If a pilot is unable to act as PIC because they need a flight review, can they instead earn WINGS credits and complete a phase? Everything I have read, including §61.56 and AC 61-91J, suggests that the answer is "yes", but apparently nobody else is discussing it because I can't seem to find the answer on the internet.
All Wings courses that qualify for a Flight Review include both a online knowledge activites as well as required flight activities that are verified by a CFI. These flight requirements generally end up being longer than the 1 hr minimum flight time required by §61.56. But if you are completing a Wings course for the purpose of insurance discounts, a BRF would be a side benefit.
To accomplish each Phase of WINGS, you can attend safety seminars, take online courses, and demonstrate flight proficiency.
Also, section 1.3 of the Wing Manual states:
Note that pilots need not accomplish the flight review requirements of 14 CFR part 61.56, if he or she has satisfactorily completed any Phase in the WINGS - Pilot Proficiency Program
So, the answer is yes, you can use Wings phases as a substitute for a flight review, but it might not be the most efficient way.
Yes, but you still need a signoff from a CFI. My group of friends (and my CFI) use wings. I did that one year but I prefer flying the BFR because that's skill based. I still do wings credit courses though; you can never learn too much.