Fault Analysis

  1. Fault analysis is necessary at all levels of flight training. The ability to debrief effectively does more to separate the successful instructor from the poor one than does above average flying ability. You must realize that the sole purpose of fault analysis is to improve future student performance. A valid critique contains three essential elements: (1) strengths, (2) weaknesses, and (3) specific suggestions for improving. Without each of these elements, fault analysis is ineffective as it does not accomplish its sole purpose.
  2. Strengths are analyzed to give a feeling of satisfaction and to show that you recognize what students can do well. If you are unable to identify strengths, it will be difficult for students to believe that your identification of weaknesses is accurate. Positive reinforcement of a student's strengths will frequently do more for students than any number of remedial suggestions on your part.
  3. The necessity of analyzing weaknesses is readily apparent. This leads into the third element - specific suggestions for improvement. Whenever you are critiquing a student consider the following: - if you are unable to suggest a remedy for overcoming the weakness, your student does not have that weakness. Positive suggestions are mandatory for improving future performance; however, you should limit your critique to the identification of a maximum of three weaknesses with suggested remedies. Attempting to correct all the weaknesses that a student may have at one time could result in your student not being able to correct any weaknesses. During actual flight instruction you should attempt to pinpoint a single major weakness before considering the next. Improvement in a student's performance takes time - an expert will not appear overnight. More will be learned if a definite improvement in performance is experienced each time the student takes part in a lesson.
  4. The recommended format to follow when conducting fault analysis:
    1. When in the air;
      • identify major strengths,
      • pinpoint a major weakness,
      • suggest a remedy to correct that major weakness.
    2. On the ground;
      • identify major strengths,
      • identify a maximum of three major weaknesses,
      • suggest remedies to correct the major weaknesses.

NOTE:  One way to think of a major weakness is: "What item, if corrected now, would result in the correction of the greatest number of other faults?" As student performance improves, the weaknesses that originally were considered minor ones now become the only weaknesses. All weaknesses will be dealt with but in order — the most important ones first.