One of the principle obligations of the the PMOPA Board of Directors is to improve the safety record of the PA-46 fleet.

In an effort to further this obligation the PMOPA Board of Directors has created the PMOPA Master Aviator Program. This program is the result of PMOPA having identified areas of flight operation that need improvement to increase safety. It provides a path forward for training for the PA-46 pilot, honors those pilots that elect to participate in the PMOPA Master Aviator Program, and rewards those pilots that progress upward to ultimately reach the highest level (PMOPA Master Aviator).

Master Aviator Award Application

A study of PA-46 accident data suggests three areas of PA46 operations that should receive emphasis to improve safety in the PA-46 fleet. We believe that training, understanding, and experience in these areas will drastically reduce accidents in the PA-46 fleet. Those areas of emphasis are:

  1. Pilot flight experience: Many pilots in the PA-46 community are not flying often enough. The flight instructor community notices a direct correlation with piloting ability and recency of experience. Those pilots that average more than 100 hours in the previous year tend to perform well at training events, and those that average less that 100 hours/year in the last year tend to perform less well during training events. There appears to be an exponential decrease in piloting performance for those pilots that average less than 100 hours/year, and a minimal increase in performance for those pilots that fly more than 100 hours/year. PMOPA encourages pilots to fly more than 100 hours/year.
  2. Awareness and understanding of the stall/spin accident: A stall/spin accident in a PA-46 always results in a fatality. The stall/spin accident is simply unsurvivable in a PA-46 due to the high rate of descent in a spin at terrain impact, and a spin from less than 1,000 ft AGL does not allow for sufficient altitude to recover. Oftentimes the stall/spin accident is precipitated by other factors in flight (engine loss of power, autopilot mishandling, icing conditions, skidding turn, etc.), but the end result is always a fatal stall/spin if the pilot mishandles the situation, especially from low altitude.
  3. Flight operations in the runway environment: There are far too many accidents in and around the runway, oftentimes during the takeoff or landing phase of flight. These accidents are rarely fatal, often costly, and entirely preventable. They include nose gear collapses, brake failures, crosswind landing mishaps, tire failures, and poor flight technique (improper/poor rudder control and/or drift from centerline) near the runway.

To be awarded any of the PMOPA Master Aviator Program Awards, a PA-46 pilot must complete all of the requirements listed in the table “PMOPA Awards Requirements.” Some pilots will have previous PA-46 experience (and possibly some other training leading to awarding), which will allow them to progress up the award levels faster. Progressing up the award levels is not intended to be easy. It is intended to be achievable only by those pilots that are committed to regular training and those willing to put forth the resources required to become excellent at piloting a PA-46. The ultimate goal is for every pilot to achieve the level of Master Aviator. A pilot that is awarded Master Aviator will have significant experience, specialized training, and an extremely low probability of being an accident statistic. Being a PMOPA Master Aviator is the ultimate in PA-46 awarding.


To retain the honor of being an PMOPA Master Aviator year after year, a Master Aviator must have flown 100 hours in the PA-46 in the last year and have achieved a new FAA rating (any new rating such as commercial pilot, ATP, CFI, rotorcraft, glider, seaplane rating, etc) or have attended an aviation course in the past year. Some examples of additional training/courses are:

  • Dunker/over-water training
  • Altitude chamber training
  • Advanced aircraft qualification course
  • PMOPA Mid-year safety training, etc
  • NBAA Single-Pilot Safety Standdown
  • Mountain Training/Backcountry Training
  • Aerobatic Training
  • Warbird training
  • Any military aviation course

Ongoing Training

PMOPA believes that ongoing training is required for a pilot to retain the piloting skills expected of an PMOPA Master Aviator.

There are three additional areas of consideration that will dramatically improve safety in the PA-46 fleet, and these areas of consideration are required to be awarded any level of PMOPA awards:

  1. Mid-Year Training: Mid-year training will greatly increase the knowledge and skills of PA-46 pilots, especially pilots new to the PA-46. PMOPA strongly encourages pilots to attend Mid-Year training provided by approved vendors. Ideally this training will occur within 4-8 months after initial training, and then occur sporadically throughout the remainder of the time of PA-46 ownership/piloting.
  2. Convention Attendance: Not just a social event, the PMOPA Convention is a wonderful training event with some of the best aviation educational content available. We believe attendance will create a safer pilot. Attendance to at least one convention every three years is required to earn any of the PMOPA awards.
  3. Accident/incident history: To qualify for any of the PMOPA awards, a pilot cannot have experienced an accident or incident in the last 3 years, unless that pilot were to have had an accident or incident and have received the PMOPA Broken Wings Award for superior airmanship/decisionmaking in an emergency situation for his/her performance in that particular flight.

PMOPA believes in the training required to achieve the status of Master Aviator. As such, PMOPA will assist PMOPA members in the pursuit of the Wings by providing stipends to assist in the payment for some of the training events. Stipends for $400 are available with the following guidelines and stipulations:

  • Only one stipend can be used each year by any PMOPA member;
  • A request for the stipend must be submitted through the PMOPA CEO and PMOPA SEF will pay the stipend directly to the member;
  • Stipends can only be used at approved training vendors (vendors that are placed on the “Approved Training Vendor List” by the Safety Committee)

DOWNLOAD THE MASTER AVIATOR SUPPLEMENTAL TRAINING STIPEND APPLICATION

Pilots are encouraged to progress through the following training timeline:

Benefits of earning PMOPA Wings

    • At each PMOPA Convention, the Chair of PMOPA SEF introduces those pilots who have achieved the highest level of award, the PMOPA Master Aviator;
    • Pilots that have earned PMOPA awards shall be encouraged to wear their “wings” on their name tag at the PMOPA Convention;
    • The Board of Directors shall work diligently with the insurance industry to illustrate the dedication to training and commitment to safety required to earn the PMOPA Master Aviator Award. We believe those pilots that earn Master Aviator Award should earn not only the respect of others in the PA-46 community but also earn respect from the insurance industry as pilots who have an extremely low-risk profile.

    Master Aviator Award Application