Held in Berlin, Germany, the 2013 European Airline Training Symposium (EATS) saw delegates benefit from the perspectives of European and international training and simulation experts. Conference Chair and CAT Editor-in-Chief Chris Lehman filed this report.

The theme of EATS 2013 was “Enhancing Flight Crew Training,” and for the first time, a cabin crew training track was set alongside the pilot track. In the 12 years since its inception, EATS has grown to become the largest airline training event in Europe. Some 450 people from 59 airlines and 42 countries attended EATS 2013, along with 48 international exhibitors, including Host Sponsor Lufthansa Flight Training, and Gold Sponsor CAE. While the European focus was obvious, the airline industry is not defined by national borders, and this was reflected by the increased participation of Middle-Eastern, Asian and North American delegates.

Speakers focused on the complete range of current training issues, and true to EATS tradition, many speakers addressed training “best practise” along with the challenges of obtaining optimum “human performance”, which after all, is the central element of any training. The role that training technology plays in extracting that human performance - from elearning to flight simulation - was woven throughout the conference.

Kickoff The conference theme was picked up by both keynotes, first from Flybe’s Head of Crew Training, Captain James Smart who discussed “Airline Training Challenges and Opportunities.” Smart’s presentation focused on the pilot and cabin training realties of a large European regional carrier in 2013, and the importance of James Reason’s “safety space” as we deal with regulatory, operational and financial demands.

Captain John Bent was next up with his summary of the issues faced by the world airline industry, particularly those related to the quality and relevance of training, in the midst of the forecast expansion. Such expansion, particularly in Asia, Latin America and the Middle East not only will strain current training capacity, but will require commonality in standards and performance from a very diverse candidate pool.

Pilot Track Speakers went on to drill into the technology themes including the issues associated with the introduction of a new aircraft, such as Lufthansa’s training program for its Bombardier CSeries. Technology is pervasive in all aspects of the industry but speakers asked whether we were relying too much on it, and just how do we maintain a high awareness on human factors. The subject of safety being both an ethical and financial decision was raised, with excellent Safety Management Systems always seen as good business practise.

The conference moved into a regulatory update session on this 12th anniversary of EASA’s creation. EASA provided an FCL update, and Air France delivered a presentation on its current ATQP implementation. A reminder of the operational differences between national regulatory jurisdictions was provided through a comparison of instrument procedure design between TERPS and PAN-Ops. Some of the differences are nuanced yet have large implications for trans-oceanic pilots.

Primary pilot training was addressed in detail, particularly the experience to date with the Multi-Crew Pilot License. Perspectives were offered from organisations training European, Asian and African students, and it was noted that there are now some 1,000 MPL graduates around the world and the results are most encouraging. It was suggested that ab-initio theoretical knowledge can be competency-based, and delivered effectively with today’s training technologies.

For the first session of day 2, EASA returned to the podium to discuss “Operational Suitability Evaluations, Flight Crew Qualifications and Air Operations in the Context of Aircraft Certification,” while Airbus presented “Enabling Training Excellence with New Technology.” And with Upset Recovery Training being top of mind for the industry, CAE closed the session with an important presentation on “Simulator Enhancements for Upset Recovery Training.”

The issue of automation and practical stall training was rigorously addressed - EASA returned again to discuss their Automation Policy, and Endeavor Air from the US provided a practical presentation on loss of control and the prevention of stalls. The training emphasis today should be on “unloading the wing” and reducing the angle of attack. Further, it was recognised that current simulator technology can support stall training if appropriate curriculum is utilised.

An interesting view on training for economical operations and fuel savings/low carbon emissions was delivered by Novair, and Czech Airlines Training Academy outlined the challenges of training Russian pilots to fly modern western aircraft.

Cabin Track New for 2013 was a stellar opening edition of the EATS Cabin Crew training track. Moderated by Anna Mellberg of Novair, the track kicked off with an excellent joint presentation from Captain Bo Nielsen and F/O Bo Pathuel of SAS. The challenges of joint training were expertly presented, followed by an equally effective presentation on self-defence and restraint training, from Vladislav Bagranov of Air Astana.

The following sessions delved into issues such as mobile and e-learning for cabin crew, and the growing use of tablets in operational and training use. The paperless revolution in the cockpit has moved to the cabin. Similar to the pilot track, EASA provided a regulatory update, and perspectives on CRM and training cultures were offered by Lufthansa and United.

Emergency insights from airport rescue services proved to be a very powerful presentation as delivered by Swedavia Stockholm-Arlanda Airport and Novair. Performance-based crew medical training and language and culture in training was extensively addressed, including the importance of assertiveness.

Training Technology Panel Pilot and cabin delegates returned for a special final joint session. An expert panel discussed Training Technologies and Techniques with an emphasis on the growing role of mobile and elearning. The consensus was that the “holy grail” of training could be individualized training for each candidate for the entire training footprint, as opposed to the “one-size fits all” fixed curriculums.

All EATS 2013 conference presentations are available on the Halldale website at www.halldale.com/eats. Join us for EATS 2014, to be held again in Berlin, in October, 2014.