With 2011 just about two weeks out, I started mulling flight training’s best and worst for 2010. Call it a retrospective or an easy blog post, whichever you prefer. This is an entirely unscientific exercise in which I perused news items from an entire year’s worth of ePilot Flight Training Edition newsletters. If I’ve missed anything, don’t hesitate to plug in your own best and worst in the Comments section.–Jill W. Tallman
1. Flight training familiar faces John and Martha King are erroneously detained and handcuffed at Santa Barbara after the Cessna 172 they’re flying is incorrectly tagged as a stolen airplane.
2. Colleges start chopping their aviation programs as a means of saving money. Notable example: Daniel Webster College in New Hampshire.
3. Online testing companies boost their knowledge test fees in March by $50 to cover increased FAA regulatory requirements. Because learning to fly just isn’t expensive enough.
4. The state of California enacts a law in June that would require flight schools to pay $5,000 in initial fees and $1,000 yearly thereafter. The law’s intent is to protect students’ financial well-being in the event a school goes out of business. However, given that state’s economy, we can’t help but question the ulterior motives. On a minor up note, the law’s implementation has been delayed until July 2011.
5. Flight training washout rates now trending at about 80 percent. What can the industry do to reverse this unsettling trend?*
1. The House and Senate send a bill containing new financial aid for veterans’ flight training to the president for his signature.
2. *First-ever major flight training summit convened at AOPA Summit in November. Market research findings reveal some root causes for the high dropout rate: lack of educational quality, customer focus, community, and information sharing. These give AOPA and other industry partners tools to come up with solutions.
3. FAA approves certain anti-depression prescription drugs for special issuance medicals.
4. EAA’s Young Eagles program just keeps getting better and better: After Sporty’s adds free online ground school in 2009, EAA sweetens the deal by throwing in a free flight lesson and logbook for eligible Young Eagles participants.
5. Cessna’s 162 Skycatcher begins to trickle into the training fleet, and Piper introduces the PiperSport, a Czech-built LSA formerly known as the Sport Cruiser. Meanwhile, the light sport arena continues to grow at a modest pace with flight schools offering a variety of LSAs including Evektor, Tecnam, Remos, and others.