RAAP 05 What to Expect From Your Biennial Flight Review (BFR)

Monday 29 April, 2019

Recreational Aviation Advisory Publication (RAAP) – 5

Version 1, August 2017

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What to expect

If you recently achieved your RAAus Pilot Certificate, congratulations, you have become part of a group of like-minded individuals who enjoy the fun and challenge of flying a RAAus aircraft.

To maintain competency, skills and keep knowledge up to date a Biennial Flight Review (BFR) or a form of periodic flight review is mandated for pilots by the aviation authorities of many countries. The reviews take different forms in different countries. A regular flight review is also a practical way to assess changes in competence, ensure an updated understanding of changes to regulation or procedure and forms an important part of ongoing safe flight.

For holders of a Recreational Pilot Certificate as issued by Recreational Aviation Australia, the Biennial Flight Review is required of every active holder of a RAAus Pilot Certificate conducted, as the name implies, every 2 years.

The RAAus Operations Manual Section 2.07 paragraph specifies that the review must include:

  • A review of the current general operating and flight rules, and
  • a review of those manoeuvres and procedures that, at the discretion of the person giving the review, are necessary for the pilot to demonstrate the safe exercise of the privileges of the pilot certificate.


Conduct of a flight review and who is in command during the flight

A BFR can be completed by a Senior Instructor or Chief Flying Instructor (CFI) (known as the Examiner). As they will direct you to manoeuvre the aircraft in specific exercises or flight sequences the Examiner is the Pilot in Command and the flight must be logged in your logbook as dual time. 

It is critical to nominate prior to the flight taking place, who will be pilot in command should a real emergency occur. While the Examiner generally has greater experience overall, if the BFR is being conducted in the pilot’s aircraft, the pilot may have greater familiarity with the aircraft systems and competence flying the aircraft. Regardless of the specific circumstances, as for any emergency, it is easier and simpler to manage if a plan has already been discussed and can then be implemented.

Pilots are also encouraged to consider completing BFRs with a different Examiner to the CFI or Senior Instructor who completed their basic training or issued the Pilot Certificate. The opportunity to learn something new from another Instructor is invaluable. 


Other accepted methods of meeting your RAAus BFR requirements 

Alternatively, you could consider using the BFR due date as a prompt to add to your skills by training for a Formation, Tail Wheel, In-Flight Adjustable Propeller or other endorsements. Try flying different aircraft at different aerodromes, as we can all become complacent and fly in a “comfort zone”. 

Issue of an endorsement which required a flight assessment (excludes Radio and Human Factors endorsements) conducted by an appropriately qualified RAAus Examiner will be accepted as a substitute for a flight review. This will change the date of your previous BFR which was based on the date you achieved your Pilot Certificate, so make sure you create a reminder or use your RAAus Member Portal to check this.

Likewise, if you have been issued a CASA Licence or endorsement requiring flight assessment this will also be accepted as sufficient to complete your RAAus BFR requirements. This relates to flights conducted in single engine aircraft up to a Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) of 1500 kg under day Visual Flight Rules (VFR).


BFRs – not a pass or fail exercise

Whilst Examiners cannot fail you as a BFR is not a test (there are no pass or fail criteria) the Examiner providing the BFR may decline to endorse your logbook. This may be on the basis that a flight review is not completed until appropriate competencies (minimum standards) are met and demonstrated. 


What you should expect as part of the BFR

The Examiner should discuss the objectives of the BFR with you prior to flying, to ensure you gain the maximum benefit from the review, after all, it is your review!

To gain the most benefit you should be honest about the sort of flying you have done in the past and the type of flying you expect to do in the future.

Each review should therefore be individually tailored to meet, at the reasonable discretion of the Examiner, your flying plans. The primary objective of any review should be to assess your competencies and ability to conduct safe flight operations. You should expect to be asked to demonstrate similar manoeuvres and procedures as you did during your flight test, however rather than simply flying from and to an aerodrome, completing upper air work and circuits you should participate positively to ensure you gain the maximum benefit from the review.

The Examiner should sit down with you and ask you about expected radio calls, procedures at non-towered aerodromes, changes in other rules or requirements, review areas of aerodynamics and Human Factors (HF), your or the schools aircraft (Pilot Operating Handbook (POH), weight and balance calculations, weather forecasts – obtaining and interpreting, ERSA references, NOTAMs, fuel management and more. 

None of us can remember everything we were taught, so try to view these reviews as learning opportunities rather than criticism or the Examiner trying to show off their knowledge.


What you need to bring to the BFR

Pilots must bring their logbook and RAAus membership information, although it is possible for the CFI to confirm your membership and endorsement information along with your aircraft registration using a RAAus online CFI Portal. If a navigation exercise is planned, you will need appropriate maps, ERSA and means of obtaining weather and NOTAMs. The CFI may be able to spend some time with you revising your understanding of Electronic Flight Bag information, GPS or tablets as these change regularly.  


Common areas which require review

Feedback from Examiners reveals common problem areas for review (usually linked with lack of currency or recent practice by the pilot) include: 

  • Aircraft – lack of knowledge of Pilots Operating Handbook
  • Attitude flying (Partially cover the panel to simulate limited panel).
  • Over-controlling the aircraft
  • Passenger briefing
  • Pre take-off safety brief –a “what if” plan
  • Weather forecast – obtaining and interpreting (valid for local and cross-country flights)
  • Fuel management – use of a fuel log
  • Unusual circuits - low level or right-hand circuit
  • Short field approach and landing – rarely practiced
  • CTAF procedures – circuit entry/departure, in circuit calls and SA
  • Identifying controlled airspace or frequency change  boundaries
  • Crosswind take-off and landing
  • Engine failure after take-off (part of the pre-take-off safety brief – have a plan, fly the plan)
  • Engine failure in the circuit
  • Management of simulated emergencies – partial power loss, failure of a system such as flaps, trim or electrics, diagnosis or troubleshooting of issues, etc.
  • Go-arounds
  • Practice forced landing (away from the circuit)
  • Flight at slow speed
  • Precautionary Search and Landing
  • Understanding of pressure height and density altitude
  • Stalls – (typically only last practiced at the last BFR)
  • Turns – steep (flying by attitude)
  • Weight and Balance calculations 


The Examiner may request you prepare a flight plan for a cross-country (although they may not ask you to fly the whole plan), then request you to conduct specific manoeuvres, both in the circuit and away from the aerodrome. 

Considerations could include: 


  • Pilot’s preparation for flight (e.g. Cross country flight plan)
  • Managing expectations – pilot and passenger 
  • Medical considerations – use of IMSAFE
  • Personal minimums – discuss creation of minimum weather, visibility, maximum wind, personal standards for flight tolerances


Ground Review

  • Aircraft systems knowledge – POH, aircraft limitations 
  • ASIC requirements (if appropriate) 
  • Assessment of risk management and personal minimums
  • Cross country planning – the candidate should be requested to prepare a cross country flight plan and review the plan considering weather and NOTAMS on the day of the flight. Instructor recommendation: Request the candidate prepare a flight plan that can be used as part of the review and allows assessment of the pilot’s departure procedures then divert to training area for air work. Assess the use of electronic devices to assist navigation and determine the candidates understanding of requirements. 
  • Operations at non-towered aerodromes - CTAF procedures and radio 
  • ERSA – references and special considerations using a local example
  • Fuel management – as relevant to all flights
  • Interpreting weather forecasts
  • Pilots history and currency
  • Pre take-off safety brief
  • Review applicable regulations



Flight Review


  • Pre-flight Inspection
  • Current aircraft registration 
  • Aircraft serviceability and cleanliness
  • Compliance to scheduled service, completion of SBs and ADs
  • Aircraft operating competency – management of the aircraft within minimum tolerances such as airspeed, height maintenance, heading maintenance, etc. 



  • CTAF radio and procedures – recommended calls
  • In-flight decision-making
  • Situational awareness and lookout

Minimum requirements

  • Complete 3 landings –combining partial/full flap (if available) and clean, go-around
  • Stall entry and recovery
  • Practice forced landing 
  • Satisfactorily demonstrated ability to conduct radio communication and circuit procedures


  • In-flight observations
  • Plan for continuous practice - future proficiencies (Tail wheel or APA, creation of personal minimum expectations for flight tolerances)
  • Retraining plan (if required)
  • Future development of candidate
  • Ground review
  • Reflect the Redirect


This could be summarised as “The Attitude to Flying and Flying the Attitude”

Once the review is completed, you and the Examiner should debrief the review and agree on what standard you demonstrated for specific areas. If you are not to a competent standard the Examiner will not complete the paperwork or make a logbook entry until required retraining is completed. 

Enjoy the BFR, you can gain benefit from the review as well as making sure you stay safe flying RAAus aircraft across this beautiful country.


 That's a WRAP!