Sunday, October 14, 2007

New Wings

The FAA has implemented significant changes to the Wings Pilot Proficiency Program and the updates seem like a great idea. In the new Wings program, pilots still undergo recurrent training that counts as flight review under 14 CFR 61.56, but that training now defines performance standards like those found in the Practical Test Standards. The new program provides credit to pilots who attend seminars, just like the old program, but the new program now provides on-line courses. You can complete an on-line course at your convenience. When the knowledge portions are combined with the necessary flight portions, you'll receive credit toward a phase of the wings program.

The best news is that the on-line courses and performance standards are all designed to target areas of operation that most often lead to accidents. One of my complaints about the old Wings Program was that pilots could go for years without ever completing an official flight review and, in the process, fall hopelessly out of date with regard to changes in regulations and recommended procedures. What's more, the old wings program didn't specify any completion standards for the flight portion or provide any guidance on how to conduct the flight portion. By targeting areas of operation most closely related to accidents, this new wings program has got to be one of the smartest things I've ever seen the FAA do with regard to GA.

If you haven't already done so, go to the FAASafety website. There you can register, specify your preferences for seminar notification, and define your Wings Program preferences. There even a thorough, animated introduction to the new wings program. Once you've registered, you'll receive occasional email notices about programs in your area.

When you set your Wings Program preferences, you specify your level of pilot interest (private, commercial, ATP or all three) as well as the aircraft category and class (ASEL, AMEL, etc). Then you can locate seminars to attend and on-line knowledge courses that you can complete to begin meeting a phase of the wings program. You can also lookup the flight portions and the PTS tolerances they reference. As you complete knowledge and flight portions, you can track your progress on-line.

Check it out!


Paul in the CA Desert said...

I saw the site when they first announced it and was amazed at how difficult they have made it. Its like they set out to make the most confusing website ever. I do like the idea of what they are trying to do, but I think the interface will put people off.

Jack said...

Hmmm, I'll have to check into this a bit John as I'm looking to get my 2nd wings phase accomplished before February '08. Thanks for posting

Jim Howard said...

After using Wings for many years I'm back to BFRs.

I can't figure out how to use the web page. I'm only a C++ windows programmer, so I lack the computer savy to make it work.

Under the old program the flights were instruction. The pilot was not evaluated. Now each flight has to meet PTS standards.

So we've turned a low pressure learning event into a 3 hour checkride.

Wings participation is going to drop to about zero under this new program.

pete in indiana said...

After 10 levels of Wings under the old program, I am back to doing BFRs. A participant will spend more time trying to figure out the program than actually doing it. The FAA took something simple and straight forward and turned it into something only a person who loves ill-conceived and overly-complicated websites will enjoy.

No one is going to do this.

Anonymous said...

What they said... Took a simple and pleasurable refresher and made it overly complicated.

BTW, is this program now in effect? I was just over at and AC 61.91H which details the old program still comes up. I would have expected this new scheme to have become rev I and obsoleted the old rev H.

Anonymous said...

Wow, the FAA really screwed the pooch on this one. I was over at and could not find anything on the program. I'm curious as to why AOPA did not weigh in on this ill conceived idea.

I agree on that proficiency should be held at some level of standard, but a BFR is going to be easier to do than to do the mess that is now the Pilot Proficiency Program.

I used to love this FAA program.

I also can't understand why they took away the levels of participation. It was fun to get the different wings that showed one's level of participation.

Anonymous said...

Has the FAA ever heard of quality control? The old Wings Program was great, the new Wings program is awful, so we keep the new and throw away the old. Good job!