GA Type Rating for Airline Pilots: Intro at the NAFI Summit

Reintroducing airline pilots to general aviation flying presents its own challenges for flight instructors.

Are you a flight instructor who has cringed at the thought of climbing into a Cessna 172 and conducting a flight review with an airline pilot? Is the reaction a result of the intimidation factor, believing he or she has thousands of hours of experience flying airplanes that surpasses your experience? Or do you have a preconceived notion that their attitude has an air of arrogance or superiority?

Would you believe that many airline pilots harbor trepidations about operating in the GA environment and have a great deal of respect for good flight instructors? Many of the worries or concerns stem from the fact that airline pilots have been away from the small airplane world long enough to have forgotten the basics or have been absent for years of changes.

Airspace rules have changed. Filing a flight plan has changed. Airplanes have changed. Retired airline pilots are now faced with how to maintain their IFR and VFR proficiency, selecting electronic chart subscriptions, choosing the appropriate medical certificate class, calculating weight and balance, and operating out of nontowered airports, etc. Guidance in selecting and purchasing the appropriate airplane for the desired mission is another topic worthy of mention.

With quality instruction, airline pilots can excel at the flying part, but they need guidance in other areas. And they need guidance in areas specific to their unique fears. Reviewing a  Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge is probably not beneficial. A rusty pilot’s course might be of assistance but may not address the topics that are most concerning.

With a record number of airline pilots retiring over the next few years, many with disposable income that has increased because of favorable salaries, some of these men and women will be considering reengaging with their roots. Empty nester pilots nearing retirement that have eliminated their financial obligations of a mortgage and their kids’ secondary education may also be entering the GA market. All of these folks need flight instructors who have insight to the airline pilot psyche.

Knowing that airline pilots are familiar with the nuances of professional training, the program is tongue-in-cheek dubbed the “GA type rating course.” Gary “GPS” Reeves, a 20-year veteran of specialized flight instruction, and the FAA 2019 Instructor of the Year has teamed up with Les Abend, a retired airline pilot and longtime contributing editor to FLYING.

The Airline Pilot GA type rating course is in the development stage and will involve a reference manual utilizing an entertaining and informative format that should maintain the attention of even the most-seasoned, long-haul airline pilot. Flight and ground instructors will be offered a free Airline Pilot GA type rating online course through Reeves’ website, www.pilotsafety.org

With the primary goal of adding safer pilots to general aviation, we would appreciate your assistance and participation in refining the course. How? It’s simple. Use this hyperlink: https://pilotsafety.org/ga-type-rating. If you’re an airline pilot, click on the two-minute “Airline Pilot Survey” button. The survey is a valuable assessment for course development.

And finally, all pilots can click on the button that links to registration for the NAFI Summit (National Association of Flight Instructors) Tuesday  through Thursday. The airline pilot GA type rating course introduction will be presented on Thursday, October 26, at 10 a.m. EDT. Reeves is offering a $30 discount through his website.

We have a great opportunity to welcome our airline pilots back into the GA world or perhaps greet them for the first time. They will be an asset to safety and  the GA economy. Let’s prepare our flight instructors with the best tools to assist these valued professionals.


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