Peripheral vision can be most useful in spotting collision threats from other aircraft. Each time a scan is stopped and the eyes are refocused, the peripheral vision takes on more importance because it is through this element that movement is detected. Apparent movement is almost always the first perception of a collision threat and probably the most important because it is the discovery of a threat that triggers the events leading to proper evasive action. It is essential to remember, however, that if another aircraft appears to have no relative motion, it is likely to be on a collision course with you. If the other aircraft shows no lateral or vertical motion, but is increasing in size, take immediate evasive action.
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 AC 90-48, Pilots’ Role in Collision Avoidance, and the Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM).
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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.
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 communications, airport knowledge, and flightdeck procedures for maintaining orientation. [Figure 1-13]Taxi operations require constant vigilance by the entire flight crew, not just the pilot taxiing the airplane. During flight training, the instructor should emphasize the importance of vigilance during taxi 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. [Figure 1-14]
Planning, clear communications, and enhanced situational awareness during airport surface operations reduces the potential for surface incidents. Safe aircraft operations can be accomplished and incidents eliminated if the pilot is properly trained early on and throughout their flying career on 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. For more detailed information and a list of additional references, refer to the Airport Operations category in the Aeronautical Knowledge section.
14 CFR part 61 requires that a student pilot receive and log flight training in stalls and stall recoveries prior to solo flight. [Figure 1-15] During this training, the flight instructor should emphasize that the direct cause of every stall is an excessive angle of attack (AOA). The student pilot should fully understand that there are several flight maneuvers that may produce an increase in the wing’s AOA, but the stall does not occur until the AOA becomes excessive. This critical AOA varies from 16°–20° depending on the airplane design. [Figure 1-16]
The flight instructor must emphasize that low speed is not necessary to produce a stall. The wing can be brought to an excessive AOA 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 AOA. 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 AOA in any particular circumstance, and thereby be able to estimate his or 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 AOA at any particular time. It is essential to safety of flight that pilots take into consideration this visualization of the wing’s AOA prior to entering any flight maneuver.
Use of Checklists
Checklists have been the foundation of pilot standardization and flight deck safety for years. [Figure 1-17] The checklist is a memory aid and helps to ensure that critical items necessary for the safe operation of aircraft are not overlooked or forgotten. Checklists need not be “do lists.” In other words, the proper actions can be accomplished, and then the checklist used to quickly ensure all necessary tasks or actions have been completed. Emphasis on the “check” in checklist. However, checklists are of no value if the pilot is not committed to using them. Without discipline and dedication to using the appropriate checklists at the appropriate times, the odds are on the side of error. Pilots who fail to take the use of checklists seriously become complacent and begin to rely solely on 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. [Figure 1-18]
- Preflight Inspection
- Before Engine Start
- Engine Starting
- Before Taxiing
- Before Takeoff
- After Takeoff
- Before Landing
- After Landing
- Engine Shutdown and Securing
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 flight, a briefing should be conducted that includes the procedures 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 should then confirm 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 ensures the formation of a very beneficial habit pattern.