In the interest of safety and good habit pattern formation, there are certain basic flight safety practices and procedures that must be emphasized by the flight instructor and adhered to by both instructor and student, beginning with the very first dual instruction flight. These include, but are not limited to, collision avoidance procedures including proper scanning techniques and clearing procedures, runway incursion avoidance, and positive transfer of controls.
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. Most midair collision accidents and reported near midair collision incidents occur in good visual flight rules (VFR) weather conditions and during the hours of daylight. Most of these accident/incidents occur within five 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, Pilot’s Role in Collision Avoidance, and the Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM).
It should be noted that any turn or maneuver must be cleared before initiating. This is a most important concept in flying any aircraft. Look and clear the area of any aircraft or obstructions before any maneuver is performed. As an example, if a right-hand turn is to be performed, the pilot must look right and clear the area before initiating any turn to the right. This “clearing procedure” must be done before performing any maneuver.
This is an important habit for any student for safety purposes and is incorporated into the pilot certification process. The pilot must be trained by a CFI in effectively clearing the area before any maneuver is performed.
There are many different types of clearing procedures. Most are centered around the use of clearing turns. 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 require 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.
Runway Incursion Avoidance
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:
- Airport knowledge, and
- Flight deck procedures for maintaining orientation.
Taxi operations require constant vigilance by the pilot and can be assisted by the passenger. 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 nontowered 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 from the outset and, throughout his or 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.
Positive Transfer of Controls
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, the instructor should conduct a briefing 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 or 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 regarding who is flying the WSC aircraft. Numerous accidents have occurred due to a lack of communication or misunderstanding regarding who actually had control of the aircraft, particularly between student and flight instructor. Establishing the positive transfer of controls procedure during initial training will ensure the formation of a very beneficial habit pattern.