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Editorial Comment

This is the first issue of CAT Magazine after another World Aviation Training Symposium (WATS), and as such it always poses what I call “the abundance of riches challenge.”  With the enormous volume of information and insight that is shared at WATS, it falls upon this issue of the magazine to try and capture the highlights, and where the printed page may fail due to space limitations, to direct the reader to where more event information can be gleaned. To that end, it is worth noting that all of the WATS 2018 presentation materials, across all streams, can be accessed at

Thisissue includes several feature articles that perhaps encapsulate why thesimulation and training industry exists – and also neatly dovetails to much ofthe WATS content. That is, to configure technology, technique and regulatorypartnerships to obtain the human performance – and safety – needed in thisindustry. Sharing simulation and training Best Practise certainly occurs atWATS, and undeniably one major output of this dynamic is the constant learningand fine tuning of our training programs as a result of incidents andinfrequent accidents. Indeed, this point was highlighted at WATS through aNational Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) keynote. The NTSB mandate is toobjectively find the cause and then make recommendations to stakeholders – regulator,airlines, aircraft vendors, unions, and the training industry.

Incidentand accident information feedback into aircraft design, operations and trainingis a key reason for the remarkable safety record of the industry. The currentfocus on “data-driven” training and flight operations quality assurance isperhaps not as completely new as some might think. Collecting and objectivelyanalysing industry data has always been a part of the culture and ethos of theindustry, but today the concept is being taken to new heights with the enormousamounts of operational and training date being collected and the advanced data analyticsbeing applied. The promise is that together with the latest Learning ManagementSystems (LMS), and new technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), we’reon the cusp of a new era in training design, validation, efficiency and safety.And, as was heavily profiled at WATS, we’re seeing Artificial Reality and MixedReality technologies being inserted into the training continuum, offeringopportunities to both further refine the curriculum and optimise the trainingmedia mix.

Ifthe future of aviation training is non-prescriptive in implementation, whereeach trainee receives an individualized training curriculum from his airlineemployer based on collected operational and training data, I can’t help butthink of the challenges posed on the other side of the coin – in airline pilotrecruitment. At WATS we heard that US regional airlines are facing significantchallenges in determining the actual knowledge, skills and aptitudes ofpotential new hires. While paper qualifications may be deemed equivalentbetween candidates, often there are considerable differences discovered whentraining commences, including the realization that some otherwise “qualified”candidates cannot pass airline new hire training.

Regionalcarriers are now dealing with enormous variation in the sources of new hirecandidates, something not experienced in the past. Applicants includeex-military, collegiate aviation graduates, helicopter pilots, license holdersfrom non-structured training schools, as well as older applicants who may be chasingsecond or even third careers. It is a challenge for regional carriers to ascertainskill levels, and some have sought to re-work their new hire trainingcurriculums to accommodate the new demographic realities - and thus have alsoincurred the associated additional instructional and financial burden.

Finally,I want to comment on the extraordinary WATS presentation by Sheila Dail, aflight attendant on the US Airways “Miracle on the Hudson” incident in 2009.Her main point was that the training “worked”, but we must not forget to lookafter the crew in the aftermath of such dramatic accidents. Her experiencesdrove her to show leadership in the successful establishment of support groupsfor cabin crew, thus reminding the industry of the critical importance ofmental well-being for all employees.

Asever, collecting data, analysing it and feeding back into operations andtraining is on-going – just like it has for about 100 years.

Safe travels, Chris Lehman, CAT Editor in Chief

Published in CAT 3/2018


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