Introduction to Planning Instructional Activity

Susan (student) and Bill (Certificated Flight Instructor (CFI)) are flying a lesson scenario which consists of a short crosscountry leg to a local airport for some practice landings followed by a return to the home airport located in Class C airspace. While practicing landings at the nontowered airport, the student notes that the ceiling is lowering and the crosswind is beginning to increase. In his own mind, Bill is convinced that they can practice landings for another 30 minutes to an hour and still return to home base. However, instead of telling Susan this, while taxiing back after a full stop landing, he first asks her several questions.

  • Has the flight situation changed since they left the home field?
  • What does she think of the weather situation?
  • How can we gain more information?
    • Check with Automated Flight Service Station (AFSS) on the radio?
    • Stop at the Fixed Based Operator (FBO) and call back to the FBO to check on weather and the schedule?
  • Are there other issues?
    • Fuel?
    • Schedule?
  • Aircraft equipment (instrument flight rules (IFR)/visual flight rules (VFR)) and pilot capability?

Susan decides that she would be more comfortable returning to the home airport and practicing landings there to stay out of the weather. Although not his plan, it is a good plan based on accurate situational awareness and good risk management skills, so Bill agrees. Susan is now beginning to gain confidence by practicing her judgment and decision-making skills. In the postflight critique, Susan leads a discussion of this and other decisions she has made in order to learn more about the process.

In the past, the aviation instructor was a capable pilot or aviation technician with a rather general understanding of basic teaching methods and techniques. More recently, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has paid more attention to the instructor’s role as teacher and mentor, and has provided a much better grounding in instructional techniques. The instructor is now required to master the teaching methods, write lesson objectives, outline and write lesson plans, and motivate students by example. The instructor is responsible for what is taught in the aircraft and classroom. The amount of learning that takes place is a direct result of how well the lesson is prepared and the teaching skill of the instructor.

Historically, aviation instruction focused on the performance of specific procedures and/or maneuvers, and learning was measured with objective standards. Changing technology and innovations in learning provide today’s aviation instructors with the opportunity to use new methods and teach to new standards. One of these methods, introduced in The Teaching Process, is scenario-based training (SBT). While SBT is an integral component of today’s aviation training, the instructor is crucial to its implementation. By emphasizing SBT, the instructor functions in the learning environment as an advisor and guide for the learner.

Whatever the method of teaching, the key to developing well-planned and organized aviation instruction includes using lesson plans and a training syllabus that meet all regulatory certification requirements. Much of the basic planning necessary for the flight instructor and maintenance instructor is provided by the knowledge and proficiency requirements published in Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) parts 61 and 65, approved school syllabi, and the various texts, manuals, and training courses available. This chapter reviews the planning required by the professional aviation instructor as it relates to four key topics—course of training, blocks of learning, training syllabus, and lesson plans. It also explains how to integrate SBT, aeronautical decision-making (ADM), and risk management into the aviation training lesson.

Course of Training

As discussed in The Teaching Process, a course of training is a series of studies leading to attainment of a specific goal such as a certificate of completion, graduation, or an academic degree. An instructor plans instructional content around the course of training by determining the objectives and standards, which in turn determine individual lesson plans, test items, and levels of learning.

Flight Literacy Recommends

The Flight Instructor's Manual - An invaluable reference for flight instructor applicants and serves as an indispensable guide for both new and experienced instructors (CFIs). This manual is organized so that each chapter serves as a stand-alone reference for a particular phase of instruction, allowing each to be used as "how to instruct" guides on topics such as fundamentals of flight instruction (FOI), presolo instruction, first solo to the private certificate, advanced VFR instruction, introduction to aerobatic instruction, and instrument instruction.