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Training Options for Single-Pilot Business Aircraft Operators

SRM | May 30, 2016

Author: Robert A. Wright


Many small companies have discovered the travel flexibility offered by light business aircraft (LBA). These include small piston, turboprop, and turbojet-powered aircraft with one or two engines. The May 2016 issue of Business and Commercial Aviation magazine lists 52 current makes and models of LBA that can be flown single-pilot. Many more models are available as used aircraft. However, single-pilot operation of these sophisticated aircraft presents many challenges. This is particularly true for operators of turbine-powered LBA.

In addition to having the traditional skills required to operate complex aircraft, single-pilot operators must master additional skills that collectively are known as Single-Pilot Resource Management (SRM). The SRM skill set includes risk management, automation management, task and workload management, and maintaining situational awareness. As a single-pilot operator, you must ensure that you are proficient in these skills. Root cause analysis of accident data shows that deficiencies in SRM skills, especially risk management, are root causes of the majority of LBA fatal accidents.

Most pilots of turbine-powered LBA avail themselves of periodic training at simulator training centers. This is less often the case for pilots of piston-powered LBA. Simulator training provides opportunities for pilots to practice certain emergency procedures that cannot safely be simulated in actual aircraft. However, all too often, LBA pilots don’t request or don’t receive emphasis on SRM skills, especially risk management, during these simulator sessions. Rather, the training emphasis is often confined to prescribed training maneuvers and procedures.

Pilots of piston-powered LBA often have even fewer opportunities to receive SRM training. Some may not receive formal recurrent training at all, or if they do seek training, it may be from individual instructors who have little experience in teaching SRM skills, especially in the context of scenario-based training.

Fortunately, there are options for LBA pilots who wish to take command of their training needs. Many aspects of learning SRM skills can be addressed by taking live or on-line training courses tailored to single-pilot requirements. The most flexible training solutions will be those that allow the LBA pilot to complete training when and where it is convenient to do so, rather than incurring the time and expense of travelling to a training center. These courses can be the perfect complement to simulator training or airplane training from independent instructors., in cooperation with Crew Resource Management LLC, offers a complete online SRM course for business aviation (available for purchase through our storefront).

Robert A. Wright is the president of Wright Aviation Solutions, LLC. He is a member of the leadership team of Crew Resource Management, LLC, which has been providing comprehensive CRM training to corporate flight departments for over four years.

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