By Susan K. Parson, FAA Safety Briefing Magazine Editor
We tend to use the words “training” and “education” interchangeably, but they’re not actually the same. Training is the acquisition of practical skills relating to specific useful competencies. Training is teaching someone how to do something. Education, on the other hand, is an experience that has a formative effect on an individual’s character, intellect, or physical ability.
Let’s apply that idea to aviation. Obviously, there is a very important training aspect to developing the trifecta of skills in aviation, navigation, and communication. But education is about teaching a person — in this case, a pilot — how to think, how to aviate no matter what, and how to navigate through problems that are not just rote experiences from the textbook or maneuvers guide. That’s why the FAA included context- and task-specific risk management elements in the Airman Certification Standards (ACS), and also why the agency advocates things like scenario-based training and development of individually tailored personal minimums.
Up to Code
Adopting and implementing these educational activities can contribute to making you a better and more professional pilot — with the word “professional” meaning not a paycheck, but a mindset. It means having the attitude, the ethics, and the discipline to do the right thing every time, all the time, regardless of who’s watching. Beyond what the FAA requires and advises, though, the Aviators Model Codes of Conduct (AMCC) offer yet more guidance on how to rise above being the “world’s okay-est pilot,” a moniker that’s humorously emblazoned on more than a few pilot shop T-shirts. As we all know, aviation is too unforgiving for any of us to settle for being less than the best.
If you are a regular reader of FAA Safety Briefing magazine, you might recall seeing previous articles on the “family” of codes developed under the auspices of the Aviators Code Initiative. Just last fall (October 2022), the aviation professionals involved in this effort released the most recent update to the first and perhaps foundational document. As with each of these documents, AMCC version 3.0 (PDF download) received extensive industry review from a diverse group of highly respected trainers, professional pilots, regulators, and researchers. As the release information states, “It presents a vision of flight excellence within its seven sections: (1) General Responsibilities of Aviators; (2) Passengers and People on the Surface; (3) Training and Proficiency; (4) Security; (5) Environmental Issues; (6) Use of Technology; and (7) Advancement and Promotion of Aviation. The Code of Conduct is a living document, updated periodically to reflect changes in standards, practice, and the aviation environment.”
If you have never looked at the AMCC, by all means use the link below to check it out and read any/all of the codes that apply to your areas of aviation interest and activity. If it’s been a while since you visited the AMCC website, the release of AMCC version 3.0 provides an excellent reason to review. Revisions of note include a general update, enhanced treatment of new technologies, and a response to the increasing presence of uncrewed aircraft — otherwise known as drones.
There is much more excellent material in the AMCC than space permits me to discuss here, so I strongly encourage every aviation citizen to download, read, and heed the guidelines in this document.
Susan K. Parson (firstname.lastname@example.org) is editor of FAA Safety Briefing and a Special Assistant in the FAA’s Flight Standards Service. She is a general aviation pilot and flight instructor.