These days, insurance companies have become savvy about the level of pilot experience that decreases the chances of an accident. They often require a minimum number of hours in a type of airplane before you can fly it solo and still be covered. But if you want to increase safety and ensure that you know the ins and outs of the airplane, meeting the minimum number of hours specified under the insurance policy is not enough. I recommend you go through a type-specific training course.
I have gone through factory training courses for several single-engine airplanes. The courses I went through spanned two to three days and covered intimate details of the systems, emergency operations, preflight procedures and avionics, to name a few. The instructors who teach these courses know these airplanes intimately and the in-depth training made me feel more confident and prepared for any potential mishaps.
If you’re flying a new airplane, type specific factory training is often included. Even if you are a seasoned pilot, it’s worth spending a couple of days at the factory to attend the training. I guarantee you that you’ll learn something new, even if you already have experience in the airplane type. Many manufacturers offer transition training even for pilots who have not purchased an airplane, at a cost of course.
If you’re flying an older airplane, there are several options. A number of flight schools around the country offer type-specific training and several owner groups such MAPA (Mooney Aircraft Pilots Association), COPA (Cirrus Owners and Pilots Association) and CPA (Cessna Pilots Association) offer transition and recurrent training. Some owner associations offer group clinics, which are not only tremendous learning experiences but also a great way to bond with people who are passionate about the same type of airplane that you own or fly.
Even if you’re covered by insurance, a solo flight or a quick checkout by an instructor is not sufficient to get to know the intricacies of a new design or cockpit layout. You’ll be much more confident and safe, and you’ll most likely enjoy flying more if you attend a model specific training course.