Captain Judy’s Corner: Flight Training Safety Factors
Is flight training safe?
Many factors impact the answer to this question. Epic and WINGS are synonymous with safety.
The Federal Aviation Regulation (FAR) 91.3 states clearly it is the responsibility and authority of the pilot in command. (a) The pilot in command of an aircraft is directly responsible for, and is the final authority as to, the operation of that aircraft.
The pilot is responsible for the safety of flight. Student pilots with limited experience sometimes are unsure on where to begin this safety process, especially when choosing a flight school. A few considerations to determine if a school meets a high safety standard.
- Does the flight school have a process for reporting safety concerns?
- Does the flight school have a squawk system for reporting aircraft maintenance discrepancies?
- Would the school openly share the aircraft maintenance log-books.
- Are the airplanes free of oil drips or brake fluid leaks? Do the doors close securely and seats lock into position? Are the seat belts in good working order and flight controls move smoothly?
Epic’s Safety Culture
Epic Flight Academy is a model for a WINGS school with regard to safety culture. In 1999, founder Danny Perna established Epic Flight Academy with safety as the number one priority. Josh Rawlins, Epic COO and Aircraft Mechanic Program Director, ensures that Epic’s fleet is meticulously maintained. Overall safety and management, Executive Vice President of Operations, Josh Schwenn has his finger on the pulse. Shane Williams, Senior Instructor/Course Management Leader, oversees the Epic Flight Academy instructors with a rigorous standardization process followed by on-going training and education requirements. Mark Schiappa, Epic Safety Counsel always has an expert eye on safety.
In addition, the pilot should always improve their personal safety minimums through on-going education. Epic instructors and students are often provided electronic and in-person safety education and meetings. Epic reminds aviators all the resources available. One program with many additional benefits is the FAA WINGS program.
Safer Skies Through Education
The FAA Safety Team (FAASTeam) promotes aviation safety by encouraging pilots to gain experience and knowledge through earning additional certificates and ratings. Participants earn WINGS credit; the program is divided into two activity parts:
- knowledge and
- flight experience
Pilots earn knowledge credits through WINGS online flight activities. Flight experience is often a flight review, an instrument proficiency check, or a successful completion of a check ride. The CFI (Certified Flight Instructor) or DPE (Designated Pilot Examiner) responsible for the flight experience validates completion of these courses.
Data reveal that the pilots who participate in the WINGS program have a reduction in accidents and incidents. There are many additional benefits for participating in WINGS.
Why don’t all pilots participate in WINGS?
John Teipen, a founder and the lead director of the WINGS Industry Network and designer of E-Z WINGS explained, “Navigating through the FAA’s website was too difficult for requesting credit for a phase of WINGS earned after completing a flight review, IPC or check-ride.” He added that many CFIs and DPEs found the web site challenging, and there were not activities available for all categories and classes of aircraft. Paul Burger, one of the founders of the WINGS Industry Network, further explained, “CFIs report how arduous it is to give clients credit for a completed flight review.” All that has changed with E-Z WINGS.
Introduced at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2022, E-Z WINGS is now available online.
How can pilots access WINGS?
Using a smart phone or other device, pilots can log into their FAA WINGS account to request credit for a phase of WINGS. CFIs and DPEs can validate requested credit and give credit for phases of WINGS.
CFIs, DPEs, and pilots are encouraged to navigate to EZWINGS.net and create a short-cut on their iPhones or tablets. Pilots have the choice of over 200 activities.
While pilots are encouraged to use E-Z WINGS, the target audience is CFIs and DPEs central to the WINGS program fulfilling its mission for increasing pilot safety. In addition, CFIs can renew their CFI certificates though active participation in the FAA WINGS program.
A new and exciting addition to E-Z WINGS is the ability for students to earn phases of WINGS. Adopting life-long learning is important to our aviation safety culture. Earning phases of WINGS for flight and knowledge training as students also creates a transcript that becomes a useful addition to any resume!
The WINGS Industry Network, creator of E-Z WINGS, is a coalition of industry members dedicated to general aviation safety. The network’s vision is to reduce the general aviation accident rate through participation in the FAA Safety Team WINGS Pilot Proficiency Program. The coalition’s motto: “When it comes to safety, we cooperate. We don’t compete”.
Epic has formed a formal safety education collaboration with the FAA WINGS team. Pilots are responsible for the safety of the flight. Be the best and take on the safety mission with E-Z WINGS!
Read more articles by Captain Judy Rice!