Are Pilot Skills Worse Than Ever?

32

I gotta get out more. Or maybe be more selective in the places I get out to. Here I had been laboring under the notion that pilot training and pilots themselves are probably as competent as they’ve ever been.

And why would I think this? Mainly accident rates, both in general aviation and in for-hire flying, which I analyze compulsively.  These are at all-time historical lows and although we and other news outlets keep publishing stories about the erosion in stick-and-rudder skills, pilots keep having fewer accidents. Maybe their underwear is just soiled, but not bloody.

In spending a couple of days this week rubbing elbows with DPEs and instructors at Redbird’s Migration training conference in Denver, I heard some discouraging stories about the low caliber of applicants—especially instructors—who are percolating through the training system. Roger Sharp, late of Redbird and now a DPE in Texas and author of the self-published 20 Ways to Fail Your Flight Test: A Practical Guide to Earning Your Notice of Disapproval, told us several horror stories, including one of the applicant whose instructor told him short field landings should be done without flaps.

Todd Shellnutt, a DPE for ATP, shared similar tales with me and although we both agreed this sort of thing has been going on for years, it may be worse now for the pressure being put on pilot hiring. The last time I remember pilot uptake being this hot was during the 1960s, when several airlines took people off the street, trained them, and put them in the third seat, when there was a third seat. We didn’t call it ab initio then, but that’s what it was. Later in the same decade, when pilots came home from the Vietnam war, the trend reversed.

There’s much comment about how we’re just teaching to the test. Ya think? I heard that when I was a callow 19-year-old student pilot. I didn’t exactly have a lot of money for seasoning from some of those steely-eyed old veterans haunting the flight school shack. (They were probably 25.) So they taught me to pass the checkride, I did, and survived the first 500 hours without killing myself. I’m a better aviator for it, for lessons learned alone while scaring myself half to death. You tend to remember better under those conditions.

At the industry events I attend, there’s always someone talking about future pilot demand and how the supply will fall short. While this appears to be true, I think there are gradations to it. If the demand for training were at the high end of the described scale, wouldn’t Cessna and Piper, between them, be selling more than the 60 training airplanes per quarter that they are now? Or is that now what constitutes high volume? Beats me.

One of the goals of the Migration conference is to showcase the latest in cutting-edge training techniques using simulators and computer-based technology. It was attended by about 300 people, with 70 percent this year who had never attended before and thus missed some of Sharp’s more twisted jokes.

While Redbird has made inroads in the use of simulators as integrated training tools, lots of schools still don’t use them, either because they can’t afford them or don’t believe in them. In some instances, instructors don’t like them because using them doesn’t allow them to log time towards that airline job. Sharp says that’s okay with him, because he makes more money on re-tests. (Some DPEs, by the way, are charging as much as $1500 for CFI rides.)

Aviation in general and flight training in particular exhibit remarkably robust hideboundedess. Early adopters are the true believers in sims and online training, but the old ways die hard. Sharp made one point that some just won’t accept: It’s a waste of expensive instructor time for schools to offer their own ground schools. John and Martha or Jeppesen do it better and it’s all the same stuff.

As Redbird’s GIFT gains refinement and fielding, the pre-flight and post-flight briefing may need some attention, too. GIFT—Guided Independent Flight Training—is a graphics-based app that does just what its title implies. It or something like it points to an inevitable future. I could preach to the choir of Luddites and decry intervention of machines over man, but madly mixing metaphors here, windmills like that are water under the bridge.

At one breakout seminar I attended, the owner of a South Carolina flight school was explaining how to price the simulator, how to encourage its use beyond the basics and, more important, how to make money with it. And it’s not just a money tap on the client’s wallet. Integrated simulator training moves students through the program more efficiently and, according to the data, improves checkride pass rates.

Flight instruction, dare I say it, is a grind. So is being a busy DPE. The burnout rate is not insignificant. Against that backdrop, I’m always inspired by people whose passion for aviation and teaching aviation makes my own warm feelings for the calling seem like mere musings. AOPA singled out for awards a number of flight schools from various parts of the country and yeah, it’s glad handing, but I also noticed many of these were staffed by Millennials, if not younger people. So just take your Millennial jokes and stuff ‘em…well, you know.

From the Ninja-level inspirational dedication file comes Christopher Kreske who, based on student surveys, AOPA picked as the national CFI of the year. He’s a retired F-15 pilot and a current airline pilot but still finds time—and motivation—to instruct. Respect.

Further respect for one Kirk Lippold, who was commanding officer of the USS Cole when it was attacked by terrorists in Yemen in 2000. At Migration, he gave a riveting talk about the experience and how the crew battled to save a ship that should have sunk. What does that have to do with aviation? Nothing and everything. He related how his decision making was guided by the same principles pilots much use in sorting through an aircraft emergency. No one moved an inch during his talk, which drew standing applause.

Lippold is a Naval Academy graduate and as he described his experience, I thought about how effective the military academies can be in molding leadership into the people who rise to command. I also thought about his experience in the context of the U.S. Navy’s glorious and world-renowned history of at-sea damage control in the stories of the Franklin, the Yorktown, the Forrestal and the Enterprise. On my current recommended reading list is Halsey’s Typhoon, the harrowing story of the U.S. Third Fleet caught in an intense typhoon in the Philippine Sea in December 1944.

The sea was so violent that airplanes on hangar decks were ripped free of their chains and caught fire in the subsequent chaos. One ship, the light carrier USS Monterey, was ablaze from stem to stern and ordered by higher command abandoned in the teeth of a Cat 5 typhoon. The captain demurred and sent a young junior grade Lieutenant below to fight the fire. They saved the ship and that young officer went on to bigger things. His name was Gerald R. Ford.

Other AVwebflash Articles

32 COMMENTS

  1. A lot of places where pilot skills are down are places where we won’t expect to see accident rates rise until much later. These are big flight schools pumping out new pilots for airlines to put in the right-hand seat.
    These pilots are not in command of aircraft themselves or flying privately and killing themselves or wrecking airplanes. Instead they are flying under the guidance of more experienced pilots sitting next to them and enjoying a full array of automation to assist them.
    But what happens when/if these pilots graduate to commands and then have low-experience pilots with limit skills next to them? probably nothing out of the ordinary, for the most part. As long as things are going well. But when the automation fails, or precise hand-flying skills suddenly are demanded, or the trim of the airplane is inexplicably rolling nose-down, what then?
    Do we have a system propped up by automation and the skills of prior generations of pilots who will eventually all retire?

    Now, I’m generalizing, of course. Not all pilots coming out of these schools are ‘inferior’ by any means. But there are a lot that I would never allow my family to fly around in a light airplane with. I’ve seen them struggling to maintain directional control after landing (but it’s fine when you are in a light single on a runway wide enough to land on in any direction), running off the end of grass runways twice as long as necessary for a safe landing, getting lost on crystal clear VFR days. But no matter, they’re only required to be good enough to pass the tests then watch the automation handle the rest in their job flying hundreds of people around in modern airliners.

  2. ASA’s IP Trainer (instrument flight simulator with structured lessons and coaching) was brilliant for instrument training. It is a real shame it was discontinued in 2010 and there doesn’t seem to be anything to replace it.

  3. At least the US made an ATPL mandatory for airline pilots. Here in Canada we still have 250 hr zero to hero’s going into Part 121 equivalent right seats. Sadly this will only change when, not of, we get our Colgan.

    One issue that is biting on. both sides of the border are the instructor instructors. The good senior instructors have mostly been sucked up by airline or corporate operators and the ones remaining are all too often the fu*ck ups who got never got hired or more often were fired from their commercial air service.

    The quality of new instructors is IMHO well down from where it was even 5 years ago. I was lucky as when I did my initial flight instructor rating in 1986 I was taught by an X Military guy with 30 yrs instructor experience including 8 yrs in the Military teaching on Harvard’s (Canadian T6).

    My ego took a big beating but I was a pretty good pilot and instructor when he was finished with me.

  4. From my “perch”, pilots are in many ways better, in some ways worse. For those of you that seek that vaunted airline seat, I suggest these things (all else being non-problematic):

    * Use the checklists as though your life depended on it. If that “bores” you, find a career driving a bread truck.
    * Return to the days when pilots knew the systems of the aircraft, inside-out. Get your 7,000 hour, beer-belly, lazy butts outside and preflight the aircraft. Alternate the legs and alternate the pre/post.
    * Learn the value of “checklist challenge/AOM response”, and stay engaged. “Two wings … two engines … two pilots.”

    And just remember before you send off that resume: “where you are now, may very well have been the best job you’ve ever had.”

    “Blue skies and tailwinds.”

    • It’s great if the pilots know all of the systems of the aircraft. I figure that a type rating could be done in only six or seven months, given that details of today’s complex flying machines is voluminous.

  5. If the quality of CFI’s are actually dropping then the FAA has no one else to blame but themselves. In the 1990’s when I got my CFI, the FAA wanted to do all initial CFI rides with theirFSDO inspectors, not be DPEs. I have been out of flight instruction for a while so if the FAA is no longer doing that maybe they need to return to doing those rides.

  6. The “old” PTS standard for stalls:
    “An airspeed at which any further increase in angle of attack, increase in load factor or reduction in power would result in an immediate stall.”

    The “new” ACS standard for stalls:
    “Establish and maintain an airspeed at which any further increase in angle of attack, increase in load factor or reduction in power would result in a stall warning (e.g. aircraft buffet, stall horn, etc).”

    We used to do spins but no more. We used to almost stall an airplane; next we’ll get to “draw” it on a piece of paper. THERE’s your problem. OH! Maybe ‘they’re’ worried that the wing will fall off your PA28?

    • The ACS/PTS standards you cite are for slow flight, not stalls. The current Private ACS calls for full stalls and requires the candidate to articulate the developing stall (e.g., “stall warning horn,” “stall buffet,” “full stall.”

      Spins were deleted from the Private Pilot Practical Test prior to 1949. Are you really so old that you used to do it for the practical test?

  7. Are Private Pilot Skills Worse Than Ever? No. However, Glass cockpit systems, digitized gadgetry and risk management study times are more than ever. Thus, home or dual “Ground” instruction is more extensive than ever. Say about 100-150 hours. 45-55 flight training hours, spaced effectively, will make for a reasonably skilled student pilot.

    On DPE rates. $1500 for a checkride. Gimme a break

  8. This story should be about electronic media more then pilot skill and training. Except for some of those pilots that are posting here, the rest of us started out knowing absolutely nothing and learned as we went. I made so many mistakes and followed so much bad advise in my early years.

    Twenty years ago we couldn’t post our stupidity and ignorance in HD video for the whole world to see from a drone’s-eye-view. We couldn’t post our quick emotional reactionary response to every other quick emotional reactionary response. Flying magazine came out once a month and had a story in the very back called “I Learned about Flying from That”. I remember sitting in the pilot lounge discussing those stories between flights. The rest of the aviation world never did hear our wisdom in those back rooms. How sad :(.

    How lucky ‘The Whole Aviation World’ is today though… to have the opportunity to read my most ingenious analysis and wise opinions everyday within minutes after I write them… And I do this for FREE. 🙂

  9. I taught in 757 and 767 simulators for 20+ years and I witnessed a real sea change from the beginning and the end. At the beginning, I had civilian students whose flying background was Metroliners and Jet Streams. Those folks could fly an airplane. It was sometimes tough to get them to knock off the hand flying and embrace flying with a fully integrated autoflight system and flight management computer. At the end, it was the complete opposite. I started to see what I called “machine operators” who had to be taught to operate the specific flying machine in which they were trying to qualify. They didn’t have the SA or piloting skills of old. Some of my colleagues called them “children of the magenta line”. These “machine operators” were most definitely a minority, maybe five or ten percent of students, but they existed.

  10. Are pilot skills worse than ever? If so, the training must be worse than ever. We are all a product of our training. Our experience gained beyond our primary training has provided us with wisdom…even if some of that wisdom came from scaring ourselves almost to death while flying solo.

    There is no doubt that flight training is different than a decade or two ago. Now one has to master more than just learning basic stick and rudder skills, there is a new element called systems that are present in most airplanes. These systems could be an iPad/tablet/iPhone with a pilot app to dedicated electronic flight bag. Another component of the news systems is a GPS, handheld or otherwise. Vacuum or electric powered attitude instruments…clustered in round or glass displays. Each of these gauges may look and behave differently depending on what is powering it. ADS-B IN/OUT providing weather, traffic, METARS, TFR’s etc….how does one integrate that device within the flight. If it is on-board the airplane flown for the check ride, the student pilot must know and demonstrate it’s use.

    Another component or two of newer systems in not just a yoke vs stick, it can be side stick or a center stick instead of a stick between one’s legs. Differential braking with a free swiveling nose wheel, direct nose wheel steering, or spring/bungee type of tricycle gear steering in addition to the tail-wheel system of ground control. Training airplanes today can have fuel injection or carburetors. A few have adjustable props some don’t.

    If we were trained to stall an airplane, we stalled the airplane. If we were taught to avoid the stall but get close to it, noting the flight characteristics just prior to stall, that is what we demonstrated. Basically, we were all trained to pass the PTS or the new version of that with yet another acronym. Some instructors feel that stick and rudder skills are of primary importance delaying systems knowledge and management for a later date. Others teach that both need to be learned at the same time.

    There is no one size fits all standard for primary flight training. One could learn basic stick and rudder skills in a Cub but would that airplane make a good cross-country teacher? How would a J-3 work for 3 hours of hood work and the required night time. If the flight school has a 172 with a nav/com and another 172 with a glass panel including GPS and ADS-B IN/OUT, is the training going to be the same? Both get the job done legally, both could use the same syllabus, but because of the on board systems or equipment, the training would have to be modified thereby somewhat different. And within those differences the instructor would be placing a higher or lower priority on things because of those differences.

    One could go into class D airspace with the 172 equipped only with a nav/com and use a paper sectional, VOR, watch and whiskey compass to get there. And complete the the legal requirements of gaining a Private Pilot License. The other student in the GPS, glass panel, ADS-B equipped airplane would have to learn to use the on-board equipment and complete the PPL check ride just the same. Who is the better pilot? Who has the better skills?

    When do we measure the skill set of the modern aviator…immediately after the check ride or at the 500 hour mark? How do we quantify those skills if no one has gotten hurt? As the trends are revealing, we are flying more but crashing less.

    As pilots move forward to the professional levels, many airlines and corporate pilots are flying more and more airplanes with automation. With that automation comes the requirement to understand it and demonstrate it’s use. At which point, if the government, the airlines, and corporate flight departments does not require the demonstration of hand-flying it without the automation, or minimally so, when and where does the pilot get the opportunity to fly without it? And at whose expense?

    Who is the better pilot? The answer is not that simple anymore, especially when we are hurting less people and bending fewer airplanes. In some ways, aviation seems to be a sore winner. We aren’t happy unless we are complaining and unhappy.

    We did not all get the same training, in the same airplane, with the same equipment, with the same instructor. We all got individually trained in airplanes with tail wheels, nose wheels, with or with out certain radios and avionics, on grass fields or on paved runways, some on short strips and others on mile long runways, some in 65HP airplanes some in 310HP airplanes, with or with out iPads/tablets/ADS-B, etc…with all of us required to pass a check ride with some sort of examiner, FAA or otherwise sanctioned, and pass their version of the requirements delegated by the FAA. As varied all of this is, we are flying more and crashing less. Who is the better pilot then?

      • Kind of like typing on a word processor as opposed to writing cursive with an ink pen.
        Which one conveys the message and thought better? Which one is more appealing to the senses?
        They don’t even teach cursive in the elementary schools anymore. Kind of like flying skills. They’re both a lost art.

        • Writing cursive and flying an ADF approach are both antiquated and no longer necessary. But I don’t really blame the technology as the cause of the erosion of basic flying skills. It’s mainly the lack of needing basic stick-and-rudder skills in every day flying and the natural human tendency to not practice skills that are rarely needed. Perhaps what is lacking in today’s training is discipline training. The discipline to go out and practice skills that aren’t used that often, like go-arounds or crosswind landing, or hand-flying an approach (or even en-route flying). With less sophisticated or stable aircraft, pilots had no choice but to continually improve their skills.

  11. Jim H – Well said. Re: “Who is the better pilot? The answer is not that simple anymore…” I would argue the answer has never been simple. Does the better pilot have superior stick and rudder skills or better judgement? Does the better pilot exercise better checklist discipline, or have a more complete knowledge of the air traffic system? And how do these criteria change as a pilot progresses from Student Pilot to ATP?

    During my 21 years in the Air Force as a heavy driver, I thought about this in depth when I had to recommend a junior pilot for upgrade out of a pool of candidates. But how to choose? It was often difficult.

    I also believe this is why fighter pilots run the Air Force. Fighter pilots have bomb scores and record and debriefed their Air-Air training engagements. They can quantify and promote the best. Not so simple for transport pilots or Cessna 172 pilots…

  12. As I like to ask people, “what is better”? It’s not always an easy question to answer, particularly when “better” is defined by multiple subjective measures. The absolute best pilot would be one who has superior stick-and-rudder skills AND superior practical systems knowledge AND superior situational awareness AND superior knowledge of ATC AND superior avionics knowledge. But such a pilot doesn’t exist, so we have to work with less than that.

    Personally, I see more an erosion in situational awareness than basic stick-and-rudder skills. And basic awareness of the current aircraft state (altitude, heading, airspeed, trim) can lead to poor stick-and-rudder control. So perhaps it’s more a matter of distraction than basic piloting skills.

  13. I’ve been working in the Air-Taxi business for over 30 years. Most of the companies I’ve worked for hire 500 hour pilots. Today’s 500 hour pilots are much better pilots then the 500 hour pilots of the 80’s. That’s an absolute fact I can prove.

    Everyday it is easier and easier to publicize ever little mistake. You make a bad radio call and the ATC is mandated to report it. You ground loop, land with your gear up or do a forced landing and dozens of cameras are capturing it. Chances are if you decide to fly lower in a dense population area and you’ll be on the 6 o’clock news.

    A Seaplane landing on the Mississippi is national news and causes anxieties in the public. it’s not the pilots, it’s the nonstop emotional reporting.

      • While this blog emphasizes ‘Stick & Rudder’ the commercial world measures pilots by the ‘Almighty Dollar’. If you’re looking for a ‘flying cowboy’ to land you on a sandbar those young pilots are out there also.

        The fact is the accident numbers are going down at the same rate as the Vietnam era pilots are retiring.

        Ask an Air Traffic Controller who they would rather communicate with: a 1500 hr. 25 year old or the 60 year old captain. For example, I was told by a voice from the left seat: “Don’t answer them, they’ll just ask us to do something that will make us late”.

        In the 70’s and 80’s the 500 hour pilots would break something on the aircraft on a regular basis the 500 hour pilots of today go from 100hr. inspection to 100hr. inspection with everything still working, very few squawks. Tires have less flat spots, brakes last twice as long, engines leak less and the paint is not all scratched up from fuel hoses. The aircraft overall is shown more respect. Then the most important above all other criteria in the Air-Taxi business is repeat customers. The repeat customers regularly request the low time pilot by name and that’s how the bills get paid. Most of our repeat customers have talked up our young low time pilots many times more often then the seasoned high time grouches that operate the aircraft like an old farm truck.

  14. I started flying at the end of 1966, I trained in C150S with one radio and one VOR. Some included DME. Half the time I was in limbo. The transition to a C172s then to other Cessnas or Pipers was easy. Today we have the simple and exotic aircraft with a multitude of sophisticated and complex avionics. Why they even have autopilot coupled to GPS receivers, multiple displays and two or three transceivers with all kinds of colored information in front of me. Is a magenta line a good thing?

  15. This thread brings to mind radio ads I hear in my area touting the skills of one hospital over another in saving your life if you’ve had a medical problem like a heart attack or stroke. The implication is if you go to Brand-X hospital you’re less likely to survive. It strikes me as more than cruel that one facility is advertising an advantage in lifesaving skills when one would hope that these skills are the same no matter where you go.

    For air transport I think it’s best to emphasize the safety of the pilot, the airline, and the system that they’re flying in rather than individual skills. The incidents that demand the skills of an Al Haynes, a Chesley Sullenberger, or a Tammie Jo Shults, are exceptionally rare and are getting rarer thanks to improved equipment, training, and teamwork.

    Only a few pilots can be truly great. The best the rest of us should strive for is to be safe.

  16. The question is “Are pilot skills worse than ever?” First you have to define pilot skills of the past against the same skills of the present because that is what the question is asking and only what the question is asking. Once you have quantified the skills and time line to be measured, then you can measure improvement or degradation of skills.

  17. Tom C., excellent point…”The question is “Are pilot skills worse than ever?” First you have to define pilot skills of the past against the same skills of the present because that is what the question is asking and only what the question is asking.”

    We are postulating our respective opinions based on our own experiences ( which collectively adds wisdom…good and bad depending on when, where, and how that wisdom is applied or not)and nostalgia. We are the comparatively few of the population who have taken the time, money, and energy to become pilots. I would call this eclectic group of folks highly motivated people. Highly motivated people tend to be passionate about their interests because most, if not all, immerse themselves into that passion. Within that passionate immersion nostalgia sooner or later emerges. Nostalgia has a way of distorting the reality of today.

    Who has better P-51 “stick and rudder” skills…Lee Lauderback, Scott Yoakum, Chuck Yeager, Bob Hoover, Bud Anderson, or Steve Hinton (Jr or Sr)? Who was a better pilot Bevo Howard flying a Bucker Jungmeister or Sean Tucker in his Oracle bipe today? Is Tom Poberezny a better stick than his dad Paul? How about Art Scholl vs Big Ed Mahler, vs Harold Neuman? How do we subjectively measure the flying skills of Clay Lacy and Jeffery Skiles? Who is or was a better stick of pilots demonstrating the performance of factory stock GA airplanes? Bob Hoover ( Aero Commander Shrike), David Martin ( Baron), Matt Younkin/Jim Younkin ( Twin Beech), Billy Bishop/Corkey Fornof (Bellanca Viking), Jim Pietsch ( Bonanza), Warren Pietsch ( Interstate Cadet), Kyle Franklin/Jimmy Franklin ( Kitfox)..can you feel the nostalgia bubbling to the top?

    We mix those emotions with Lion Air, Ethiopia Airlines, Colgan, and Air France 447 crashes…combined with our personal observations of a student’s botched landings in a 2 knot crosswind, studying accident reports of pilots running perfectly good airplanes into a mountain or hill 50 feet below the summit, YouTube videos of tail wheel airplanes being ground looped, SR-22 spinning into a parking lot…stir/blend carefully…making a stew of emotionalism, nostalgia, passion, and a genuine care for all pilots combined with our own fears and expectations, trying to come to some conclusion about pilot skills. And measuring those skills, quietly, behind the scenes, to our own.

    I really think James F. said it correct…” Only a few pilots can be truly great. The rest of us should strive to be safe”. At least for today, it appears a larger number are striving to be safe. And to me, that is okay.

  18. I have been a CFI/II/MEI AGI for over 30 years and trained many hundreds of pilots in general aviation aircraft from Cessna 150’s, piston and turboprop aircraft and B737’s. I spent 10 years working as a simulator instructor, classroom instructor and flight instructor for FlightSafety International and 6 years of that was as a Program Manager for piston and turboprop twins flying Part 91 and 135. I’ve trained pilots from every skill level and background from a dozen countries. I’ve taught FBI, DEA, Border Patrol and military pilots. So, I know just a little about various aspects of flight instructing. I was also a high school Special Ed teacher, and am Dyslexic.
    I have read many articles concerning the present state of pilot training and those who are recieving the training. One commentator said that teaching ground schools is a waste of CFI time. I totally disagree with that. The most common thing I observe and have been told by DPE’s, is the inability of instructors to teach. Teaching is the most important skill an instructor has. One way, and I am certain of this, to build strong teaching skills, is to teach in a classroom. At FSI one of my principle oversite duties as a PM was to evaluate my instructors teaching in the classroom and simulators, and I had very high expectations of them. Knowing tbe technical details of a given aircraft is essential, but to effectively teach the topic was far more important. Clients in particular were more critical about the classroom instruction than simulator by a great margin. When I interviewed pilots for a position at FSI my first question was how much teaching experience do you have in aviation or education. Many applicants had extensive flying backgrounds in military and civil aviation, but very few had any teaching bacground in or outside of aviation. Ones ‘s flying background was helpful, but in the final analysis, teaching was again, the deciding factor as to who was hired.
    One organization who really understands this is SAFE, Society of Aviation and Flight Educators, of which I’m a member. They are dedicator to those teachers who view being instructors as a Profession, not a way to build time. I recommend them highly.
    As far as the use of simulators is concerned, and I have taught in every FAA category of simulators, thr rise of the PC simulator is, in my opinion, the greatest boon to teaching aviation skills. I started with FlightSim in 1985, and later Jepp sim for all my students, especially instrument students. The ability to teach and evaluate student learning is invaluable by using simulators and saves a lot of money. I currently use XPlane 11 and with Lockheed/Martin PREPR3D and other addons I can teach on my PC and the student can log the time! I teach every lesson from Private, through ATP and all CFI certificates using a PC. Every student also has either FlightSim or XPlane on their home computer so they can learn through guided practice. In 30 years of using simulators I’ve never had an applicant fail a checkride. All my CFI candidates learn first how to teach adult learners, and teaching methods. They must learn to effectively teach any topic for which they are certified to a very high level. I also have them teach each flying lesson on the PC first before we fly the airplane. I use real student pilots for my instructors to teach and people who know little about aviation for my instructor candidates to develope teaching ability and confidence.
    There are many resourses for both instructors and students to use to apply and learn piloting skills. In the 10 years PC simulators have advanced pilot training like no other innovation. Just look at how British Airways selects pilot applicants, or Lufthansa. The U.S. Airlines are finally catching on to EU training methods.
    The most important thing is to train instructors to be professioal educators, even if the goal is to fly in the corprate or airline venues at a later time.