Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Beyond The Checkride

Advanced training means new skills, reduced insurance premiums and renewed passion


"Recurrency training needs to become part of pilot culture," says Mike Kerwin, Vice President of Analytics for Avemco Insurance Company, one of aviation's largest insurers. "And we as a company would be very happy if we could at least get pilots to realize how important regular training is."

Kerwin mines vast amounts of insurance and accident data to accurately set premiums. His decades of experience have proven that a pilot who undergoes regular recurrency training is a safer pilot than one who doesn't, and Avemco's discounts reflect that. In fact, other general aviation insurers have come to the same conclusion and offer considerable discounts for advanced training. As Kerwin explained, Avemco accident data also shows that a pilot who's out of currency by 90 days has the potential to be just as dangerous as a pilot climbing into an aircraft he or she has never flown. "In both pilot groups," says Kerwin, "You have a number of small risks that eventually add up to one huge risk." He gave the example of pilots in the Northeastern United States who frequently sit out the winter on the ground. Kerwin says you can track the number of losses as winter comes to an end and these rusty pilots start flying again. "You'll see gear-up landings and all kinds of mistakes that could have been prevented with some kind of refresher training," he adds.

In the case of high-performance or complex aircraft, Avemco is one of many insurers that mandate recurrency training. The skills necessary to effectively manage these advanced aircraft erode quickly, and it's in emergency situations that expired skills manifest themselves. Most insurers require training every 12 months, though commercial operations often mandate recurrency training every six months.

The benefits—aside from insurance premium discounts—are a deep sense of confidence in the pilot's abilities during an emergency and the surety that comes with having repeated a task many times under adverse conditions. New instrument pilots are frequently afraid to venture into true IMC because of a lack of confidence in their recently acquired skills. Simulator training can alleviate that, allowing pilots to train in whatever area they feel weakest in. As the ranks of technically advanced aircraft continues to grow, and as glass cockpits replace the previous generation's avionics, workload increases, even with better situational awareness. Even private pilots should recognize the need for advanced training of some sort. "We all need a good training mindset," notes Kerwin. "And pilots should realize that the money spent in re-currency training is as important—if not more so—than learning to hit a 9-iron on the golf-course."


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