Frequently Asked Student Pilot Questions

If you’re a student pilot you probably have a lot of questions. You will get answers to all of your questions during flight school. But there are some frequently asked student pilot questions that are worth addressing.  Most questions are understandably about what to do when things go wrong. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the most asked questions student pilots want to know more about.

How much of a trip is autopilot?

If you’re flying a commercial airliner, you’ll engage the autopilot after takeoff and disengage a few miles before landing. However, this doesn’t mean you’ll recline your chair and take a nap. You’ll be commanding the autopilot to several different functions. These functions can include fly a heading, navigate to a waypoint, climb/descend, hold altitude and fly a holding pattern. Landings are usually done manually. You’ll only land on autopilot in very low visibility conditions.

What causes most aviation accidents?  

Most aircraft accidents are the result of several factors. There is almost never, one cause. Aircraft have become extremely reliable, better-designed, and maintained over the years. Structural failure is extremely rare. Weather can be a factor in accidents, but typically pilots can get around bad weather. Today, the rare aviation accident is a result of a combination of multiple failures from mechanical issues, pilot error, and severe weather.

Can turbulence cause an aircraft to crash?

When commercial jets first emerged there were a few cases where turbulence caused structural damage that resulted in accidents. Aircraft are designed and engineered to withstand much more turbulence than most people realize. In 1994, a US Air DC-9 did encounter a microburst, which is turbulent. The air pushed the airplane into the ground. However, it was the downward air and not the turbulence that caused the accident. That was the last recorded microburst accident in the U.S.

Why are clouds so turbulent in certain parts of the world?

Warm environments, for example, have a lot of cumulus clouds, especially during the summer. These clouds have vertical columns of air – up and downdrafts – that result in turbulence. Cooler climates have fewer cumulus clouds. Often they have more uniform stratus clouds that do not have the frequent vertical columns of air. Turbulence can occur anywhere but a sunny, hot day combined with cumulus clouds, will create a few bumps for airplanes flying through them. 

Does a pilot take over the aircraft manually during severe turbulence?

Even in severe turbulence, the pilot will leave the autopilot engaged. Severe turbulence is very rare. What most passengers think of as severe, is actually moderate to heavy turbulence. If unsecured items in the cabin start flying around you’re in severe turbulence.

Ready to Get Started in Aviation?

Thinking about getting a pilot certificate or starting a career in aviation? The demand for pilots is high, and the rewards are big. Book your discovery flight today and find out how CTI can get you started in aviation.

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