Single-Pilot Program Trains Solo Jet Pilots, And Boosts Insurability


Single pilots of jets now have a new opportunity to experience a rigorous training regimen that dovetails with preferred consideration for insurance. Training provider CAE is partnering with Starr Insurance Companies in a program designed to both ensure a high level of safety and simultaneously increase insurability for both owner-pilots and commercial operators moving up to jets.

CAE’s program consists of an 18-month mentorship training cycle using scenario-based simulator training, the company’s Flight Training Data Monitoring with CAE Rise, in-aircraft mentoring and Upset Prevention and Recovery Training (UPRT). The mentoring sessions for participants involve classroom sessions in simulators as well as live aircraft training based on mentoring sessions with “specially trained and highly experienced instructors,” according to CAE.

Nick Leontidis, CAE’s Group president of Civil Aviation Training Solutions, outlined the impetus for the program: “Insurance rates continue to rise and are sometimes unattainable for operators of single-pilot aircraft who don’t have the experience of career pilots.” Kyle Sparks, senior vice president and chief underwriting officer of Starr Aviation, echoed Leontidis’ concern: “Aircraft owner pilots of single-pilot jet aircraft are a particularly difficult class to insure. CAE’s rigorous professional flight training regimen will help owner-pilots fly safer. And the extensive flight behavior data we’ll get from the program will ensure more accurate insurance underwriting. This initiative will help many of these owners secure the insurance coverage they need for their expensive aircraft.”

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Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.

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  1. > CAE’s program consists of an 18-month mentorship training cycle

    18 months? So they’re really saying that non-airline pilots can’t fly jets safely. Harsh, but it could be true – there’s been a few fatal accidents in 2021.

    A TBM sales manager said that almost all his sales were to owner-operators who owned their own businesses. I guess it would make sense that they have more distractions and less flight hours per year than airline pilots. (A TBM doesn’t require a type rating, but recent models require RVSM training. So it’s the biggest step-up that you can buy without a significant amount of training.)

    I wonder if there’s a difference between turboprop (TBM) and jet insurance rates.

    • How do you mean, James? While I may be missing something (an 18 month cycle doesn’t necessarily tell me how many training events are included), 18 months is a longer cycle than the 6-12 months that are typically required of §91, 135, or 121 jet pilots. In my 135 role I do three cycles in the sim in an 18 month period. Airline guys typically do a 6-9 month rotation, as I understand.

      • Yes, my point is that an insurance company talking about 18 months of training is a long time for already-certificated pilots. It might be justified based on data, or it might mean they don’t really want to insure non-airline pilots in jets.

        Or maybe we should look at the jet accidents this year and see what the problems were and how to address those. IIRC, one had a co-pilot with inadequate ratings, and another was an experienced pilot using the wrong airspeeds after climbout and stalling in.

  2. I am not concerned about “training cycles”, etc, I have a certain level of concern about “where” some of these aircraft are operated “single seat”. I will admit, up front, that my 20K hours are in many motors flying long distances and going from busy airport to busy airport. I do have single seat time but it is extremely limited and in very little airplanes outside of my AF UPT.
    Where am I going with this? Well, based on my experience at very busy airports around the world, it is very easy for even experienced crews to get overwhelmed when it gets really busy with some bad weather thrown in. Put a pilot, all alone in the seat in that position and the results could get very bad.
    Okay, stop screaming, I didn’t say I was dead set against single seat ops. I see no issue with it in private aircraft as discussed in the article as long as the pilot stays up to date and devotes 100% of his/her mind to the task at hand. Another factor is the step up in speed and complexity of jets. Today’s aircraft all seem to have these super duper nav-com systems and tv screens but… The more that the 141 and 747 (Classic) I flew got updated in the Nav department, the more heads down time the crew spent “feeding ” the “box”. I admit to being “old school” and being very cognizant of being taught very strongly to keep my head out of the cockpit and on a swivel. Doing so, on a couple of occasions, saved me from driving my jet through a crowd of seagulls at JFK. I could afford to do that because I insisted that one of us feed the box at a time and the other watch outside. A single pilot, operating into, say, Teterboro won’t have that option.
    Another concern I have is lack of experience, both total and recent. These two factors add to the likely-hood of something going wrong. This occurs in all aircraft, that is a given. Pilots feel they “know” their job and aircraft and can “handle it”. They wouldn’t be pilots if they didn’t. Add in the distractions of whatever business the pilot runs and that could have another very bad effect. There are plenty of accident reports out there where it is pretty obvious that the pilot didn’t have his / her mind in the game. Heck, such incidents occur daily on the roads, why wouldn’t that apply to aircraft as well. When I flew the line, we were in the sim every 6 months. One session would include classroom time ( I prefer the classroom over CBT!) with 3 sims and a check ride. The other would include 2 sims. During those training periods, we reviewed everything plus refreshers on whatever the hot button issues were currently popular. Will busy jet owners take the time to routinely do the same, who knows.