I make spin training an option for private pilot and commercial candidates, but the regulations in the US require flight instructor candidates to receive ground and flight training in stall/spin awareness, spin entry and spin recovery. Instructor candidates must demonstrate instructional proficiency in these areas, too.
The other day I did spin training with a flight instructor candidate (one of the areas of flight instruction that I can do while I wait for my medical status to be resolved). The aircraft we chose was a trusty old Cessna 152. In theory we could have used a Cessna 172, assuming it was loaded in the utility category, but most 172 owners don't want their aircraft used for spin training. And for good reason: Spins wreak havoc on gyro instruments unless the instruments are designed to be caged. Many 172s are flown in instrument conditions, something you don't want to do if some of the flight instruments are questionable from being subjected to intentional spins.
My usual approach to teaching spin entry and recovery is to demonstrate two entries, first to the right and then to the left. Most Cessna aircraft designs enter a spin reluctantly, but predictably. Due to the inherent left-turning tendency at high pitch attitudes, the spin to the right is more docile so I start with that. After demonstrating two spin entries, I coach the pilot I'm instructing in doing the same. After a total of four spin entries and recoveries, assuming the pilot feels okay, we do some more. After the initial rush wears off, most pilots want to do at least a few more spins.
Some pilots want to see fully developed spins, where the rotation becomes faster and more stabilized. A 152 Aerobat Texas Taildragger conversion I once flew liked to really wind up in developed spins, probably due to the replacement of the nose gear with a tail wheel and the repositioning of the main gear. For instructor candidates, I like to do some scenario-based teaching where I pretend to be a student who inadvertently enters a spin during a stall demonstration and the instructor candidate takes control of the aircraft - the "I got it" maneuver. Another scenario is a cross-controlled stall during the infamous base-to-final turn.
A while ago I wrote about the dwindling number of complex single-engine airplanes for training (those with retractable landing gear, controllable pitch prop, and flaps). There's only one complex single-engine trainer airplane currently in production - the venerable Piper Arrow. There's a similar, but somewhat less serious problem in the decreasing number of training aircraft approved for intentional spins.
For spin training, there are numerous specialty aerobatic aircraft and some flight schools even specialize in "upset" and spin recovery training. Remember that the requirement for flight instructor candidates is to demonstrate instructional proficiency and I think that is best done in a training aircraft: An Extra 300 is a cool plane, but it's not representative of the types of aircraft used to train GA pilots.
This got me to thinking again about the soon-to-be-certificated Cessna SkyCatcher, which I wrote about a while back. As my instructor candidate and I squeezed ourselves into the vintage Cessna 152 we were going to use for his spin training, complete with older radios and a serviceable, but funky intercom, I found myself revisiting Cessna's decision to not design the SkyCatcher for intentional spins. Granted, the primary intent of this design seems to be sport aircraft market, but it is also the de facto replacement for the no-longer-manufactured C150 and C152. The fact that this plane cannot be spun intentionally is a huge oversight.
Most readers probably have read about the crash of a protoytpe SkyCatcher during spin testing. Reports say that the aircraft entered a flap spin and the test pilot bailed out after an unsuccessful attempt to recover from the spin and then an unsuccessful deployment of the aircraft's ballistic parachute. Just looking at the aircraft, it is not hard imagine it having an slightly aft center of gravity. The ballistic parachute, a laudable design goal, would also put additional weight aft of the center of gravity. If these observations are correct, perhaps a redistribution of weight in the aircraft would solve the spin recovery problem? Of course, additional weight might put the aircraft over the 1320 pound maximum takeoff weight limit for sport aircraft.
The GA pilot population is dwindling. We need instructors to train new pilots. Instructor candidates need to undergo spin training. Without an influx of new instructors, there will be fewer instructors available to train new pilots. Without an influx of new pilots and affordable (and versatile) aircraft for those pilots to use, the market for new aircraft can only shrink.
What were they thinking?