Held in Berlin, Germany, the 2014 European Airline Training Symposium (EATS) saw 500-plus delegates benefit from the perspectives of European and international training and simulation experts. The theme of EATS 2014 was "Optimising Simulation and Training for the Flight Crew.” Conference Chair and CAT Editor-in-Chief Chris Lehman filed this report.

Thirteen years have passed since the first EATS conference was delivered in Stockholm, and in that time it has grown to become the largest gathering of airline training professionals in Europe. Over the years the event has also morphed into a “one crew” focus with dedicated conference tracks for both pilot and cabin training. This year the goal was to focus explicitly on training outcomes, and the art and science of configuring both technology and technique to optimise those outcomes.

By all accounts the goal was achieved - some 528 people from 61 airlines and 41 countries attended EATS 2014, along with 48 international exhibitors, including Gold Sponsor CAE, and Silver Sponsors Sim-Industries and TRU Simulation + Training.

Keynotes were Key

Extraordinary keynotes were delivered by Trevor Woods, Flight Standards Director of EASA, and Captain Andy O’Shea, Head of Training at Ryanair. Mr. Woods outlined the new organisational structure of the Agency as of September 1, including the addition of a Strategic Directorate, and the evolution towards a risk-based regulatory approach and a Performance-based environment, which was noted in CAT 5-2014’s Editorial CommentMost significantly, in the Heads-of-Training (HOT) meeting conducted the evening before EATS commenced, EASA announced a new Industry Advisory Group to facilitate better communications with the Agency. (See the note after this report, as well as the Editorial Comment in this issue).

Captain O’Shea delivered a second, equally evocative keynote, focussing on the assessment of pilot applicants of his airline and the remarkable success of his airline’s process. Ryanair has not been able to find assessment differentiation between nationalities, levels of English-language proficiency, specific flight schools, or whether the candidate has come from an Integrated or Modular CPL. What they have found from assessing some 1,000 candidates a year, is that only about 48% of them pass and are deemed acceptable for hire.

Plenary session topics drilled into some of the aircrew-specific subjects receiving current industry attention, including the role that culture - national, professional and organisational - plays in operations and training. Lithium battery fires were also addressed, including the status of current regulatory guidance and some practical tips on how to deal with passenger-carried device risk. And the experience of a major international carrier’s implementation of Competency-based Training (CBT) was presented by Emirates.

Pilot Stream

The dedicated pilot stream covered the range of issues concerning the continent’s S&T community. The regulatory session saw EASA return to the podium with a detailed update on current aircrew regulations, including upset prevention, relief pilots, and their tasking in the area of competency-based training and EBT. Delegates also heard about the UK’s Confidential HF Incident Reporting System (CHIRP), and CAE discussed how evolving regulatory change impacts simulator usage. Simulator tools and data are quickly evolving, and flight data, tied to evaluation criteria from the simulator session, can contribute enormously to training, including EBT.

EATS would not be complete without an update on MPL, including the views of a recent graduate from Lund University’s MPL programme. He saw no significant problems, but cautioned that regulators are locally changing and adapting the intentions of Competence-based Training, risking that a global harmonisation of training standards, especially for MPL, may move out of reach.

Notably, ExpressJet from the US weighed-in on global pilot demand, indicating that for the US regional airlines, the pilot shortage was real and now having a serious impact.

Delegates also heard that the proficiency check required under Appendix 9 of EASA has changed little, despite technological advances and operational evidence. There was insight into aviation law for flight crews and tips for how to operate for fuel and environmental efficiency. More about the advent of “performance-based regulation” came from the UK CAA, as well as the experience to date with ICAO language proficiency programmes from Latitude Aviation.

A number of viewpoints were heard on the issue of tablets and mobile devices in aviation training, including the fully iPad Integrated Solution for Air France Pilot Training.

Cabin Track

A stellar EATS Cabin Crew stream was kicked off by Moderator Anna Mellberg of Novair. It was noted that 28 October, 2014 was an historic day for aviation in Europe, as this was the date of effectivity for new EASA regulations for SAFA – Safety Assessment of Foreign Aircraft. Airbus continued with the lithium battery challenge and outlined the crew procedures they initially developed for the A380. The advantages of crew pre-qualification and cabin crew licensing were presented by Inflight Innovations.

Social media issues were next up from Southwest Airlines, with the note that since every passenger has a camera, everything can be recorded; pictures of an actual evac can - and have - been transmitted around the world even before the emergency vehicles arrive.

The International Civil Aviation English Association (ICAEA) explored on-board communications issues and submitted that cabin crew should have the same language proficiency programmes as pilots.

Medical training and joint CRM training was another critical theme as presented by SWISS, and also the importance of joint training with airport rescue crews. The last cabin session was delivered through group discussion and zeroed in on current and future challenges as a final recap of the conference stream.

Training Technology Panel

Pilot and cabin delegates returned for a special final joint session of expert panelists to discuss Training Technologies and Techniques. The conference had come full circle over the two days - from identifying the major issues to proposing potential solutions.

EASA’s announcement of the new Industry Advisory Group confirms yet again that EATS is no “talking shop”, but rather an event where the industry collectively moves forward in a real and tangible manner.

All EATS 2014 conference presentations are available on the Halldale website at www.halldale.com/eats