A catchall phrase, pilot error, is assigned either as a broad cause or a factor in upwards of 90 percent of general aviation accidents. But pilot error comes in two distinctly different flavors: tactical errors, which can be attributed directly to a pilot’s chosen behavior. And operational errors, which can be traced back to instructional errors or omissions committed during flight training.

Little usually can be done to eliminate tactical errors made by those who intentionally ignore safe flying practices. The foundation for operational errors, on the other hand, is laid and even reinforced during the transfer of knowledge between aviation educators and their pupils.

So suppose that as a result of the aviation education system itself. The pilot never received the appropriate knowledge and skill to handle a particular situation? Or suppose as a result of the pilot’s training.

The probability is near zero that the pilot can or will choose a suitable course of action? How can we then blame the pilot for committing the error?

Take the typical stall training conducted to satisfy the FAA’s Practical Test Standards, for instance.

The emphasis is placed on detailed procedures used to configure for, perform and exit a couple of specific types of stalls. Treated as an independent maneuver unto itself. The whole ordeal is often enveloped in unnecessary melodrama as well. The actual lessons learned, however, are fear and a false association between the stall and slow airspeed.


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