EATS 2023 Day Two: Women, Science Take the Stage

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Captain Diana Gomes da Silva – acrobatic pilot, easyJet captain and instructor.
Image credit: Rick Adams

After a first day focused on training methodology evolution, the second day of the European Airline Training Symposium (EATS) shifted into the realms of science and diversity.

First, the major development on diversity and inclusion. Cascais will heretofore be known as the birthplace of the Women in Aviation Training (WiAT) organization. A key factor is easyJet Captain Diana Gomes da Silva, who now makes her home in the Lisbon suburb with Sevenair Academy COO and Head of Training Salvador Costa Pereira.

Gomes Da Silva shared the stage at the WiAT kickoff breakout with Captain Kristina Tervo, President of Women in Aviation’s Riviera chapter, and CAE’s Tim Schoenauer, Director, Global Training Solutions, Business and Helicopter Training.

“We want to bring more women into aviation,” said Gomes da Silva. “We want to bring more competent people. That’s it.”

Why are there so few female flight instructors? “It’s not only hard work,” she said, “with the hours it’s really hard on the family. I think we have to share more of what it is to be an instructor.”

The WiAT initiative and event sessions are developed and run by Halldale Group’s Penny McGrigor and Allyson Kukel.

According to a study by the Royal Aeronautical Society (RAeS), whereas around 5% of women are pilots, fewer than 1% are instructors.

The WiAT initiative is focused on providing practical ways to support women in the aviation training sector. The group’s information, including special reports, member highlights and an online discussion forum, will be hosted on the website under the ‘Communities’ section.

Their next event will be a review, online, of the EATS Heads of Training meeting led by ATPG Industry Liaison Leader Captain Veronica Zunic.

Other webinars are planned in January, February, March…

The group is also embracing the IATA-promoted 25 x 2025 pledge, which has as one objective to increase women in senior aviation roles by a minimum of 25%.

AvTraining Embracing Science (Finally)

After substantial discussions of CBTA and EBTA on Wednesday, the middle of Thursday pivoted to several presentations which seek to understand, through scientific research, where there might be training value in emerging technologies and how these might best fit into the curricula.

For decades the focus of the training and simulation industry was to keep pushing the technology envelope, and it generally produced excellent results. Yet, we have also largely neglected to document why the methodologies and tools work. So in debates about, for example hours versus competency, the industry lacks credible research data to justify changes to regulators and politicians that could improve the system.

It’s encouraging to see the new emphasis on research.

A few quick highlights here:

Captain Chris Ranganathan, CAE Chief Learning Officer, and Singapore Airlines’ Captain Adrian Amaladoss, VP Flight Ops Training and Standards, presented the findings of a study that used eye- and gaze-tracking plus analysis of cognitive workload, emotional state and communications behaviours for crew scan patterns.

An objective of the study, said Ranganathan, was to yield “accurate instructor grading data, which is required to drive accurate insights.”

Amaladoss said they used a “golden run” baseline generated by some of their top pilot instructors for comparison with a peer baseline. He admitted there was “quite a bit of engagement” with union representatives (an IFALPA affiliate) about the rules for data collection and data usage.”

Aleksandra Kapela, Associate Aviation Psychologist with Symbiotics, addressed the use of virtual reality to analyse non-technical competencies. VR with eye-tracking is more immersive than self-assessment, she said. “There is no room for self-bias. It is highly objective and easy to assess.”

Captain Pierre Wannaz, former Swiss Airlines pilot and an advisor to CEFA Aviation, noted that almost all airlines are now using flight data analysis (FDA) but the traditional process takes time. New tools are available to replay an animation of a flight immediately after the flight, which helps preclude a pilot’s memory from being altered by stress about “that moment when an outcome didn’t match the expectation.”

The Underlying Thread: CBTA

Even in the scientific research presentations, their objectives sought to align with competency-based training and assessment.

CBTA is coming on stronger every year, and there’s no better evidence than its embrace by OEMs Airbus and Boeing.

Boeing Global Services’ Stuart Gruber, challenged: “If your airline wants to be the best airline in the world, how do you know? Data analytics.” He said Boeing has been engaged with 12 airlines since starting their Global Aerospace Safety Initiative (GASI) in January, and expects 51 carriers worldwide to be implementing its CBTA approach by the end of 2024.

Captain Stéphan Labrucherie, Airbus Head of Flight Training, said the manufacturer has been advocating CBTA for a decade. “To be resilient, a pilot needs to be competent and confident.” He explained the underlying principles of the Airbus Total System Approach, include CBTA, TEM, learning from positive performance, and date-driven training, adding “In training, the key is the instructor.”

The first session of the morning was capped off by Captain Pieterjan (PJ) De Jaeger, Fleet Training Manager at Brussels Airlines, who related a story of a pilot who had “an attitude problem.” De Jaeger described how they applied the ORCA process (Observe, Record, Classify, Assess) to analyse the root cause of the situation. “Every behaviour counts; all of them deserve training. Not only the knowledge and skills, but attitude as well.” He added that attitude can have a huge impact on the selection of instructors as role models.

EATS 2024 will be held on 5-7 November, returning to Cascais, Portugal.


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