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Pilot Mentoring

Pilot Mentoring can be a way to stem the drift of pilots away from general aviation, encourage them to take on new challenges and help them progress up the skills ladder. AOPA designed a VFR Mentoring scheme to fit this need. We also took professional legal and insurance advice to identify risk and minimise it if running or participating is such a scheme and will share this advice in good faith. If you want to run your own Mentoring, or buddy flying, scheme and feel that you know more than our experts you may of course ignore the advice and mitigating actions.

If you are:

  • Cautious about using R/T?
  • Not confident of getting those controlled airspace clearances?
  • Just had differences training?
  • Current, but lacking in confidence?
  • Would like to venture abroad?
  • Want to get the most out of your avionics?
  • Thinking of stopping flying?
  • Want to improve your skills?
  • Want to stay excited about flying?

You are the ideal candidate to be mentored.

Or, if you are a confident pilot with the experience to pass on you knowledge to fellow pilots in a non-instructional environment you could be the right person to give something back to flying and become a Mentor. We recommend some minimum experience as below.

For either group, AOPA UK have produced guidelines as a framework for setting up a locally managed Mentoring Scheme for Flying Clubs, Aircraft Groups or individual Pilots.

If you are a member of AOPA UK, either individual Pilot, Instructor or Corporate member, we will be happy to list you on this website with a contact form for anyone interested in being mentored. For Aircraft Groups the mentor/s must be members of AOPA UK. Just complete the form at the end of this article to get going.


The framework is open for anyone to use as a guide to establishing their own scheme; Organisation, Aircraft Group, Aircraft Owner. You do not have to be a member of AOPA UK. We offer you the opportunity to have your scheme or individual mentor details listed on the AOPA UK website, allowing other pilots the facility to make contact if they are looking for a mentor. This is for the wider interests of General Aviation, with the intention of keeping pilots flying longer and becoming better pilots.

The purpose of such a scheme is to encourage pilots to build on their ab-initio training, gaining experience and confidence outside an instructional environment with the support and encouragement of more experienced peers. Most importantly, enjoy their flying and extend their flying activities for many years.

Such a scheme is not an alternative to formal instruction, but rather complements and embeds the lessons learned under instruction. Only a qualified Instructor, with a current rating, may give instruction.

For Corporate Businesses and Aircraft Groups, the opportunities for a well run and supported mentoring scheme include:

  • Selling more flying hours
  • Reducing the drop-out rate of new pilots
  • Selling training for additional ratings and differences
  • Building a good social atmosphere to attract new business
  • Make your Aircraft Group more attractive to shareholders

For an individual Pilot, mentoring gives you an opportunity to share your passion for flying and help other pilots become better flyers.

A mentoring scheme can be further complemented by adopting the AOPA Wings Award scheme, endorsed by the CAA under the PROUD initiative.

Legal and Insurance Advice

AOPA have taken legal advice from a senior Aviation solicitor to identify any potential liability to a Mentor, Owner/Operator of the aircraft used for a mentored flight and/or the Organisation or Mentee connected to the mentoring flight.

AOPA were advised:

  • that a mentor should meet defined minimum criteria relating to their piloting experience and skills
  • that operating rules for a mentoring flight should be defined and made know to Mentors and Mentees
  • that there was a risk, probably slight, of litigation against the Mentor, Mentee and AOPA, or the operator of any registered Mentoring Scheme, in the event of a life changing, or fatal, injury to any party on a Mentored flight.

A solution put forward to mitigate any of these risks was to subrogate cover under the aircraft insurance to include all parties associated with a mentored flight.

Further details can be found in the AOPA Mentoring Framework Guidelines.

Further advice given to AOPA leads to the following guidance:

  • A pre-requisite for using any aircraft in the Scheme must be a careful consideration of the terms of the insurance policy issued in respect of that aircraft. Two particular areas of the cover provided must be carefully checked. These are: The pilots authorised to fly the aircraft and the permitted uses for the aircraft. The importance of these two areas cannot be understated. However compliance with all the terms and conditions of the aircraft policy is essential and continuous. The value of the cover obtained is dependent upon such compliance, without which the cover is worthless.
  • It must be clear before every flight who is the Pilot in Command (PIC) for the whole flight. For flights conducted under this Mentoring Scheme Framework this will be the Mentee, to avoid any potential confusion and/or potential risk of loss of insurance cover.
  • Responsibilities for aircraft operation rest in law on the Pilot in Command (PIC). It follows from this that both from the perspective of regulatory compliance, i.e. . Air Navigation Order (ANO),  insurance compliance (it is the PIC who must be insured under the policy), and legal liability (PIC is deemed to be the responsible party), the identity of the PIC is fundamental and crucial. The determination of who is PIC is not something which can be regarded as a moveable option. When a flight is checked out the PIC should be determined, and should be deemed to remain as then determined. After an accident it is unsatisfactory, especially and obviously after a fatal accident, to consider any other alternative.
  • Compliance at all times with the ANO is essential and such a requirement overrides all other instructions, recommendations and advice given or promulgated as part of this Mentoring Scheme Framework. Unless there is imminent danger to life or limb, all flights must be conducted legally, both with respect to documentation, qualification, licensing and flight operation.
  • No flight under this Mentoring Scheme Framework will be an Instructional flight. The Mentor must not give commands or instructions to the Mentee. It will be in the nature of the exercise that the less experienced and qualified pilot will be PIC, and therefore any interaction during a normal flight should be of the nature of a First Officer making suggestions to a Captain. In contrast, in an Instructional flight, the Instructor is always PIC, despite sitting in the RH seat. It is also an important consideration that the use of an aircraft for Instructional purposes is a separate USE for the purposes of the Insurance cover. Therefore, it is important and significant that flight for the purposes of this Mentoring Scheme Framework is never construed or considered as being an Instructional flight. This is important from the perspective of both insurance cover as well as the regulatory aspect.

If any other “club rules” apply, e.g. membership, currency, these should be included as an addendum to the Mentoring Scheme Framework for local application.

Under the Mentoring Scheme Framework, a Mentor must as a minimum have:

  • 200 Hours P1
  • A current PPL/CPL Licence valid for the type of aircraft to be used for mentoring
  • A current medical
  • Current Rating/s for the type of aircraft to be used for mentoring and the flight conditions
  • Current flying experience - at least 3 take off and landings in the last 90 days and PIC flight in the last 3 weeks

Ideally a Mentor should be able to qualify for an AOPA Gold Wings Award level: AOPA Wings Award scheme

Under the Mentoring Scheme Framework, a Mentee must have:

  • A current PPL/CPL Licence valid for the type of aircraft to be used for mentoring
  • A current medical
  • Current Ratings for the type of aircraft to be used for mentoring and the flight conditions
  • Current flying experience - at least 3 take off and landings in the last 90 days and PIC flight in the last 6 weeks

This Mentoring Framework can be adopted by a Registered Facility, Authorised Training Organisation, other Flying Club or Group entity or an individual Pilot.

For other than an individual Pilot, a record of current Mentors approved by the Organisation should be maintained, together with any conditions to be applied to an individual Mentor.

For other than an individual Pilot, all Operational Staff, Instructors and/or Group Members should be made aware of the Scheme and where to find detail of current Mentors such that they may authorise mentored flights if required.

It is for individuals, organisations or Groups to determine how they will implement and promote the use of the Mentoring Scheme, including how Mentee and Mentor are brought together. AOPA UK members may be listed on the AOPA UK website, where brief details and an email contact form can be provided. Mentor locations can also be included on a map.
It is recommended that a simple means to record mentored flights and their objectives be implemented. Such record could be extended to include Mentee and Mentor feedback.

If you are a Flying Club or established flying Group, why not promote and manage a Mentoring Scheme, based on the AOPA Mentoring Framework, locally?

If you are a training organisation, how do you nurture your Pilot Students after they have completed their initial training? Do you engage with them and help keep them interested in flying, or just leave then to drift and stop flying not long after gaining their licence? The same applies to established flying groups.

Keeping pilots engaged and excited about flying means that they will fly more hours, which is good for business and aircraft life, be better pilots and possibly extend their licence privileges with additional ratings.

Building a Mentoring Scheme into a social side of your business/group is a way to do this. If you run a Mentoring Scheme, based on the AOPA Mentoring Framework, locally and are also an AOPA Corporate  member we can list your scheme on our website. You might also be interested in running the AOPA Wings Scheme locally. If you are interested please contact Pauline Vahey for more details. (Note: If your browser doesn't work with your mail client right click on the link and select the copy email option).

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