NTSB Thinks Instructors Need Greater Scrutiny

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Accident Involving Inadequately Trained Pilot Leads to Call for Better Monitoring of CFIs

Citing inadequate training of a pilot whose plane crash resulted in 11 deaths, the National Transportation Safety Board called on the Federal Aviation Administration Thursday to better monitor the effectiveness of flight instructors.

Three safety recommendations have been issued during the NTSB’s ongoing investigation of the June 21, 2019, Mokuleia, Hawaii, crash of an airplane on a parachute jump flight. The pilot and all 10 passengers died in the crash.

In the safety recommendation report, the NTSB referenced the FAA’s ‘Aviation Instructor’s Handbook,’ which states the goal of a flight instructor is “to teach each learner in such a way that he or she will become a competent pilot.” The NTSB said that in regard to the Mokuleia accident pilot, “the flight instructor did not achieve that goal.”

The NTSB found the Mokuleia accident pilot had failed three initial flight tests in his attempts to obtain his private pilot certificate, instrument rating, and commercial pilot certificate after receiving instruction from a single instructor. The pilot subsequently passed each flight test.

The Mokuleia accident pilot was not alone in his failed attempts; the pass rate for other students taught by the same flight instructor was 59 percent (for the two-year period ending in April 2020). FAA data show the average national pass rate for students of all flight instructors is 80 percent. The NTSB said substandard student pass rates may be indicative of “a flight instructor who does not effectively teach the necessary skills associated with pilot certificates and ratings.

The NTSB asked the FAA to develop a system to automatically alert its inspectors of flight instructors whose student pass rates fall below 80 percent. Although a tracking system does exist to monitor pass rates, there currently is no automatic notification to an FAA inspector when a pass rate falls below the FAA-established rate of 80 percent and becomes substandard.

The FAA’s stated practices on flight instructor surveillance are that substandard pass rates are indicative of instruction that needs to be more closely monitored so the FAA inspector can determine whether the instructor is providing adequate flight training. The NTSB found, however, that even with the substandard student pass rate, the Mokuleia accident pilot’s flight instructor was not receiving appropriate additional scrutiny.

The NTSB also recommended that until a system that generates an automatic notification of

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