April 3, 2015

The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association is offering a free course aimed at helping pilots transition safely into unfamiliar aircraft. The course, which is titled “Transitioning to Other Airplanes,” is available online. The General Aviation Joint Steering Committee made the recommendation for a web-based training tool as a result of several years of safety analysis.

Peter Korns, NBAA’s operations project manager, served on the committee’s Loss of Control Working Group, which called for improved aircraft transition training after examining a number of fatal accidents in which pilots were flying aircraft or using equipment they were not familiar with. An FAA review of 2,472 general aviation fatal accidents from 2001 to 2010 revealed that 1,259 – more than half – were due to loss of control.

“Transitioning to new or unfamiliar aircraft or equipment can present a number of challenges for pilots, even those with many years and hours of flying experience,” Korns said.

The course identifies five areas in which aircraft transition accidents are likely: moving up, moving down, moving sideways, transitioning to new avionics or transitioning to experimental amateur-built airplanes.

According to FAA’s Advisory Circular 90-109, without the proper training “there’s as much risk in moving down as in moving up in performance,” because every aircraft has its own flight characteristics and nuances. Even operating another aircraft of the same make and model, but with a different avionics configuration, can be a hazard if the pilot is not well trained and proficient. Nearly $150,000 was invested in developing the course, which is available to anyone, not just AOPA members.

Meanwhile, the General Aviation Joint Steering Committee is recommending that the two advisory circulars dealing with aircraft transitions – AC 90-109, which deals with experimental and type certified transitions, and AC 61-103, which provides guidance for transitioning into high-performance aircraft or aircraft with engines of more than 200 horsepower – be revised and updated.

Learn more about the course.