Chris Long journeys east to investigate the training and simulation expertise of Japan’s largest airline.

As Yong Choi, Supervisor Flight Crew Standards indicates, the first time All Nippon Airways operated under that name was in 1957, when it started to service the domestic market of some 123 million people; international routes were opened up from 1986 onwards. A milestone was passed in 1999, when ANA became a member of the Star Alliance Network. ANA has grown considerably since then, and there is now a strong network of 108 domestic destinations, and 67 international flights. To operate that network ANA has a fleet of some 220+ aircraft and about 2200 pilots with 5300 cabin attendants. There are orders for 66 Boeing B787s (15 of which are the B787-9) and 17 B787s have been delivered so ANA will gradually become primarily equipped with Boeing aircraft, except for a small number of DHC-8-400s which are used for some domestic services. There is clearly a large training task associated with those numbers. In a normal year there are about 150 type rating courses, and the recurrent/command/instructor training is an on-going process.

With 14,000 employees, All Nippon Airways, (ANA) is Japan's largest airline, and is characterised by placing a great deal of emphasis on training. Even after the young first officers become fully qualified and operational, the preparation for eventual command continues on a day-to-day basis. So important is this, that in the ANA Policy Manual one of the duties of the captain is defined thus: “the captain shall educate and train the first officer”. After every commercial flight the captain has to write a report on the first officer and show it to him/her. There is no role as senior first officer – all eyes are on command as the next step, and this coaching is seen as a critical element in that progression. The pilots of all the aircraft fleets are sub-divided into groups which cascade down to teams led by a captain, whose responsibility is to mentor five to six first officers. In the global context it is unusual to formally require line captains to undertake a guiding role for young pilots, but the principle of continuous improvement is unambiguously illustrated by this mandated task.

Facilities

At its historic base of Haneda airport, Tokyo, a full complement of training capabilities has been installed. Consequently, all training of flight deck crew, cabin crew and maintenance teams can be completed here. With 15 full flight simulators and supporting FTDs the search is now on for an additional B787 simulator to add to the two already in place. One element that has had an impact is the local conditions which prevent simulator use during the night hours, so that up until now utilisation rates did not reflect the industry norm. However the daytime is well-used, not least because there is an ANA group company, Base Maintenance Technics Corporation which undertakes the routine maintenance and updates of the FTDs. Maintenance of the training devices is such a specialist role that there is considerable in-house training of that team to ensure that all devices used in the pilot training and cabin attendant training are serviceable.

Although historically ANA believed that training is most effectively carried out using its own facilities and instructors, part of the recent review of the training has been to identify competent organisations to which ANA training could be outsourced and one of those, PANDA (a ANA subsidiary training company founded in 2011) is already co-located at Haneda.

As Captain Masami Tsukamoto, Manager B787 fleet indicates, there is a carefully structured range of training roles as defined by ANA: the simulator instructors are specialists in that role; some of them are classified by the Civil Aviation Bureau (CAB) of Japan as Designated Check Airman. There are then Line Instructors, who carry out the training of first officers and Route Training Captain, who undertake both captain and first officer training. The next level is a Route Evaluation Captain, who signs off internal ANA confirmation that a captain is ready for the Initial Line Check. It is then a requirement of the CAB that the initial line check for a captain be carried out by a CAB inspector; thereafter successive line checks can be carried out by ANA Designated Check Airman. Within Japanese culture there is an embedded respect for seniority and experience, which could sometimes be at odds with the active monitoring role required of a first officer. ANA is, of course, very well aware of this, and has an active and continuous programme to address the issue through positive CRM training.

Cabin Crew Training

ANA completes all its own cabin attendant training, with separate but co-located teams running the Safety Training and Inflight Services Training. Naoko Ishizaka, Manager Safety Training, works to prepare the cabin attendants for their tasks. There are an additional 600 attendants to train, split between the ANA Groups other airlines, Air Japan and ANA Wings. Naoko Nishijima is pleased to point out that the iPad is already central to the training patterns. New trainees have a four day introduction to ANA and then they are sent away to complete a course of pre-study using their iPad before starting the intensive full-time training at Haneda. Thereafter the iPads remain as a training tool (all the course material is on there) and the device is retained as a primary communication vector with the company – rosters, updates and so on all are accessible.

In ANA it is possible to follow an entire career moving up through the levels of responsibility within the cabin attendant role. There is a constant list of applicants who aspire to the training task because it is seen as a critical step in career progression, and in fact the 100 instructors are the pride of the Cabin Attendant training organisation. The levels of motivation and enthusiasm are high – a quality which is infused into the new trainees who are selected from recent university graduates. The training lasts for 36 days, apart from those who will be based overseas at London, Shanghai, Taipei and Seoul; these trainees will have a total of 56 days which includes familiarisation with local cultures.

The comprehensive training includes live fire training, disruptive passenger, door training, in-cabin emergencies, as well as evacuation and dinghy drills. It is during the emergency evacuation and dinghy drills that the two streams of flight deck and cabin crew come together for CRM training.

Recruiting

In common with airlines in many parts of the world, ANA has some challenges in recruiting bright young people into the industry. Some of the new pilots come from the Government Civil Aviation College, which also provides pilots for other Japanese airlines and a few are ex-military. However, the majority come through ANA's own training process. Even though the cost of training ab initio pilots is borne by the airline, it is still a challenge to encourage sufficient numbers to sign up.

Historically the limited places for the ab-initio pilot training programme have been 100 times over-subscribed, although some have joined the ANA training process having obtained a CPL form a university. Now the first year only limitation has been extended to three years after graduation, and in future it is likely that other universities will be trawled to achieve the same quality. This matches the government directive to encourage employment, and the system is effective – a virtually 100 % pass rate illustrates that.

However it is the length and thoroughness of the pilot training process that ultimately determines the competency on the flight deck, and it is this which impresses. For a start all pilot trainees start with at least a full year working in another department of ANA, whether that be administrative, maintenance, cargo or passenger handling in order to understand and absorb the culture of the airline.

They then start the long path to licences – this includes 711 hours of ground school, followed by 159 hours single engine training on the beech Bonanza at Bakersfield, California at the International Flight Training Academy (IFTA). To this is added 44 hours ground school and 35 hours (including 10 hours on an FTD) multi-engine training which is on the Beech Baron. The Instrument Rating phase is for 173 hours ground school, then 68 hours on the Baron (including 20 hours FTD). Overall the training for the CPL/IR lasts 19 months.

New First Officers

The new licence holders will go to either the B767 fleet or the B777 fleet, so there is considerable attention and training given to prepare them for that role. The B777 route, for instance, entails a further 143 ground school studies of jet performance, high altitude operation etc. together with 129 hours of system training, and six hours emergency training. Twelve FFS sessions of two hours each are completed to cover normal operations, followed by five one hour sessions in the FFS to prepare for four 50 minutes sessions in the aircraft for local airport familiarisation at Nagoya, with seven touch-and-goes in each session.

13 two hour sessions are flown in the FFS to cover the rest of the type rating requirements before a Type Rating trip with a company Designated Check Airman. Although that satisfies the Zero Flight Time (ZFT) training mandated for experienced pilots, both the CAB and ANA have chosen to go beyond the minimum ICAO requirements. The first B777 course will achieve the ANA company requirements of 28 landings in the B777 aircraft to complete the validation. Because of the length of the B777 sectors, the requirement is for On-the-Job (OJT) Route Training to be a minimum of 60 and a maximum of 90 sectors. The first course to follow this profile started in November 2012, and is due to finish in October 2013.

MPL

Recognising the advantages of a well-executed MPL process, ANA will shortly be initiating its own MPL programme for pilots going to the B777 (with the prospect of this being used later on for the B787), and is in the process of identifying a robust model which matches the best of global standards.

PANDA

Hideyuki Shibuichi, president of PANDA, carefully points out that the name is not that of the emblematic animal, but rather that it shows its target market (Pacific AND Asia). This is an ATO based at Haneda airport and is 51% owned by ANA, with 49% held by ANA Trading. Set up in response to the planned growth of aviation in the region, it was established in December 2011, and it got underway very quickly, with the first courses starting training in May 2012.

The aim is to use its geographically favourable position to bring training to regional carriers who have easy access. In the fullness of time that will, naturally, expand further, largely with its partnership with Pan Am International Flight Academy.

Early customers are other airlines in the ANA group – Peach, Air Asia Japan, Air Japan – as well as non-ANA entities. It is the first specialist simulator training company in Japan, and the key is that it calls on a large pool of readily-available current and retired ANA and JAL instructors. The growth of LCCs in the region which, classically, do not have their own training facilities, gives an exciting potential market.

Two FFSs are installed, one an A320 from L3, the other a B737W/800W from Sim Industries. Both are equipped with a state-of-the-art Rockwell Collins EP-8000 visual system. These are supported respectively by an A320 Airbus procedural trainer (APT) and a B737 flat panel trainer (FPT). With access to the existing ANA facilities, PANDA will be now in a position to employ its expertise to answer the demands of quality that ANA expect.

The Future

ANA has plotted the future with an updating of the aircraft fleet and consolidation of its route structure and Star Alliance partnerships. At the core of the vision to adapt to the future needs of the 21st century is the updating of the whole approach to training. In the timescale 2013-2015 this will be done by carefully integrating both MPL and AQP processes right into the core of the training philosophy so that, alongside the promotion of the company culture, a solid base of both knowledge and competence will be the foundation built at the start of a career with ANA.