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Aviation Instructors Handbook | Chapter 11

Aviation is changing rapidly and aviation instructors must continue to develop their knowledge and skills in order to teach successfully in this environment. This chapter addresses the topic of how instructors can grow and develop as professionals and as safety advocates, and also suggests some sources of information to assist in this development.


The aviation instructor is usually well respected by other technicians and pilots because instructors must meet additional training requirements in order to be certified. Instructors have had to undergo comprehensive evaluations and a practical test to obtain a flight instructor certificate. Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) part 147 requires all instructors teaching maintenance subjects to hold an FAA certificate as an aircraft maintenance technician.

The presumption of detailed knowledge is true because, in most cases, an instructor must know the aviation subject area to a much greater depth in order to teach the subject. The most knowledgeable people in any subject area are the ones who are teaching that subject. With the aviation field constantly changing, it is incumbent on the instructor to continually keep up with current information. Because instructors are regarded as authorities, they are in a unique position to influence education in the aviation field.


In Chapter 8, the instructor is portrayed as the person the student will emulate. This is especially true concerning safety. The instructor who violates accepted safety procedures will adversely affect the safety practices of the students who observe such unsafe acts. One of the most productive actions a flight or maintenance instructor can take to enhance aviation safety is to consistently emphasize safety by example. Another way to further safety is to actively participate in the FAA Aviation Safety Program. The program’s objective is to improve safety in general aviation by improving attitudes, increasing knowledge and proficiency through education, and reducing environmental hazards. The Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) Safety Program Manager is involved in all areas of safety within the district. The Aviation Safety Program has several features that the instructor can use to promote safety. The aviation instructor who is actively involved in the Aviation Safety Program will be a more capable and professional instructor.


Aviation Safety Counselors are well known and highly respected members of the aviation community who are selected by the Safety Program Manager with the concurrence of the manager of the FSDO. They generally are pilots, flight instructors, or aviation maintenance technicians; however, this is not a prerequisite for selection. Counselors are volunteers who are willing to devote time, energy, and thought toward the objective of solving aviation safety problems in their community. They assist the FAA in the promotion of safety by organizing and participating in safety programs, and helping to correct conditions that are hazardous to aircraft and aviation personnel. FAA-M-8740.3, Aviation Safety Counselor Manual, outlines some of the specific activities of the Aviation Safety Counselor, and provides guidelines for performing those activities. Some of the activities of the Aviation Safety Counselor, as outlined in the manual, are listed below.

  • Counseling individuals who may have exhibited potentially unsafe acts.


  • Assisting pilots, aircraft owners, and aircraft maintenance technicians on matters pertaining to proper maintenance of aircraft and avionics equipment.


  • Counseling individuals following incidents requiring flight assistance from Air Traffic Control (ATC) personnel.


  • Assisting the FAA in transmitting safety information to pilots, aircraft owners, maintenance facilities, and technicians.


  • Conducting proficiency flights (when appropriately rated).


  • Providing information and assistance to the FAA in establishing local airport safety committees.


  • Notifying the appropriate authorities of the need for corrective action when hazardous conditions affecting safe flight or ground operations are observed.


  • Organizing and participating in safety meetings, workshops, and seminars.



Part of being a professional aviation instructor is being knowledgeable on the subjects of aviation and instructing. Instructors need to continually update their knowledge and skills. This effort to improve aviation knowledge and skills can range from simply reading an article in a technical publication to taking courses at a technical school or college. There are many different sources of information the aviation instructor can use in order to further aviation knowledge. [Figure 11-1]


One of the first educational sources for the instructor is the FAA and other governmental agencies. The FAA either sponsors or collaborates in sponsoring seminars and workshops that are available to the public in the furtherance of knowledge of aviation. Some examples would be safety seminars conducted around the country by the FAA in conjunction with industry. These seminars, although directed at pilots, can be a useful source of knowledge for aviation instructors.

The FAA is a source of many documents which can be used to further an instructor’s knowledge. Many of these are published as advisory circulars and are available by mail.

The requirements for a flight instructor’s participation in the Proficiency Award Program were outlined in Chapter 8. Participation in this program is a good way for a flight instructor to improve proficiency and to serve as an example to students. Another way is to work toward the Gold Seal Flight Instructor Certificate. Accomplishing the requirements of the certificate is evidence that the instructor has performed at a very high level as a flight instructor. See AC 61-65, Certification: Pilots and Flight Instructors, for a list of requirements for earning this certificate.

Similarly, the Aviation Maintenance Awards Program affords the aviation maintenance instructor the opportunity for increased education through attendance at FAA or industry maintenance training seminars. Details for the awarding of bronze through diamond pins can be found in AC 65-25, Aviation Maintenance Technician Awards Program.

The FAA approves the sponsors who conduct Flight Instructor Refresher Clinics (FIRCs) in accordance with AC 61-83. Nationally Scheduled FAA-Approved Industry-Conducted Flight Instructor Refresher Clinics (FIRC). These courses are available for flight instructors to complete the training requirements for renewal of flight instructor certificates.

The FAA co-sponsors Inspection Authorization (IA) seminars. These seminars are open to all maintenance technicians, and are a good source of additional training and education for maintenance instructors.


Professional aviation instructors can further increase their knowledge and skill in aviation specialties through FAA programs and seminars. They can also increase their professional knowledge and skills through post-secondary schools. These range from local community colleges to technical schools and


universities. These schools may offer complete degree programs in aviation subjects as well as single-subject courses of benefit to instructors.


Commercial organizations are another important source of education/training for the aviation instructor. Some may be publishers of training materials while others may provide complete ground and flight training programs for professional pilots and instructors. These companies often provide a wide variety of study programs including videos, computer-based training, and printed publications. Many offer training that can be attended either at the home base of the company or in traveling classes/seminars so instructors can more easily attend.

There are numerous organizations around the country that offer courses of training for aviation instructors. These are generally courses that are available to all pilots and technicians, but are especially useful for instructors to improve their abilities. Examples of such courses include workshops for maintenance technicians to enhance their skills in subjects such as composites, sheet metal fabrication, and fabric covering. For pilots there are courses in mountain flying, spin training, and tailwheel qualification. Flight instructors also may increase their aviation knowledge and experience by adding additional category and class ratings to their certificates.


Other significant sources of ongoing education for aviation instructors are the myriad of aviation organizations. These organizations not only provide educational articles in their publications, but also present training programs or co-sponsor such programs.

Many industry organizations have local affiliated chapters that make it easy to meet other pilots, technicians, and instructors. These meetings frequently include presentations by industry experts, as well as formal training sessions. Some aviation industry organizations conduct their own training sessions on areas such as flight instructor refresher clinics and Inspection Authorization (IA) seminars. Properly organized safety symposiums and training clinics are valuable sources of refresher training. They also are an excellent opportunity to exchange information with other instructors.


An aviation instructor should maintain access to current flight publications or maintenance publications. For the flight instructor, this includes current copies of regulations pertinent to pilot qualification and certification, Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM), appropriate Practical Test Standards (PTS), and pilot training manuals. The aviation maintenance instructor should have copies of applicable regulations, current knowledge and practical test standards, and maintenance training manuals. Aviation instructors must be completely familiar with current certification and rating requirements in order to provide competent instruction. AC 00-2 Advisory Circular Checklist, is a listing of all current advisory circulars and other FAA publications sold by the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO). Many of the advisory circulars should be considered by the aviation instructor for inclusion in a personal reference library. This checklist can be obtained from

U.S. Government Bookstores or from the U.S. Government Printing Office.

In addition to government publications, a number of excellent handbooks and other reference materials are available from commercial publishers. Aviation periodicals and technical journals from the aviation industry are other sources of valuable information for instructors. Many public and institutional libraries have excellent resource material on educational psychology, teaching methods, testing, and other aviation-related subjects.

The aviation instructor has two reasons to maintain a source of current information and publications. First the instructor needs a steady supply of fresh material to make instruction interesting and up-to-date. Second, instructors should keep themselves well informed by maintaining familiarity with what is being written in current aviation publications. Most of these publications are in printed form, but increasingly, information is available through electronic means. [Figure 11-2]


Printed materials have the advantage of portability. In aviation, documentation in the form of flight publications or maintenance data must be immediately available for referral while flying or conducting maintenance. Printed material makes this possible, but hard copy can also be a disadvantage, taking up space for storage and often becoming tedious to keep current. While most periodicals are still available in hard copy, some are starting to be available partially or totally in electronic form. Most FAA regulations, standards, and guides are available either in electronic form or as hard copy.

Non-FAA publications are available through the GPO and from the National Technical Information Service (NTIS). Publications not printed by the U.S. Government Printing Office are available from the many publishers and suppliers of books. Commercial publishers usually provide catalogues and toll-free numbers or web sites for ordering their products.


Access to the Internet via personal computers has opened up a vast storehouse of information for the aviation instructor. In the past, aviation instructors had limited access to information, but the personal computer has greatly expanded sources of aviation information. This section will list some sources of information on the Internet. In the following discussion, several sites for accessing FAA materials are explored, and some non-FAA sites are included. Once instructors begin to navigate the Internet, they will find sites which provide the information they use most frequently. [Figure 11-3]

Obviously, some FAA publications are more important to the aviation instructor than others. Many of the publications of interest to the aviation instructor can be accessed through the FAA Flight Standards Service Aviation Information (AV-INFO) Web Site ( These publications can be accessed by clicking on the button marked Regulatory Support Division (AFS-600). At the AFS-600 site, selecting “Publications: Training, Testing, and Technical” accesses Airman Knowledge Test Question Banks, Knowledge Test Guides, Practical Test Standards, and select Advisory Circulars.

From the AV-INFO Web Site, aviation instructors have access to the National Transportation Safety Board, Airworthiness Directives, Listings of FAA Certificated Maintenance and Pilot schools, and FAA forms. Once the instructor has located a site of interest, the site can be saved by clicking on the Bookmark option (or other designation such as “Favorite”) provided by the web browser used. This allows the instructor to return to the site without going through multiple links.

The FAA home page can also be reached through the AV-INFO Web Site. After opening the FAA home page, one of the fastest ways to view a variety of FAA materials is to select an option from the prominent pull-down list. Once an area of interest has been selected, the instructor can click on the “GO!” button to link to various FAA sites. For example, an instructor can select “Publications” from the list to locate all FAA publications available from the Department of Transportation (DOT), U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO), National Technical Information Service (NTIS), and the Federal Depository Libraries.

FAA web sites are not the only source of aviation or education-related information on the Internet. The aviation instructor can access a myriad of aviation-related publications at other governmental or non-governmental web sites. An easy way to reach some of these sites is through the AV-INFO Web Site by clicking on the button marked “Public Aviation Sites.” Others can be accessed via published web addresses or by using the search function of the web browser. Conducting a search on the word “aviation” gives the aviation instructor access to literally thousands of related web sites.

Keep in mind that most sites on the Internet are updated periodically. In addition, new sites are added and old sites are discontinued on a regular basis. The aviation instructor can become more adept at obtaining information by entering and navigating around the Internet to become informed about the contents and how to best locate desired information. The more familiar aviation instructors become with the Internet, the better they will be able to adapt to any changes that may occur.

Professional aviation instructors must continue to expand their knowledge and skills in order to be competent instructors. The field of aviation is advancing, and the instructor also must advance. Instructors can able at training sessions and seminars, from printed best do this by taking advantage of the wide variety of books, papers, magazines, and from the Internet and materials available from the FAA, other governmental other electronic sources. Instructors who commit to agencies, commercial publishers and vendors, and continuing education will be able to provide the high-from industry trade groups. These materials are avail-est quality instruction to their students.