June 27, 2017
Airlines, aircraft manufacturers, and many other industry insiders are concerned with the quality of flight training options, especially in light of pilot shortages. An upgrade to a popular app may provide a solution to some of the biggest problems that plague the industry.
Industry insiders have reason to be concerned about the quality of training. Jamie Beckett of General Aviation News reports that 80% of student pilots drop out of training before receiving their pilot certificate. Swayne Martin of Bold Method, cites “lack of structured training” as the primary reason for the dismal dropout rate.
“At my first flight school, I found myself wondering what the next lesson would entail,” said Martin, “Even occasionally showing up having to tell my instructor what exactly I wanted to accomplish that day.” –11 Reasons Why 80% of Student Pilots Drop Out of Training – Swayne Martin, BoldMethod
Disorganization leads to inefficiency. Most students need far more than the 40 hours of flight time required by the FAA to develop the competence and skills to pass the checkride required for a Private Pilot rating. Aircraft rental ranges from $110 to $395 per hour plus instruction, so delays can add considerably to the cost of flight training.
“People are willing to invest in an education that leads to a great career, but are reluctant to invest an unknown amount into an unstructured process with an uncertain outcome.” Said Josh Flowers, (AKA MrAviation101.)
Traditionally, instructors used to rely on a complex combination of logbooks, textbooks, spreadsheets and other tools to track the progress of each student. This cumbersome process makes it difficult for both instructors and students to gauge progress and plan next steps.
“Students get derailed or frustrated when the training experience is disjointed.” Said Flowers. “Gaps or overlaps in their learning experience can add a lot of time to the process. Students may need to review old skills before they learn new ones. And many aren’t clear about what they should practice, study or review to prepare for their next lesson. ”
Software developer and creator of Pilot Partner, Ken VeArd decided to take on the problem..
“How can we make the flight training process more efficient and satisfying, using technology?”
His solution? A digital dashboard with shared data that can be accessed by desktop computer or mobile device.
Certified Flight Instructors (CFIs) log into the CFI Dashboard to see the status of each of their students. A link between the student’s and CFI’s digital logbook enables the CFI to enter flights into both logbooks, saving time and reducing errors from manual entry. The CFI can review flight history after the student has left for the day. The instructor can sign records electronically, and provide detailed notes about each flight or lesson. The instructor also has a visual list of which skills have been “introduced,” “progressing,” or “ready for check ride,” the CFI can focus on items that need improvement and avoid repeating unnecessary activities. The list of skills are based on a Airman Certification Standard (ACS) Private Pilot or Instrument Pilot syllabus.
Like Google Maps or other popular software, the CFI Dashboard makes it easier to see “where you are” and “where you’re going” on the flight training journey.
Students can log into the Aviation Training Dashboard (a student-side view of the CFI Dashboard) for a graphical depiction of the standard flight training requirements. They can also see an outline of their accomplishments and progress, next steps, and a clear map of what it takes to get to the next objective. Used properly, a Student Pilot could earn a Private Pilot or Instrument rating in few Flights, saving money.
“The students I mentor are often surprisingly unclear about which skills they need to work on. By simplifying and clarifying the process, students can focus their energy in the right place. With better visibility comes better control. When students know what’s coming next, they can focus their study time on learning the next skill.”
As an example, If a student knows he needs to improve radio communications skills, he can review textbooks, or practice with a partner before his next flight, making the best use of expensive flight time.
“This really helps the student to show up prepared, confident and ready to progress to the next step,” said Flowers.
The CFI Dashboard is free tool for any instructors to use. A Pilot Partner Logbook Subscription ($29.95/year) is helpful to keep the instructor’s logbook in order, but not required. Instructors can earn free subscriptions by referring two qualified students per year.
About Pilot Partner
The original Pilot Partner electronic logging software was developed in 1997, when founder and CEO Ken VeArd was still in flight school. After writing all his flights into his logbook, he thought, “there has to be a better way.” Now, almost 20 years later, there are still no electronic logbooks that fully satisfy his needs. The new PilotPartner.net has been redesigned to support the needs of today’s general aviation pilot.
Additionally, Pilot Partner has released the new CFI Dashboard. The dashboard facilitates CFIs to electronically sign students’ logbooks, post endorsements, and write detailed notes. The dashboard provides pilots and their students the means to track progress, even when they in different locations.
Pilot partner is a registered trademark of Pilot Network LLC © 2017 Pilot Network LLC.
Interviews and high-resolution photos are available on request.