By Paul Wiley
- Mission: From FAASafety.gov: “To assess pilot knowledge, judgement and skill in critical flight and ground tasks and, to improve pilot performance in risk management, planning, and execution of general aviation flight operations.”
- Purpose: As stated in AC 61-91J: “The objective of the WINGS – Pilot Proficiency Program is to reduce the number of accidents in General Aviation (GA) by assisting airmen to find educational opportunities designed to help them apply the principles of risk assessment and risk management (RM). When properly applied, these principles will help mitigate accident causal factors associated with common pilot errors, lack of proficiency, and faulty knowledge. The FAA’s purpose is to encourage the majority of GA pilots, through WINGS, to engage in ongoing, targeted flying tasks and learning activities keyed to identified risks and which are designed to mitigate those risks. The FAA continually collects and assesses its databases to identify the risks associated with GA flying and incorporates risk mitigation strategies into initial and ongoing pilot education.”
Structure of WINGS:
- There are two main components to WINGS: Knowledge tasks and Flying tasks. These tasks include both flight and ground elements.
Knowledge tasks can be completed in two ways:
- On-line courses (usually 30 minutes to 1 hour) can be selected from a menu available at FAASafety.gov
- Credit for knowledge tasks is also earned by attending a (FAASTeam -sanctioned) safety meeting that conforms to established selection criteria.
Flight tasks are accomplished, and skills demonstrated to the appropriate standard of proficiency with an instructor who is authorized to give such flight instruction.
- The WINGS evaluator is normally a Flight Instructor but could be another authorized evaluator for example a FAA Designated Examiner or FAA Operations Inspector. This paper presumes the evaluator will be a CFI.
- It will be necessary, and is easy, to create an account on FAASafety.gov. For a full description of the WINGS program see FAASafety.gov and Advisory Circular AC 61-91J.
What the CFI will typically require:
- A Scenario Based flight – A Cross Country, or normal flight profile, i.e., not just go to the practice area and do a set of maneuvers and then return to the home field and shoot a few touch-and-goes. The flight should be holistic and typical for the mission which the pilot normally would fly.
- The evaluator will observe the entire flight from pre-flight planning, preparation, procedures, take-off, navigation to destination, landing and post-flight procedures.
- Normally, during the flight, the CFI will also introduce some simulated emergencies, e.g., a simulated engine failure or simulated encounter with IMC or navigation equipment failure. An evaluation of the pilot’s understanding of FAR 91 is usually included.
- The CFI should observe critical thinking skills and risk management as the PIC conducts the flight and is evaluated.
- The appropriate Airman Certification Standards (ACS) will be used as a guide for performance standards. For example, a Private Pilot rated for Airplane Single Engine Land would use The ACS for Private Pilot Airplane: FAA-S-ACS-6A to reference completion standards.
- WINGS can be done in one flight, depending upon the proficiency level of the pilot. However, two or more flights are often better as it allows for better retention of material learned and more opportunity to practice maneuvers which the pilot may not routinely perform.
- WINGS is voluntary and should expand the pilots’ horizons, i.e., be challenging and fun.
- All pilots (including student pilots) may participate.
Training Requirements for WINGS:
- Training requirements are that the pilot must complete all the required tasks for a phase of WINGS, specifically: 3 Knowledge and 3 Flight activities, within a 12-month period. The most current requirements are found on the FAA website: FAASafety.gov.
- There are three levels of WINGS:
- Basic WINGS – Generally uses Private Pilot ACS
- Advanced WINGS – Generally uses Commercial Pilot ACS
- Master WINGS – Generally uses ATP and/or Flight Instructor ACS
- Once the pilot completes Phase 1 at the Basic WINGS level they may participate at any level.
- Completion of a WINGS phase qualifies as a Flight Review which is valid for 24 months.
- Most insurance companies also provide a discount to pilots participating in WINGS.
- Advisory Circular AC 61-91J – WINGS – Pilot Proficiency Program
- FAASafety.gov – Search for WINGS
While not required, an evaluator may endorse the pilot’s logbook upon completion of a phase of WINGS (as verified by review of the airman’s WINGS completion certificate) as follows:
I certify that (pilot’s name), holder of pilot certificate No. xxxxx, has satisfactorily completed a phase of the WINGS Pilot Proficiency Program on (date) as outlined in the current edition of Advisory Circular AC 61-91, WINGS Pilot Proficiency Program, which meets the requirement for a flight review as specified in FAR 61.56 (e).
Instructor Name, Certificate Number, Expiration Date, and Signature