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Am I unprofessional? Instructor/Airline pilot opinions

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Am I unprofessional? Instructor/Airline pilot opinions

Old 3rd Sep 2013, 15:38
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Join Date: Sep 2013
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Am I unprofessional? Instructor/Airline pilot opinions

Hello Everyone, this will be my first post on PPRuNe.

I'm just finishing up my single engine land CPL, and my flight instructor has been kind of slacking lately and giving me assignments merely 1-2 hours before a flight rather than a day or two's notice, which i feel is more professional and quite frankly less stressful. Here is my latest situation as of last night, I need to know from a professional pilots stand point if I am right or wrong:

My instructor texted me at 12 midnight telling me to have a flight plan ready by the time we meet at 12pm. I woke up at 8am, went for a two hour workout, and got back home around 10am, then i saw the text. I was expecting a local flight lesson today which i can prepare for within a 2 hour time frame (10am-12pm), this includes having the plane pre flighted and ready to go, weight and balance complete, all the weather charts laid out and ready, also my shower, breakfast, getting dressed in my pilots uniform and driving to the academy I study at, which is a 15 minute drive aswell. My instructor then texted me back at 10.15 asking if i could have all the above done AND a vfr flight plan for a 2 hour flight and back. So in the middle of my usual routine he asks if i can have extra work done in my usual preparation time frame, and i run a tight schedule from the moment i get in the shower to handing the planes keys to my instructor saying "im ready to go" on time.

He then proceeds to text me back apologizing for the late text (finally...) and then asks why I, as an upcoming commercial pilot, can't have a 2 hour VFR cross country flight planned in under an hour, and have the plane ready to go with all the other work on my plate done as well. He asked why I couldn't have 6 checkpoints on a piece of paper in less than an hour, and that right there looked rushed in my eyes, which we all know has a potential to be very unsafe. I have been rushed into cross country flights at the last minute in my private training, and when i got in the air if i missed one frequency i was immediately to blame. 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?

Or

Is my flight instructor not giving me enough time of notice for my lessons?

Sincerely, Chris Kennedy
Ydenneksirhc is offline  
Old 3rd Sep 2013, 16:50
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Join Date: Aug 2004
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Your instructor is being reasonable in the time frame.

If you look at http://www.caa.co.uk/docs/33/srg_lts...8_Sept2012.pdf it states :

3.2.5
....he will be given time to complete the necessary planning and pre-flight preperation, normally 45-60 minutes depending on the circumstances.
I think the amount of time he is giving you is more than adequate.

Communication not the best but your CPL examiner may be communicating in exactly the same way and your employer is likely to communicate electronically.

Welcome to your future career.
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Old 3rd Sep 2013, 17:16
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To me it sounds like a sloppy instructor. How many of us has not missed a text? Had you not seen the text and showed up with nothing you'd been blamed as well, most likely. Possibly charged for the session too.

Time frame wise I don't know.. what does he expect? 6 points on a chart certainly goes quick, but is that his idea of a VFR flight plan?

That said, in the future you will not always have the benefit of time. Being able to prioritize what's important and preparing what's required will be the norm.
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Old 3rd Sep 2013, 17:23
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I'm just finishing up my single engine land CPL, and my flight instructor has been kind of slacking lately and giving me assignments merely 1-2 hours before a flight rather than a day or two's notice, which i feel is more professional and quite frankly less stressful.
1-2 hours before a flight is a reasonable time frame, and a lot more than I remember having sometimes. Being texted the route the night before is more than you should be expecting (and more than you'll get on your test).

It does seem like a rush sometimes, especially at the beginning. My recommendation is to prepare and plan absolutely everything else you possibly can well in advance. If you're off blocks at 12, by 10am I would recommend being showered, dressed, at the airport, aircraft checked out (if on the ground) local notams checked, weather brief prepared etc etc. That way once you get your route your workload is minimized.

Getting used to that sort of time management will help you a lot, particularly with your IR (both on the ground and in the air).
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Old 3rd Sep 2013, 19:22
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Being texted the route the night before is more than you should be expecting (and more than you'll get on your test).
I actually suspect the instructor is probably feeling generous providing this earlier than the 2 hours and a little part of me sides with him/her.

To be honest I would have expected you to be able to cope with that pressure/time frame although not communicated via text.

It does seem like a rush sometimes, especially at the beginning. My recommendation is to prepare and plan absolutely everything else you possibly can well in advance. If you're off blocks at 12, by 10am I would recommend being showered, dressed, at the airport, aircraft checked out (if on the ground) local notams checked, weather brief prepared etc etc. That way once you get your route your workload is minimized.
Totally agree. I think an 8am wake up on the day of CPL training then a 2 hour run is taking the biscuit a little... I would have been in at 9 taking care of those - ready to receive route at 11am - because I know I never got more than 45 mins towards the end of my training.

I personally provide the Navigation briefing - give the first route over night to be planned then meet an hour before the flight to go over the planning.

I then progressively reduce the amount of notice given for Nav route from 3 hours to then 2 hours and then reduce by 30 mins intervals till I hit 45 minutes notice for the last couple of flights.

Last edited by BigGrecian; 3rd Sep 2013 at 19:30.
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Old 3rd Sep 2013, 19:31
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As above really, the instructor is being more than reasonable texting you the night before, more than I ever got on CPL or IR training.

In the real world, you are often given a change of plan with maybe 40-50 mins to prepare, you need to get used to being flexible.

Save the workout for after the flight, it will tire you out and ensure a good night sleep ready for the next day of planning/flying.
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Old 3rd Sep 2013, 21:16
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I would also suggest that maybe your planning is a little too involved - scrutinising the NOTAMs etc. for absolutely every airport on your route might not be necessary (though I'm not sure where you're flying) - will the weather vary massively for each airfield? In emergency or abnormal situations ATC can be used as a resource to gain frequencies, check weather, pre-warn airfields etc. I'm not saying be slap-dash and don't plan but I would say an overview of the weather on the route - obviously focussing on departure, destination and nominated alternate - is suffice. The NOTAMS for the above airfields are obviously important too but not every notice for every airport along the route.

I agree with those that suggest the time is adequate - maybe you need to adjust your planning to fit around a more realistic timeframe, one that you probably will have to work around for tests and in the real world of flying, where flexibility and changes are the norm?

One of the key skills of flying professionally is picking out the pertinent info and prioritising tasks - there will always be too much paperwork to look at and you'll need to get used to actively looking for the important stuff.

I fly commercially - if myself and the captain read every word of the briefing pack we'd never leave on time (and on-time performance is part of being a commercial pilot!) - maybe you could practice by giving yourself routes and then planning them in restricted timescales. Practice makes perfect! I completely understand the desire to be well- (even, over-) prepared because I was the same and planned to the nth degree but over time you will learn what is important to commit to memory, what to write down and what you can gain from other sources (e.g. ATC, the charts, etc.) in a reasonable timeframe if you need it.

Just some thoughts...

Good luck!
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Old 4th Sep 2013, 07:49
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Originally Posted by Ydenneksirhc
He then proceeds to text me back apologizing for the late text (finally...) and then asks why I, as an upcoming commercial pilot, can't have a 2 hour VFR cross country flight planned in under an hour, and have the plane ready to go with all the other work on my plate done as well. He asked why I couldn't have 6 checkpoints on a piece of paper in less than an hour, and that right there looked rushed in my eyes, which we all know has a potential to be very unsafe.
Sorry to say, but if you need more than 2 hours to plan a 2 hour flight and you're already a CPL student, I really wonder whether you are really as time efficient as you should be. How much time would you need then for a 5-hour flight?

I think it's time that somebody tells you, but being a commercial pilot also includes time management. Will you need 2 hours of planning as well for when somebody hires you to fly a 1 hour long sightseeing flight? Sometimes you just need to sort out your priorities. I believe you could have survived the day without the 8-hour sleep followed by 2-hour workout - I know the books says you should sleep 8 hours, drink no alcohol, not smoke at all, get good excercise, eat only the healthiest food, etc. I don't know if anybody has told you yet, but - books sometimes don't accurately describe actual real life.

Originally Posted by Ydenneksirhc
When i plan my cross countries, I'm very detailed.
It's good to be thorough. No need to make a simple VFR flight into PhD disertation though. With your experience as a CPL student you should be able to plan a 2-3 hour IFR

Originally Posted by Ydenneksirhc
He then proceeds to text me back apologizing for the late text (finally...)
Bad instructor, very bad. He sent you the route 12 hours in advance and only apologised at the first moment he saw you the next day before the flight. I mean really - how can he be like this?
FlyingStone is offline  
Old 4th Sep 2013, 10:46
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In real life you will have the time it takes the fuel bowser to get to the plane and fuel it as your time allotted for planning before getting sacked.

Seems strange all I got for my CPL planning equipment was a bit of paper pencil and some wx. And a finger was stabbed at a chart a few times and we were out the door in 20mins.
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Old 4th Sep 2013, 11:52
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Your instructor is doing you a favour by putting pressure on you and sorry to say but it sounds like you need to be pushed harder!
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Old 4th Sep 2013, 17:05
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When he apologised for the late text, he clearly meant late at night rather than not long enough before the flight, if my employer started texting me at midnight I'd be a bit peeved unless it was very necessary for a last minute change.

No reason why he shouldn't have given you the route at 11am, and expected to be airborne at 12.

For commercial ops we report 50 mins before a six sector day, so 50 mins to plan 6 flights. How will you cope with that if you're over analysing a simple VFR plan?

When you go on to do your IR you will usually have a slot time booked for a training approach. If you miss the slot, you just turn around and go home without the practice, so you really need to practice being able to plan quickly and efficiently to ensure a timely departure.

Last edited by RTN11; 4th Sep 2013 at 17:06.
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Old 5th Sep 2013, 02:16
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Chris,
sounds to me as though the Boss needed to sell aircraft time and

your "instructor" was the means to do it.

A text at midnight ?

Shame on that instructor. Bite your lip and get on with it. No option.

Keep us informed.

Ps. 50 min before a 6 sector day ? You can only fly one sector at a time

so you must have at least 6hrs before deciding fuel for the last.

Common sense prevails l hope.

Even 5 day standbys at CDG on a 15 min report to the AF crewbus

outside were manageable if that was kept in mind.

( that 15min included rounding up the other crew members )

Suck it in, you can do it.


PS. you must make time to get out on the razz as well,

otherwise there`s no point in any of it.

Last edited by 10Watt; 5th Sep 2013 at 02:45.
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Old 5th Sep 2013, 09:25
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I agree the instructor is doing you a favour. In my company we have 10
Minutes to check in, check weather,notams aircraft serviceability brief the crew
And calculate the fuel before leaving the crew room for the aircraft.
I am currently flying with many low houred pilots and the people who roll
Up their sleeves and get on with it do well but the ones that don't live in the real world that have had mummy and daddy pay for it always find it hard. You should thank your instructor or decide to do something else.
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Old 5th Sep 2013, 09:26
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Originally Posted by ctrl View Post
Your instructor is doing you a favour by putting pressure on you and sorry to say but it sounds like you need to be pushed harder!
I agree. When you get out of the fantasy land that is flight training you will see that your instructor has done you a favor. BTW I routinely give my CPL students a flight to plan the night before and then an hour before departure say " oh the customer just said he has 200lbs of extra bags, or needs to make an extra stop, or will be 4 hrs late

Last edited by Big Pistons Forever; 5th Sep 2013 at 09:28.
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Old 5th Sep 2013, 09:49
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I think that the point really is that the original poster is the slowest fu**er in history.
I've done a 2 day flight across the country with 15 - 20 minutes of flight planning.

if you can't totally redo a flight plan in under 10 minutes when the destination is changed you need to take up professional stamp collecting.
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Old 5th Sep 2013, 10:12
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dubbleyew eight,

Is that British sarcasm or just an insult to a humble student asking for feedback?

I could do a week tour around the country with no flight planning.

I simply think the OP want's to do an immaculate job and show himself from his best side. Unfortunately in this case it backfired, and the lesson learnt for Chris for the future will be to prioritize..

Everyone who compares it to commercial operations.. guys, you already have the flight plan, fuel required, weight & balance and so on. Check the weather, fuel policy and off you go. Takes 5 min on a good day.

Some flight schools insist on having all that done yourself for 1 hour session in the local practice area. That's improper time management, imho...
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Old 5th Sep 2013, 10:40
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Easy guys - you'll see from my post that I agree with pretty much all of the sentiment here...but that's no reason to tear a guy you've never met a new one. Chris - please take some of the advice here as constructive, a lot of it comes with experience too.
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Old 5th Sep 2013, 10:46
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172_driver makes a good point about commercial ops (at least on bigger equipment) but I think the thrust of what people are saying is accurate. Plus, in some commercial ops (think biz jet flying, light aircraft etc.) you will be responsible for all that (flight plan, W&B, fuel, etc.) in short timescales so the points are still valid. As I say, I was pretty similar to Chris when I first started flying because (a) I wanted to do a good, thorough job and (b) I wanted to impress - nothing wrong with that but my approach is very different now as I hint at in my first post above. Chris is at an early stage of commercial flying and has asked for advice from us - fair play!
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Old 5th Sep 2013, 11:07
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hmmm british sarcasm???

well what is the purpose of a flight plan....

1 to make sure you know where you are going and how to get there.
2 to make sure you have enough fuel for the trip.

if you have enough fuel on board you can work out the rest as you go if necessary.

dont get me wrong. I know of competent private pilots who take a week to flight plan a long flight but most of that time is spent in relearning half forgotten methods.

he ought to be a lot more certain and a lot faster.
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Old 5th Sep 2013, 12:12
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Also the OP is in the US its more than likely a different way of doing things over there.

Yes most on here know you just use your bit of paper and work out the whole trip length. Then work out your max drift and min ground speed. Then work out your fuel for min ground speed and add on your final reserve.

Then using the edge of you paper move you track between points to a VOR and get the bearing off that. Then use the clock code to account for wind and get a adjusted heading and time for leg. And repeat for other legs.

Check the notams make sure you have more in the tanks than you have planned for. Do your M&B. And then go flying.
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