Editorial Comment

Welcome to the WATS issue of CAT Magazine.

This issue has been assembled with a view to support and mirror the conference content of WATS 2019, and in particular the continuing themes of professionalism and the role of the instructional resource in identifying and developing that professionalism.

In my Comment in CAT 5-2018, I drew attention to the fact that increasingly air carriers - and even aircraft OEM’s - are becoming more interested in primary flight training due to a perceived lack of professional competencies in some new hires. As a result, there is a view that professional competencies need to be assessed in primary training, as these qualities often require further development once hired. And some carriers have pointed out that candidates with apparent equivalent flying backgrounds often demonstrate widely different competencies and professional attributes once in their new hire training programs.

Interest, therefore, in Selection and Assessment is increasing, and in this issue we include an article on the current thinking related to the subject, ten years on from the first publication of the IATA Guidance Material and Best Practises for Pilot Aptitude Testing. The author points out that the industry has changed a great deal even within this decade, as have the incidents and accidents and the skills needed to address them. Witness the impact of Upset Recovery, Flight Path Monitoring and Startle Effect, to name a few. The attitude that selection is a tick box exercise has given way to an understanding of the great value of an adaptive selection system that ensured operators hired candidates who are professional – i.e. capable, self-disciplined and resilient.

With the unfortunate recent accidents on the minds of all us, we have also tapped a veteran instructor to discuss Upset Prevention and Recovery Training (UPRT), asking the question “Is UPRT Working?” Loss of Control – Inflight (LOC-I) caused 60% of all air transportation fatalities between 2005-2015 and the industry responded with the UPRT initiative. There is now broad acceptance of the value of UPRT and significantly, the author points to the critical role of the instructor, and the specifics of his/her training. He states “Instructors are the ‘glue’ that holds airline training programs together, melding objectives, understanding, and effective use of the training device…”

Indeed, instructional resources have been a central theme in CAT Magazine for many years, and we’ve not missed an opportunity to highlight the importance of Instructor selection, training, career management and reward. As coach, mentor, role model, subject matter expert, and even career guidance counsellor, Instructors instill the critical skills, values and ethos of the industry to their charges, yet the industry has historically never placed commensurate value on the role.

An update to the Airbus ab initio pilot training program, also in this issue, reminds us of these Instructor challenges, including the limitations of the industry practise of recently qualified CPL/IR holders automatically becoming Instructors. Good pilots are not necessarily good Instructors. But good Instructors should not be asked to limit their careers by accepting lower remuneration and opportunity, which has been the practise historically. Airbus gets it right with its view that what is needed is a transparent structure that allows a young pilot to start his/her career with an airline, but subsequently transition to an instructor role without loss of compensation or seniority. A challenge for the industry certainly, but the payoff of early airline instructional experience is better command and Instructor pilots at the airline at a later date.

Finally, it is not without some emotion that I announce it is time for me to step-down as Editor of CAT, a role I have simply delighted in for almost 20 years. Although I have been in the aviation S&T industry my entire working life, managing the content of CAT and its North American and European training events has been the highlight of my career. Rick Adams, a respected and well-known S&T journalist will take the reigns as of next issue. I won’t be entirely disappearing, however, as I will be transitioning to a strategic role within Halldale, and I look forward to occasionally chiming into the narrative when the urge strikes. It’s safe to say, however, that emails will take me a bit longer to answer!

Safe travels, Chris Lehman, CAT Editor in Chief

Published in CAT issue 2/2019