The sample preflight briefings given here are adequate for the purpose of the Category C Flight Instructor issue flight test.

The novice instructor must realise that there is no standard briefing because there is no standard student.

These preflight briefings then, are a guide to the novice instructor, and their content and breadth should not be considered comprehensive. For example, no briefing on the use of the aircraft radio is given here, but this does not mean that none is required. In addition, these briefings are very generalised, and some modification will be required to meet the operating requirements of specific aircraft types.

Detailed information and some formulae have been included in the academic considerations of each briefing. These are only included to give the novice instructor a broad appreciation of the reasons behind the contents of the airborne sequence. They are not meant to be written out in full, nor necessarily discussed during the preflight briefing. In addition, suggested briefing introductions, comments or even the suggested briefing layouts are not required to be delivered verbatim.

How much detail, background information or theory is added, and which parts are deferred or arranged differently, is the responsibility of the qualified instructor.

The specific ability to modify the preflight briefings with regard to the student's previous experience, the conditions on the day, and the objectives, is what is usually examined during the upgrade flight test from Category C to Category B Flight Instructor.

Under Category C issue flight test conditions, it is common practice, and acceptable, for the preflight briefing to take up to one hour to deliver.

The sequence and contents of the briefings presented here follow a generally accepted pattern. However, the Chief Flying Instructor (CFI) of each training organisation has final discretion over the sequence and briefing content used within their own organisation.

Throughout this text the words control column, control wheel and stick are used interchangeably, as they all have the same function and sense of movement.

The preflight briefing

Before beginning a preflight brief you need to know the student's past experience in order to give relevance to the lesson. This may be simple enough to achieve if the student is known to you, has completed a post-flight questionnaire relating to their last lesson or has no previous flight experience. Where the student has previous flight experience and is not known to you, research of the student's anecdotal records will be required. Where these are not available, nor is the student's past instructor, the student's logbook forms a valuable, if limited, reference.

Where the student with past flight experience is unknown to the organisation, the CFI generally conducts an evaluation flight to assess the student's goals, values, self-concept and position within the syllabus. The CFI then provides you with the new student's relevant details.

The use of abbreviations during the briefing, for example, A/C for aircraft, is common and acceptable as long as the meaning of the abbreviation is explained.

Each preflight briefing has a title and is discussed under five or six headings.

The title

Typically the title is a very brief statement. Although the title may clearly convey to you what the lesson is about, it may not for the student. As soon as the subject is introduced a verbal explanation of what the lesson is about is given, showing relevance and relating it to past experience. The introduction sets the scene for what could be either an interesting briefing during which the student is receptive – or a boring, unpleasant experience.

Objective

The lesson objective should state what the student should be able to do at the end of the lesson. In the preflight briefings given here, no performance parameters have been stated. When adding these to the objective, you must consider the student, the aircraft and the conditions on the day, so that the objective is achievable.

As many flight exercises are simulations, it’s important to keep in mind the requirements of the lesson objective so that the student is able to achieve the lesson outcome without endangering the aircraft. For example, the objective of the forced landing exercise is not to make a successful landing, because the student must land to achieve that objective.

Likewise, the use of the word safe in the objective should be avoided. Safety and being safe is a concept which is difficult to observe or measure. Promoting safety in general is desirable, and it should be emphasised that all flight operations should be conducted in a manner that enhances safety. However, as safety is not observable or measurable, it is not used in the lesson objective.

Principles of flight or considerations

Under the heading of ‘Principles of flight’, the basic principles of flight relating to the air exercise are discussed. This means that only simple explanations are used. These should directly support the air exercise. This is not an opportunity for you to discuss everything they know on the subject, nor is it a requirement of the flight test during the briefing (a separate examination of your knowledge is conducted later).

The heading of ‘Considerations’ is sometimes used where no direct principles of flight relate to the air exercise. It can also be used in the air exercise itself to introduce similar exercises, for example, steep turns and steep gliding turns.

Airmanship

Airmanship has many explanations, depending upon the reference and the context.

Keep the explanation simple for the student to understand and apply. Fundamentally this means lookout considerations and principles, maintaining situational awareness, appropriate decision-making, and threat and error management

Aircraft management

Aircraft management implies a broader operational context than engine handling. It prepares the student for the operation of more complex aircraft and considers aspects of total flight management.

Information presented here is meant to relate to both the immediate air exercise and the general requirements of the aircraft operation.

There is no requirement to find something to put in here. For example, medium turns does not require smooth throttle movements or mixture rich, so these can be ignored or revised at instructor discretion.

Human factors

Currently some form of human failure causes 70 percent of all aircraft accidents. Information presented here is meant to introduce the student to human limitations that may be observed or experienced during the air exercise, especially those areas that affect decision-making and pilot judgement.

Good aviation practice is broadly defined as common sense in the air. Good aviation practice is incorporated under the ‘Human factors’ heading because human limitations are known and can be taught, whereas good aviation practice is generally accepted as something you either have or have not. For example, good aviation practice requires a good lookout, whereas human factors describes the limitations of the human visual system and how to overcome those limitations to achieve a good lookout.

The ADVISE model (Altitude, Disorientation, Vision, Information processing, Stress and Esprite or E'alth - health), developed by Ewing (1994), is an aid for considering which aspects of the human factors syllabus should be incorporated into the preflight briefing. For example, altitude, is an aspect of known human limitations directly involved in climbing but not medium turns.

Air exercise

This is the reason for the preflight briefing and everything presented before this point should directly support the air exercise.

Generally the air exercise will follow a sequence of entry, maintain, and exit.

Airborne sequence

Generally, the airborne sequence is:

  1. Demonstration
  2. Follow me through
  3. Instructor talks student through
  4. Student practice.

The demonstration is a physical statement of the lesson objective: "Here is what you will be able to do at the end of this lesson".

The follow through is a pattered breakdown, by you, of the actions required to complete the manoeuvre, or part of the manoeuvre.

The instructor talk through is a re-assembly, by the student, of the actions required to complete the manoeuvre with instructor assistance.

Student practice involves evaluation by both instructor and student as to whether or not the student's performance achieves the lesson objective. Remember that perfection or a performance within flight test parameters, is not necessarily a part of the lesson objective.

Student practice should not be continued beyond the point at which the objective is achieved.

Patter

The airborne patter should follow the same sequence as the briefing, using the same words and avoiding the inclusion of material or exercises that were not covered in the briefing. In most air exercises, the movement of the aircraft controls can be slowed down, permitting synchronisation of the patter with aircraft movement. Where this is not possible, for example, with spinning, you must be careful not to include too much verbal detail in one demonstration.

Control inputs

Your flying should be accurate and control movements should be smooth and coordinated at all times. The use of jerky, abrupt or uncoordinated control movements should be avoided wherever possible. For example, when discussing the suitability of a particular field for forced landing practice, the aircraft should be positioned such that both the student and instructor can clearly see the field in a gentle turn and a constant altitude maintained. Poor altitude control, or rolling the aircraft with aileron and keeping straight with rudder, in an attempt to keep the field in sight, resulting in crossed controls, should not be demonstrated.

Aircraft control

You are the pilot-in-command. The safety of the aircraft, crew and passengers is of paramount importance to the pilot-in-command. However, achieving the maximum benefit from the learning experience is of paramount importance to the professional instructor.

The decision to give the student control or to take control yourself can only be based on experience. The professional flight instructor retains situational awareness at all times and never allows the safety of the flight to be compromised.

Generally, when handing over control to the student, make sure the student realises they have full control by removing your hands from the control wheel, column or stick, and throttle as well as removing your feet from the rudder pedals. Follow-me-through exercises are used to give the student insights to control movements and build confidence. However, when handing over control, often removing your feet from the rudder pedals is difficult or overlooked, and this can lead to subconscious control inputs that only undermine the confidence of the student.

In some exercises, maintaining a very light feel on the rudders may be beneficial to your assessment of student performance. Great care must be taken, however, not to lead or override the student's inputs.

Parallax error

Parallax error results from viewing the pilot's instrument panel at an oblique angle. Its effects are most noticeable with regard to balance, aligning the Directional Indicator (DI) and angles of bank on the Artificial Horizon (AH).

As a result of side-by-side seating a similar effect occurs when viewing aircraft attitude and reference points in relation to the aircraft nose. Remember it's what the student sees that is of prime importance.

Airmanship

"The teaching of airmanship is above all a matter of clear example displayed by the instructor."

Continuity

Where convenient (refer CFI) the manoeuvre to be taught in the next lesson is demonstrated at the end of each air exercise.

The debriefing

No skill is more important to an instructor than the ability to analyse and judge student performance. The student quite naturally looks to you for guidance, analysis, appraisal, suggestions for improvement and encouragement.

A debrief may be either oral, written or both, and it may be used in the classroom as well as the aircraft. It should come immediately after a student's performance, while the details are easy to recall.

As with all evaluation, a debrief is not a step in the grading process, it is a step in the learning process. A debrief should not be negative in content; it should consider the good along with constructive feedback on what and how to improve.

A debrief should improve the student's performance and provide them with something constructive to work and build on. It should provide direction and guidance to raise their level of performance.

Characteristics of an effective debriefing

Objectivity

The effective debrief is focused on student performance and should not reflect your personal likes and dislikes. Instructors sometimes permit their judgements to be influenced by their general impressions of the student, favourable or unfavourable, to such a degree that it influences objectivity. If a debriefing is to be objective, it must be honest. It must be based on the performance as it was, not as it could have been or as you and student wish it had been.

Flexibility

You must fit the tone, technique and content of the debriefing to the occasion and the student. Again and again, you are faced with the problem of what to say, what to omit, what to stress, and what to minimise. The debriefing challenges you to determine what to say at the proper moment. The effective debrief is one that is flexible enough to satisfy the requirements of the moment.

Comprehensiveness

A comprehensive debriefing is not necessarily a long one, nor must it treat every aspect of the performance in detail. You must decide whether the greater benefit will come from a discussion of a few major points or a number of minor points. An effective debrief covers strengths as well as weaknesses. How to balance the two is a decision that only you can make. The content should focus on the achievement or not of the objective.

Constructiveness

A debriefing is pointless unless the student profits from it. The student needs to be informed of how to capitalise on things that are done well. Also, it is not enough to identify a fault or weakness, you should give positive guidance for correction.

Organisation

Unless a debrief follows some pattern, a series of otherwise valid comments may lose their impact. The debrief should follow a logical pattern and make sense to the student as well as you. The pattern might be the sequence of the performance itself, or it might begin with the point where a demonstration failed and work backward through the steps that led to the failure. A success can be analysed the same way. Whatever the organisation of the debriefing you should be flexible enough to change it if the student cannot understand it.

Considerate

An effective debrief reflects your consideration of the student's need for self-esteem as well as recognition and approval from others. You should never minimise the dignity and importance of the individual. Ridicule, anger or fun at the expense of the student has no place in a debriefing.

Specific

Your comments and recommendations should be specific, not generalised. A statement such as, "Your second steep turn was better than your first", has little constructive value unless you explain specifically why, how, or in what area the student improved. At the conclusion of the debrief the student should have no doubt what they did well and what they did poorly and, most importantly, specifically how they can improve. If you have a recommendation in mind, it should be expressed with firmness and authority in terms that cannot be misunderstood.

From the above it should be apparent that the ability to conduct an effective debrief is not something that comes naturally. It requires considerable training and practice. Experience has shown that newly qualified flight instructors tend to over-concentrate on performance errors, which are often minor.

The debrief should begin with an opportunity for the student to state how well they thought they did in achieving the objective.

If the objectives were met, you’re presented with the opportunity to give immediate positive feedback.

If the objectives were not met, and the student knows why or can explain how they might achieve the objectives in subsequent flights, again the opportunity for positive feedback exists.

The opportunity for the student to speak freely about their performance may provide you with insights about the student that may not otherwise be voiced (their fears or misconceptions).

If the objectives were not met, highlight the main features of the exercise or performance, accentuate the positive, give praise where appropriate, and gradually build on your experience to analyse the student's performance more specifically and constructively.

The Aeronautical Decision-Making (ADM) aspects of the lesson should also be considered in the debrief.

It is highly recommended that you take advantage of the direct supervision period and ensure that your supervisor attends the debriefing. Your supervisor can debrief you, in private, on your performance. Remember, the debrief is not a step in the grading process but a step in the learning process.

Whiteboard layouts

The proposed layouts are again, only a guide. They represent the finished layout and should be supplemented with the use of various aids.