May 2008 Issue

Compensating For Pilot Inexperience

Better, more focused training and disciplined procedures can help the pros overcome reduced experience. Here’s what you can learn from them.

Flight time and experience requirements are dropping nearly everywhere pilots are being hired. Some airlines will now hire pilots and put them in the right seat of a jet with no more than a commercial multi-engine ticket and the couple hundred hours required to get it. Critics think this will cause airplanes to fall out of the sky. Others claim improved training and rigorous attention to procedures makes the difference. Let’s take a look at both sides of that debate, and see what lessons we can learn from that to improve our own flying. There’s no argument that experience builds skill and with that experience, hopefully, good judgment follows. Judgment can be taught to some extent, but as the saying goes, there is no substitute for experience. We’re reminded of one instructor we knew who tried to pass along the lessons learned from his own experience. But he was quick to point out that he was just one person and with an infinite number of possible mistakes, he’d only made half a lifetime of his own, so it’s important to have the judgment to avoid as many as possible and the skill to survive the rest.

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