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Flight Training Course, Part 1: Getting Started

 

Acknowledgements

I will take this opportunity to thank the many people who have contributed to my own understanding of both flying and education, and those who have contributed to my education and training.  Going back to the late 1970s, I am personally indebted to University of Calgary Professors Al Olmsted, Dole Hatt, and Albert Heinrich who made great effort to implant curiosity into the minds of their young undergraduate students.  I am also personally indebted to the many Flight Instructors I have had the pleasure of working with in my role as “student”—which of course for any good instructor is a never-ending role—Lenora Crane, Gordon Jones, Mac Arbuthnot, Wayne Wolshyn, Jo Harris, Heather Baile, Jamie Roth, John Laing, Donn Richardson, Paul Tinevez, Mark Adam, and Jim Krause. 

 

I always say that teaching flying is a wonderful profession that is rich in excitement, satisfaction, success and challenge.  It truly is an honour to teach people how to fly.  The pleasures of the job, however, originate from hearts and minds of students.  Pilot students are never forced to come to school, and it is wonderful to work with such a highly motivated bunch.  For all who complete Pilot Training, this course will serve to be the first step in the wonderful adventure of flight that will last a lifetime—for some it will be the first step in an exciting and rewarding career.  When I get into an aeroplane, I still have the same sense of excitement and anticipation that I had on my first flight lesson at High River Airport on January 15th, 1987.  Sentiments such as these do not fade for pilots. 

 

                                                                                                David Parry,

                                                                                                Vancouver, British Columbia

How to use this Flight Training Course

 

The Flight Training Course provides “need to know” information.  If you use the Course effectively, I guarantee it will save you time, money, and frustration.  Sometimes we see students coming to flight lessons unprepared.  I was guilty of this on occasion during my own initial training—for one reason or another, I was too rushed to study the assigned readings in the Flight Training Manual prior to a flight lesson.  But make no mistake, I was paying for it!  Lack of preparedness also shortens your time in the aircraft. 

 

Being Prepared for a Training Flight

The average lesson is based on a two-hour booking of the aircraft and the Instructor’s time; this time is roughly broken down as follows:

15 minutes—Student pre-flight activity, including weather briefing, aircraft inspection, and pre-flight administration;

10-30 minutes—Pre-flight meeting with Instructor, Preparatory Ground Instruction (for new exercises), and Pre-Flight Briefing (review flight sequence and safety factors);

60 minutes—Flight lesson;

15 minutes—Post-Flight De-briefing with Instructor;

15 minutes—Student post-flight administration (log book entries, etc.).

If a student is not prepared for an exercise, more time will be required in the pre-flight meeting on the ground, and there will be less time remaining for cockpit experience.  Obviously, the reality of flying is the occasional weather or maintenance delay (patience with these delays is the quality of an experienced and safe pilot), but a student who has not studied with assigned pre-lesson readings—reading previously assigned by your Instructor, typically including Transport Canada’s Flight Training Manual (PTM), the Pilot Operating Handbook, etc.—prior to flight will require a longer pre-flight meeting with the Instructor and therefore shorter cockpit exposure.  Moreover—and perhaps more significantly—the training sequence in the air will be slowed—this means more unnecessary airtime and unnecessary expense.  So when you are training for forced approaches (simulated engine failure), for example, take the time to memorize the required vital actions prior to the lesson (you have no idea how many times Flight Instructors have sat up there with a student at 3,000’ waiting for the student to recall the sequence of actions!)  Flying—and learning to fly—is very much a mental experience where each exercise or task flown is a sequence of actions in response to know visual or physical cues or signs.  The more time a student spends on memorizing the cues or signs and the action responses, the greater the success in learning to fly. 

Know What is Expected of You                                 

With regard to expectations, I am not so much referring to what your Instructor expects of you—your Instructor simply expects the best that you are able to do at various phases of the training (which of course varies for all of us from day to day).  What I am referring to here are the flight test standards.  All of your training culminates in the flight test.  The flight test takes just over an hour and a half, and during that time you will demonstrate most of the exercises in this Handbook.  The person who will conduct your flight test—the Pilot Examiner—has a prescribed set of standards that are used to evaluate your performance, and it is crucial that you understand what those standards are.  In knowing the standards you will also have a tangible goal to work towards during your training, and this is especially important with regard to solo training flights.  For each exercise, for example, you should have an understanding of when an exercise is “ well executed considering existing conditions,” when an exercised contains “minor errors”, and of course when an exercise contains “major errors.”  The criteria for these, of course, vary from exercise to exercise, and you want to be familiar with them, and they are described in the Flight Test Guide for the particular licence or permit you are pursuing.  The Flight Test Guides for the Recreation Pilot Permit, the Private Pilot Licence, and the Commercial Pilot Licence can be viewed (and downloaded) from Transport Canada’s website—just do a google search.

It is important that you keep in mind that Flight Test Guides comprise the documents which the Examiners use in evaluating your flying.  So, before you go up with your Instructor to learn steep turns, for example, read the Flight Test Guide and know that a “pass” for this exercise during the flight test requires that you maintain + or - 100’ during the turn, that a 200’ deviation constitutes a major error resulting in a failed assessment, while a deviation of between 100’ and 200’ that is detected and correct constitute a minor error and permit a passed assessment.  Standards such as this are listed in the Flight Test Guide as performance criteria.  As you near the end of your training, you will know you are ready for the flight test when you can consistently meet that standard.

Pilot Evaluations: The 4-Point Marking Scale 

 

The following is the 4-point evaluation scale used universally in Canada for pilot-performance grading—you want to be familiar with the general content of the scale so that you understand how your knowledge and skills will be evaluated during your flight test.  It is used for flight test evaluation, and it is also used for pilot evaluation in air taxi, commuter, and airline evaluation.

The application of the 4-point evaluation scale is based on the weakest elements displayed by the pilot during the evaluation of a particular exercise, activity or sequence.  The award of a 1 or 2 occurs where there is a safety issue with the pilot performance, or where the pilot displays an unapproved technique or procedure.  Note also that the mark received is supposed to best describes the weakest element(s) applicable to the candidate’s performance of the particular test sequence/item demonstrated.Here is the evaluation scale:

 

4

Performance is well executed considering existing conditions:

 

  • Aircraft handling is smooth and positive with a high level of precision.

  • Technical skills indicate a thorough knowledge of procedures, aircraft systems, limitations and performance characteristics.

  • Situational awareness is indicated by continuous anticipation and vigilance.

  • Flight management skills are exemplary and threats are consistently anticipated, recognized and well managed.

  • Safety margins are maintained through consistent and effective management of aircraft systems and mandated operational protocols.

 

3

Performance is observed to include minor errors:

 

  • Aircraft handling with appropriate control input includes minor deviations.

  • Technical skills indicate an adequate knowledge of procedures, aircraft systems, limitations and performance characteristics to successfully complete the task.

  • Situational awareness is adequately maintained as candidate responds in a timely manner to cues and changes in the flight environment to maintain safety while achieving the aim of the sequence/item.

  • Flight management skills are effective.  Threats are anticipated and errors are recognized and recovered.

  • Safety margins are maintained through effective use of aircraft systems and mandated operational protocols.

 

2

Performance is observed to include major errors:

 

  • Aircraft handling is performed with major deviations and/or an occasional lack of stability, over/under control or abrupt control input.

  • Technical skills reveal deficiencies either in depth of knowledge or comprehension of procedures, aircraft systems, limitations and performance characteristics that do not prevent the successful completion of the task.

  • Situational awareness appears compromised as cues are missed or attended too late or the candidate takes more time than ideal to incorporate cues or changes into the operational plan.

  • Flight management skills are not consistent.  Instrument displays, aircraft warnings or automation serve to avert an undesired aircraft state by prompting or remedying threats and errors that are noticed late.

  • Safety margins are not compromised, but poorly managed.

 

1

Performance is observed to include critical errors or the Aim of the test sequence/item is not achieved:

 

  • Aircraft handling is performed with critical deviations and/or a lack of stability, rough use of controls or control of the aircraft is lost or in doubt.

  • Technical skills reveal unacceptable levels of depth of knowledge or comprehension of procedures, aircraft systems, limitations and performance characteristics that prevent a successful completion of the task.

  • Lapses in situational awareness occur due to a lack of appropriate scanning to maintain an accurate mental model of the situation or there is an inability to integrate the information available to develop and maintain an accurate mental model.

  • Flight management skills are ineffective, indecisive or noncompliant with mandated published procedures and/or corrective countermeasures are not effective or applied.

  • Safety margins are compromised or clearly reduced.

 

Flight Management

Flight management denotes the ability of a pilot to utilize all available resources, both pre-flight and in-flight.  Here is the summary provided by Transport Canada in the Flight Test Guides, which sets out—in broad terms—the qualities of good flight management:

Problem Solving and Decision Making
  • anticipates problems far enough in advance to avoid crisis reaction

  • uses effective decision-making process

  • makes appropriate inquiries

  • prioritizes tasks to gain maximum information input for decisions

  • makes effective use of all available resources to make decisions

  • considers “downstream” consequences of the decision being considered

 

Situational Awareness
  • actively monitors weather, aircraft systems, instruments, ATC communications

  • avoids “tunnel vision” - awareness that factors such as stress can reduce vigilance

  • stays “ahead of the aircraft” in preparing for expected or contingency situations

  • remains alert to detect subtle changes in the environment 

 

Communication
  • provides thorough briefings

  • asks for information and advice

  • communicates decisions clearly

  • asserts one’s position appropriately

  • Workload Management

  • organizes cockpit resources well

  • recognizes overload in self

  • eliminates distractions during high workload situations

  • maintains ability to adapt during high workload situations

 

 

Pilot Performance Errors

The term “error” with regards to pilot performance means an action or inaction by the flight crew that leads to a variance from operational or flight crew intentions or expectations.

Minor Error

An action or inaction that is inconsequential to the completion of a task, procedure or manoeuvre, even if certain elements of the performance vary from the recommended best practices.

Major Error

An action or inaction that can lead to an undesired aircraft state or a reduced safety margin, if improperly managed; or an error that does not lead to a safety risk, but detracts measurably from the successful achievement of the defined aim of a sequence/item.

Critical Error

An action, inaction that is mismanaged and consequently leads to an undesired aircraft state or compromises safety such as:

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  • Non-compliance with CARS or non-adherence to mandated standard operating procedures;

  • Repeated improper error management or uncorrected and unrecognized threats that risk putting the aircraft in an undesired state; or

  • Repeated major errors or the non-performance of elements prescribed in the Performance Criteria that are essential to achieving the Aim of a test sequence/item.

 

Pilot Performance Deviations

The term “deviation” with regards to pilot performance means a variance in precision with respect to a specified limit published for a test sequence/item, as a result of pilot error or faulty handing of the aircraft.

Minor Deviation

A deviation that does not exceed a specified limit.

Major Deviation

A deviation that exceeds a specified limit or repeated minor deviations without achieving stability.

Critical Deviation

A major deviation that is repeated, excessive or not corrected, such as:

​​

  • Repeated non-adherence to specified limits;

  • More than doubling the specified value of a limit; or

  • Not identifying and correcting major deviations.

Make the Most of your Solo Flight Time

 

Your Instructor seeks the most effective and productive use of time in the air; this is his or her job.  What about airtime during your solo flights?  Clearly, a student who is more effective in preparing for solo training will be licensed faster and will save money.  Here are some suggestions:

 

  • Before you go off on a solo flight, prepare a schedule of exercises that you intend to practise. 

 

  • Review the important points associated with each exercise, and specifically include the applicable standards from the Flight Test Guide. 

 

  • When you are done, review the proposed training plan with your Instructor.  In the air, always fly manoeuvres or exercises as if you were demonstrating your skills during a flight test. 

 

  • Always use the correct speeds, altitudes, power settings, and flap settings.  Especially during upper air exercises, always work a specific altitude and a heading or “line.” 

 

  • Finally, after you land, review your performance with your Instructor.

 

Flight Training Written Examinations

 

During the course of your flight training you will write seven examinations as summarized in the table below.  The examinations are not designed to evaluate performance, as is the traditional role of examinations, but are instead designed to ensure that all students have critical knowledge related to flying safety and safety procedures as they progress through the training.  You will be pleased to hear that all of the examinations are multiple-choice.  As well, some are open-book and some are closed book.  Consult the table below for a more detailed description.

PRESTART

This examination literally gets you started.  Successful completion of PRESTART will qualify you to start the aircraft under supervision without the Flight Instructor being physically present in the aircraft.  PRESTART also focuses on “fire during start” procedures and other safety issues, and it also covers knowledge and procedures related to preparation for a training flight.

INFLIGHT

The INFLIGHT examination focuses on your knowledge related to the first five flight exercises—Attitudes and Movements, Straight and Level Flight, Climbs and Descents, and Turns.  This examination also asks some basic questions related to material you have learned in the air such as leaving and returning to the airport.

PSTAR

Before you fly the aircraft by yourself under the supervision of a Flight Instructor (who remains on the ground!), you must complete the PSTAR and the RORC Examinations.  The PSTAR Examination, short for “Student Pilot Permit or Private Pilot Licence for Foreign and Military Applicants, Air Regulations,” is a pre-solo flight examination required by Transport Canada. The PSTAR examines your knowledge of air law and air traffic control procedures, as well as your understanding of central safety issues (e.g., wake turbulence).  Successful completion of the PSTAR will allow us to issue you your first licence, the Student Pilot Permit, and with this you will be legal to fly by yourself as pilot-in-command under Flight Instructor supervision.  Nevertheless, be aware that the passing mark on the PSTAR is 90% and will require effective preparation.  The material contained the Canadian Aviation Regulations and Flight Operations sections of the online Paceline Private Pilot Groundschool are core reading references for the PSTAR examination.  Study questions for this exam appear on xxxxxxxx and these should be reviewed at the start of your preparation for completing the PSTAR.

Medical Certificate

It is important to note that while the completion of the PSTAR examination satisfies the knowledge requirements for the Student Pilot Permit as set out in the Canadian Aviation Regulations, the Student Pilot Permit cannot be issued until you have received a Medical Certificate.  Schedule your medical examination early as the processing can take as long as four weeks after you have visited your Doctor (in the case of Recreational Pilot Students) or a Medical Examiner (in the case of Private Pilot Students).  If you intend to obtain your Commercial Pilot Licence in the next two years or so, you should explain to the Medical Examiner that you wish to qualify for a Category 1 Medical Certificate, as opposed to a Category 3 Medical Certificate, which is for Private Pilot Students.  Recreational Pilot Students simply have to qualify for a Category 4 Medical Certificate, which only requires you to get a form signed by your family physician.  We can provide the Medical Examiner contact information. 

RORC

RORC stand for the “Radiotelephone Operator’s Restricted Certificate (Aeronautical),” and successful completion of this examination will qualify you for your pilot radio licence.  Study material for this examination appears on XXXXXXXXXXXXXX, and specific study questions to help you prepare for the RORC examination appear on xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx.

The RORC examination must be written prior to your first solo flight.

PRESOL

We also requires that, prior to your first solo flight, you successfully complete the School’s PRESOL (Pre-solo Flight) examination.  The PRESOL is designed by us to ensure you have obtained what we regard as crucial knowledge for safe solo operation of the aircraft.  Both the PREPRAC and PRESOL are based on general knowledge acquired during training, as well as information contained in Pilot Operating Handbook, and the Vancouver VTA Chart.

PREPRAC

After you have completed your first solo flight and have completed sufficient practise flying solo in the circuit, you will then qualify to be released solo into the practice area where you will practise various flight exercises by yourself.  The PREPRAC (Pre-solo Practice Area Examination) qualifies you to fly solo in the practice area and reviews your knowledge of safety and operational requirements for solo flight away from the airport.

Airport Qualifying Examinations

This series of examinations, required by all students, reviews your knowledge of surrounding airports, which, during the course of your training, you will fly to by yourself.  Each of these airports—Langley, Abbotsford, Boundary Bay, Pitt Meadows, Chilliwack, Victoria, and Nanaimo—has its own Airport Qualifying Examination (AQE) related to airport layout, arrival, circuit, and departure procedures.

PRESTART

When to write—shortly after beginning flight training.

Type of exam—Open Book

Material used for preparation—your aircraft's emergency procedures pertaining to fire during engine start, your aircraft's normal procedures for engine start, general procedures for training flight preparation.

Qualification derived from completion—solo engine start-up

INFLIGHT

When to write—upon completion of the first five air exercises.

Type of exam—Open Book

Material used for preparation—Transport Canada’s Flight Training Manual related to the first five exercises; general procedures for flight to and from airport.

Qualification derived from completion—none.

PSTAR

When to write—prior to First Solo Flight.

Type of exam—Closed Book

Material used for preparation—The Flight Operations and Canadian Aviation Regulation sections of the Private Pilot Groundschool course.

Qualification derived from completion—Student Pilot Permit

RORC

When to write—prior to First Solo Flight.

Type of exam—Closed Book

Material used for preparationRadio Licence Study Guide.

Qualification derived from completion—Radio Operator’s Licence

PRESOL

When to write—prior to First Solo Flight.

Type of exam—Closed Book

Material used for preparation—Your aircraft's Pilot Operating Handbook related to all emergency procedures; general flying procedures in the circuit.

Qualification derived from completion—Qualify for Instructor Authorizations for first solo flight.

PREPRAC

When to write—prior to first solo flight to the Practice Area.

Type of exam—Open Book

Material used for preparation—Vancouver VTA Chart; general procedures for departing and arriving at Langley Airport.

Qualification derived from completion—Instructor Authorization for solo flight to the Practice Area.

Airport Qualification Examinations (AQEs)

When to write—prior to First Solo Flight to specific Airports.

Type of exam—Open Book

Material used for preparation—General procedures for departing and arriving at the specified airport, including circuit procedures and airport layout—Canada Flight Supplement.

Qualification derived from completion—Instructor Authorization for solo flight to the specified airport.

PRETEST

When to write—prior to the Flight Test

Type of exam—Open Book

Material used for preparation—All materials.

Qualification derived from completion—Flight Test Recommendation

 

Know your Aircraft.

 

As with all factory built aircraft in Canada, aircraft maintenance is regulated by Transport Canada, and in the case of private aircraft, a complete inspection of the airframe and engine is required once a year—this is the "Annual Inspection".  All maintenance decisions—i.e., when tolerances are exceeded with respect to parts and equipment and when replacement or repair is required—are made by a Transport Canada licenced Aircraft Maintenance Engineer.  Students and Instructors, however, are crucial in the assessment of the aircraft’s conditions between inspections by the engineers  This implies, of course, that pre-flight inspections must be carefully conducted.  It must also be remembered, however, that aircraft are not automobiles.  In particular, they are constructed on the basis of maximum strength, yet minimal weight.  The main message here is be gentle with the aircraft.  Here are some points of consideration:

 

  1. When using the tow-bar to move the aircraft, be sure the toe-bar hooks are securely in the correct holes on the nose gear.

  2. Never put weight on the spinner when pushing or pulling the aircraft (the spinner is not designed to bear any force and is simply designed to reduce drag and create smooth airflow over the cylinders—they are also very expensive to replace).  Instead, push or pull the aircraft with hand-force positioned approximately five inches up the prop from the spinner.

  3. Be careful not to push or pull the aircraft into other aircraft, poles, etc.—you would be amazed how many benders occur as a result of this; the empennage will crinkle if it comes into contact with anything hard.  When manoeuvring the aircraft close to objects, always have a person spot the wing tip and tail surfaces for adequate clearance.

  4. In the case of Piper Cherokees, be gentle when stepping up onto the wing.  While the flap is designed to take the weight of a person, avoid stepping there if you can.  Step gently on the step bar—don’t jump on the step bar when stepping off the wing.

  5. In the case of the Cessna 100-series aircraft, never push down on the horizontal stabilizer to rotate the aircraft—push down on the fuselage at the base of vertical stabilizer.

  6. Be gentle with the door.  Ensure it is closed and locked, but don’t slam it.

  7. Be gentle with the rudder pedals during taxi; do not depress a rudder pedal unless the aircraft is moving.

  8. Taxi slowly and carefully and avoid excessive braking that will place a side-load on the steering nose gear; always use minimum power to taxi.

  9. Be careful when checking the magnetos during the pre-takeoff checks—if you accidentally select “off,” the engine will backfire and this can damage the exhaust manifold and muffler.

  10. In the case of Piper Cherokees, the pilot window can be opened during flight, but use care when you close the window; there is considerable vacuum pressure and the window should be closed slowly.

  11. Never lean the fuel mixture below 4000’.  A rich mixture below this altitude is required for engine cooling, especially during ground idling.  If you have leaned above 4000’, be sure you enrich the mixture when descending below this altitude.

  12. Also for maximum cooling, the engine should be idled at 1000 RPM—this keeps air flowing through the engine baffles.

  13. Do not apply excessive braking during landings, unless it is required.  Instead, let the aircraft decelerate through coasting.  If required, of course, do not be afraid to lay into the brakes if rapid deceleration or directional control is required—but be sure the flaps are retracted and the control column is held back to produce maximum weight on the main gear for maximum braking.

  14. Use caution when opening the cabin door in a strong wind; the retention mechanism is easily broken if the door is wrenched open by the wind.

  15. Never leave a cabin door open, even in calm wind conditions; prop-wash from a taxiing aircraft could also damage the retention mechanism.

  16. Never leave a cabin door open while taxiing unless a person in the right seat is holding it securely (i.e., the Instructor).

  17. Remove the cabin covers with care so as not to hook the ambient temperature probe; the probe is mounted in the windscreen and a tugging force on the probe could crack the Plexiglas.

  18. Never place any metal objects—especially headsets—on top of the glareshield (dashboard), as the Plexiglas windscreen is easily scratched.

 

Paperwork for Flight Training

 

With every flight there is paperwork.  Your Instructor documents each training flight in your Pilot Training Record (PTR), describing the training that occurred, including specific areas of focus or improvement for subsequent flights.  When you have completed your training, your PRT will be submitted to Transport Canada as documented proof of meeting ground and air training requirements.  You are encouraged to examine your PTR regularly and in this regard the PTR becomes a learning tool.  You are also encouraged to make comments in the PTR, and this is of particular value to us in reference to solo training flights.

In addition to the PTR, each training flight is documented in student’s Pilot Log Book.  The Pilot Log Book is essentially your record and proof of training.  Transport Canada has the right to audit any Pilot Log Book associated with the application for a pilot licence and rating, and it is important, especially if you are considering a career in professional flying, that the Pilot Log Book is maintained accurately.  For initial pilot training, the Pilot Log Book must essentially be a duplicate of the PTR; for students pursuing a Commercial Pilot Licence, an audit of the Pilot Log Book by Transport Canada in support of the application is assured. 

Students are responsible (subject to Instructor supervision) to ensure the Flight Record and Authorization is properly completed for each flight.  Flight Record and Authorization entries that are required before flight includes aircraft weight and balance, aircraft fuel, and the scheduled training exercises; while entries required after the flight, include takeoff and landing time, flight time (based on the Hobbs Meter) and air time (based on time in the air).  It is the clear responsibility of students to make sure that all of this information is properly recorded; it is the responsibility of the Instructor to ensure this is done.

The Aircraft Journey Log is a legally defined document that records the usage of the aircraft.  Since the Aircraft Journey Log record of aircraft usage determines when an aircraft receives scheduled maintenance, and since the Aircraft Journey Log is the central record of all aircraft defects and unserviceabilities, the accuracy of entries made in this book is critical for flight safety.  Also, be aware that the training flight scheduled after yours cannot be released until the Aircraft Journey Log is completed.  Special care must be made in making accurate and correct entries in Aircraft Journey Logs—if you are unsure of something, ask.

Safety is Paramount

 

There are two “untruths” associated with flying.  The first is that flying is difficult—on the contrary, as you will quickly see, flying is both natural and easy (although all pilots keep this a secret).  The second is that flying is dangerous.  Flying is not inherently dangerous, but safe flying is dependent on safe practices by the pilot.  Throughout your flight training you will learn the art of safe flying; at this point, however, let us point out some basic rules of safe flying. 

 

First, remember that safety in the air during flight is grounded in the security and integrity of the aircraft—its airframe, power plant, and various systems (such as hydraulic brakes).  Therefore, always conduct a thorough and complete pre-flight and pre-takeoff inspection.  You will be given the responsibility for the aircraft’s pre-flight inspection very early on in the training. 

 

Secondly, during all phases of flight, develop a relentless sense of situational awareness, especially with respect to pilot actions, other air traffic, weather, and general operations.  Situational awareness is a keen sense that you will develop with experience.  It is a skill whereby a pilot anticipates and continually monitors flight activity for potential problems or dangers so that the problems or dangers can be avoided or managed as early and as effectively as possible.  Of course your sense of what is a “problem,” or what is “dangerous,” will develop during the course of your flight training, but begin right away in developing your sense of “awareness in the cockpit.” 

 

Thirdly, never get complacent and attempt to cut corners or forego procedures.  Flying is unforgiving in this regard.  Use the proper checks all the time.  Pre-flight checks in the cockpit, for example, are designed to cover a vast array of safety checks and double-check prior to launch.  Don’t cut these checks short as you may miss something.  Keep your own personal standards high throughout your flying career.  Make safety your highest priority.

 

How to Prepare for a Training Flight

 

Pre-flight
  1. Be sure you have possession of your Student Pilot Permit/Pilot Licence and Medical Certificate.

  2. Conduct a live weather briefing with Kamloops Flight Information Centre (FIC) over the telephone (see discussions regarding a FIC briefing at the this link).

  3. Examine the Journey Log for your aircraft with specific concern to assessing any defective items associated with the aircraft.

  4. Examine the Journey Log for your aircraft with specific concern to ensure time has not expired prior to the next scheduled event for your aircraft (e.g., annual inspection,  a 50-hour or 100-hour inspection). 

  5. Check the Journey Log to ensure that the dates associated with any of the posted “out-of-phase” items (such as fire extinguisher, survival kit, or ELT servicing. or maintenance) have not expired—in the case of private aircraft, these should be described in the last annual inspection.

  6. Examine the Journey Log for any aircraft defect entries, made by either by pilots or engineers—you will have to review the entries since the last scheduled inspection (i.e., the annual inspection).  Note any deferred defects and ensure they are deferred in accordance with Transport Canada requirements (especially CAR 605—check with your Flight Instructor).

  7. Check the aircraft documents that are stowed in the cockpit—the Pilot Operating Handbook, Interception Orders, the Certificate of Airworthiness, the Certificate of Registration, the Certificate of Insurance, and the certifications for the Aircraft Weight and Balance data.

  8. Conduct a thorough pre-flight inspection (walk-around) of your aircraft in accordance with the Pilot Operating Handbook..

  9. Plan for aircraft re-fueling as required.

  10. Calculate the planned takeoff weight and balance for your aircraft.

  11. Fill-out and complete the Flight Record and Authorization, including notation of the oil, fuel, estimated fuel time, the Centre of Gravity and Basic Empty Weight data for the takeoff, landing, and zero fuel, Hobbs, anticipated departure time and estimated length of the flight; be sure to include the planned exercises, and you will have to enter the expiry date of your Medical Certificate (in the case of Student Pilot Permit holders, the validity time is 5 years.

  12. Prepare and make active your Flight Plan or Flight Itinerary.

  13. Ensure that the Journey Log is placed on-board the aircraft.[1]

  14. Meet with your Instructor for a pre-flight briefing.

Post-Flight
  1. Ensure your Flight Plan or Flight Itinerary is properly closed.

  2. Ensure the aircraft and aircraft pilot controls are secured.

  3. Complete the post-flight entries on the Flight Record and Authorization, including time up, time down, and shutdown Hobbs.

  4. Complete the Journey Log—in the case of Private Pilot Students, coordinate with your Flight Instructor on this..

  5. Complete the entry in your Pilot Log.[2]

  6. Ensure the accounting procedures associated with your flight are completed.

  7. Meet with your Instructor for a post-flight debriefing.

  8. Be sure to review with your Flight Instructor  the planned exercises for the next flight, including reading and studying assignments.

 

[1] The aircraft documents—Certificate of RegistrationCertificate of Airworthiness, and certifications for Aircraft Weight and Balance data—are typically kept in the cockpit, or are attached to the Journey Log.  These documents must be on board the aircraft during every flight; the Journey Log for each aircraft, however, need only be on board the aircraft when a landing is planned at an airport other than the airport of departure—so technically, the Journey Log does not have to be on board training flights that satisfy this requirement.  Don’t get confused, though, as the Pilot Operating Handbook must always be on board and available to the pilot.

[2] Your Pilot Log is the record of all flights made by a pilot.  Be sure that all entries are neat and accurate, and this is especially the case if you are planning to pursue a career as a professional pilot (your Pilot Log will be audited when you apply for your Commercial Pilot Licence and your Airline Transport Licence, and any errors or omission can hold up your application).  For each flight you must note the date, the aircraft type and identification, the Pilot-in-Command (your Instructor—until you pilot the aircraft by yourself as a student pilot), your status as “Student” if applicable (in which you write “Self”), the airport of departure and landing, the flight time, the exercises flown, and any relevant details of your flight—that portion of the flight time that was cross-country, conducted during the day or night, or conducted under the hood (instrument flying).  For the exercises, use the number code that appears in the Pilot Training Record.  Be sure you go over with your Instructor your first couple of entries to check that you are making the entries correctly.  Also, it is a good idea to have your Pilot Log certified by a school when you have completed your training.