Is Pilot Proficiency Important In Aviation? (3 Points On Safety)

BE 99 Freighter in formation
The BE 99 Freighter in Montana

Even Pilots that fly daily can get rusty so airline pilots are required to do proficiency checks. Why Is Pilot Proficiency Important?

Why Is Pilot Proficiency Important?

Pilot proficiency is the most important skill that a pilot must maintain. It ensures that the pilot knows the aircraft’s normal operations and emergency procedures and its limitations and type of flight. A pilot must always maintain safety.

1. What Is Pilot Proficiency?

The definition of proficiency is “A high degree of competence or skill, expertise.

Proficiency is about being the best you can be and knowing everything about your limitations as a pilot, plus the desire to reach beyond your limitations to excel each time you fly. Always think ahead and plan for the unexpected.

It’s also about knowing everything you can about each airplane you fly.

Emergency procedures that are committed to memory, all the v speeds, and power settings so that you know what to do in any configuration especially flying an approach.  To name a few.

Pilot proficiency is a learned skill that must be continued throughout your Aviation career. Its purpose is to hone the skills and knowledge you have learned as a pilot.

Staying proficient will enhance your knowledge and skill.

Proficiency is a positive approach to creating a safer environment in the cockpit that will advance your skills and increase your ability on every flight.

This will help you create habits that will help you stay sharp and focused on your education and flying. You will forever be a student.

2. Pilot Currency And Pilot Proficiency.

Is there a difference between pilot proficiency and currency? Yes!

You can become current flying an airplane by spitting out all the right answers to the questions the examiner asks. And then flying a check ride well enough to pass. But that just makes you legal to fly.

     A. Does A Flight Review Equal Pilot Proficiency?

As I stated above being current and legal is not the level of your best ability. Your flying skills can always be tuned up.

Let’s use landing as an example since it requires planning and the skills you were taught from the first day you started lessons. And landing is a challenge every time you land.

For me, it was a time of totally undivided attention and remaining one with the airplane.  Attention to airspeed, aircraft configuration, flight, and engine instruments, and if possible the runway and point of intended landing.

In training, we are taught to pick our point of intended landing on the downwind leg, make our turn to the base leg at the 45-degree point off the runway, and turn final so that our visual point of landing is where our wheels touch the runway.

Proficiency landing is always landing the airplane at the point you chose. That takes some thought and planning so it is accomplished as intended.

There is a program called Wings Pilot Proficiency that might be worth your time to consider. Check it out here.

3. The Problem With Complacency

It is the old “OH, That won’t be me”.

Complacency is a very easy thing to fall into.  In an aircraft, it can be a catastrophic situation.

I can guarantee you that you will become a true believer in Murphy’s Law if you continue to take the journey with complacency.  For those who do not know Murphy’s law states that if anything can go wrong it will at the worst possible moment.

I personally think that each time a person feels like they are totally safe that everything goes wrong and everything goes wrong with everything.

That is what the work of pilot proficiency is all about. A pilot is ready for any circumstance that arises and is able to do it without forethought.  Have the knowledge and the training to be able to consciously resolve any problem that you are faced with and do it without panic. Panic will kill you.

And so will complacency if you let it.

4. Situational Awareness And Pilot Proficiency.

Murphy’s law states, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong and at the worst possible time.”

These are words that every pilot should pay close heed to. There is not a  worse feeling that I can think of than being in the air and wishing you were on the ground.

Pilots need to remember three things, which way, how high, and how long.  This is situational awareness.  What’s my heading, what’s the altitude that I’m going to, and how long is it going to take me to get where I’m going?

You need to know where you are at all times which means knowing your route of flight and every Airport on that route where you could land.

If you’re flying under visual flight rules then you should be looking for a place to put the airplane down at all times. If you’re flying IFR, (instrument flight rules),  then it’s wise to be plotting your course as you go so you know exactly where you are on the map all the time.


The journey to becoming a very proficient pilot begins when you assume the responsibility of all the people on board even if it’s just you.

You also must take upon the responsibility of assuring that all of the people on the ground beneath you are safe in the event that something happens that requires you to put your airplane down.

It’s all about taking command and being totally responsible.

You must embrace the fact that you are the only one that can make yourself into a very proficient pilot. In your flight instruction, you were given all the tools and to use those tools you must take on all of the tasks involved.

That requires being more knowledgeable and skillful witch time you fly an airplane.  Know a little bit more about it every single time.

You will always be faced with challenges when flying. You will face new challenges each time you begin to learn a new airplane. And that means you must become proficient in that airplane.

It’s really a never-ending journey but there’s a lot of pleasure in it.

Another rating or certificate will need your undivided attention as well. Pick your Instructor well. Think about how proficient they are. Read more here. 

Always fly safely. 

Related: “Will Airline Pilots Be Replaced By Computers?” (6 Button Pushing Thoughts)




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