The subject matter of the recent Asian Aviation Education and Training Symposium 2019 (AAETS) in Seoul, Republic of Korea, was tightly focused on the Multi-crew Pilot Licence (MPL) and maintenance and engineering topics. AAETS Chair Chris Long and M/E Chair Dr. Bill Johnson report.
As was the case last year, the AAETS format was slightly modified from other Halldale conferences in that each specialist session was followed by a breakout workshop on the same subject, which facilitated direct access to the speakers for the delegates. Particularly encouraging was the very high level of engagement of those delegates when given the opportunity to immediately question and interact with regional and global subject matter experts (SMEs).
Jury Still Out on MPL
Whilst many are delighting in the results shown by the MPL process, there are also those who have doubts. As is often the case resulting from the broad interpretation of ICAO documents, there has not always been adherence to the ideas laid out in that guidance. Consequently, the results have not always lived up to expectations.
IFALPA expressed some concerns with the process and identified weaknesses when proper following of the pattern (for instance, the use of earlier generation training platforms) has meant that the training has missed its target.
Some of those concerns are already being addressed. For instance, it is a requirement of MPL training that it should include exposure to a realistic air traffic environment, and a credible solution has been a long time coming. However, convincing Simulated Air Traffic Control Environment (SATCE) solutions are now being installed in some training devices.
There was a range of issues tackled during the sessions on MPL. Everything from a basic explanation of the origin and ideas behind the process, through selection, devices to be employed in the training delivery, the training syllabus, the results demonstrated by graduates of the process and, critically, the lessons learnt from the first deliveries.
Whilst adoption of the MPL has been gradual since 2006, there are now some 70 National Aviation Authorities who have approved the courses, with 5,800 students presently in training, 3,400 graduates in operational roles, and 90 graduates who have progressed to be captains.
Ultimately, although the fundamental principle is to prepare new licence holders for direct employment in the right seat of large commercial aircraft, it is important to emphasise that it is just the start of a career, and the potential to progress to command can be estimated at the selection and fostered by the training. Real feedback from several airlines which have adopted (and adapted) MPL, illustrated both the strengths and fluid nature of the programme, which they recognised may need to be modified as they calibrate the performance of their graduates.
There is still a challenge in recruiting and training suitable instructors, and the nature of that teaching has evolved from mere presentation of facts to encouraging a facilitated method of instruction which embraces Crew Resource Management (CRM), Threat and Error Management (TEM) and Competency-Based Training and Assessment (CBTA), as well as Multi-Crew Cooperation (MCC) right from the start.
Though not specific to MPL, the issue of the different expectations and learning habits of the new entrants also provoked considerable debate, as an older generation wrestled with first understanding the problem and then trying to find a way of coping with it – another ongoing debate.
HF and Myriad M/E Challenges
The Maintenance/Engineering (M/E) session began with a presentation on the myriad challenges facing the environment. Human factors challenges were most prevalent. Those challenges included topics like: technical and work readiness training; using and understanding technical documentation; understanding safety management at the worker level; maintaining a safety culture; and insuring that the country plans for and maintains a qualified aviation maintenance workforce. The challenges were not radically different from those across Europe, North America, and other parts of Asia.
The M/E sessions also addressed operational topics such as recurrency training, the complexity of maintaining worker training and qualification records, the combination of safety and quality management, and the use of gaming and simulation in maintenance training environments.
Dr. Johnson (Chief Scientific and Technical Advisor, Maintenance Human Factors at the US FAA) noted the speakers stimulated significant interest, such that the subsequent workshops all overran their time, and even continued into discussions around the breaks and lunch. The workshops attracted those that wanted to not only ask questions but also share some of their maintenance training practices with other delegates. The workshops resulted in extensive discussion regarding fitness for duty, Korean regulations for continuous hours of service per day and per week, and implementing a safety culture. The workshops also covered customer expectations and organizational commitment to on-time operations.
Getting Serious About Games
One of the workshops introduced gaming into maintenance training. A large group actively engaged in a maintenance decision-making simulation.
It is always stimulating to hear of initiatives from other disciplines to cross-fertilise good practice. Whilst the prospect of “Serious Gaming” as a training tool in aviation has been the subject of discussion for some time, the practical application of that has been spasmodic. However, in Seoul an idea was demonstrated which combines the elements of a game working with air traffic control scenarios and pilots operating in that virtual airspace, based on real airfields and procedures, phraseology and timescales. These have been developed by professional controllers and pilots, but the games are potentially accessible to anyone over the age of 13 (internet privacy being the limiting factor). As a tool to either encourage an interest in the industry or even to prepare for training, it is potentially very valuable. The bonus is that it is also a lot of fun, so as the gamers progress they take on much more complex tasks. It becomes a hobby which certainly has an educational and training potential.
The future integration of artificial intelligence in the cockpit also spurred some fresh thinking as the pros and cons of that integration became apparent.
Strong National Showing
An official event of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport (MOLIT) of the RoK, AAETS 2019 was hosted by the Korea Aircraft Corporation (KAC) and, as an indication of the importance attached to it, the welcoming address was given by the Vice Minister for Transport, Mr. Kyung Wook Kim, followed by the CEO of the KAC, Mr. Chang-Wan Son.
Aimed primarily at the national and regional market, the conference was attended by some 18 CEOs from airlines and major aviation corporations, as well as representatives from universities and a further 510 delegates, thus capturing all the major players in Korea.
The success of this event has emphasized the need and interest in providing an arena for the aeronautical population to discover and understand trends in the aviation training industry in Korea and the region. It was very evident that the format of SME presentations immediately followed by breakouts with those speakers to facilitate access to them for the conference delegates should be expanded at the 2020 event.
Published in CAT issue 4/2019