I was recently discussing the issue of biennial flight reviews with a pilot and the pilot informed me that he did not need a biennial flight review (“BFR”) because he had attended one of the FAA’s Wings progams and he felt that satisfied the BFR requirement. When I asked him whether he had done any flying in connection with his attendance at the Wings program he said “no”. Unfortunately, mere attendance at the program does not in and of itself satisfy the BFR requirement.
All pilots are or should be aware of the BFR requirements contained in FAR 61.56. This FAR requires that “no person may act as pilot in command of an aircraft unless, since the beginning of the 24th calendar month before the month in which that pilot acts as pilot in command, that person has (1) Accomplished a flight review given in an aircraft for which that pilot is rated by an authorized instructor and (2) A logbook endorsed from an authorized instructor who gave the review certifying that the person has satisfactorily completed the review.” It goes on to provide several exceptions to this requirement such as passing a pilot proficiency check conducted by an examiner, an approved pilot check airman, or a U.S. Armed Force, for a pilot certificate, rating, or operating privilege or satisfactorily accomplishing one or more phases of the FAA’s wings program.
Advisory Circular 61-91H describes the Wings program and sets forth the requirements for completing a particular phase in the program. In order to qualify, a pilot must attend at least one FAA-sponsored or FAA-sanctioned aviation safety seminar or industry-conducted recurrent training program and the pilot’s attendance must be verified in the pilot’s logbook or other proficiency record, signed by an FAA SPM, other FAA inspector, or an ASC involved in conducting the seminar. Additionally, the pilot must receive three hours of flight training as follows: one hour of flight training to include basic airplane control stalls, turns, and other maneuvers directed toward mastery of the airplane; one hour of flight training to include approaches, takeoffs, and landings, including crosswind, soft field; and short field techniques and one hour of instrument training in an airplane, FAA approved aircraft simulator or training device.
The pilot must have completed the requirements for a Wings program phase within the preceding 24 months to be exempted from the BFR requirement. If he or she hasn’t, and if he or she does not qualify for any of the other exceptions, the pilot is not current. Although this seems fairly straightforward, based upon my recent experience it appears that some confusion exists regarding use of the Wings program in lieu of a BFR. Don’t let this happen to you. If you intend to rely upon the Wings program to satisfy your BFR requirement, review the applicable FAR and the AC to make sure you have done all that is needed to satisfactorily complete a Wings phase.