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Redbird Migration, English Language Testing, Regional Hiring, and FAA Reauthorization

December 2023

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Redbird Migration Registration is Open for 2024!

This year, the annual flight training conference will be held March 5-6  at the Lone Star Flight Museum in Houston, TX. The conference is free and doesn’t have any trade show component. It’s strictly flight training topics. I plan to be there as usual and give at least one presentation. I spoke at last year’s migration at EAA in Oshkosh, WI. 

There are usually around 400 or so that attend.  You can also see the previous year’s presentations now or the 2024 presentations after the event.  Topics vary but will always be centered on flight training.

The only other event we have focusing solely on flight training is the new NAFI Summit.  I attended that in October of this year.  It was at the Sun-n-Fun Air Museum in Lakeland, FL.

If the quality of the speakers and topics isn’t quite enough, then as an added bonus, Redbird provides two free lunches and one dinner. The dinner has a keynote presentation, and directly after the dinner, AOPA reveals the winners of the Flight Training Excellence Awards. 

To register, go to the Redbird Migration website at

An English Language Test to be Given by Flight Instructors?

Yes. There is a FAR requirement for all certificates that require the applicant to Read, speak, Write, and Understand the English Language. That’s a pretty vague statement because it’s subjective. There aren’t any evaluation criteria in the FAR that require it. So what are we supposed to, no, make it have to do?

The FAA issued an advisory circular about how to test a pilot’s ICAO Level when using English. The document is AC 60-28B. It outlines the steps to evaluate a person’s English language ability to the ICAO standard for aviation. There are 6 ICAO levels, with six being the highest. Pilots and controllers must meet at least ICAO level 4, which is conversational. The details are in the AC, but I will summarize the actions a flight instructor must take. 

  1. Have the person read something from a POH, FAA Handbook, etc.

  2. Have the person write what they believe are the most important points of that reading. 

  3. Have a conversation with the person about the reading and written assignments. 

These first three steps test the ability of the person to Read, Speak, Write, and Understand English, but they don’t evaluate to a specific ICAO Level. The following two steps address that. 

  1. Go to the ICAO website. There is a link in the AC. You will find examples of pilots and controllers speaking at various levels here. 

  2. You are to compare your person’s level of English to the examples on the website. The evaluation is based on Pronunciation, Structure, Vocabulary, Fluency, Comprehension, and Interactions. 

When you issue a Student Pilot Certificate, you must test the person to at least ICAO level 4 before you can push the IACRA button, asking if the person is English proficient. 

Have a read of the AC so you will be prepared to give the evaluations as a flight instructor.  Here is a link to the AC.

Regional Airline Hiring has Slowed Down Even With a Shortage - Why?

We still have a pilot shortage, but it is not a first officer shortage right now. We have a Captain shortage. We currently can’t get enough upgrades from FO to Captain, so we are lopsided in crew. That’s why the regionals are pushing out ground school dates for new hires. As this situation improves, the hiring will resume for first officers. So, if you are short a bunch of hours or just getting your CFI, your timing may still be very good. 

FAA Reauthorization Bill - What’s New?

Here is a summary of what’s important to us in the bill. In the first few months of 2024, I will provide more details as it gets finished in both houses. 

Here are some key takeaways:

  1. It needs to be enacted before the March 2024 deadline. 

  2. Increasing the mandatory retirement age for airplane Captains. 

  3. More Sim time is to be counted towards the ATP minimums. 

  4. A mandate for practical test requests to be fulfilled within 14 days of the date of the request. 


  1. Performing a gravel or sand surface run-up differs from your typical run-up at a paved or concrete runup area.  It’s not possible to do a static runup at other than paved concrete and most grass airports, so you need to do everything but the mag/engine check.  Those must be done on the takeoff roll, like what seaplanes do.  You should always get training from an experienced CFI before attempting this.  Doing a run-up on a gravel or sand surface will damage the propeller and may also suck gravel, dust, or sand into the air intake.

  2. Removing frost, snow, and other contamination from the wings -  If the outside air and wing are below freezing, the only ways to remove contamination are by brushing, scraping, using deice fluid, or turning the airplane into the sun to sublimate the ice.  Above freezing, you can use water from a hose to do the job.  Note:  If the wing is super cold-soaked and remains below freezing, the water hose won’t work.  It will just freeze up again.

  3. Is a climb at Vy or Vx really necessary in a single-engine airplane?  Consider putting the airplanes nose on the horizon to see birds, other aircraft, etc.  The chance of a collision with something like that may be higher when the nose is at a Vx or Vy attitude than the difference in altitude gain you get from being at those speeds.  Always weigh the necessity of climbing at Vx or Vy over a collision risk, especially when climbing en route.  NOTE:  Putting the nose on the horizon works for training airplanes like 152, 172, Archers, etc.  Your nose attitude for a cruise climb may differ.  Consult with a CFI familiar with your airplane to determine the best speeds and attitudes.

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