Gliding clubs in the UK are self regulating, under the guidance of the British Gliding Association. Under this very British arrangement, immensely experienced Chief Flying Instructors make sure that all member glider pilots undergo annual checks in the company of an instructor.
Each club is also responsible for maintaining its own gliders, tugs, machinery, catering facilities, showers, fire prevention and so on. Most of these jobs are done by volunteers, yet the board of each club is potentially liable for incidents caused by non compliance.
The challenge is that glider operations are potentially hazardous, yet the work of staying compliant is shared by numerous volunteers.
How it works now
At the moment, a file of pilot training records is held at the launch point. It is available to be checked by anybody curious about how recently each pilot has undergone refresher training in aero-towing (being towed by a tug aircraft at the end of a rope), winching (being on the end of a wire pulled by a monster engine), stalling (practicing reacting to a stall) and field landings (choosing a farmers field thats big enough, unobstructed, flat etc).
The rule at our gliding club is that to go solo, a pilot should do his/her check flights before April 1st and they they expire in a year.
To find a pilots currency, you need to find the file, then flick through it in alphabetical order. It is not easy to get an overview of how up to date the club’s pilots are with any particular check.
How it can be done online
Instead of using a paper file, the instructor can use an app to record training. Anyone with the password to the site can then see a summary of the pilot’s training history.
The table above gives a clear view of each pilot’s currency. It is a web page that can be viewed from an iPad at the launch point or from a screen in the clubhouse, office or home.
Instructors can see at a glance how the work of completing annual checks is progressing during the winter.
Its also possible to see at a glance who should not fly solo.
Instructors can use a mobile app to record training
The gliding instructor can have the free Safety Net app installed on his mobile phone. After debriefing a student, he/she can update the student’s record using the app.
Choosing the section on pilots
Or by searching for the pilot by name. The traffic light colours show the status of pilot’s checks.
The instructor can add a comment and a date. Or upload a photograph to go with the check.
The updates are then visible in the web page that shows every pilot’s status.