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Am I unprofessional? Instructor/Airline pilot opinions

Flying Instructors & Examiners A place for instructors to communicate with one another because some of them get a bit tired of the attitude that instructing is the lowest form of aviation, as seems to prevail on some of the other forums!

Am I unprofessional? Instructor/Airline pilot opinions

Old 6th Sep 2013, 01:49
  #21 (permalink)  
Join Date: Dec 1998
Location: Escapee from Ultima Thule
Posts: 4,231
At PPL level I'd give days or a week's notice of the destination + suggestions for the route, whether instructing or examining.

At CPL level I'd give 60 minutes. At the end of 60 minutes I'd expect the guy to be ready to jump in the aircraft & go. That means flight plan, W&B, runway performance, contacting the ALA/farm strip for information & querying the 'pax' for Dangerous Goods/HazMat given the 'customer' description. Oh, and consider Flt & duty limitation.

My CPL test (in Oz) with the Department Examiner had 60 mins from him walking in the door with a route for me to plan, to being ready for a grilling on my decisions & planning + the other ground questioning items.

My 30 year career as a pilot in GA in 3 countries has required numerous flights with minimal time to plan. You have to be able to be able to adapt & plan quickly for those short notice flights.

Last edited by Tinstaafl; 6th Sep 2013 at 01:50.
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Old 12th Sep 2013, 06:20
  #22 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: around
Posts: 21
Well it shouldnt take you that long to plan a x-country, also why are you writing every freq for every airport down when they are on the chart that should be on your lap?

Now as for the text a midnight, that is slop on your CFIs part, I'd have a little come to jesus with him on that one, if he cant give you your assignments during normal business hours (as you are a paying customer) then perhaps you should talk to the manager about the other more professional schools you could be spending your parents money at.

You need to step it up a little on how you plan a x-country, whats important and what not, all the FBO stuff, cool but not needed, copying freqs from charts you will carry not needed, good check points (not just a arbitrary number of them ether) are needed, accurate times and fuel burns, being able to make a quick recalc for headwind and fuel for updated headwind ETA, etc

I'd also say your instructor needs to work on being more professional.

Last edited by ninethreekilo; 12th Sep 2013 at 06:22.
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Old 12th Sep 2013, 08:25
  #23 (permalink)  
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Here and there
Posts: 261
I'll throw in my 2 cents, as an instructor and airline pilot in the US.

I think Chris needs to realize what information is a "must" and what is "gee, that would be nice".

Granted, I would give my students several days notice to plan a flight because we all have calendars and lives outside of the flight line. Plus, I teach at a small FBO not a large-scale school. However, I would expect a CPL student to be able to plan a flight on the wizz-wheel in under 60 minutes.

When I read this:

When i plan my cross countries, I'm very detailed. I don't just write down 6 checkpoints and tower and ATIS frequencies on a piece of paper. I write down frequencies for every airport along my route for emergency situations, I print and read every NOTAM for every airport along my route again for emergencies. I get FBO phone numbers/frequencies, fuel prices for every FBO, I call ahead of time to ask if there is space on the ramp for me to park at such and such time. I'm specific and detailed, and now im being blamed for being unprepared and that will most likely be marked down in my canceled flight today, which can someday be read at an airline interview if they are looking for my flaws.

The worst part is, my parents who fund my training, immediately took my flight instructors side saying i should have seen the text at 12 midnight and been up planning the cross country then went to sleep, yet in all my ground schools i'm lectured about the importance of at least 8 hours of sleep and the effects it has on safety, and I have flown with less and I underperformed, and it felt horrible.

So, with all of that being said:

Am I an unprofessional student pilot?
I am wondering why are you doing all that? Writing down frequencies for ALL airports along the route? You have a chart where somebody did that for you. Calling FBOs for fuel? Yeah, you may need to do that when working for a real outfit, but as a student what role will that play in your flight? Is your instructor asking you for this information? If so, show your instructor you can do it once and then you have demonstrated the capacity...I certainly would not require that my student do that every time. I have never flown on the East Coast but calling ahead for ramp space? I assume you are in a SEP and not an A380? If so, they can always squeeze you in somewhere on the ramp. Have you ever been told there wasn't space?

Is your instructor aware that you are doing all this? I would expect you to be able to plan a flight in a shorter time frame, however if you could not do that it is my job to figure out why. I am the INSTRUCTOR and therefore must INSTRUCT you. If my student said they were calling the FBO for the fuel price and ramp space and writing down all the frequencies. I would explain that is overkill and SELDOM a necessity for our flight. We are going to go on our training flight regardless. Reading every NOTAM from every airport along the route. Even the briefer doesn't do that for you. You should be able to scan the information in a few seconds and determine what is relevant and irrelevant. What do you need to know? The route, the weather, the fuel required, and any pertinent and relevant NOTAMS.

Finally, you are not an unprofessional student pilot. You are a student and asking if you are doing something wrong. Seems professional to me. Also, it seems to me that several are in agreement that you are too meticulous. And no airline is going to ask about this one cancelled flight...and if they do just tell them what happened and what you learned from it.

And yes...you will experience out in the real world that your boss is going to text you at 0100 with an update for a flight at 0800 and you better be ready to do what is asked of you to keep the customer happy...as long as you are legal and safe.

Last edited by Trolle; 12th Sep 2013 at 09:40.
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Old 12th Sep 2013, 09:53
  #24 (permalink)  
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: UK,Twighlight Zone
Posts: 7,216
Blimey..... My planning lasts as long as it takes to drink my cup of tea and a normal cross country for me is generally 4 countries.....

Hats off for asking the questions, it shows you are keen to learn and showing professionalism. But seriously, lighten up!!
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Old 12th Sep 2013, 10:18
  #25 (permalink)  
Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: UK
Posts: 13,629
I agree with most people above. NOTAMS for airspace en-route, planned destination and alternate yes, anything else, probably not. The OP appears to be in the USA - all of that, and met, is available in 5 minutes on 1-800-WXBRIEF. 2 hours is enough. Frequencies are on charts. Fuel prices are irrelevant to most purposes. Take an airfield guide in the cockpit, and learn what you really need. There's always space to park a light aeroplane at any airport for a few hours if you need to go there, it's a pointless question.

I did a ferry trip last week, new type, new and complex airspace, necessity of filed flight plans - and my planning time was about the same as my flight time. For CPL training, you probably get 2 hours to plan a 90 minute sortie, which is plenty, and you're on known territory.

Plus, routes, airfields, plans change constantly - flexibility in the air is vital, so have data there, and the ability to access it - but not have copied it all out, that's just wasting time and paper.

Also all my experience from when I did my CPL is do NOTHING the morning before a lesson except go to the flying school after breakfast. Otherwise your mind is on the wrong things and you won't get the best value out of the lesson.


Last edited by Genghis the Engineer; 12th Sep 2013 at 10:52.
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Old 12th Sep 2013, 10:41
  #26 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: North Queensland, Australia
Posts: 2,865
I'll put my two bob's worth in ...

Sometimes you have lots of time to plan, and if so, do it diligently. Other times, you don't, and have to do the best with what's available. If you're really too rushed, make the safety call and don't fly.

But are you really too rushed? What about when you're airborne and have to cope with an unexpected diversion? Apply some of that quick thinking to your preflight planning - the more you practice, the easier it gets.

Lastly, keep in mind the more time you have, the more you tend to waste, so while you may feel rushed at times, consider how quickly you can really do the job while still covering all bases - sometimes we work better under (reasonable) pressure.
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Old 12th Sep 2013, 10:52
  #27 (permalink)  
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: Mare Imbrium
Posts: 587

Lastly, keep in mind the more time you have, the more you tend to waste, so
while you may feel rushed at times, consider how quickly you can really do the
job while still covering all bases - sometimes we work better under (reasonable)
Parkinson's Law IIRC

Try this - give yourself a time limit to plan the flight (say an hour). Then spend the first 5 minutes prioritizing the planning tasks and then do them in that order. Stop after the hour. Go fly.

Or at least try a time limit for yourself and see how you get on, even if for a practice. The time management discipline that is required to do your planning in a reasonable time is one of the skills that you need to develop. Your instructor should help you with this - but you can work on it too anyway.
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Old 12th Sep 2013, 14:33
  #28 (permalink)  
Join Date: Dec 1998
Location: Escapee from Ultima Thule
Posts: 4,231
Manually copying information that is available in the required publications is mostly a waste of time, unless you're scribbling a quick note about something unusual. The information is already written down for you - that's why we have those documents in the 1st place. You just have to be able to know where to look.

Like others have written, you need to be able to discriminate between essential planning & preflight information & activities, and non-essential stuff. Also, how efficient is your flight planning & preparation process? Do you waste time going back & forth trying to complete tasks? Can you shave time during planning eg plot all the tracks, then measure all track bearings, then measure all the distances etc instead of dealing with each leg individually. Is your equipment organised in a way that lets find the bits & pieces easily. I find it helps if I keep each item in its own place every time. I don't have to rummage here & there to find things.

Once you have a planning routine that captures all the essentials quickly & efficiently your flight planning will be much quicker.
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Old 16th Sep 2013, 01:28
  #29 (permalink)  
Join Date: Mar 2013
Location: Luton
Posts: 60
That 15min report to the crew bus was direct to the aircraft - odd that

with French security in CDG - the fuel guy waiting and destination to be


How did you get on ?
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Old 17th Sep 2013, 10:53
  #30 (permalink)  
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: UK
Posts: 610
Persoanlly, I believe that at training stage, students should be given as much time as possible. This gives them additional time to prepare and self brief and make the most of the lesson, which they are paying for after all.

I don't just mean time for the formal planning, eg W&B, flight plans, nav calcs etc., but time to prepare mentally for the flight and consider what was done wrong last time and how can that be improved next time etc.

Yes, in the real world time is tight but at that stage experience helps and we all know we are quicker when we do the same thing several times a day/week.

When I go for light aircraft flight these days, even local currency for an hour or so, I always brief myself on what I want to achieve and improve on and set myself goals. Then afterwards I critically review how I have done and set further goals for next time.
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Old 17th Sep 2013, 18:52
  #31 (permalink)  
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: Air
Posts: 2
well, here is my opinion. I think him texting you at midnight was kinda unprofessional. you could have been sleeping and he could have woke you up. but..... I do think he could have called you in the morning. but 2 hours to plan a 2 hour trip should be more than plenty of time, especially if that doesnt include the prelight inspection of the plane.

my biggest question is...... a 2 hour workout? what you doing? training for the worlds strongest man competition on ESPN??? seriously though, if your doing a flight career path, I would cut the workouts to 30 to 60 minutes. that is plenty enough time to be in optimal shape for a pilot (or anything else).
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Old 17th Sep 2013, 22:38
  #32 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: West Coast Canada
Posts: 3,503
I had another look at the OP's post and he kind of reminds me of a student I had awhile ago. This person was very uncomfortable with uncertainty. He was very bright and worked very hard but if everything did not go exactly according to plan his performance suffered.

Things reached a head during navigation. His planning was over the top meticulous, but he putting a ridiculous amount of time into planning every flight. I eventually forced him out of his comfort zone with drastic measures. Just as he was starting his first leg I took his PLOG and threw it out the window. I then took his meticulously marked map and threw it in the baggage bay. I then gave him my rather tattered and unmarked map and told him to map read his way around our Navex and back to the home airport.

By the end of the flight he realized that navigation is not rocket science and the basics of time-speed-distance will get you where you want to go.
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Old 18th Sep 2013, 09:48
  #33 (permalink)  
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: UK
Posts: 179
More than enough time...and a text at 12 midnight with the flight details is a good representation of your future career - except in real life it'll probably be for a 9am departure.

Agree completely with Big Pistons Forever.

Like Big Piston's student I too used to go into the nth degree with planning, and I got bogged down with detail. My salvation was a small book called "Diversion Planning" by Martyn Smith, it is about flying with a map, a pencil and a stopwatch. And it works so well. And when you see how well it works, you have the confidence in pre-flight planning to put down the CRP-5 for a wind calculation which is going to be wrong anyway - and concentrate on what matters.

For CPL test, you dont need to prepare for everything on the ground, you just need to know you can handle anything in the air, you'll be flung off on a diversion at some point anyway so you may be spending an hour planning for part of a route you'll never reach.

Go back to basics for a while - map, pencil, stopwatch.

Good luck
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