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Should the Training syllabus be reviewed?

Guest In-cog-neto

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Guest In-cog-neto

This is one for you Instructors out there and pilots who that feel their training lacked a bit depth.


I have read(and responded to...) quite a few threads relating to RAA training. Do the hours counts towards PPL/CPL, aerobatics, does the theory adequatly cover the subject and compliment the type of aircraft we fly etc?


How old is the current syllabus? Having read it, there is no reference to flaps for example.


Is time to review the syllabus of ultralight training(Section 3.04 & 3.05 RAA ops man) to include modern design features and controls that are now common place in todays aircraft?


As you all know, the ultralight has gone through considerable change from its humble beginings. Nowadays the ultralight is capable of out-pacing some of its GA cousins and cover a respectable distance. They have CSU, rectracts and if you are really keen, you can let George the autopilot fly!


My question to you all. Should the syllabus be reviewed and modified to include the modern aircraft and its design features?


Your thoughts please.;)





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The current Syllabus and Exams still refer to MBZ's which have been banished for over 12 months now.


The syllabus should also reflect the different types of aircraft, there is no trike specific parts to the syllabus and yet a lot about 3 axis, so there is no standardisation.


There should be standardisation across the syllabus and our GA cousins, so that when people want to change from one to the other it isnt as big a step.


All exams should be the same school to school. From 1st solo to instructor, each school sets their own exams except for BAK and Air Law which means that everone is getting different levels of training. Different levels of training mean we have higher and lower standards of pilots.


The only standard of pilot that gets remembered is the lower standard, and this reflects on all of us.





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review of training syllabus.


Some good points are raised above but I would find it hard to justify a one size fits all approach here . The main reason to fly is for pleasure & if a pilot is content to fly a simple type of aircraft, like say a drifter,why should he have to learn facts about other aircraft in which he may have no interest, & will forget if not relevant to his operation.If later on he decides to buy a pioneer with all the bells & whistles & fly across australia, he should be trained to an appropriate standard,obviously. Anything less would be irresponsible. If he strikes it rich later on perhaps he will buy his own personal light jet and get the appropriate training, or he will die and maybe kill others, but isn't that sort of what will happen all along ,to a greater or lesser extent. I'm not suggesting any dumbing down and believe that at all levels the training should be totally adequate and relevant to the circumstances of the operation of the aircraft.We have a great movement here, and part of the philosophy is personal responsibility for the result of your actions. It's in the building and servicing, choice of plane, weather you fly in, your attitude to risk taking, your self discipline,responsibility,adequacy of your real knowledgebase, ability to evaluate your own performance & rectify shortcomings,etc that really matter.


Having said all this,there can never be anything wrong with examining a training syllabus critically, but be very clear on what you want to achieve. There is no excuse for out of date questions for sure. It looks bad..Sorry this is a bit long Nev..



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I agree that everyone should only have to learn about the aircraft they want to fly, but everyone should have the same level of knowledge.


Another question for everyone, why would we have lesser standards for some pilots when we all have to share the same airspace?





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Kyle's onto something here ;).


Generally speaking, the GA fraternity believes that RA-Aus pilots are of a lesser proficiency than themselves due to a "lesser" standard of training. Be this right or wrong, the fact remains, if RA-Aus instructors do not provide training to a high level the product of their training will indeed be lesser pilots. This is not to say that some GA instructors and pilots don't leave a lot to be desired in their flying/training practises. On the other side of the coin, a lot of RA-Aus pilots and instructors are way better than their GA colleagues.


FWIW, in my opinion, RA-Aus training (regardless of types of aircraft intended to be operated) really should be on a par with the best GA training on offer, incl RTF and ATC procedures. Like it or not, many RA-Aus members want to and do fly aircraft capable and appropriate for cross country touring mixing it with GA and at times wishing to transit controlled air. If our training and qualifications could be demonstrated to be equivalent to GA perhaps some of this "them" and "us" attitude could be chucked out the window once for all. And, wouldn't airspace be just that bit safer if we all had a high level of proficiency and professionalism.


Why the heck would anyone choose to further step levels of training probably creating even further discrimination.


After all, isn't learning things aviation fulfilling and fun.


My $0.02 worth.





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Guest pelorus32

I should preface my remarks by some qualifications:


I'm talking about three axis, single engine, non-turbine aircraft: In other words what the average private pilot is most likely to fly. With two other qualifications: 2 seat and MTOW of 544kg you have the aircraft an RAA pilot can fly. (Blessings to my trike etc bretheren I don't know anything about your training requirements so I remain silent on you:keen:).


The key point is that the difference between what is required of an RAA pilot and a PPL is down to one thing: the law! I'm not allowed into CTA and I can only carry 1 passenger. In terms of skills the only meaningful difference is that loading is a little simpler in an RAA aircraft and I don't need the same skills in dealing with ATC.


In every other element the skill, knowledge and attitude requirements are the same. Indeed the financial barriers to getting into a retractable aircraft, for instance, are probably less for me than for a PPL.


For that reason I like the school that I currently am training in: At that school most people start as RAA students. They can choose to stay as RAA or to go on to PPL. There is very little distinction - if any in the beginning - between what a PPL student gets in terms of theory and training and what an RAA student gets. They fly the same aircraft in the beginning and they have the same instructors. There is no "them and us".


I think that is a great environment.


Now to the syllabus. I think RAA are doing a pretty good job of keeping the web material current. It is a much more difficult job to keep the published material current. CASA certainly have acknoweldged that with the VFR Guide. It's been out of print for some time and now is only available as a PDF.


Of more concern to me than the syllabus is the Ops Manual which I think is out of date and doesn't provide a good enough reference to enable me to be able to answer the questions I need in order to operate safely and effectively. I find myself using both the VFR Guide and the AIPs to answer some questions that I have and often finding the ops manual woefully short on detail. In addition the ops manual was written when the predominant type was probably not 3 axis. It needs to reflect the changes in the proportions of aircraft type.


Sure the syllabus may need a revision to fix up airspace changes etc. I'm much more interested in a Controlled Airspace endorsement for instance.


My two bob's worth.







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Perhaps a Q & A similar to the section in the Aviation Safety Digest,( CASA Publication) also known disrespectfully as the "Crash Comic", but relating specifically to practical matters in our area of operation, might be a good way of giving RAAus pilots an idea of what they should know on an ongoing basis, and the answer provided, with a reference to where it is obtained ,would show the difficulties in sourcing that knowledge. This would entail quite a bit of work, and should be incorpororated in the magazine. The RAAus magazine is probably the best medium to get it to the members.Everyone gets it & everyone reads it. N...



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A good point about not flying in Controlled Airspace, but the rules apply everywhere, PPL students have to learn about all the rules, not just controlled airspace, so why shouldn't we?


Another question, your flying around Newcastle, Nsw (my local area) and you have engine problems near Williamtown Airport, a controlled airport, how do you go about using that airport in an emergency? I would bet most recreational pilots would probably choose a forced landing in an unknown paddock to avoid the controlled airspace.


Whats the difference in carrying one passenger or 10? You still have someone else's life in your hands.


I like the idea of a school offering theory courses which relate no matter what you fly, and the RAA syllabus should reflect that, and all schools should teach it.


The ops manual is only there to cover anything that the CAR's, CAO's etc do not cover. So anything not in the ops manual is covered by the reg's, as Lee said in one of his previous mag articles.


Facthunter is onto a very good idea here, a Q&A section in the mag would be great, i'm sure all pilots would learn something. Perhaps the editor should send a request to all CFI's for some questions to put in there, the answers should be checked by Lee first though.





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I agree with Paul & Mike and also that there is no doubt that RAA pilots are "considered " to be less well trained than their GA counterparts. This can also be evidenced from insurance company requirements for pilots of our aircraft which I would think would be based on claim statistics


It is still a bit of a farce when the RAA instructor that teaches the student to fly can also be the testing officer that grants his license.


An independent testing of pilots would go a long way to ensuring that the required syllabus is adequately taught.



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Guest TOSGcentral


The point posted for debate was ‘Should the RAAus Training Syllabus be Overhauled’?



A more valid starting point to debate is identification of which flying training syllabus you are referring to. Because there are several (or should be). This is the direct penalty of an umbrella organization who wants to get as much under the umbrella as possible, fabricates a bigger umbrella – and does stuff all about the consequences of that action!



Part of the reason thinking is shaped the way it is involves most of what we do revolving around tri axis Group A RAAus aircraft that are now seamlessly merging with the lower half of GA. Trikes, Powered ‘Chutes become the poor relations in the movement whilst ‘ultralights’ (or the environment that controls them) in turn are seen as a poor relation to GA – which represents ‘real flying’ in many eyes.



Yet those people have no difficulty seeing the very different types that gliders and balloons are, nor any difficulty accepting they should have their own unique control and flying training methods peculiar to that style of aircraft!



But in terms of an ‘ultralight’ flying training syllabus then I repeat which one are you referring to?



  • Tri Axis Group A.


This itself splits into:


(a) High drag/low inertia (rag and bone)


(b) Higher weight, faster types


© Types with systems (flaps, retracts, variable pitch)


(d) Nosewheel only


(e) Tailwheel and Nosewheel


  • Weight Shift Trikes
  • Powered Parachutes.
  • Ultralight Helicopters.



Then, for each of these, we require radio, passenger and cross country endorsements. To these you can add the potential of proximity flying and float flying endorsements. All of these require their own particular flying training syllabus supported by relevant BAK and those should be also applicable to the category of aircraft that is being flown.



But that is not all! We then need an instructor flying training syllabus (for each of the categories) and that itself is divided into two – practical flying training and PMI (Principles and Methods of Instructing) and from that you can forge a sensible standards and control base. Unfortunately we do not have very much of any of it!



Overall we then require a service facility of trained and competent instructors that is sufficiently dispersed to service a continent the size of Australia via an equal dispersion of flying schools. Is this not essential for a ‘broad brush’ recreational aviation movement allegedly bringing freedom to the masses? Not much point having it if you cannot get it, but still want it! But that is assuming we did in fact have it – and we do not – nor seem ever likely to!



Let me give you an example. Twice as a Pilot Examiner/CFI I was drawn into the Power Parachute arena. I am not endorsed on those aircraft and only have a passing interest and acceptance of them as part of our umbrella.



What came out of that clearly was there was NO basic or instructor training syllabus. There were no schools around the place except one – in Melbourne (who was also a manufacturer of the aircraft). Everything had to go through there no matter where you lived (I believe the situation may be easing a bit now and another school is getting going – but that is still only two of them).



The training control system we have required the standard BAK examination (50 questions, vote for Joe thing) and had little bearing on P/Ps. To move up the instructor ranks to enable you starting your own school the RAAus system insists you do the GA BAK exams. There is nothing in that much applicable to P/Ps – some of it could and would be – but only to the really interested, and modern education does tend to focalize on what people actually need, rather than forcing them through an ‘education’ they may ‘cram’ for but never have related to them any real use for – so they quickly forget!



That is rather a lot of paperwork and requirements is it not? It also makes a bit of a nonsense of ‘we should all be trained the same way’! Exactly how would YOU propose that happens? Come on, do not be coy, just jot down all the syllabi, do a costing exercise to provide the staff to initially implement and then maintain the system, and give some controls and encouragement to schools to be able to provide the training across the Nation – all of that specialized training under a single umbrella!



But there are other issues and they are realistic: There is not enough market for widespread school supply and the schools still remain viable. Assuming a school could afford to supply a variety of aircraft categories how multi-skilled should their instructors be and how do they stay current?



Part of this challenge is what the current system actively promotes. Take a simple example: A tri axis instructor experienced only on nose wheel types gets a tail wheel endorsement and can immediately begin instructing on them! How good is the quality of that instructing likely to be? GA found that one out when the Skyfox went AUF/GA and high time Cessna instructors commenced bending the lot of them – and shoved OUR insurance bills through the roof!



But in practical terms where does a working instructor get the time and money to amass command experience and continue working? We have so few career instructors anyway!



Simple and ethical statements are too easy to trot out – and they may well be entirely correct as a lot of points are that have already been made in this thread. FactHunter in particular has tackled some of the interconnected issues. But the reality is in fact far more complex to achieve than it may appear on the surface!



Well, I have written enough for now – but I never criticize unless I have answers myself. I do have answers – but some of you may not like them and certainly our ‘controllers’ will not! So I will simply leave you with a little think piece:



For over 20 years AUF (to become RAAus) never got the support flying training structure together and developed for just the simplest ultralights – why?



Two and half years ago the RAAus Board did try and directly ordered it’s (then) three Executive Management Staff to completely update the control system to what was happening via re-writes of the Ops and Tech manuals. Despite that direct order it never happened – why?



What do you seriously think is going to happen next?









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I support your comments Tony on the Powered Parachute training and exam. The exam and training is so cut down that it's not relevant for 3-axis, yet it's still a valid RA-Aus certificate. I was given a certificate and had never travelled more than 5 miles in a straight line!


Come time to "upgrade" to 3-Axis, it all starts from scratch again and another $2,500 is shelled out. At the time though, I had no desire to fly fixed wing.


I'm not sure on how to resolve that one as people may not want to go further than their parachute and they don't need the extra fluff (theory).



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I wouldn't agree with the comment that you should only learn the traits of the aircraft you learn to fly in.


I started ultralight flying in a lightwing and later bought a thruster. Now it is vastly different to fly the thruster then to fly a lightwing. There is so much less inertia.


I came to RAAus from GA and it is harder to fly the low inertia draggy ultralights than a Cessna.


I believe that we should learn all we can about flying, even if we know we will never need that knowledge, it still bradens the base from which we work.


Ian Borg



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  • 3 months later...
Guest bazmay

G'day Turtle,


I started flying in 1981 in GA and hold endorsements for Retractable, Constant Speed, Tail dragger, and night VFR and have never been tested by a department examiner. My CFI had the required ratings to test me. The same happened when I crossed to RAA, my CFI was rated to test me. If your Instructor is rated then he is just as qualified as the department examiner to test your ability.


My .02 cents as well.





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