With all the restaurant and destination closures, this past spring and summer has been a downer for flying for most of us. Our flying proficiency has suffered, along with our emotional desire to be in the air. We try to stay legally current. Then, as we go to renew our aircraft insurance most of us find rate increases from tolerable to horrific. Why? What do we need to do about this?
The Why’s: The COVID-19 restrictions placed on businesses, plus the concern for propagating infection has curtailed a lot of family visits. So, look at your logbook and compare your flying time and training to last year and you’ll probably see a major change. I have.
The insurance industry has been paying out a lot of claims in recent years. The major hull damage claims are: gear up landings, off field landings, plus storm damage.
Then there are those controlled flight into terrain (CFIT) and loss of control (LOC) crashes which mean hull damage, usually loss of life plus personal lawsuit claims.
The FAA, EAA, AOPA, and virtually all insurance companies stress the need for pilots to train often, maintain proficiency, and fly safely.
HOWEVER, the elephant in the room, in my opinion, is EGO and JUDGEMENT, and is the major contributing factor in most accidents and crashes. Think about it.
What to DO about this: In my 45 years as a CFI, I’ve found that pilots that regularly seek to maintain flying skills and proficiency also tend to develop a healthy dose of respect for decision making and judgement that favors flying safely over completing a planned flight. That can mean cancelling a flight, or diverting when conditions may not be best for the planned flight.
Most insurance companies offer discounts when pilots can show an ongoing pattern of credible training, especially when it incorporates both skills and good decision making.
Some examples: Courses, such as FAA & AOPA, especially when Wings credits are given (it takes a CFI or FAA designee approval to give credit). Most courses are available on line and are free. Just look on the FAA (https://www.faasafety.gov/WINGS/) or AOPA-Air Safety Institute website (https://www.aopa.org/training-and-safety/air-safety-institute).
I recommend a Flight Review with a CFI each year, instead of every two years. For IFR pilots, ongoing IFR simulator training (in an FAA approved training device), plus an annual IPC.
For those with a 3rd class Medical, or Basic Medical, being able to show that you have a physical exam every year also provides an indication that you are being proactive about your health, in addition to your flying skills. As we get older, this is becoming more important for you and your family/friends when flying with you. It’s also becoming important to insurance companies.
Think about it, train often, fly smart, fly safe, land safely.