OEM ATR is at the vanguard for turboprop training, including UPRT and a new augmented vision option. Chris Long visited with the aircraft manufacturer’s training leaders at their Toulouse headquarters.

The major aircraft OEMs are deeply engaged in working on Upset Prevention and Recovery (UPRT) processes which respect both the latest regulatory imperatives and are shaped for the operational environment of their aircraft. ATR, arguably the major OEM for turboprop aircraft, based in Toulouse, France, has naturally been working on UPRT, and implementing best practice as it has evolved. 

The start point was to carry out extended testing to define and calibrate the handling characteristics at, and just beyond, the normal flight envelope. That produced a data package which, when working closely with the simulator manufacturer CAE, produced software and tools which can now provide enhanced training for UPRT. There was a robust feedback process which verified the software solutions against real flight trials. The first ATR full-flight simulator (FFS) to have this software installed is in Miami, and as of February 2019 had formal FAA and EASA approval. This software is a retrofit solution, and therefore could be installed in the remainder of the ATR FFSs. Whilst some recently delivered FFSs for ATR aircraft have had UPRT-specific software incorporated during manufacture, there are some 40 legacy FFSs around the world which could well be upgraded.

Underpinning Thinking

Captain Hervé Barthe, Head of Training at ATR, is particularly careful to stress the “prevention” aspect of UPRT, and the emphasis has been to create credible and progressive scenarios to place the situation into a realistic context. Apparently benign errors can lead towards an “upset” which requires crew identification and intervention before it develops into something more serious. Gone are the days of “freezing” the simulator – introducing some form of extreme attitude, and then unfreezing the machine. Frequently this resulted in negative training and did not properly prepare crews for a rapidly evolving airborne situation.

The instructor operating station (IOS) now has new displays which show basic parameters, but, as Francesco Ceccarella, Head of Training Developments Engineering, enthuses, also superimposes those on the operational flight envelope. The combination of scenario-based training and detailed debrief, showing both the causes and effects of an upset situation and recovery, has a powerful visual appeal, and creates a strong learning environment. The aim is most definitely to transfer and train knowledge and skills, not simply to throw the crew into a test situation. This updating of the UPRT also spurs a revision to the initial type rating, and with the new tools such as competency-based and evidence-based training, that rating can be delivered within the same duration and cost.

Proving the Concept

Both airlines and ATR’s own instructors have been introduced to the system. To validate further, there is also cooperation with a nearby ab initio pilot training organisation, the Airways College at Agen. A small number of near-graduates, who have a commercial pilot licence/instrument rating and who are about to embark on a multi-crew course (MCC) to prepare for higher-performance aircraft, have been introduced to the modified ATR-600 at Toulouse. This has proven to be a great success, with the low-time (200 hours) pilots adapting rapidly to the training regime.

Attracting New Pilots

It is common knowledge that the pilot shortage around the world can lead to recent graduates immediately aiming for the B737/A320 right seat; they frequently seem to bypass the regional aircraft option. Christian Commissaire, vice president Operations and Training, believes that this is, in part, because of an outdated perception of regional operations. Today, modern turboprops operate in a wide range of missions and environments. This offers a great learning opportunity for young pilots, and an attractive lifestyle balance for experienced captains. One look at the flight deck of an ATR-600 instrumentation and systems shows that it differs little from the better-known jet flight decks. Once a new pilot sees this, the option and challenge of operating regional aircraft becomes much more attractive. 

Published in CAT issue 3/2019