AOPA Summit Opens, Student Retention Key Goal
The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association Summit kicked off today at the Long Beach Convention Center in Long Beach, Calif. The summit’s opening keynote session summarized results of a study conducted by Apco Insight not on why 75 to 80 percent of new student pilots quit flying without earning a pilot certificate but on how to help motivate students by aligning the training experience with their expectations. The Flight Training Student Retention Initiative study found that “there is a real problem with the way flight training is being delivered,” according to Apco Insight chairman Mark Benson. Apco surveyed 1,000 student pilots, pilots and instructors. The survey found that the flight training industry is actually doing well on the key elements that are important to new pilots, he noted. But educational quality is a major driver for new pilots, more critical than the value delivered by the training institutions. One weak area found by the study, he added, “is this unique notion of community and recognition. They are important motivators, and [new pilots] want to share the experience with a lot of other people. Those opportunities aren’t very apparent to them.” To help flight schools improve, AOPA is relaunching its Flight School Business publication and will hold regional forums around the U.S. “We’re inviting the entire general aviation community to help us find a better path forward,” said AOPA president and CEO Craig Fuller.