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Topics: Air traffic control, Federal Aviation Administration, Air safety Pages: 14 (5567 words) Published: October 15, 2014


I. Background

II. The Current Regulatory and System Safety Environment for General Aviation

III. Emerging Changes in System Safety Philosophy

IV. The Impact of an Evolving NAS on General Aviation Flight Operations

V. A Modernized Approach to General Aviation Flight Training

VI. Obstacles to Improved Flight Training Policies and Procedures

VII. A New Approach to Training Standards Development and Application

VIII. A Strategy for Evolutionary but Responsive Change


General aviation constitutes the vast majority of the civil aircraft fleet in the United States and performs a variety of critical functions ranging from flight training for most pilots to medical evacuation and law enforcement. Increasingly, general aviation is also providing a viable air transportation complement to the air carrier “hub and spoke” system. Corporate aviation and on-demand air taxis have provided such service for some time and new forms of general aviation are expanding these alternatives.

General aviation safety has been improving continuously for nearly 25 years and accidents continue to decrease even as activity increases. It appears, however, that the fatal accident rate may have reached a plateau. The leading causes of general aviation fatal accidents are related to weather and loss of control. If general aviation growth becomes even more pronounced, a major challenge for the community will be to decrease accident rates to maintain and increase public acceptability of general aviation as a form of air travel.

Many new developments have taken place that will have a pronounced effect on general aviation flight operations and, consequently, general aviation training. The complexity of the airspace will increase as the NAS is modernized and the FAA’s Operational Evolution Plan (OEP) takes effect. These changes will be magnified as new cockpit and other flight technologies are introduced and advanced airspace concepts such as Free Flight emerge. New airspace and other operational changes will also be inevitable to accommodate aviation security concerns following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

General aviation will also be impacted positively by the introduction of new aircraft and new approaches to shared ownership of these aircraft. The general flying public, especially those who are not pilots but seek air travel alternatives to the airlines, are currently benefiting from fractional ownership schemes. Similar owner-pilot shared ownership programs are emerging for pilots who wish to use small piston engine aircraft. The emergence of new lower cost turbine aircraft could benefit both groups.

The common denominator in all these changes is the need to have an adaptable flight training system that will not only maintain but greatly improve the safety and utility of general aviation flight operations. To accomplish this challenging goal, it is necessary to examine such training in the context of both the current general aviation system safety environment as well as emerging changes in system safety philosophy. Modernized approaches to flight training systems, policies, and procedures can then be examined and a mitigation strategy devised.


The FAA’s mandate with regard to oversight of general aviation safety was originally contained in the Federal Aviation Act of 1958 and is currently contained in Title 49, United States Code. Section 44701 of Title 49 clearly allows, in fact, mandates that the FAA Administrator shall differentiate between air transportation (air carriers engaged in common carriage) and “other air commerce”. With respect to air transportation, Section 44701 mandates that the FAA shall “consider the duty of an air carrier to provide service with the highest possible degree...
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