When you have to Blur your Eyes . .
The Flight Instructor Guide is a wonderful publication, but it has some short-comings that all instructor students must be aware. For those who teach instructors and for instructor students, the Guide is the governing authority—the biblical text for civil aviation training. While it is the source that directs or instructor training programs, however, it has parts where the guidance it provides gets—well, “wishy washy” in lack a better word.
The Guide is divided into three substantive parts, with Part 1 provided a comprehensive yet concise and efficient review of learning and teaching factor, Part 2 outlines instructor lesson-plan priorities for the Preparatory Ground Instruction that supports air instruction, and Part 3 contains the lesson plans that govern “ideal-typical” training flights. The problem here is readily evident in that there is never an “ideal-typical” training flight—it just doesn’t work that way! There are variations in instructor priority, instructor methodology, aircraft type performance, seasonal factors, and of course geographic factors. Too many variations to list here, but the point is that Part 3 is where a lot of “interpretation” is required. The “ideal-typical” lesson plans of Part 3 were conceived at a time somewhere in the 1960s through 1980 when people learned to fly in uncomplicated airspace, instrument flying was required, and private pilots had to demonstrate spin recover on their flight test. Pilots from that era seem to always claim they were soloed in less than 8 hours! As a result the Part 3 lesson plan have issues.
A big issue with Part 3 lesson plan designs is that students appear rushed through attitudes and movements. The Part 3 lessons only dedicate a portion of the first training flight to this (Lesson Plan #2, following the familiarization flight that is Lesson Plan 1), and many feel this is totally in adequate students the necessary time to make the “cause—effect” relationship between pilot control input and aircraft response—students must not be rushed as they develop a “feel” for the aircraft.
Part 3 Lesson Plans #2, #3, and #4 fail somewhat in developing a centralized theme in student training for what many now refer to as the “basic maneuvers” training—straight and level flight, climbs, descents, and turns. Students should be systematically introduced to power/speed changes and flap changes in straight and level flight, but this is not clear, and nor is the use of flaps during climbs, descents and overshoot maneuvers—also considered by many as crucial pre-solo trainining for private pilot student affectiveness and safety. Like attitudes and movements, the upper air maneuvers are also presented as rushed maneuvers, with pre-solo stall training seemingly avoiding more advanced yet critical variations in stall training and performance, such as stalls recovery with from a flap configuration, during turn maneuvers, and stall entries with various power settings.
In the end, instructor students—under the guidance of their instructors—have to “fill in the gaps” presented in Part 3 lesson plans, reorganizing the central and systematic theme of basic maneuvers, giving clear detail and training targets to the upper air exercise sequences, and filling in the many other gaps that have appeared in conjunction with the advancement in civil pilot training curriculum witnessed since the 1980s—instrument instruction for private pilot students, and of course the commercial pilot, night rating, VFR Over-the-top, multi-engine and seaplane class ratings lesson sequences, and of course IFR training—which are missed in the Guide and are instead touched on in an improvised fashion in various guidance publication published by Transport Canada.
What is Transport Canada’s take on all this? Well, the governing force in instructor training is the expectations of Transport Canada Flight Training Inspectors during Class 4 initial flight tests and instructor up-grade flight tests for the Class 2 and Class 1 instructors. In the end, their standards must be met and this includes how they perceive the “gaps” of the Part 3 lesson plans should be filled. It is of course the job of Class 1 instructors to have a grasp of those expectations. Fortunately the Guide itself provides "guidance" for this as well, recognizing the need for “gap filling” on the flight line. Instructors students must learn to embrace the fuzzy areas as part of their newly learn craft of being a flight instructor. The following test appears at the beginning of Part 3 of the Guide:
"Lesson Plans for the Private Pilot Flight Training Syllabus, which follow, provide guidance for the new instructor, and a ready reference for the more experienced instructor. Flight times are not specified since it is essential that the required competency in each exercise is achieved, regardless of the flight time involved, before proceeding with the next lesson.
While it is recommended that flight instructors carefully follow these Lesson Plans as outlined, the personal instructional techniques of an individual flight instructor may be cause for modification of this syllabus, in which case, it should be committed to writing and followed with care. In either case, special circumstances such as aircraft availability, geographic location, or weather conditions may necessitate a departure from the written numerical order of the Lesson Plans.
It must be clearly understood that each Lesson Plan does not necessarily constitute a single flight - the number of flights will vary according to Lesson Plan content and student ability. The reference manual for the material contained in the Lesson Plans is Transport Canada's Flight Training Manual. Training aids will vary according to the subject, but the model aircraft, chalkboard, and aircraft flight manual are practically essential in each case . ."