What is the Classroom of Aerial Work Aviation

What sector of aviation has the sole responsibility to ensure the men and women who fly every type of aircraft are safe and qualified? Patrick Ryan answers this question and highlights the many aspects of Flight Training that make it the aerospace industry's backbone.

Patrick Ryan  |  09th June 2021
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Patrick Ryan
Patrick Ryan

Patrick Ryan brings over 30 years of experience as a Senior Consultant helping government and business...

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The Classroom of Aerial Work Aviation

So, you want to become a Pilot, Airborne Sensor Operator, Flight Attendant, helicopter Hoist Operator, or one of many other hobbyists and professionals that slip the surly bonds of Earth? Well, to make this happen, the Flight Training sector of Aerial Work aviation is your only path to earning your wings, as covered here by GA Buyer Europe...

Even though the Flight Training sector is just one part of a much larger aerospace training industry that teaches everything related to aviation, Flight Training is the primary sector that prepares civil aircrew personnel to operate both manned and unmanned aircraft for General Aviation, Commercial Transportation, and even Aerial Work aviation. So, what is Aerial Work aviation Flight Training?

What is Flight Training?

At the ground level, Flight Training is the organised effort of instructing skills and knowledge or abilities that relate to specific useful aircrew competencies. Flight Training has specific goals of shaping an individual's aircrew capabilities, aptitudes, productivity, and performance. It influences the foundation of critical knowledge needed to fly safely, and it also guides the type of content presented at academic institutes and training centres.

Additionally, Flight Training supports maintaining currency, difference training, and skill upgrades throughout an aircrew member’s personal or professional pursuit in addition to the basic or initial aircrew training required for specific aircrew positions.

Bottom line, Flight Training – from initial schooling through advanced ratings and onwards to recurrent training – is part and parcel of the aircrew world.

The Flight Training Sector

From a general public perspective, most people think Flight Training is a student pilot and a Flight Instructor sitting in a small training aircraft practicing steep turns, touch & go's, and many other “eye-hand” piloting skills. However, the Aerial Work Flight Training sector is more than that. The Flight Training sector ranges from independent instructors to academic institutions providing both primary and ancillary training equally to non-pilot and pilot aircrew members alike.

Depending on what aircrew position an individual is training for, the core instructional areas the Flight Training sector provides at different levels of intensity or depth are:

  • Theory of Flight and Aeronautics
  • Meteorology
  • Aircraft Systems & Capabilities (Manned &
  • Unmanned aircraft)
  • Aerial Navigation
  • Communication Operations
  • (Radio & Aviation English)
  • Flight & Airfield Operations and Procedures
  • Aeronautical Regulations, Laws, and Procedures
  • Crew Resource Management and
  • Human Factors
  • Mission Planning & Mission Management
  • Emergency Procedures

Again, based on the crew position, the Flight Training sector has specialised programmes that focus on specific aircrew duties or jobs built on the fundamentals of Flight Training. Here are just a few of the specialised training and certification programmes the Flight Training sector provides:

  • Pilot – Instrument Rating
  • Pilot – Commercial Rating
  • Pilot – Airline Transport Pilot Certification
  • Cabin Crew – Flight Attendant Certificate of Demonstrated Proficiency
  • Operator – Unmanned Aircraft System Commercial Certification
  • Aircrew – Airborne Sensor Operator (ASO) Training
  • Operator and Aircrew -–Unmanned Aircraft System – Aerial Surveying & Mapping Training
  • Aircrew – Helicopter Hoist Operator Training
  • Pilot and Aircrew – Police Aviation Fixed-Wing & Rotary Wing Aircraft Tactics and Sensor Training
  • And many more...

Aspects of Training

Like with any training institution or training industry providing education regarding a specific trade, the methods and platforms of instruction in the Flight Training sector are similar but, in many ways, different.

Training Methods

The Flight Training sector is similar in applying all the many different types of training methods as other training industry sectors, e.g., lectures, demonstrations, rote learning, and more.

However, the Flight Training sector is different to many industry training sectors because it focuses on active learning in actual high-risk conditions or situations. For example, many student aircrew members participate in emergency landing exercises, aircrew emergency water landing egress (dunk tank) simulation training, helicopter auto-rotation practice, and various other challenging learning events.

When it comes to the rhythm of training, the standard training flow applied in the Flight Training sector is theoretical studying and practical learning with an end- state of passing a knowledge test and practical exam, plus having the "Right Stuff" to operate in the aviation world. The training flow is either theoretical learning, followed by practical training, or a parallel programme that matches learning topics with practical flight or simulation training events at the same time.

Training Platforms

When it comes to the primary instructional platforms or tools that the Flight Training sector utilises, the focus is on ground school (formal academic learning), procedural training devices, and practical hands-on learning.

Ground School

As mentioned before, Ground School is that part of Flight Training where a student acquires the theoretical knowledge required for their specific aircrew position or duties. Today, like many other industry training sectors, the Flight Training sector leverages both traditional and leading-edge training delivery methodologies, i.e., fixed learning to adaptive learning. In essence, one can find general and specialised knowledge learning via human-to-human instruction, computer-based e-learning, or internet e-learning platforms.

Procedural Training Devices and Systems

Because actual flight training can be both costly and hazardous, procedural training devices and systems are heavily used to provide a good training platform for both procedural and operational routine learning tasks.

Besides saving money and reducing risk, procedural training devices and systems allow for repetition in building knowledge and eye-hand memory, exposing students to critical hazardous scenarios without the risk, and training when the weather is out-of-limits or an aircraft is not available.

When it comes to training devices and systems, they can generally break down to either replicated platforms or advanced Simulators.

Training Devices

Training Devices are replicas of a real aircraft down to a one-dimensional view of a piece of equipment an aircrew member must learn to operate. They can range from cardboard & glue gadgets to full-scale hands-on interactive structures. Some of the traditional primary devices used in the Flight Training sector are:

  • A model airplane mounted on a stick (My favorite!) 
  • Posters of instruments & systems
  • Static equipment & cockpit trainers (i.e., Aviation Training Device - ATD)
  • Full-Scale airline passenger cabin mockups


Stepping up to the next level of learning, Flight Training simulators are the ideal tool to start flight training as they provide a high level of actual aircraft input/output responses. The types of simulators used in this sector of training are:

  • Computer-based Simulators
  • Virtual & Augmented Reality (VR/AR) devices
  • Full motion cockpit simulators (i.e., Advanced Aviation Training Device - AATD)

According to Mr. Monnin, CEO of ALSIM Simulators, the French manufacturer of FAA and EASA certified flight simulators for pilot training.

"Simulators are as essential as the aircraft itself for truly comprehensive and safe pilot training. It's quite simply the best learning environment. Students can also learn to fly with convertible simulators, as the Alsim AL250 or ALX, which combine different aircraft classes into one device to fit the competency-based training."

The idea on which ALSIM's philosophy bases their efforts is to give pilots a better grounding in aviation fundamentals more generally. Versatile simulators are designed to encourage the transference of skills and make the students better understand the logic and procedures common to each aircraft class.

Additionally, this type of device is beneficial for multi-crew integration and jet orientation training. Students need to develop skills and understanding of how to operate in a multi-crew environment. Simulator training is generic to conducting multi-crew operations and is not specific to a type of aircraft, i.e., a better situation to learn and re-enforce basic aircrew resource management fundamentals.

Training Aircraft

Without saying, the best training method in the aviation world is hands-on learning. Because flying is "Not" a static environment, the final step of bringing academic training and simulation together is during flight operations.

At the beginning of manned flight, the Flight Training sector focused on specialised aircraft known as “Training Aircraft”. Training Aircraft are designed with simplified cockpits or workstations, tandem controls, and forgiving flight or operating characteristics. Even in the unmanned aircraft domain, there are preferred platforms that are more “forgiving” when it comes to training vs. routine operations.

To break it down even further, Training Aircraft can be categorised as basic, advanced, and specialised trainers. Basic training aircraft are basic when it comes to complexity and configuration. They are designed not to overwhelm students and provide a stable environment.

On the other hand, advanced training aircraft are still configured with the mindset of not overloading the student but introducing students to complex aircraft characteristics and capabilities, e.g., multi-engine, centerline turboprop, jet, etc.

Specialised training aircraft are aircraft designed or modified to train aircrew in specialised commercial transportation and Aerial Work multi-mission operations on the fringe. Specialised training aircraft support the instruction of Aerial Mapping, Crop Dusting, Aerial Surveillance, and more.

Some of the most popular Trainer Aircraft used today, both manned and unmanned – from basic to specialised aircraft – are:

  • Cirrus, SR20 single-engine piston aircraft
  • Hughes/Schweizer, S-300/S300C helicopter 
  • DJI, Phantom 4 drone
  • Cessna, C-172 single-engine piston aircraft
  • Diamond, DA42 TwinStar twin-engine piston aircraft
  • BRM Bristell
  • Beechcraft, King Air Series twin-turboprop
  • BAE Systems, T1 Hawk jet trainer
  • And many more...

The Future of Flight Training

Like many Aerial Work industry sectors, the future is incredibly positive. Even with Covid-19 and the short- term downturn in the commercial airline sector, Flight Training across the General Aviation, Commercial Transport/Cargo, and Aerial Work sectors is too critical for an established global aerospace industry to ignore. The Flight Training sector will continue to have the sole responsibility to ensure both future and current aircrew members are always operating most safely and professionally, no matter if it’s a Recreational Pilot, Aerial Firefighting Drone Operator, or a Flight Attendant.

Like with so many industries, digital technology will continue to innovate and lead above traditional platforms into all aspects of Flight Training, e.g., Ground School, procedural training devices, and even in the cockpit. You can anticipate more:

• Remote or cloud-based adaptive learning platforms implemented at the Ground School level;

• Increased use of Virtual Reality (VR) devices for rote learning; and

• Heavy use of Augmented Reality (AR) systems in the cockpit or drone ground-control units to enhance learning and expose students to emerging flight systems.

Outside of technology, you will see the Flight Training sector infuse more service, quality control, and human- factors skills into everyday training events, vs. just instructing technical and procedural knowledge and abilities.

Because the aviation and aerospace industries are competing with other industries for customers, employees, and resources, it's become apparent that both the aviation industry and the Flight Training sector must go beyond just teaching how to operate an aircraft safely. The Flight Training sector will be critical in supporting the aerospace industry to improve by expanding the learning experience and effectiveness for all stakeholders. Naturally, this starts with Flight Training and influencing the next generation of aircrew members!


As you can see, the Aerial Work Flight Training sector is more than just a student pilot and flying with a flight instructor. The Flight Training sector is a global industry that trains all aircrew members from a pilot, drone operator, airborne sensor operator, helicopter host operator to flight attendants to operate safely and effectively in the sky.

Today, the Aerial Work Flight Training sector utilises not only traditional academic and business training methods, but applies a high level of high-tech, real-world, adaptive hands-on exposure to ensure students and active aircrew members are qualified to fly.

As the backbone of the aviation and aerospace industries, the Aerial Work Flight Training sector will change and grow with the times. However, and without doubt, its primary mission of training men and women to fly safely and effectively will never change.

Want to know more about Aerial Works Aviation? Take a look at AvBuyer's Multi-Mission Aircraft Hub.

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