“We kill too many people in general aviation.” With that, John King opened an Oshkosh press conference in which he told a room packed with reporters, and officials at Cessna, Avemco Insurance Co., and other companies, that if it was up to him, he’d ban the word safety when talking about aviation.
“Everyone says that safety is the #1 priority, but if that’s true, how do you ever start the engine of an airplane?” he said. “There is always a tradeoff between utility and risk. The key is managing the risk. If you want 100% safety, stay on the ground.”
He noted that the GA fatality rate hasn’t changed much in the last 10 years. “And we’ve been working hard on it,” he said. “If we just do a better job of what we’ve been doing, it won’t make a difference.”
That’s why he’s excited about the new Redbird Skyport, a research and development laboratory that Redbird Flight Simulations plans to open in November at San Marcos Airport (HYI) in Texas.
“It will explore the edges of the envelope,” he said. “Now we are teaching people to preflight things that don’t really matter, like checking an aileron hinge, because that’s the way we’ve been doing it for years. Accidents are caused by things that are going on between the ears of the pilot.”
By incorporating simulators and scenario-based training, the flight industry can produce good pilots who have the essentials skills down the first time they try them in an airplane, Martha King added. “They can learn these skills in a low-risk environment. This give them the opportunity to be a true PIC — a true risk manager.”
Another advantage to incorporating sims is that it will boost retention — a huge problem in GA, as up to 80% of people drop out of flight training.
One reason is the unpredicability of training. Weather, mechanical issues, or scheduling conflicts with instructors can stall training. Expectations also play a big factor, King said.
“Students are told when they start that it will take 35 hours, but it doesn’t take them long to realize that’s not going to happen,” he said. “Low-balling people on the cost of flying is impractical.”
But incorporating simulators into the training means that every time a student drives out to the airport, there will be a lesson, whether it’s in the sim, a ground lesson, or in the air. That helps the student’s learning curve and provides a predictable revenue stream for flight schools — a win-win situation.
For more information: KingSchools.com