Greetings from the training desk. Last edition, we spoke about aviation knowledge and understanding. Knowledge is very important but the “doing” is where our flying ultimately matters. Let’s take a closer look at why pilot flight standards and competency are so important and what it means for you.

Let’s start by saying that RAAus has a very effective and deceptively simple flight training syllabus that gets pilots into the air with minimum fuss and time, with the basic skills to be safe in the air. Recognised by CASA, the current training framework is a great platform to further your skills and flying aspirations.

As you progress, you will be assessed to RAAus competency standard 3 — this is the solo standard. You’ve now got all the basics in how to handle an aircraft safely and consistently. As you become more proficient in flying around the training area, you will also be exposed to more complex emergency management in varied weather and traffic conditions to approach competency standard 2 — this is the Pilot Certificate standard. You should be able to plan, assess and manage a range of diverse conditions and potential emergencies, including navigating while managing safety and flight parameters – all without direct supervision of an instructor. Performing to these standards consistently means you are ready to be tested for an RAAus Pilot Certificate.

While every instructor will bring their own style to training, it is important that nothing is missed and the confirmed level of your competency will set you up for a long and safe flying career. If you do want to move on to bigger and better things, the standards you are trained to will often come under scrutiny from other training providers who expect consistency across the industry.

All RAAus Instructors must meet competency standard 1. This is the highest standard achievable in the RAAus syllabus. Instructors should be able to competently perform the required activity with a high degree of accuracy in uncontrolled environments. Instructors need to cope with emergencies in a highly consistent manner and facilitate the instructions to a student.

So, what do we expect of our instructors? They need to understand how to effectively train every flight element in the syllabus, how to identify when the training is not working for you or how to fix a nagging problem in your flying – all while ensuring the safe operation of the aircraft. We expect them to know the rules and manuals and how any differences apply to RAAus operations. We also need to ensure they understand the fundamentals of teaching and learning. Above all, instructors need to be exceptional pilots in a wide variety of aircraft and environments and have the right attitude to safety. So, there’s a lot to do and a lot for RAAus to assess to ensure instructors are well equipped in what they deliver to you, the pilot. This is why our flight training delivery is regularly reviewed to ensure what you are taught will prepare you for flying in a diverse range of circumstances.

With these obvious expectations, it makes sense that RAAus focus on a “top down” program of standardisation, starting with our Regional Operations Co-ordinators and Pilot Examiners. Through these approved examiners, we manage competency and consistency with our CFIs, Senior Instructors and Instructors. We have been doing this ever since flight training in RAAus was first approved. This was ramped up in 2016 and has been formalised with Professional Development Seminars, improved reference material like RAAPs and the Flight Instructor Reference Manual.

Historically, most CFIs grew up doing things the way they were shown, sometimes many years ago, with only an operations manual and some good advice to rely on. Today our examiners are a diverse mix of ultralight stalwarts, industry professionals, commercial pilots and specialists – many of which are immersed in multiple training systems with differing regulatory structures which are constantly changing. Calibrating the expectations of training and assessment is critical as we move towards expansion of flight privileges and more complex aircraft.

RAAus has released an online Flight Examiner Course to ensure our standards and methods of assessment are continually improving. Uniquely focussed on RAAus requirements and procedures, this course is now a requirement for all new examiner applicants and will be progressively rolled out to our existing examiners over the next two years. This is part of an initial rollout of courses in our RAAus Learning Management System where ease of online access, courses and immediate assessment feedback is tailored to the course candidate.

The road to improvement in training delivery is constant and ever-changing. Just like flying, we never stop learning and RAAus is making significant inroads to assist you, the member, and ensure access to quality training services and resources. As someone once said, “the standard you walk past is the standard you accept” and RAAus is seizing the opportunity to ensure you are given access to the highest standards of instructors and training so you can fly with confidence and competence!