Cirrus Seeks to Keep Learners Training with Private Pilot Program

The tailored course centers the SR series to aid retention.

It’s not the PHAK—it’s the CHAK, if you’re taking the new private pilot program from Cirrus Aircraft.

That stands for the Cirrus Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge, and the training development team revised the FAA’s Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge to center the content around the manufacturer’s SR20s and SR22s in a bid to make it more relevant and relatable for those learning to fly in the SR series.

Cirrus announced the new program on Monday at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh. The program encompasses the entire private pilot curriculum, from zero hours to certification, in a syllabus of 47 training sessions. 

Each session incorporates ground, simulator, and flight time and may take several hours to complete, depending on the learner’s pace. Cirrus bases the completion criteria on the airman certification standards, as managed by the flight instructor—which can be a Cirrus Standardized Instructor Pilot, instructor at a Cirrus Training Center, or an owner’s personal CFI. 

Learner performance tracks through several levels as they gain proficiency and close in on the ACS parameters. The bronze level is two times the ACS figures (i.e. +/- 200 feet), silver is 1.5 times the ACS, and gold meets the criteria. There’s also a way for the instructor to note whether the maneuver or procedure was completed with or without guidance.

Flip the 80/20

The point of the program is to target retention rates in flight training that are, frankly, quite poor. It’s estimated that only 20 percent of those who begin training complete a private pilot certificate. The Cirrus training team wants to “flip the 80/20,” according to Chris Slater, lead developer on the program. “We decided to go into the specifics, to remove the barriers.” That’s the premise behind the CHAK, which only retains about “10 percent” of the original PHAK content, according to Slater.

The training engages with the student through a customized learning management system, Cirrus Approach, incorporating Fun Facts, written exam study questions, and what the team calls “shameless plugs”—such as those examples where the CHAK references the Williams International FJ33 series turbine engine on the Vision Jet. The program centers interactive training, and it also draws on the close to 1 trillion terabytes of video in the Cirrus Approach library.

Training is scheduled in four-hour blocks to allow for proper briefing and debriefing as well as the ground, sim, or flight time. Pricing on the course retails for $1,200, and it is available to begin now.


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