WATS Pilot Conference Session 10: Special Industry Panel - Leveraging Data Analytics to Enhance Flight Training and Promote Safety

WATS 2022 continued the civil aviation training community’s awareness of the emergence of big data as an increasingly effective enabler of learning efficiencies and safety. 

Christine Bohl, Market Director, Commercial Training Solutions at Boeing Global Services, moderator for the Special Industry Panel - Leveraging Data Analytics to Enhance Flight Safety and Promote Training, laid the foundation: calling attention to the reality that data “is here, there – the digital thread is saturated with very large amounts of it.”

She encouraged the training community to "filter, aggregate, and pick out the next use cases of big data to improve human performance, and training.” 

But there was a huge caveat she added – while many stakeholders look in the many right places for data, “we have to work together.”

“Training is not a place for competition."

Chris Broom, Vice President, Commercial Training Solutions at Boeing Global Services, provided WATS Pilot track attendees with lists of data sources, that in part, included FOQA, AQPs and ATC. And that is the starting point. Broom then offered that there are important next steps for pilots, OEMs, airlines, regulators and other stakeholders in community safety and training to complete, once their levels of involvement are determined.

After stakeholders gain data, they will need to aggregate it, and in an increasingly popular task echoed during this conference, there is the imperative to follow privacy and other laws governing data usage. Broom concluded, “Training is not a place for competition. Among other things, we need to have open-source data sharing and no competition as we aggregate and complete other activities.” 

During the journey of aspiring pilots to gain 1500 hours, “data has not been overly available" 

David Cox, US Academy Director at L3Harris Commercial Aviation, presented a unique insight into big data and analytics – from the ATO perspective. The training organization leader was candid, telling session attendees that during the journey of aspiring pilots to gain 1500 hours, “data has not been overly available.” He added, during a solo flight, a cadet who successfully returns will typically and simply say, ‘Everything went OK.” Cox added that “perfection” for his graduates is nothing less than a safe and successful airline career. 

The training community is clearly on the threshold of a new frontier, with opportunities to improve key competencies of aspiring pilots by way of increasing the rigor of flights and debriefs, and even individual competencies. “We also need to work with the airlines to learn if L3’s cadets are successful and where there are gaps. This is a critical time for the industry. It’s nothing less than critical to produce the perfect pilot.”


“Data can be out of context and is not useful – so it has to be persistent and analyzed properly to be useful,” Capt. Stéphan Labrucherie, Head of Flight Training Worldwide at Airbus, told WATS attendees. He told the delegates data is coherent if it is “the right data and is associated with the right phase of training.” Further, the OEM executive noted other challenges to those striving to better use data – and they exist through the training life cycle. While he opined it is best to start at the end and first define the outcome, there is the area of technology: “We also need to carefully configure software to the outcome and consider software limits.” 

At the conclusion of the session, Boeing’s Bohl issued a ‘Call for Industry Action’ to “establish a global cross-stakeholder industry task force” which would address:

  • Common Taxonomy
  • Stakeholder Roles
  • Global Aggregation
  • Data Filtering
  • Progress Toward Elevation and Harmonization
  • Standards and Regulation
  • Enhanced Training Standards and Capability
  • Active Participation not Passive Observation    

Rick Adams, FRAes, WATS Chair, challenged Bohl and the panelists to return to next year’s conference with a status report on the proposed Big Data Task Force.