Once again the Asian civil aviation training world has beaten a path to Bangkok for the Asia Pacific Aviation Training Symposium (APATS). This 2014 event was marked by yet another significant increase in the number of airlines attending - up from 36 last year to 47 this time - and, most importantly, with Asian airlines making the major contribution.
With the keynote speaker, Mr Voradej Harnprasert, Director General of the Department of Civil Aviation, Thailand reinforcing the need for rigorous training focusing on safety, the theme of "Training for Resilience" was enthusiastically embraced by speakers and delegates alike. There is an almost universal recognition that the role played by the national and company culture is important in creating an environment in which safety issues can be openly addressed and improvements made. The issue of the influence that culture plays in the open sharing of information to manage the multiple inputs required for situational awareness and safety monitoring came across through several of the presentations.
Data Increasingly there is confidence that the data being accumulated through tracking performance in flight and in the simulator can lead to a better understanding of what the main focus of training should be. The drive to use Evidence Based Training (EBT) to pinpoint areas of training need, rather than a straightforward iteration of simply fulfilling the regulatory requirements, is quickly gaining ground, as training organisations see the value and safety benefits of targeted training tasks. One part of the debate now is how that data is interpreted. There is, or should be, a move away from only looking at faults to define what needs to be done, and rather to identify and reinforce best practice, where the exercise of such good practice has sidestepped a potential problem - current data mining can help to do that.
Training Style It has been recognised for some time that new entrants into the industry approach training in a different way. It makes sense to update the training paradigms to respond to that - certainly not to change the training output standards, but primarily to adapt the way information is transferred to make sure that trainees are provided with the tools that they need to acquire and retain the knowledge that they will subsequently use in their roles. The conference heard from both those who deliver training and those who have recently been at the receiving end of such training. We, the industry, need to understand how effective present training is and how, where necessary, we can modify it so that it becomes relevant and effective with today's mindsets.
Networking As all who have attended the Halldale conferences well know, a huge proportion of the value of the events come from the networking around them. The conference content should be seen as the start of the discussion - the expertise in the delegate pool can then run with the continuing story.
APATS 2014 was no exception, and the amount of activity in and around the exhibition hall was pretty intense, particularly during the first day, when acquaintanceships were renewed and new ones forged. Many of the speakers were immediately besieged with delegates eager to follow up on the ideas floated during the presentations. The aim is not just to be passive recipients of information, but to actively contribute to the debate. Naturally there may not always be an absolute answer to the issues, but it is evident that major progress can be made when discussing the challenges with peers who face the same problems and pressures. It can be reassuring to find that you are not the only one trying to solve a difficult issue when faced with time and budgetary constraints.
Future Planning Whilst some topics seem to have shorter-term popularity, a couple of issues retain a continuing interest. One of those is the form of training appropriate for new pilots - regulatory changes within several jurisdictions around the world come at that problem from a different direction. It is enlightening to hear informed views of what might best be adapted to future needs.
In the sidelines of the show there was continuing concern and worry about the inconsistent level on Aviation English presently used by professionals. The dream of a universal competence as defined by the ICAO Level 4 has sadly too often proved to be illusory. Whilst both pilots and Air Traffic Controllers may have the required certificate of competency to ICAO Level 4, the reality is that all too often the actual effectiveness of the language shown by both professions may be well short of the desired level, perhaps even to the point that the notional guaranteed levels of safety may not be assured. It is the elephant in the room, but the industry has a duty of care to ensure that safety is not compromised. Not easy, and sometimes diplomatically challenging, but maybe future Halldale conferences can and should be the neutral territory where that open debate can be continued.
Event Statistics APATS 2014 attracted 370 training professionals from 36 countries. This included 93 representatives from 47 airlines, 31% more airlines than in 2013. Other organisations that attended included regulators, training providers plus suppliers of simulators and software solutions. The commercial exhibition of 44 companies from around the world occupied 1400 square meters.
The event web pages at www.halldale.com/apats include a set of resources including presentations from the conference, the list of attendees and links to photographs taken at the event.