FAA Safety Tips: Proficiency Vs. Currency
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the general aviation (GA) community’s national #FlySafe campaign helps educate GA pilots about the best practices to calculate and predict aircraft performance and to operate within established aircraft limitations.
A Loss of Control (LOC) accident involves an unintended departure of an aircraft from controlled flight. LOC can happen when the aircraft enters a flight regime that is outside its normal flight envelope and quickly develops into a stall or spin. It can introduce an element of surprise for the pilot. However, with proficiency training, you can maintain and improve pilot performance with respect to many LOC precursors, making it much less likely that LOC will occur.
Pilot Skills: Currency vs. Proficiency
Do you know the difference between keeping current and becoming proficient? The FAA sets minimum standards for currency, but proficiency means that you have taken the time to fully train and are ready to handle any situation at any time. Being current under the regulations means you have met the requirements to act as a pilot in command of an aircraft. Being proficient means that you are fully competent in those actions. In other words, you understand the normal operations as well as the “what-if” readiness for your type of flying.
Aeronautical decision-making and judgment is a constant work-in-process. Make the commitment to fly, master the technology, use your checklists, review your proficiency and maintain your personal discipline.
Know Your Limits
We all have limits. Do you know yours? You know what is legal – through the regulations, your insurance company, the company you fly for – but do you know what your skills and talents enable you to do, safely? If the answer is no, are you able to respect that answer? Personal minimums mean we set a line for what we will accept as safe, before we go flying. Personal minimums must be, refined and internalized, before your emotions and ego become involved.
What Would You Do?
Imagine different scenarios. A difficult landing. What would you do? A long day of flying. How does that change your decisions? What if you have passengers on board? You can see that choices are not always black or white. The more you can think about these situations and what your personal minimums will be, the better prepared you will be.
Benefits of WINGS
Each aeronautical skill requires practice. Practice with your flight instructor. Challenge yourself. Enroll in the FAA’s WINGS Pilot Proficiency Program to learn more, and help us reduce the number of accidents we see each year. This program helps you improve your skills and knowledge as pilots. The WINGS program will:
- Help pilots reduce stress and enjoy a safer flying experience by maintaining their currency and proficiency in the basics of flight.
- Encourage ongoing training with your flight instructor. Reviewing and refreshing your knowledge – at regular intervals throughout the year – is just as important as actual flying.
- Provide opportunities to complete online courses, attend seminars, and participate in webinars. Many third party activities, including those offered by the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, Aviation Supplies and Academics Inc., Sporty’s and others qualify for WINGS credit.
Getting started in WINGS is as easy as one, two, three.
- Create an account on faasafety.gov
- Complete your WINGS Pilot Profile
- Attend a WINGS seminar or take a WINGS flight with your flight instructor.
There’s nothing like the feeling you get when you know you’re playing your “A” game and in order to do that you need good coaching. So, fly regularly with a flight instructor who will challenge you to review what you know, explore new horizons, and to always do your best. Of course, you’ll have to dedicate time and money to your proficiency program, but it’s well worth it for the peace of mind that comes with confidence.
More about Loss of Control:
Contributing factors may include:
- Errors in and aeronautical decision making
- Failure to recognize an aerodynamic stall or spin and execute corrective action
- Intentional failure to comply with regulations
- Failure to maintain airspeed
- Failure to follow procedure
- Pilot inexperience and lack of proficiency
- Use of prohibited or over-the-counter drugs, illegal drugs, or alcohol
Did you know?
- From October 2017 through September 2018, 382 people died in 226 general aviation accidents.
- Loss of Control was the number one cause of these accidents.
- Loss of Control happens in all phases of flight. It can happen anywhere and at any time.
- There is one fatal accident involving Loss of Control every four days.
The FAA’s WINGS Pilot Proficiency Program is a great place to start. You can find the WINGS User Guide here. AOPA has published an extensive collection of material for pilots to consult. Learn more at AOPA.org