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Round Gauge vs Glass cockpits, FAA New Handobook, and 3 more Pro Tips

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Should primary training be done in round gauge airplanes or glass cockpits?


This is a topic sure to spark solid and differing options. Ever since EFIS was introduced into GA airplanes, the matter has been debated. There was a time when the people who trained in the G1000 were called "Children of the Pink." Meaning that all they knew how to do was to follow the active leg on the GPS, which is Pink.


An American Airlines training captain said in a video that we had created people with no situational awareness who are overly dependent upon automation. I had a Cirrus pilot flight instructor I know say, "if the autopilot fails in IMC, I will declare an emergency."


At the Flight School Association of North America (FSANA) conference in Houston, TX, a few years ago, I sat on a working group that posed this very question.


So, what is the answer? Is it a split decision? Well, I'm going to go through the logic of the answer, so we get there with a new outlook on the question. Here it goes.


When nosewheel airplanes came into the picture, everyone thought that training would go down and we would create less capable pilots. That happened to an extent. When GPS replaced VOR as the preferred navigation method, many said we were creating pilots who couldn't navigate except using the GPS. They were about half right on that. When the G1000 came, a large group of people said that it made flying too easy and that the stick and rudder skills were being eroded. They were right too.


What's missing here is that in all of these cases, we could still make good stick and rudder pilots, pilots who can navigate without GPS, and pilots who can fly both G1000 and non-G1000 airplanes. It's just we got the training a little wrong. We relied on new technology a little too much.


In the FSANA panel, I said this. It doesn't matter whether you like or don't like glass airplanes. Cessna, Piper, and everyone else is no longer making round gauge airplanes. That doesn't mean you can't train stick and rudder skills. You'll need to develop training that does that along with the G1000-specific training that we now need to provide. Nothing has changed from the days of flying tailwheel airplanes. Flying is flying if we train solid stick and rudder and navigation skills. 


I'll all for training in the latest technology airplanes. In fact, I'll go out on a limb here and tell you what I really think. I want not-so-bright people, who can make good decisions and have good judgment to be able to fly. I want the airplane to be so easy to fly that you can be clumsy and still fly. I want the amount of information, like airspace, coded weather reports, and the like to go away and be replaced with something you plan with and look at while you are flying, which tells you what to do. These are the kinds of things that will open up flying to more and more people. The idea that you must know so much and fly old airplanes is a little crazy to me.


As long as we can preserve good stick and rudder skills and ensure the pilot can navigate by pilotage, dead reckoning, and GPS navigation, I don't think the airplane's round gauges or EFIS matter. Instead, the training will allow us to create capable pilots in whatever new airplanes or technology come around.


I sometimes compare what happens in medicine to aviation to draw some sharp contrasts. For example, if something new comes along that is better in medicine, it is quickly adopted. In aviation, it is judged to make flying too easy, like brain wave monitors for anesthesiologists. Before that, it was a little tricky, and Ether was all the rage. Would you want to undergo surgery with Ether and not a brain wave monitor? Yet, we still insist on the E6B. We have a suspicious eye on ForeFlight and its flight planning capabilities. 


In the end, training makes the pilot, no matter the equipment. 


Learn More.


FAA Releases a New Handbook – Quietly….


Two ACs, in my opinion, have seen their day. One is long in the tooth, and the other talks about products we don't even have anymore. Those are Aviation Weather and Aviation Weather Services. To FAA's credit, they did update Aviation Weather, but for some reason, they kept it in the format of an AC. Difficult to read, nonsensical numeric references before every topic, and so on.


A few days ago, I saw the FAA made a new handbook called "Aviation Weather."  Its designator is FAA-H-8083-28. It combines the previous Aviation Weather and Aviation Weather Services ACs into a new handbook. 


It's an improvement, but they still kept the AC numeric references throughout the book, which is annoying.


You can get your copy for free here from


Aviation Weather - FAA-H-8083-28



This Month's Three Pro Tips:

1. How to stop drifting when turning crosswind and base.

Before turning crosswind or base, look in the direction of the leg and find something in the distance, well away from the pattern that is in line with the leg. Now turn until you have the nose at that point. There is wind if the airplane changes its heading to hold the point. Turn the airplane to track, not point, to the object. That will eliminate drift.

2. How to do a better job with ATC and get what you want more often.

Listen to the cadence of the controller and match it. If they are speaking quickly, speak at the same pace. Also, listen for how long the controller is giving pilots to respond. This gap is all the time the controller has, so fit what you want to say in the gap. If you have a lot to say and the gap is short, say your call sign and request after that. If the gap is significant, go ahead and say what you want.

  1. The flight instructor's three MUST DO's before every flight, no matter who you are flying with.

  2. This has to do with the preflight. I've known many CFIs who thought 

  3. something was done when it wasn't. Check the big items no matter who

a. Always check the fuel and fuel caps.

b. Always check the oil.

c. Always do a complete walk around.

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