Purpose of Flight Training
It is the helicopter instructor’s responsibility to discuss the overall purpose of flight training with the student. Explain that the goal of flight training is the acquisition and honing of basic airmanship skills that provide the student with:
- An understanding of the principles of flight.
- The ability to safely operate a helicopter with competence and precision both on the ground and in the air.
- The knowledge required to exercise sound judgment when making decisions affecting operational safety and efficiency.
Ensure the student understands that a helicopter operates in a three-dimensional environment and requires specific skills to control the aircraft:
- Coordination—the ability to use the hands and feet together subconsciously and in the proper relationship to produce desired results in the helicopter control.
- Control touch—to develop the ability to sense and evaluate the varying pressures and resistance of the control surfaces and/or the instructor’s input transmitted through the cockpit flight controls and apply inputs in response to those pressures.
- Timing—the application of muscular coordination at the proper instant to make maneuvering flight a constant smooth process.
- Mental comprehension of aerodynamic state, power required versus power available, and hazards present.
Keep in mind that an accomplished pilot demonstrates the ability to assess a situation quickly and accurately and to determine 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 aircraft; and to recognize personal limitations and limitations of the aircraft and avoid approaching the critical points of each. The development of airmanship skills requires effort and dedication on the part of both the student and the flight instructor. It begins with the first training flight when the instructor encourages proper habit formation by introducing and modeling safe operating practices.
While every aircraft has its own particular flight characteristics, the purpose of primary and intermediate flight training is not to learn how to fly a particular make and model of helicopter; it is to develop skills and safe habits that are transferable to any helicopter. [Figure 1-1] Basic airmanship skills serve as a firm foundation for this. Acquiring necessary airmanship skills during training and demonstrating these skills by flying with precision and safe flying habits allows the pilot to transition easily to more complex helicopters. Remember, the goal of flight training is to become a safe and competent pilot, and that passing required tests for pilot certification is only the first step toward this goal.
Practical Flight Instructor Strategies
As discussed in Chapter 8 of the Aviation Instructor Handbook, certificated flight instructors (CFIs) should remember they are a role model for the student. The flight instructor should demonstrate good aviation air sense and practices at all times.
For the helicopter CFI, this means:
- Before the flight—discuss the procedures for the exchange of controls, establish scan areas for clearing the aircraft, and establish who is responsible for initiating immediate action in an emergency.
- During flight—prioritize the tasks of aviating, navigating, and communicating. Instill the importance of “see and avoid” and utilizing aircraft lighting to be more visible in certain flight conditions.
- During landing—conduct stabilized approaches, maintain proper angle and desired rate of closure on final. Use aeronautical decision-making (ADM) to demonstrate good judgment for go-arounds, wake turbulence avoidance, traffic, and terrain avoidance.
- Always—remember that safety is paramount.
Flight instructors have the responsibility of producing the safest pilots possible. For that reason, CFIs should tirelessly encourage each student to learn as much as he or she is capable of and keep raising the bar toward the ultimate goal. When introducing lesson tasks, flight instructors should introduce the student to the Practical Test Standards (PTS) and discuss that the minimum acceptable standards for passing a given maneuver are stated therein. The CFI must stress to the student that these are only the minimum standards and that he or she should strive for much higher performance.
The PTS is not a teaching tool. It is a testing tool. The overall focus of flight training should be on learning, which includes gaining an understanding of why the standards exist and how they were determined. [Figure 1-2] Use the PTS as a training aid. Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) does require specific training for the PTS endorsements, but this should not be presented to the student at the end of the training. The CFI should take into consideration all of the necessary training and strategically plan that training so the student has time to practice and prepare. It is the ultimate goal of the CFI to produce the safest, most competent pilot from his or her course of instruction and take pride in knowing that the student not only passed the test standards but exceeds those standards when conducting any and all helicopter procedures, on the ground or in the air.