“Cascais wants to be at the forefront of aviation training,” stated Miguel Pinto Luz, Deputy Mayor of Cascais, Portugal. And this week, the municipality west of Lisbon certainly is the centre of the training universe as about a thousand experts from throughout Europe and the world gather for the 21st European Airline Training Symposium (EATS). 

You can read more about ‘Sunny Skies for Portugal Flight Schools’ in the special EATS edition of CAT magazine.

The conference formally kicked off Wednesday with the Deputy Mayor's welcome, then moved quickly into the exchange of ideas from regulators, aircraft manufacturers, training providers, technology suppliers, and of course airlines.

In the opening joint session for pilot training, cabin crew and ATO delegates, EASA Flight Standards Director Jesper Rasmussen highlighted the Agency’s focus on Competency-Based Training and Assessment (CBTA) and flight simulation training devices (FSTDs). With a focus on innovation and new business models “in all domains – training, operations, maintenance… everything,” he said they are evolving, as a strategic priority, from the traditional prescriptive approach to the competence of aviation personnel. CBTA implementation is “currently being defined,” leveraging the recent experience with Evidence-Based Training (EBT). Rasmussen described it as “a long journey with many stakeholders.”

Colleague Francesco Gaetani, Head of the EASA Aircrew and Medical Department and Chief Pilot, echoed the challenge of rulemaking complexity in a later session, co-presented with Ascanio Russo (Aircrew and Medical Standards & Implementation Section Manager), Nadia Illeva (Flight Crew Licensing Expert), and Matteo Arnoldi (Junior Expert, FCL Training Innovation).

To answer the age-old question, which comes first, the evidence or the competence, Russo stated, “You can do CBTA without EBT. But you can’t do EBT without CBTA.”

Gaetani outlined next steps for a data-driven training system, including training data as an enabler for regulators in decision-making and revision of minimum requirements for maneuvers, tasks and competencies. In addition to establishing a training pillar in the European Data4Safety program, one intent is to identify ethical criteria for the collection, sharing and analysis of anonymized training data – including a transfer from multiple sources to a single ‘data lake’ library.

Captain Jean-Michel Bigarré, President of the Aircraft Manufacturers Flight Training Association, warned against data overload “beyond the capability of the pilot to deploy.” He asked instructional designers to “consider the final user’s real needs, and avoid falling into the ‘tick the box’ trap. Data should serve the pilot/user.” He concluded, “We have a huge opportunity with the CBTA/EBT concept to put the pilot in the middle of the system.”

At EATS 2023, there are 13 CBTA-related presentations on the agenda, compared with 4 such presos two years ago, noted Captain Andy Mitchell, Chair of the Aircrew Training Policy Group. Mitchell highlighted the findings of the previous evening’s closed-door Heads of Training meeting, weaving the relevant 9 standard competencies into each of the topics which had been discussed.

For example, the topic of Non-Technical Competencies would involve COM (Communication), LTW (Leadership & Teamwork), PSD (Problem-Solving & Decision-Making), SAW (Situational Awareness and Management of Information) and WLM (Workload Management). “Positive feedback is the most effective training technique for developing non-technical competencies,” he emphasized.

UPRT would include PRO (Application of Procedures and Compliance with Regulations), FPM (Flight Path Management – Manual), and SAW.

Another key note: “KNO is application of knowledge, not just knowledge.” Other speakers, including Thomas Leoff (Chair of the International Association of Aviation Personnel Schools), who opened the ATO conference stream, also cautioned about teaching students to simply pass multiple-choice tests.

Day Two of EATS23 will feature sessions on technology, human factors, inclusion, sustainability, cabin crew self-defence and restraint training, and… CBTA. 

EATS 2023 Sponsor Block 30Oct

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