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Aviation Instructor's Handbook

There are four key topics in aviation instructional planning: course of training, blocks of learning, training syllabus, and lesson plans.

A Course of Training is a complete series of studies leading to attainment of a specific goal. Similar terms include curriculum, syllabus, and training course, although they have specific meanings.

Training objectives can include both performance-based objectives and levels of learning as noted in the three domains of learning. Aviation education aspires to level-of-learning at the application level or higher.

Standards are closely tied to objectives. When a student is able to perform to defined standards, evidence of learning is apparent. It is easier to identify achieved standards in the cognitive and psychomotor domains, while more difficult to identify in the affective domain.

The broad objective of any pilot-training course is competency, efficiency, and safety in the operations of a given aircraft under stated conditions. Instructional objectives can extend beyond the standards of 14 CFR. Students should not only know how, but also why and when.

Blocks of Learning constitute the necessary parts of the overall training objective. The blocks are not isolated elements, but integral parts of a whole, like a pyramid. Identifying the foundation blocks is essential in the early phases of training. Fundamental blocks might include pre-solo, cross-country, and checkride phases. The building-block approach provides a student with a boost in self-confidence every time a block is completed, rather than focusing on the overall goal (private pilot), which at first may seem unobtainable.

A Training Syllabus is necessary as training requirements become increasingly more demanding. The syllabus provides a logical guide to ensure that training occurs in a logical sequence and that requirements are completed and documented.

As a summary, a syllabus should be brief, containing blocks of learning to be completed in the most efficient order. Syllabi conforming to flight-school standards contains information outlined in CFR 14 Parts 141 and 147; other schools may not include this information (training under Part 61).

The syllabus should be flexible enough to be adapted to different students, aircraft, weather, and other variables. However, the instructor should remain aware of the learning blocks during all phases and not skip ahead to advanced phases before students are prepared.

Each approved training course by a certificated flight school should use an FAA-approved syllabus.

Ground school lessons focus on the cognitive and affective domains, while flight training focuses on the psychomotor domain.

While a syllabus is designed to be a road-map to learning, it also can be used as a checklist and method of documenting accomplishments, which is particularly important to independent instructors. A syllabus also helps the development of lesson plans.

A Lesson Plan is an organized outline for a single instructional period. A lesson plan should be put into writing rather than a mental outline, sufficient to be used by another instructor. Lesson plans assure that each student receives the best possible instruction, while instructors also can use them to check their own activity. A lesson plan should:

The quality of the lesson plan has a direct effect on results. A lesson plan can be created and continually modified over time. Characteristics of a good lesson plan include:

A lesson plan, when used properly, acts as a guide, is adapted to the class or student, and is revised periodically.

Commercially-developed lessons plans are acceptable for most training situations, but instructors may need to revise them and rely on their own creativity when warranted. A variety of lesson plans normally are required for a broad range of students.

Flight Instructor Test Questions

Which statement is true about lesson plans? The use of standard lesson plans may not be effective for students requiring a different approach.

When it is impossible to conduct a scheduled lesson, it is preferable for the instructor to conduct a lesson that is not predicated completely on skills to be developed during the lesson which was postponed.

Practical Test Standards: Flight Instructor

IV. Preflight Lesson on a Maneuver to be Performed in Flight
Task A: Maneuver Lesson

Note: Examiner must select at least one maneuver Task from Areas of Operation VII through XIII, and ask the applicant to present a preflight lesson on the selected maneuver as the lesson would be taught to a student.


  1. FAA-H-8083-3
  2. FAA-H-8083-9
  3. FAA-H-8083-23
  4. FAA-H-8083-25
  5. FAA-S-8081-12

Objective: To determine that the applicant exhibits instructional knowledge of assessments and critiques by describing:

  1. Stating the purpose.
  2. Giving an accurate, comprehensive oral description, including the elements and common errors.
  3. Using instructional aids, as appropriate.
  4. Describing the recognition, analysis, and correction of common errors.

Robert Wederquist   CP-ASEL - AGI - IGI
Commercial Pilot • Instrument Pilot
Advanced Ground Instructor • Instrument Ground Instructor

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