EATS 2007

EATS 2007

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Berlin Buzzes with Business at EATS

15–17 October 2007 • Maritim proArte Hotel • Berlin • Germany

EATS 2007 was characterised by a feeling of optimism that the present boom in training is set to continue for at least the medium term. The event itself reflected that mood, drawing over 370 people from across the industry, thus making it the biggest EATS so far. Chris Long reports.

Credit: David Malley/Halldale Media

Many delegates agreed that the major concern is not whether there is a demand for training, but rather where the new entries and recruits into the airline business are going to come from. This theme reverberated through both the pilot and maintenance conferences, where there was recognition that the industry has not been sufficiently proactive in reaching out to schools and universities to promote careers in aviation. All the regulatory improvements and advances in training technology are of little value if the number of people wanting to join the industry is insufficient.

The point was clearly made by Anthony Petteford of Oxford Aviation Training, now part of GCAT Flight Academy. He indicated that responsibility for recruiting new pilots has historically fallen mostly to flight training organisations (FTOs) rather than on the industry as a whole.

Although a few airlines, notably Lufthansa and Air France, have continued to run internal cadet pilot schemes, until recently the end users – the airlines – have held levels of support for ab initio pilots at a historic low. Now things are improving and more airlines are liaising directly with the FTOs.

The world has moved on, however, and a new generation of possible recruits sees things differently. There is not necessarily the same level of motivation to commit so many resources of effort, time and money to start on a career, which has so many uncertainties. It is a fact that many of those who have the required potential frequently choose other career options, and so the ability of those coming forward for training is, on average, measurably lower than before. Above all, the ever increasing cost of training puts it beyond the reach of all but a favoured few.

Petteford believes that if the interested parties all work together to re-establish aviation as a career, which is attractive to a broader band of applicants, and support them in their training, then the industry will benefit by improving both the quality and quantity of new entrants. Those new entrants must be properly screened and selected, and the actual format of the training course needs to be continually adapted to both new regulation and advancing technology.

New methods of training the ‘classic’ integrated ATPL course and CRM were discussed, as was the importance of hypoxia awareness training.

The broader perspective for the industry was illustrated by Marsha Bell of Alteon, who refreshed the figures for growth, and pointed out that the aviation industry represents four million direct jobs and 24 million related jobs, yielding 4.5% of global gross product (GP). A paradigm shift was necessary to adapt to the scale of training now required, basing training much more on competency and performance, with the focus on current technology using the actual tools of the trade as much as possible. Training being such a critical function, it is time to recognise the value of an instructor and place that skill as part of individuals’ overall careers. All of this must be to a global standard of training and examination. Those instructor skills are evolving, as evidenced by the new Airbus pilot instructor course, presented by Mike Varney of Airbus, (see CAT 5/2006).


Debate on the relative merits of new technologies in flight simulation training devices (FSTD) is becoming particularly heated. On the one hand the route of ever-improving fidelity is held by some to be the way forward, whereby, particularly at high end training, increasingly sophisticated motion systems coupled to very high quality visual systems, replicate the real cockpit environment with great accuracy. Others promote simpler solutions, which, usually relying principally on these same very high quality visual systems, trade a small (some believe imperceptible) reduction in fidelity against a reduction in cost. The introduction of a realistic air traffic environment is seen as probably the biggest remaining challenge to the FSTD manufacturers, and is one in which the rate of change is greatest. At least two workable solutions already exist, although they do not yet have the equivalent level of sophistication of, for instance, the visual systems.

The multi crew pilot license (MPL) training package includes this ATC capability as a regulatory requirement, so advances and refinements in this area are sure to continue. The overlay on top of the FSTD issues is the presentation of the results of the Royal Aeronautical Society’s international working group on FSTD qualification standards. These will include the recommendation to divide these devices into seven ICAO standard device levels, which can be matched to a specific training task through a matrix which plots training and performance tasks against detailed characteristics required for the appropriate device. If all goes to plan, these recommendations will work their way through the approval process for adoption by ICAO mid-2009.

Importantly the regulators were present to update progress and understanding as EASA settles into the role. The schedule for the agency to complete the handover of FCL and other responsibilities from the now-defunct JAA, and the process which will be used for the introduction of new legislation, were explained, as was the way medical requirements will be approached by EASA.

A continuing safety concern is reducing the number of level busts; this is most frequently highlighted in areas of intense air traffic activity. Solutions being considered couple focused training with possible change to phraseology and procedures within the cockpit.

The operational experience of TCAS 2 indicates that there are instances where knowledge of the proper use of the system has been inadequate, so both pilots and air traffic controllers need to be given thorough training to understand system performance. Changes to phraseology when instructing and responding to level changes, in particular when specific rates of change of altitude are required or assumed, need to be clearer.

The training industry is bustling with change, activity and energy, and this was reflected throughout EATS. But the big question remains: “Where is the new generation of pilots and maintainers going to come from?”


Maintenance - Ecstasy And Some Agony

EATS spread its wings in October with the launch of a daylong maintenance training stream. There is clearly much to be debated in the engineering sector and delegates were not disappointed by some forthright presentations, writes Alan Emmings.

Globally, markets are growing and aviation will be in profit in 2007. Like the airlines, MRO companies are also enjoying this prosperity and since productivity depends on craftsmanship, continued success relies on good training. The maintenance training sector clearly has a decisive role in helping sustain this growth. So said Marcel Versteeg of Dutch consultants VZM Management Services, whose upbeat overview set the scene. But there are also warning signs to heed. Rising fuel prices will drive consolidation and the “inconvenient truth” of global warming will continue to temper optimism, Versteeg said.

Four key themes punctuated the meeting: curriculum issues, human factors, new approaches to training and, arguably the most worrisome, labour shortages.

Klaus Schmidt-Klyk of Lufthansa Technical Training painted a sobering image of the labour issue. LTT is a “victim” of the manpower shortage, he said, because it is already rejecting contracts. Since manhour requirements for working all aircraft types are well documented, extrapolating current demands against growth projections gives an accurate prognosis for the mainteancne burden ahead. What emerges is a deepening gap between existing capacity and future needs. So far the maintenance sector has muddled through, but the problem is worsening and will soon be critical if more people are not brought into the industry. Schmidt-Klyk talked of blended learning solutions to improve training efficiencies. But this was clearly just one response and more were needed.


An ‘outsider’s’ view of the manpower challenge was offered by Stefan Wasser, managing director of Dutch company HiTecs, a specialist in personnel deployment working in several industries. Wasser said that companies should take greater responsibility for developing more qualified manpower. There was no simple solution but it came down to creating more training institutes and devising ways of speeding the training process through innovative and non-traditional methods.

Adrian Leatherland of Lufthansa Resource Technical Training developed the theme of training guidance, albeit the lack of. Addressing the curriculum issues session, he highlighted the parlous lack of regulatory direction in training for repair of composite materials. There is, he said, an immediate need for standardisation of materials, processes and training. Clearly there exists a worrying disparity between the EASA Part 66 syllabus, which is very vague, and the immediate needs of fundamentals training organisations, who need to know now how they should be preparing technicians for life on the line. Shouldn’t training move with the technology, Leatherland asked? And shouldn’t the Part 66 curriculum be more detailed? Without more explicit guidelines there will be a massive variation in training delivery for ab initio trainees. It could be that composite technology is moving too fast for B1 technicians to become experts.

The scene would have been set for an interesting dialogue with EASA, who were booked to speak but who unfortunately had to withdraw from the event. Perhaps next year’s meeting in Vienna will elicit a response from the Agency that many delegates in Berlin were clearly hoping for.

With deft touches from John Cousens, chairman and executive director of The Federation of Aerospace Support Services (FASS) in UK, who moderated the event, EATS Maintenance was judged a resounding success and we look forward to it becoming a regular fixture on CAT’s Events calendar.


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