Rod Wren

Training for a Licence or Training for a Career?

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Rod Wren, CEO, Wings Alliance
Rod Wren joined the RAF as a pilot in 1977, flying operationally on fast jets and in the maritime patrol role before training as a Qualified Flying Instructor in 1990. He held various instructing, examining and management roles in Basic and Elementary flight training before leaving the RAF in 1998.

He worked as a management consultant and contract flying instructor, before taking up the Head of Training post at Oxford Aviation Training. After two years he left OAT for form the company which became CTC Aviation Training where he remained as CEO until 2007.

His new company launched a radically different approach to the provision of flight training; rather than the FTO providing licence training and leaving the pilot to find their own employment, the programme the company formed was to develop linked initial licence training, multi-crew bridge training and employment in one continuous programme.

Rod now runs his own business services company, serves as a Board Member with Bristol Groundschool and is CEO of the Wings Alliance, a trade association of EASA Flight Schools, concentrating on providing airlines with pre-selected and highly trained multi-crew pilot recruits through their newly launched Whitetail Programme at a considerably lower cost to the pilot than the alternatives.

Training for a Licence or Training for a Career?
Airline selection and training systems have evolved over recent decades so they are now invariably based on pilot competencies. While there are variations on the theme between employers, there is consensus on what constitutes the core competencies and certainly around the emphasis on non-technical competencies. However, these changes have largely passed the flight training industry by. The CPL and IR skills tests are task based, their assessment ignores non-technical competencies and the training is geared towards passing these, leaving it to MCC and type rating courses to try and prepare recruits for their first job as an FO.

Is the answer MPL training? Certainly, airlines who recruit newly qualified pilots from all training routes report that, although there is no difference between integrated and modular trained graduates, MPL trained cadets are better prepared. However, within 12 months these differences are lost and there are difficulties in training the volume of cadets required by the industry, using the MPL model.

The excellent work done by the EASA APS-MCC working group addressed the unregulated JOC courses that sprung up to try and address the needs of flight school graduates, poorly prepared by their flight training for their first jobs. However, this attempts to fix rather than address the cause of the problem. 

This presentation will describe a new flight training system based on competency training with a syllabus emphasising multi-crew IFR training rather than solo-VFR cross country, but using the existing flight training licence rules. With innovative course design and training of the trainers it has been possible to design and implement a flight training system geared to the needs of the employers rather than the flight examiners. The course has the added benefit of costing significantly less than those offered by traditional flight training providers.