

There are many different types of clearing procedures. Most are centered around the use of clearing turns. The essential idea of the clearing turn is to be certain that the next maneuver is not going to proceed into another airplane’s flightpath. Some pilot training programs have hard and fast rules, such as requiring two 90° turns in opposite directions before executing any training maneuver. Other types of clearing procedures may be developed by individual flight instructors. Whatever the preferred method, the flight instructor should teach the beginning student an effective clearing procedure and insist on its use. The student pilot should execute the appropriate clearing procedure before all turns and before executing any training maneuver. Proper clearing procedures, combined with proper visual scanning techniques, are the most effective strategy for collision avoidance.


Practical tests for FAA pilot certificates and associated ratings are administered by FAA inspectors and designated pilot examiners in accordance with FAA-developed practical test standards (PTS). [Figure 1-3] 14 CFR part 61 specifies the areas of operation in which knowledge and skill must be demonstrated by the applicant. The CFRs provide the flexibility to permit the FAA to publish practical test standards containing the areas of operation and specific tasks in which competence must be demonstrated. The FAA requires that all practical tests be conducted in accordance with the appropriate practical test standards and the policies set forth in the Introduction section of the practical test standard book.

It must be emphasized that the practical test standards book is a testing document rather than a teaching document. An appropriately rated flight instructor is responsible for training a pilot applicant to acceptable standards in all subject matter areas, procedures, and maneuvers included in the tasks within each area of operation in the appropriate practical test standard. The pilot applicant should be familiar with this book and refer to the standards it contains during training. However, the practical test standard book is not intended to be used as a training syllabus. It contains the standards to which maneuvers/procedures on FAA practical tests must be performed and the FAApolicies governing the administration of practical tests. Descriptions of tasks, and information on how to perform maneuvers and procedures are contained in reference and teaching documents such as this handbook. A list of reference documents is contained in the Introduction section of each practical test standard book.

Practical test standards may be downloaded from the Regulatory Support Division’s, AFS-600, Web site at Printed copies of practical test standards can be purchased from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402. The official online bookstore Web site for the U.S. Government Printing Office is

Sunday, October 5, 2008


The major sources of flight training in the United States include FAA-approved pilot schools and training centers, non-certificated (14 CFR part 61) flying schools, and independent flight instructors. FAA “approved” schools are those flight schools certificated by the FAA as pilot schools under 14 CFR part 141. [Figure 1-2] Application for certification is voluntary, and the school must meet stringent requirements for personnel, equipment, maintenance, and facilities. The school must operate in accordance with an established curriculum, which includes a training course outline (TCO) approved by the FAA. The TCO must contain student enrollment prerequisites, detailed description of each lesson including standards and objectives, expected accomplishments and standards for each stage of training, and a description of the checks and tests used to measure a student’s accomplishments. FAA-approved pilot school certificates must be renewed every 2 years. Renewal is contingent upon proof of continued high quality instruction and a minimum level of instructional activity. Training at an FAA certificated pilot school is structured. Because of this structured environment, the CFRs allow graduates of these pilot schools to meet the certification experience requirements of 14 CFR part 61 with less flight time. Many FAA certificated pilot schools have designated pilot examiners (DPEs) on their staff to administer FAA practical tests. Some schools have been granted examining authority by the FAA. A school with examining authority for a particular course or courses has the authority to recommend its graduates for pilot certificates or ratings without further testing by the FAA. A list of FAA certificated pilot schools and their training courses can be found in Advisory Circular (AC) 140-2, FAA Certificated Pilot School Directory.

FAA approved pilot school certificate

FAA-approved training centers are certificated under 14 CFR part 142. Training centers, like certificated pilot schools, operate in a structured environment with approved courses and curricula, and stringent standards for personnel, equipment, facilities, operating procedures and record keeping. Training centers certificated under 14 CFR part 142, however, specialize in the use of flight simulation (flight simulators and flight training devices) in their training courses.

The overwhelming majority of flying schools in the United States are not certificated by the FAA. These schools operate under the provisions of 14 CFR part 61. Many of these non-certificated flying schools offer excellent training, and meet or exceed the standards required of FAA-approved pilot schools. Flight instructors employed by non-certificated flying schools, as well as independent flight instructors, must meet the same basic 14 CFR part 61 flight instructor requirements for certification and renewal as those flight instructors employed by FAA certificated pilot schools. In the end, any training program is dependent upon the quality of the ground and flight instruction a student pilot receives.


The flight instructor is the cornerstone of aviation safety. The FAA has adopted an operational training concept that places the full responsibility for student training on the authorized flight instructor. In this role, the instructor assumes the total responsibility for training the student pilot in all the knowledge areas and skills necessary to operate safely and competently as a certificated pilot in the National Airspace System. This training will include airmanship skills, pilot judgment and decision making, and accepted good operating practices.

An FAA certificated flight instructor has to meet broad flying experience requirements, pass rigid knowledge and practical tests, and demonstrate the ability to apply recommended teaching techniques before being certificated. In addition, the flight instructor’s certificate must be renewed every 24 months by showing continued success in training pilots, or by satisfactorily completing a flight instructor’s refresher course or a practical test designed to upgrade aeronautical knowledge, pilot proficiency, and teaching techniques.

A pilot training program is dependent on the quality of the ground and flight instruction the student pilot receives. A good flight instructor will have a thorough understanding of the learning process, knowledge of the fundamentals of teaching, and the ability to communicate effectively with the student pilot.

A good flight instructor will use a syllabus and insist on correct techniques and procedures from the beginning of training so that the student will develop proper habit patterns. The syllabus should embody the “building block” method of instruction, in which the student progresses from the known to the unknown. The course of instruction should be laid out so that each new maneuver embodies the principles involved in the performance of those previously undertaken. Consequently, through each new subject introduced, the student not only learns a new principle or technique, but broadens his/her application of those previously learned and has his/her deficiencies in the previous maneuvers emphasized and made obvious.

The flying habits of the flight instructor, both during flight instruction and as observed by students when conducting other pilot operations, have a vital effect on safety. Students consider their flight instructor to be a paragon of flying proficiency whose flying habits they, consciously or unconsciously, attempt to imitate. For this reason, a good flight instructor will meticulously observe the safety practices taught the students. Additionally, a good flight instructor will carefully observe all regulations and recognized safety practices during all flight operations.

Generally, the student pilot who enrolls in a pilot training program is prepared to commit considerable time, effort, and expense in pursuit of a pilot certificate. The student may tend to judge the effectiveness of the flight instructor, and the overall success of the pilot training program, solely in terms of being able to pass the requisite FAA practical test. A good flight instructor, however, will be able to communicate to the student that evaluation through practical tests is a mere sampling of pilot ability that is compressed into a short period of time. The flight instructor’s role, however, is to train the “total” pilot.

Saturday, October 4, 2008


Pilot and flight instructor certificates are issued by the FAA upon satisfactory completion of required knowledge and practical tests. The administration of these tests is an FAA responsibility normally carried out at the FSDO level by FSDO inspectors. The FAA, however, being a U.S. government agency, has limited resources and must prioritize its responsibilities. The agency’s highest priority is the surveillance of certificated air carriers, with the certification of airmen (including pilots and flight instructors) having a lower priority.

In order to satisfy the public need for pilot testing and certification services, the FAAdelegates certain of these responsibilities, as the need arises, to private individuals who are not FAA employees. A designated pilot examiner (DPE) is a private citizen who is designated as a representative of the FAAAdministrator to perform specific (but limited) pilot certification tasks on behalf of the FAA, and may charge a reasonable fee for doing so. Generally, a DPE’s authority is limited to accepting applications and conducting practical tests leading to the issuance of specific pilot certificates and/or ratings. A DPE operates under the direct supervision of the FSDO that holds the examiner’s designation file. A FSDO inspector is assigned to monitor the DPE’s certification activities. Normally, the DPE is authorized to conduct these activities only within the designating FSDO’s jurisdictional area.

The FAA selects only highly qualified individuals to be designated pilot examiners. These individuals must have good industry reputations for professionalism, high integrity, a demonstrated willingness to serve the public, and adhere to FAA policies and procedures in certification matters. A designated pilot examiner is expected to administer practical tests with the same degree of professionalism, using the same methods, procedures, and standards as an FAA aviation safety inspector. It should be remembered, however, that a DPE is not an FAA aviation safety inspector. A DPE cannot initiate enforcement action, investigate accidents, or perform surveillance activities on behalf of the FAA. However, the majority of FAApractical tests at the recreational, private, and commercial pilot level Figure 1-1. FAA FSDO. are administered by FAA designated pilot examiners.


The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is empowered by the U.S. Congress to promote aviation safety by prescribing safety standards for civil aviation. This is accomplished through the Code of Federal Regulations (CFRs) formerly referred to as Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs).

Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) part 61 pertains to the certification of pilots, flight instructors, and ground instructors. 14 CFR part 61 prescribes the eligibility, aeronautical knowledge, flight proficiency, and training and testing requirements for each type of pilot certificate issued.

14 CFR part 67 prescribes the medical standards and certification procedures for issuing medical certificates for airmen and for remaining eligible for a medical certificate.

14 CFR part 91 contains general operating and flight rules. The section is broad in scope and provides general guidance in the areas of general flight rules, visual flight rules (VFR), instrument flight rules (IFR), aircraft maintenance, and preventive maintenance and alterations.

Within the FAA, the Flight Standards Service sets the aviation standards for airmen and aircraft operations in the United States and for American airmen and aircraft around the world. The FAAFlight Standards Service is headquartered in Washington, D.C., and is broadly organized into divisions based on work function (Air Transportation, Aircraft Maintenance, Technical Programs, a Regulatory Support Division based in Oklahoma City, OK, and a General Aviation and Commercial Division). Regional Flight Standards division managers, one at each of the FAA’s nine regional offices, coordinate Flight Standards activities within their respective regions.

Within the FAA, the Flight Standards Service sets the aviation standards for airmen and aircraft operations in the United States and for American airmen and aircraft around the world. The FAAFlight Standards Service is headquartered in Washington, D.C., and is broadly organized into divisions based on work function (Air Transportation, Aircraft Maintenance, Technical Programs, a Regulatory Support Division based in Oklahoma City, OK, and a General Aviation and Commercial Division). Regional Flight Standards division managers, one at each of the FAA’s nine regional offices, coordinate Flight Standards activities within their respective regions.

Each FSDO is staffed by aviation safety inspectors whose specialties include operations, maintenance, and avionics. General aviation operations inspectors are highly qualified and experienced aviators. Once accepted for the position, an inspector must satisfactorily complete a course of indoctrination training conducted at the FAA Academy, which includes airman evaluation and pilot testing techniques and procedures. Thereafter, the inspector must complete recurrent training on a regular basis. Among other duties, the FSDO inspector is responsible for administering FAA practical tests for pilot and flight instructor certificates and associated ratings. All questions concerning pilot certification (and/or requests for other aviation information or services) should be directed to the FSDO having jurisdiction in the particular geographic area. FSDO telephone numbers are listed in the blue pages of the telephone directory under United States Government offices, Department of Transportation, Federal Aviation Administration.

Friday, October 3, 2008


The overall purpose of primary and intermediate flight training, as outlined in this handbook, is the acquisition and honing of basic airmanship skills. Airmanship can be defined as:

  • Asound acquaintance with the principles of flight,
  • The ability to operate an airplane with competence and precision both on the ground and in the air, and
  • The exercise of sound judgment that results in optimal operational safety and efficiency.
Learning to fly an airplane has often been likened to learning to drive an automobile. This analogy is misleading. Since an airplane operates in a different environment, three dimensional, it requires a type of motor skill development that is more sensitive to this situation such as:
  • Coordination—The ability to use the hands and feet together subconsciously and in the proper relationship to produce desired results in the airplane.
  • Timing—The application of muscular coordination at the proper instant to make flight, and all maneuvers incident thereto, a constant smooth process.
  • Control touch—The ability to sense the action of the airplane and its probable actions in the immediate future, with regard to attitude and speed variations, by the sensing and evaluation of varying pressures and resistance of the control surfaces transmitted through the cockpit flight controls.
  • Speed sense—The ability to sense instantly and react to any reasonable variation of airspeed.
An airman becomes one with the airplane rather than a machine operator. An accomplished airman demonstrates the ability to assess a situation quickly and accurately and deduce the correct procedure to be followed under the circumstance; to analyze accurately the probable results of a given set of circumstances or of a proposed procedure; to exercise care and due regard for safety; to gauge accurately the performance of the airplane; and to recognize personal limitations and limitations of the airplane and avoid approaching the critical points of each. The development of airmanship skills requires effort and dedication on the part of both the student pilot and the flight instructor, beginning with the very first training flight where proper habit formation begins with the student being introduced to good operating practices.

Every airplane has its own particular flight characteristics. The purpose of primary and intermediate flight training, however, is not to learn how to fly a particular make and model airplane. The underlying purpose of flight training is to develop skills and safe habits that are transferable to any airplane. Basic airmanship skills serve as a firm foundation for this. The pilot who has acquired necessary airmanship skills during training, and demonstrates these skills by flying training-type airplanes with precision and safe flying habits, will be able to easily transition to more complex and higher performance airplanes. It should also be remembered that the goal of flight training is a safe and competent pilot, and that passing required practical tests for pilot certification is only incidental to this goal.