2019 Show Report

Serious Business in Berlin

Brexit, flygskam, disabled passengers, eye tracking, regulatory task forces, the correlation of certification with training – EATS 2019 covered a spectrum of high-interest issues and innovations. Mario Pierobon monitored the proceedings.

The world is facing a reskilling imperative. By 2022, no less than 54% of all employees will require significant re-skilling and upskilling, according to the World Economic Forum Future of Jobs 2018 report. Of these, 35% are expected to require additional training of up to six months, 9% will require reskilling lasting six to 12 months, while 10% will require additional skills training of more than a year.

At the European Airline Training Symposium (EATS) in Berlin in late October, global experts from flight and cabin crew training discussed a plethora of topics in the context of ever-evolving regulatory requirements and technological advancements.

EATS offers the richest audience one can expect to gather in Europe for a professional event dealing with civil aviation training. Since it was started nearly 20 years ago the event has grown in importance with over 700 attendees from more than 50 countries, almost 100 air operators and 80 exhibitors. Here are some of the highlights:

Training in the Context of Challenges

Captain Yann Lardet, Vice President of Flight Operations Support and Training Standards at Airbus, illustrated some challenges and uncertainties the aviation industry is facing.

One such issue is Brexit. “We have been struggling with Brexit for the past two years, politics and diplomacy is a mess and it is very hard to predict what the final outcome will be. We have seen UK airlines engaging in a massive effort to protect themselves against uncertainty and even obtain air operator certificates (AOC) outside the UK,” he said. “And pilots are doing the same; numerous UK licenses are being converted to secure the flexibility of the EASA system. As of today, there is no single day without its surprise on how this Brexit story is evolving. But as airlines or training organisations we cannot just ‘wait and see’.”

Another challenge affecting the aviation industry is eco-activism, according to Lardet. He focussed on the emergence of ‘flygskam’, a Swedish word that literally translates as ‘flight shame’. It is the name of an anti-flying movement that originated in Sweden last year and encourages people to stop taking flights to lower carbon emissions.

“We have not been waiting for Greta to train pilots for more eco-friendly practices. We have not been waiting for Greta to work toward zero emission flight. Our industry has challenged itself to reduce CO₂ emissions by 2020. We are on track to meet those near-term commitments, including the 2019 implementation of the carbon offsetting and reduction scheme for international aviation (CORSIA) programme,” he said. “We do not know yet if ‘flygskam’ will continue to grow in the public, but we obviously need to consider it as a risk to the airline business while we are working toward greener aviation.”

Safety for Reduced Mobility Passengers

Eric Lipp and Craig Kennedy of the Open Doors Organization were among the speakers in the cabin stream of the conference. They pointed out that an IATA survey of 48 airlines revealed a 30% increase in wheelchair requests from 2016 to 2017 and that more recent numbers show an even steeper rise in requests; this will only increase as populations age. Safety considerations for passengers with reduced mobility (PRM) require taking extra time to inform PRMs – as they are often infrequent travellers, stowing carry-on bags on their behalf, conducting a dedicated safety briefing and offering assistance during flight.

Lipp and Kennedy emphasised that infrequent travellers are not as well-informed nor are they as comfortable with travel. It is important to educate them by giving them as much information as possible and making them feel at ease. They should be told that their equipment is on the plane and safe and reassured that it will be returned to them at the door of the plane. Their items should be accommodated onboard and stowed close to them as much as possible, especially breakable pieces from wheelchairs (joysticks, seat cushions, etc…). Cabin crews should assist in stowage.

A dedicated safety briefing rarely happens, even though it is a good way to help them feel safe. Assistance during flight requires to know who is on the flight and ask them what their needs will be while onboard, Lipp and Kennedy explained.

Customised Data Through Eye Tracking

Colin Rydon, Vice President Training, Standards & Development and Head of Training – Commercial Aviation at L3Harris, spoke of tracking eye movements for the benefit of pilot training. Eye tracking is a monitoring technology that allows observation of faces and eyes, thereby better understanding what the pilot is looking at, when and for how long.

“This helps overcome gaps in traditional flight simulator training by enabling instructors in real time to directly understand pilot behaviour, decision-making patterns, scanning and attention levels. This technology provides us with the data required to quickly analyse certain aspects of a pilot’s performance in training. This data can be used for more than just debriefing training sessions. It is a part of a bigger set of data that will inform airlines of so much more,” Rydon said.

Calibrated and precision eye-gaze tracking provides reliable attention results against instruments and areas-of-interest, including through HUD/HGS (head up display / head-up guidance system). It provides a real-time view whereby instructors can identify scanning breakdowns and annotate events for debrief. During debrief, instructors can replay scanning behaviours to pilots. A dedicated dashboard allows instructors to ‘see’ how aircrew divide their attention over time and monitoring function. Eye tracking technology also synchronises with simulator performance data (SPD),  synching crew attention data with audio, visual, actions, and SPD/SOQA (simulator operational quality assurance) data to add context to scenarios. Finally, it enables data-driven training as high-level, robust, validated algorithms analyse stored data to search for trends and identify improvement opportunities.

EASA Regulatory Update

Bernard Bourdon, Head of Aircrew & Medical at the European Union Aviation Safety Agency, provided an update related to commercial air transport pilot training and licencing. Commission Regulation (EU) 2019/1747 was published in October 2019 to provide an update and clean up relating mainly to Part-FCL and amendments to other parts of EASA AIR CREW regulations. The new regulation deletes outdated transitional measures, reduces the regulatory burden, improves harmonisation and clarity and includes amendments to make the instructor certification more accessible.

Bourdon also illustrated the activities of the ongoing EASA task forces (TF): the instructor TF, the English language proficiency TF and the examiner TF.

“The instructor TF is looking at all the factors that affect the adequate supply of competent instructors into the European training system. This newly started team is not just regulatory, but it is also looking at promoting best practices for sponsoring and retaining instructors,” Bourdon said.

The English language proficiency TF is considering ways to standardise the approach to the assessment of language proficiency by sharing and promoting best practice. “In addition, this initiative is looking at promoting the early use of English in the delivery of training for future airline pilots. The earlier a professional pilot starts using English every day, the better the safety standards will be and the more employable they will be within the international aviation system,” Bourdon said.

“The goal of the examiner TF is to help standardise the assessment competencies of examiners. A guidance manual is currently under development to help examiners with skill and proficiency tests. The group is also looking at the simplification of examination procedures and associated administrative activities such as forms, etc.”

Bourdon also highlighted a pilot age limit study to consider increasing the age limit for pilots in single pilot CAT from 60 to 65 – subject to addition of medical and operational mitigating measures, keeping the age limit at 65 for pilots in multi-pilot CAT and better data collection regarding the health status of the pilot population.

Operational Suitability Data

Captain Philip Adrian, CEO of Multi Pilot Simulations (MPS), presented on operational suitability data (OSD) to illustrate how training becomes mandated through the aeroplane certification process. Adrian said the first step is the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) filing for a new type certificate (TC) or amended type certificate (ATC).

“This results in determination of the certification basis (CB). For new TCs all current rules and requirements apply, the CB reflect current standards. For amended TCs the CB is negotiated, CB is a mix of current and past standards. This negotiation between the OEM, in this process also referred to as the TC holder or aeroplane manufacturer, and the certification authority is based on the in-service history of the base aeroplane and the changed product rule (CPR), which determines the scope of changes for a related aeroplane,” he explained.

The process to determine operational suitability begins when the OEM creates a pilot qualification plan (PQP) in which it determines the base aeroplane and works primarily with its certification authority (CA). In addition, input and coordination from validating authorities (VA) is considered.

“When the FAA is the CA, this is managed by the Flight Standardization Board (FSB), while when EASA is the CA, this will be done by the Operational Suitability (OS) Experts. During this process, the OEM identifies aeroplane training differences (base aeroplane versus related aeroplane) via master differences requirements (MDR) and differences tables. Several prescribed tests fulfil the regulator’s requirement for validation of these assumptions,” Adrian said. “As these processes are normally intended to cover worldwide approvals for the training supporting entry into service (EIS), the participating regulators work together, with the certifying authority (CA) being the Authority of the Country where the OEM is located (Boeing – FAA, Airbus – EASA). The validating authorities (VA) are full participants in this process, but to optimise use of expertise and minimise duplication of effort, normally accept most of the findings of the CA unless they retain certain tests or processes due to separate regulatory requirements. Official coordination of the OEM with the VA is through the CA.”


HOT Topic: EASA UPRT

In a knights of the long table style forum, a hundred or so pilots and airline training leaders debated a rapidly approaching deadline.

Potentially the most useful couple of hours in airline pilot training during the entire year are the Heads of Training meetings, conducted the evening prior to APATS and EATS – a sometimes discomfortingly candid discussion of some of the “hot” issues facing the training community. In Berlin it was also a de facto celebration of the birthday of aviation safety activist Peter Moxham, who started the forum a few years back.

The dominant topic of this year’s session was Upset Prevention and Recovery Training and the looming EASA deadline (19 December) requiring an advanced UPRT certificate (FCL.745.A), including five hours of ground school and three hours of in-aircraft training, prior to commencing a type rating.

A survey by the Aircrew Training Policy Group, which advises the European agency on training matters, revealed that half of Approved Training Organisations did not expect to be ready. One large ATO in North America indicated that 100 of their simulators would be incapable of meeting the UPRT requirements. Sim manufacturers have been overwhelmed with the updates, as is EASA with sign-off requests. Older devices are particularly problematic. Nonetheless, “the deadline cannot be changed any longer,” stated EASA Head of Aircrew and Medical, Bernard Bourdon.

ATPG Chair Andy O’Shea, longtime Head of Training for Ryanair, noted the biggest challenges with implementing UPRT for initial type rating training are given by survey respondents as:

1. Lack of clarity of the regulations
2. Lack of guidance on implementation
3. FSTD updates

Other reasons include interpretation issues with the national aviation authorities, lack of time to meet compliance data, instructor training, and course content. Some simulator operators cited problems with data availability and other essential support from aircraft OEMs.

Philip Adrian, CEO of Multi Pilot Simulations, who chaired EASA rulemaking task 581/582, pointed out, “The intent was never to wait for all the training devices to be compliant. There’s a lot of training that can be done on a device that is not qualified.”

Gerry Humphreys, Deputy Head of Training, Atlantic Flight Training Academy in Cork, Ireland, said the pilots most affected by the manage-in phase of the new regulation will be those who have recently qualified for their licence through ATPL, ME, IR, MCC training but now lack the new UPRT certificate. “There are very few places” where they can secure such standalone training, as most upset recovery instruction will be integrated with other programmes.

Ex-RAF fast-jet pilot Humphreys invoked Robert Smith-Barry, regarded as “the father of flying training,” who he surmised would be “gobsmacked at the aircraft we have,” though “I suspect he’d also be a bit disappointed that the abilities and skills of those flying the aircraft haven’t advanced as much as the technology. We’ve dumbed down the training. We’ve dumbed down the profession.”

Smith-Barry’s revolutionary methods during WWI, by the way, included teaching sharp turns, spinning and recovery, and crosswind takeoffs and landings. He wrote: “If the pupil considers this dangerous, let him find some other employment.”

Addressing how asymmetric angle of attack leads to spin, Humphreys recommended a book by Sammy Mason, Lockheed test pilot. Stalls, Spins and Safety, he stated, “is simply the best textbook I have ever come across.”

Mark Greenfield, CEO at Ultimate High Academy, said, “However much you know something is going to happen, actually seeing it happen for real yourself is just a hugely valuable piece of training. If you don’t recognise when things are starting to go wrong, it’s very hard to apply recovery actions. Startle and fear are still poorly understood.” He added that in 75% of Loss of Control In-flight (LOC-I) accidents, the aircraft was still flyable: “This is a failure of training.”

O’Shea called attention to the Airline Pilot Standards Multi-Crew Cooperation (APS MCC) course, “a child of ATPG” which EASA authorised in 2018. It boasts a new pilot pass rate of 75-76%, compared with a 53-54% rate for a standard MCC course.

The EATS HOT was not as lively as sessions I’ve observed in past years, perhaps owing to the single-topic agenda. Or perhaps to the all-hands format, as compared with the workshop approach at APATS. Rick Adams