Is pilot training all you need to knock the cobwebs off?
Boy, it’s been a while since I’ve flown. I’m not going to lie – I’m a little concerned about my first trip post-Covid. It’s not going to be pretty. I’m trying to decide how to transition back into my day job; I’m not sure what will make it easier. I don’t think extra pilot training is the answer – I’ve lost more than my proficiency with the obvious emergencies and low approaches. I’ve also lost the everyday flow of the things that used to come so naturally.
I’m thinking that I have to get back in the air and get flying again to straighten this out.
I’m not alone. It’s unprecedented in our industry to have such a large number of pilots without the ability to stay current for so long. And it’s starting to show! Now that we are getting back into the air, pilot reports from the FAA’s Aviation Safety Reporting System have increased dramatically. And I mean dramatically!
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University researchers have discovered that the reports filed during the pandemic relating to a proficiency or currency issue increased by 1000%. It looks like manual flight control skills were most affected. We’re not in our flow anymore.
The good news is that it doesn’t take long for pilots with substantial experience to get back in their groove. They can get back up to a high level of proficiency in a relatively short time. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to spend some time with the books and emergency procedures before you get back in the cockpit, maybe even do some armchair flying with your poster from initial. I’m confident that the important things will still be there if we need them.
The bad news is for the less experienced pilots. Going without flying for almost a year makes this pilot group especially vulnerable. Caution has to be the top priority for them. Personal minimums should be increased, nothing should be rushed, the weather should be closely monitored – and getting as much flight time as possible to brush up on their skills would be most helpful.
It’s not been easy on any of us. We can’t just ask the boss for the keys to the jet for some proficiency flying. It’s also not very practical to request additional pilot training when it’s not a legal necessity. So in the meantime, we’re all going to go back out there and do the best we can. A word to the wise: Be careful and a little more cautious than usual. It will all come back to us – it’s just going to take some time!