As 2015 draws towards a close it is time firstly to look back and then to look forward – certainly 2015 has been an eventful year and the future looks set to continue the trend. Peter Moxham FRAeS provides an update on regulatory changes within the European training industry.
Delegates at EATS in 2014 will recall the announcement from EASA that a new industry Professional Pilot training group was to be formed to try to resolve the issues that became apparent during a long and well attended Heads of Training meeting the preceding evening. At that time it was very apparent to the EASA representatives that all was not well with their FCL regulation and something simply had to be done. The immediate solution was the formation of an industry group, known as ATPG, administered and led by EASA, which had its first meeting within seven weeks of the announcement, and which has now had three meetings with a further date set for November 2015.
Those not involved in a very small group of just ten industry executives and experts may well ask ‘what has been achieved? The first meeting accepted the ToRs for the ATPG and set about identifying a list of problems affecting the industry. The second and third meetings set about preparing solutions. It does take time, but 2016 will see a number of problem issues resolved and the requirements revised and corrected. It is a case of ‘watch this space’ but we are getting somewhere in a timescale rather quicker than ever before.
Personnel However this could only ever have occurred with significant changes within EASA itself and a recognition by them that things were not working well. These changes will be apparent at EATS 2015 where the newly appointed Director responsible for Operations and Licences in the professional pilot area, Ricardo Génova meets the European training industry as a whole. Ricardo is really jumping in at the ‘deep end’, but has huge advantages over the previous responsible directors having been a practicing professional pilot with Iberia, flying Airbus aircraft until his retirement about a year ago. He knows the problems, and first impressions are that he will not sit in his office, but will meet and discuss with industry whenever and wherever he is required. This is a complete change of attitude by the European Authority and very welcome.
However EASA changes do not stop there. A very technically competent group of people now make up the FCL department led by Daan Dousi, who also will be EATS 2015, taking questions in his very competent manner and bringing contact with the training organisations to a new level – this industry will find a real difference. There is much to be done but big steps are being taken.
So much for EASA, I should point out that the whole training system will undergo very significant change in the coming year, not only by regulation change but also by technical innovation with new ideas and thoughts pervading the whole European training arena.
Training To start with, the existing procedures for Ground School training are very much under the microscope - indeed the whole structure of this part of the training will be changed in the foreseeable future - possibly within the coming year. The introduction of new subject matter and learning objectives together with competency based training should mean the end of the system as currently used. The Group responsible for these changes have had meetings which are progressing very well and a much more practical and comprehensive result will be achieved - again watch this space!
A further area of anticipated change is the area of Instructors and Examiners where it is expected that many of the existing problems can be resolved in short time.
None of this will mean a lowering of standards - indeed enhanced standards will be achieved more closely related to the industry’s needs today. Since the introduction of EASA FCL too much stood still for too long. But with a change at the top in EASA we are witnessing an acceptance of the need to improve the training and the system that accompanies the requirements, to meet the demands of airlines and the operating industry for the coming years of anticipated high demand for newly qualified professional pilots.
MPL has now come of age, it being recognised as a successful and much required training programme, with graduates now reaching the stage of their careers where they hold a Command on B737 and Airbus aircraft types. The number of MPL graduate now exceeds 1,000, and more and more airlines are seeking to join the programme, but again the requirements for this licence need to be updated in the light of experience - another objective of the new APTG group. However it should not be said that MPL is the answer for all employers and further licence developments can be anticipated in the coming months.
However, not all developments come out of EASA. The industry itself is moving forward with the use of today’s technology. I recently had the good fortune to visit with one of the smaller ATOs training professional pilots, Centerair (CAPA) located at Roskilde in Denmark. CAPA is not the largest training organisation in Europe but does hold the distinction of being the first ever school to graduate pilots for the MPL. This school is owned and administered by a husband and wife team (Jens and Bo Frost), both until recently, practicing captains with SAS. They have witnessed the changes of the flight deck during their careers, and believe that modern technology has an important place in the ATOs of today. The particular subject that has recently exercised their thoughts has been the new requirement for all ATOs to have a functioning SMS in place and how this can become an important tool for all concerned.
I intend to provide a more comprehensive article on this subject in the near future but the essence of this is to introduce the iPad to everyday training needs. Further CAPA recognised that the way ahead would best be served by introducing students to the ATQP philosophy - the way ahead seen by all the leading airlines. In addition, they recognised the need to introduce evidence based training (EBT) seeing this as directly linked to flight safety.
For a relatively small organisation they have become a leading proponent of today’s technology with the intention to provide all their students with pre-loaded iPads.
They are not alone however with some of the largest training organisations moving into the use of this technology in their training programmes, recognising that traditional methods may not be best suited to the generation of people entering training today.
Thus 2015 has witnessed many changes, but the coming years will see even greater changes as this industry and its regulators move forward to ensure ever higher standards of both training and safety – there is certainly no room for complacency!
SIDEBAR Making Use of New Technology One of the requirements introduced by EASA for ATOs in Europe was the need to have an approved Safety Management System. This is a major step for many affected organisations but Centerair, based at Roskilde in Denmark, have taken the opportunity to introduce new technology and new ideas, adopting a process which also encompassed the use of Evidence Based training principles. It was felt that it would benefit students by introducing them to ATQP philosophies and better prepare them for a career with the airlines. Thus also meeting the SMS requirements laid down by EASA.
They have taken the idea further by introducing iPads into the training arena and developed a simple single ‘click’ report system to their competency based grading system used during every flight lesson, working with ‘Flightlogger’ as the software provider.
Flightlogger recruited an experienced safety manager in the field, who had been involved in the subject for over ten years in an ATO based in Germany. They were of the opinion that ATOs actually filed too few reports when compared with the number of actual incidents and therefore adapted their software to incorporate the filing of an SMS report directly from what they describe as the ‘heart of the production’. This meant that a report could be created from the data when a flight was entered – a very simple page that instructors can incorporate using an iPad where all the student information (exercises, grades etc.) which the instructors already complete for every lesson.
The report form takes just a few minutes to complete, but note that this also includes a specific section to transfer to the Company’s SMS records. Thus every training flight is recorded and the SMS reports are complete for each student’s training course.
Of course, Centerair are not alone with this initiative, and I had previously witnessed the introduction of iPads to the Ground School training at ProPilot in the UK, but this new development extends the technology of today in a very practical manner to meet the new EASA requirements.
We now await further developments as the training industry adapts to the latest technologies. – Peter Moxham FRAeS