Determining how much operating experience a pilot needs in order to be considered qualified will be at the discretion of the individual insurance company. The pilot may require differing amounts of operating experience, based on prior experience levels, recency of experience and previous types of training he/she has received. In addition, it may be determined that utilizing a mentor is necessary. These variables are combined into the following operating experience categories and requirements, which prepare the pilot for single pilot very light jet operations, and are considered to be recommendations in the absence of specific insurance company requirements. The categories in and of themselves do not guarantee proficiency and regardless of the amount of operating experience and cycles employed, the IOE must yield candidates that are proficient.

At a minimum, the following should be addressed during IOE:

  • SOPs
  • Procedures vs. techniques
  • Ground handling issues
    • Aircraft geometry
    • Jet blast
  • Cabin features
  • Exit operation
  • Emergency equipment
  • Aircraft servicing
  • IOE checklist to be determined
    • Minimum IOE time regardless of performance
    • Established by experience level
    • Set by underwriter
    • End level proficiency criteria
    • End level proficiency areas
      • Flight planning
      • Performance
      • Taxi
      • Takeoff and climb
      • Cruise management
      • Descent and approach
      • Landing
      • Autoflight systems
      • Exterior inspection
      • Geometry awareness

An operating cycle is one complete flight operation, consisting of takeoff, climb out, cruise, descent, approach and landing phase of flight.

At the completion of any category (see table for definitions), it is expected that proficiency is required in the following areas:

  • Flight planning
  • Performance
  • Taxi
  • Takeoff and climb
  • Cruise management
  • Descent and approach
  • Landing
  • CRM
  • Autoflight
  • Basic FMS tasks
  • Systems
  • Exterior inspection
  • Geometry demonstration

Category 1
Category 2
Category 3
Category 4

Pilots transitioning from left seat of previous jet aircraft
Pilots transitioning from turboprop or cabin-class twin left seat
Pilots transitioning from single-engine turboprop or pressurized single-engine aircraft
Pilots transitioning from single-engine aircraft (recip) or as determined by insurance company

25 hours operating experience
35 hours operating experience
50 hours operating experience
100 hours operating experience

Minimum of 5 cycles
Minimum of 8 cycles
Minimum of 10 cycles
Minimum of 25 cycles

3.5.1. Mentor Program

Upon successful completion of the manufacturer’s training program, the need for a mentor pilot must be determined. The decision should be collaborative with the pilot, training provider and insurance underwriter. Should a mentor be deemed necessary, the duration may be derived from the individual’s progress, but it must be recognized that the mentoring period for each individual may be differed. The goal is to use a mentor pilot until such time that the single pilot operator acquires the necessary skills and proficiency for safe operation in all flight regimes. The categories listed above are solely a guide for the mentor in the absence of formal insurance provider guidance. It is important that the pilot is exposed to a variety of environments during the mentoring period, including traffic, weather, airspace and terrain. It is possible that a mentor may be utilized on specific flights throughout a calendar year in order to have the candidate experience all climactic conditions. Mentors are not meant to instruct on the specific aircraft, but to act as a coach. The mentor should not fly as a crewmember, but observe the pilot’s aircraft handling, automation use and SRM, and provide feedback to the pilot.

However, it is indeed possible that operational intervention by the mentor might become necessary. This intervention may come in a verbal or physical form and there must be an understanding between the mentor and his/her client regarding intervention.

If it is deemed by the underwriter that a VLJ buyer will need a mentor following IOE, then that mentor will most likely report when the buyer, in the opinion of the mentor, no longer requires an escort. That point usually occurs when the mentor does not feel compelled to intervene.

Mentors also will have a role in recurrent training by providing recommendations, if applicable, for specific areas of emphasis.

Mentors should be selected from experienced pilots that have ATPs and are type rated in jet aircraft that have technically advanced systems similar to the VLJ in which they will mentor. The prospective mentor needs to be recognized by both the aircraft manufacturer and the insurance underwriter as meeting these criteria. In addition, it is recommended that a training program on the specific aircraft in which they will mentor be completed.