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NAFI Leader Outlines Future Flight Training Challenges


NAFI Executive Director Rusty Sachs

March 22, 2007 — National Association of Flight Instructors (NAFI) Executive Director Rusty Sachs outlined the challenges of training general aviation pilots in advanced avionics systems as well as the growing sport pilot population during last week's panel discussion on the future of GA held at the FAA's annual Aviation Forecast Conference in Washington, D.C.

"General aviation faces two widely different challenges in this first decade of the 21st century," Sachs said. "Training an enormous pilot population in the proper use of increasingly complex avionics, and training a similar population to operate safely in basic aircraft within a complex airspace system."

Seasoned pilots must be retrained before flying with advanced avionics, with recurrent training necessary as those systems evolve. But the challenge of training the enormous number of GA pilots outside Parts 121 and 135 operations--the overwhelming majority of whom learned on analog gauges--is daunting.

"Few CFIs outside academic training environment are currently capable of teaching and testing students in sophisticated cockpits that are now readily available, and few pilot examiners are competent to determine the proficiency of pilots to use such environments. At the same time, we are confronted with the prospect of thousands of aviators of disparate experience seeking new certification as sport pilots between now and 2010."

During a Q&A session, Sachs commented that the United States is not training sufficient numbers of pilots to meet the rising worldwide demand. "China and India are buying airliners to met their domestic needs," he said, "but where are the pilots going to come from?"

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