Loss prevention is your best route to lower insurance rates, and Alexander Aviation is experienced in helping you proactively prevent insurance losses. Certainly it’s important to have insurance in case you need it to utilize it. However, a loss prevention program is one of the key ways to protect your business and minimize your costs.
Flight Training Safety
Whether your flight training operation is a large, professional school or a small part of your overall aviation operation, these suggestions will help you build and maintain a safe, loss-free training environment:
- Safety Meetings and Programs: Meeting regularly with your instructors to discuss specific safety concerns is an important element of a safety program. An open-door policy regarding incidents can help develop a strong, proactive safety climate. Your safety meetings should include discussion of recent issues and incidents from the NTSB accident database. Encourage your instructors to review these and discuss ways to reduce risks with their students. Flight training facilities with the best safety records are usually those that discuss safety often and openly.
- Multi-Engine Proficiency Checks: Multi-engine pilots may not regularly practice engine-out procedures after they pass their multi-engine check ride. All multi-engine aircraft renters and CFI’s should practice and be able to pass the multi-engine PTS every six months to ensure continued proficiency. Instrument pilots should be able to fly an entire published approach on a single engine.
- Retractable Gear Aircraft: The gear-up landing is a common incident that can be avoided with consistent use of the checklist. Make sure the pre-flight checklist includes verifying that any automatic gear extension or gear warning devices are properly engaged. Stress to all renters and CFI’s the importance of actively using the checklist for every stage of flight. Electronics International makes avoice annunciator device that can provide an auditory warning through the intercom; this device costs less than the deductible you would pay in the event of a gear-up landing.
- Fuel Reserve Policy: Instructors and renters sometimes forget to watch the time when flying multiple patterns and may also neglect to consistently check fuel levels. Incorporate fuel level recordings as part of your dispatch procedure. Have the instructor check and record the fuel levels on departure and on arrival for each flight, verifying that there is sufficient fuel for the scheduled instruction, plus a one-hour reserve.
- High-Performance Aircraft: High performance and complex aircraft require a more diligent and experienced pilot. Most renters simply do not fly often enough or invest enough time in dual instruction to maintain currency in these aircraft. Establish strict recency requirements for rental of such aircraft. Any pilot logging fewer than five hours in complex/high-performance aircraft in the last 45 days should be expected to complete a checkout with an instructor prior to rental.
- Crosswind Landings: Poor crosswind landing technique can cause long landings and poor controllability on roll-out. Students should be familiar with the side-slip, or “wing low” crosswind technique and be able to confidently transition from a crab to a side-slip as they approach the runway. During a cross-wind stage check, touching the downwind wheel first constitutes a failure, as the upwind wheel should touch first if the proper technique is used.
- Hard Landings: Even durable training aircraft can suffer hard landing or prop strike claims occasionally, sometimes due to hard nose-wheel landings. Most such landings are not a surprise to the pilot: Post-accident research indicates he or she knew the landing was going poorly several seconds before the aircraft was damaged. These claims can be prevented by encouraging students and renters to execute a “go around” when the approach becomes unstable.
- Taxiing Incidents: On busy training airports, we’ve seen an increase in taxiing incidents. Most of the damage caused by this can be avoided by setting up specific taxi routes for student and instructor use and by strictly following taxiway centerlines. The shortest route to the active runway is often through the most congested parking area. However, it is usually safer to have students and renters use a different exit from the ramp and taxi a little further to avoid an area crowded with transient aircraft.
- Rental Agreements and Renter’s Insurance: Renters Insurance can pay for damages that the flight school’s policy does not cover, such as deductibles, diminution of value and loss of use. However, it will only pay for damages that the rental agreement specifically states are the responsibility of the renter. Be sure your rental agreement requires the renter to pay for all damage to the aircraft, missing or stolen equipment, loss of use, diminution of value, legal fees and any costs associated with returning the damaged aircraft to the flight school. With this in mind, consult your attorney when crafting your rental agreement. We strongly recommend you require proof of renter’s insurance before you allow open rental of any aircraft.