Aegean Airlines recently implemented EBT into their training programme. Nassima Hamza reports on the results.

Aegean Airlines takes safety and training matters very seriously. It is the largest airline in Greece, by numbers of passengers carried and destinations served, with a fleet of 46 aircraft. This Star Alliance member operates domestic and international flights, and believes it has established a prime position when it comes to safety improvement initiatives.

After undertaking a LOSA (line operations safety audit) with The LOSA Collaborative in 2016, the company decided to step into the next level of safety improvement by launching an EBT (evidence-based training) implementation project.

“EBT Solutions was introduced to us by our LOSA Collaborative partners and was selected because of their tremendous experience and expertise in helping to implement EBT with airlines and regulatory organizations, around the globe” saidCapt. Panagiotis Siskos, head of Training for Aegean.

Rollout

The project plan identifying the critical milestones was rapidly defined and in December 2016 a year long rollout was started. After several months of preparation, and with the support of Capt. Michael Varney's team, Aegean Airlines held a stakeholder workshop on EBT, attended by both the Operator and its Competent Authority. The main objective was to achieve a common understanding and alignment on the steps that would follow the launch of this endeavour, with the first being to gain the Civil Aviation Authority’s support and approval.

“We started the EBT implementation process with a two day stakeholder workshop. We wanted to engage and get the buy-in for the project with all stakeholders including training, fleet/operations, safety, compliance and importantly the Authority. The benefit was that the EBT concept and implementation was understood, thus maximizing the potential benefit of the new approach to training,” continued Capt. Siskos.

The roadmap laid out several stages of implementation, starting from the delivery of EBT focused instructor training courses, both in a classroom format and in simulator sessions during which instructors received coaching as part of their initial training. Additional airline-tailored content was then created to support future recurrent training of instructors.

“Trainees scheduled for EBT instructor training may have expected 300 PowerPoint slides and a lecture style delivery over the three days. EBT Solutions came up with a ground-breaking mind set, answering to the specific demands of adult learning. Their program is precisely scripted, involving every trainee in a continuous, active, self-directed exercise of knowledge acquisition,” said Capt. Vassilios Triantafillou, Aegean EBT Instructor Course Facilitator who added: “Experienced professionals are often resistant to deep changes. This fact must be recognized and planned for, rather than ignored. The course incorporates the collective knowledge of the organization into an active experiential learning process. The program is sympathetically designed as a journey. Starting from “fundamental” scepticism, directing to sparking curiosity, stimulating participation, creating reflection, leading to a self-driven, well appreciated learning experience. EBT training itself has been a valuable journey for the trainees and as the facilitators.”

As part of the EBT introduction, and working alongside the airline, the team of experts initiated the updating of its Ops Manual to include provisions such as malfunction equivalency analysis. Closely collaborating with the operator, the team achieved the timely submission of the CAA application. Having looked at safety performance indicators particularly from LOSA, EBT Solutions began the process of creating the three phases of the first EBT module for Aegean.

Development for the Future

The delivery of a curriculum developer course was the milestone which allowed the in-house training department to take the lead in the development of future modules, with endless possibilities to shape all syllabi to EBT principles.

These embraced the current EASA regulatory requirements. A mixed implementation safeguards compliance with existing rules, all in accordance with EASA ED Decision 2015/027/R, which is the primary guidance material for bourgeoning EBT implementation in Europe and beyond.

When the EBT concept reaches out beyond the sphere of the cockpit, it can generate a true organizational transformation by creating a common language for human performance. With this perspective in mind, the SMS department undertook a training course as well, to gain the necessary knowledge and understanding of the EBT philosophy and goals, to retain an active role in the collection of significant data and the use of pertinent analysis criteria and principles.

Due to the focus and commitment of Aegean, the program was approved by the CAA and launched in September 2017. Since then, the airline has seen very positive feedback from pilots enjoying a whole new learning experience. Early indications are quite encouraging and begin to demonstrate the value of this transformation of pilot training.

Finally, the Aegean team shared their enthusiasm for the experience so far by saying that“First impressions from pilots are very encouraging. They found simulator recurrent training less stressful, not a small achievement in itself. Scenario based training on day two of the program is now seen by pilots as an effective and positive learning experience. Facilitated learning needs additional effort by the instructors, but pilots already feel that they are now encouraged to express their thoughts and feelings, opening new paths of communication that will also benefit the debriefing of normal operations.”

Published in CAT issue 3/2018