Chapter 6. Planning Instructional Activity

Scenario-Based Training (SBT)

Improper pilot decisions cause a significant percentage of all accidents and the majority of fatal accidents in light single- and twin-engine aircraft. The goal of SBT is to challenge the student or transitioning pilot with a variety of flight scenarios to improve decision-making skills. These scenarios require the pilot to manage the resources available in the flight deck, exercise sound judgment, and make timely decisions.

As defined in chapter 4, SBT is a training method that uses a highly structured script of real world experiences to address aviation training objectives in an operational environment. Such training can include initial training, transition training, upgrade training, recurrent training, and special training. Since humans develop cognitive skills through active interaction with the world, an effective aviation instructor uses the maneuver- or procedure-based approach of the PTS but presents the objectives in a scenario situation.

Although some CFIs have used the SBT approach as a teaching method for many years, the recent emphasis on SBT in aviation training reflects education research that shows students learn more effectively when actively involved in the learning process. The introduction of advanced avionics is also a factor. Advanced avionics have changed the role of general aviation (GA) from an industry dominated by pleasure flying to a viable alternative to the scheduled airlines. With glass displays, GPS, and autopilot, advanced avionics may allow easier and safer operation, but are more complex.

Advanced avionics have contributed to a shift in the focus of aviation training to include aeronautical decision-making (ADM) and risk management. For the pilot, this is called Single-Pilot Resource Management (SRM). Since SRM training requires the student or transitioning pilot to practice the decision-making process in real-world situations, it combines traditional task and maneuver-based training with SBT to enhance ADM, risk management, and SRM skills without compromising basic stick and rudder skills. Instead of training pilots to pass practical tests, this program focuses on expertly managed real-world challenges.

Duties, Responsibilities, and Authority of the Aviation Instructor

The duties, responsibilities, and authority of the aviation instructor include the following:

  • Orient new learners to the SBT approach.
  • Help the learner become a confident planner and a critical evaluator of his or her own performance.
  • Help the learner understand the knowledge requirements present in real world applications.
  • Diagnose learning difficulties and help the individual overcome them.
  • Evaluate student progress and maintain appropriate records.
  • Provide continuous review of student learning.

The aviation instructor is the key to the success of SBT. Remember, the overall learning objective is for the student to be ready to exercise sound judgment and make good decisions. For example, the flight instructor must be ready to turn the responsibility for planning and execution of the flight over to the student as soon as possible. The flight instructor continues to demonstrate and instruct skill maneuvers in the traditional manner; but, when the student begins to make decisions, the flight instructor should revert to the role of mentor and/or learning facilitator.

A situation a student faces may not have one right or one wrong answer. Instead, a student encounters situations in training that may have several “good” outcomes and few “poor” ones. Rather than requiring the student to make a decision that matches the instructor’s personal preference, he or she should understand in advance which outcomes are positive and/or negative and give the student the freedom to make both good and poor decisions. This does not mean that the student should be allowed to make an unsafe decision or commit an unsafe act. However, it does allow the student to make decisions that fit his or her experience level and result in positive outcomes.

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