We caught up with NAFI at Airventure. Chairman Robert Meder through a super-busy day found time to discuss the implications of the new FAA ‘simulator’ rules for CFIs and more.
AFSBI: So a few questions: New [FAA] regulations, pilots do not need an instructor to log [some] currency time. Basically the FAA has put the simulator at the same level of an airplane. That’s what it is. How do you see this from the CFI’s viewpoint of being qualified and now losing this particular market niche?
NAFI’s Chairman Robert V. Meder: I think, well, while CFIs will always go on marketing themselves, and more importantly from a safety perspective, we’ll find a way by saying: okay, yes you can practice on your own and that’s a value added, but come see me because there are things I can think of that you will likely not figure out. On a sim I can likely be meaner than you will ever be on yourself!
AFSBI: In short: We’ll do things that you would not normally do, get into situations that would represent unusual attitudes or emergency situations.
NAFI: Very much so. Just like the real airplane: go on practice all you want but I will show you things in your airplane you never thought you could do.
AFSBI: Can we just extend this for a second to the fact that there is really no regulation regarding being trained on specific avionics now the underlying computer is getting a lot more complex. I mean much more complex than when the two of us learned to fly, when we had six things in front of us and that’s all it was and then needed to practice approaches. Today you have the G1000-style computer-based complex avionics. What do you think that there is scope for something that actually sets a parameter for learning how to use them?
NAFI: I think so.
AFSBI: The reason why I am asking is that it would be an additional niche.
NAFI: I think so, I think that would be a big one. I think there would be again going back to what I said before the value for any flight instructor above and beyond a generic part 141 or 61 flight training in the US, the niche here would be I will show you how to get the most out of the equipment you have. I keep running into the pilots saying oh, these marvelous G1000, GNS430, whatever it is, but still, many have no idea how to really use it fully. People come in and say: Do you think I can put in an arrival? Oh, I didn’t know I could do that. Yes.
AFSBI: Makes sense. I am glad you think that, because in my opinion simulation is a great asset that allows those 10, 15 hours it takes to actually learn complex avionics without burning avgas.
NAFI: Yes. And also without putting yourself at risk. I would probably, if it were me, with somebody new to the 430, I would probably have taken them off out of a small airport outside of Chicago and practice. As an example, once we filed direct and then had a controller come back and say — this actually happened one day because we took off in the middle of the Southwest push into Midway — we got the most complicated clearance I’ve ever heard where the controller actually said over the radio: ‘you wouldn’t believe what the computer just spit back at me!’ And to read off everything, like 15 intersections to get out of there? And we copied him down. We’re putting it in and he finally says: ‘This is taking longer than either one of us wants to do this: radar vectors!’ I gotcha! But it was just very complicated. And so that single pilot entering this in the 430 it would have been a nightmare without much practice. There were two of us. I couldn’t believe it was doable, but that’s when you have to be sharp on avionics and a simulator helps recreating those scenarios.
AFSBI: So let me fire one last question. Very quickly. We are striving to get people to move from their home simulator and go fly on a real airplane. Especially home simulators they are quite addictive, many get fascinated with the simulation, cheaper than flying and challenging. They never get to the airplane. Any suggestions for that group of people? It would be an additional stream of actual pilots.
NAFI: I think the balance is in play and practice in any simulator, practice manoeuvres, instruments and then push them toward the real airplane. That would be the value added. And again this is the model. I’m stealing this from the Redbird model basically practiced proficiency in the aircraft are in the simulator. Take them out on the aircraft. Prove you can do it through what you just show me in simulator.
AFSBI: Alright. Thank you so much for your time.