WATS 2008

WATS 2008

Bookmark and Share


WATS Puts Training Under The Spotlight

22–24 April 2008 • Rosen Shingle Creek Resort • Orlando • Florida • USA

The 11th annual World Aviation Training Conference and Tradeshow broke all records for attendance and speaker excellence. The CAT editorial and conference team, led by Conference Chair and Editor in Chief Chris Lehman, filed this report.

Credit: David Malley/Halldale Media

From April 22-24, almost 1,000 delegates from 90 airlines, 45 countries, and 360 companies descended on the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando to share their training expertise. With long time WATS Moderators Dr. Michael Karim and Peter Moxham presiding, the 2008 conference was kicked off for all four conference tracks with the “one-two” punch of Mac Armstrong of Blue Water Solutions Inc., and Paul Hinton, CEO of Saferjett. The challenges of higher fuel prices, personnel shortages, air traffic system and continued airline cost cutting, were set in contrast with the incredible safety record of the industry, the excellence of our training and simulation technology and the industry’s historical continuous improvement culture.

Training for Safety

Before separating into separate tracks, pilot, maintainers and cabin crew delegates attended one more combined session, “Operational Safety.” Lou Nemeth of CAE Inc. presented the case for improved safety as well as improved operational efficiencies. The importance of a “safety culture”, investment for the long view, tools for balancing safety and efficiency, and standardization were highlighted as critical elements.

Dr. Bill Johnson of the FAA followed, describing the synergy between traditional human factors activities and their manifestation within a safety management system (SMS). The session was rounded out by Peter Wolfe of the Professional Aviation Board of Certification (PABC), who discussed his organization’s work in promoting a global standard for training concepts and regulation.

The tradeshow floor was filled with the latest training and simulation technology. Credit: David Malley/Halldale Media.By the third session of the day WATS and RATS pilot delegates received a regulatory update, while cabin and maintenance delegates started their own separate tracks. Harlan Sparrow of the FAA’s National Simulator Program delivered Dr. Ed Cook’s presentation on motion cues in flight simulation and why the FAA feels they are so critical. The new FAR Part 60 became effective on May 30, 2008 and FAR Part 121, N & O Rewrite will shortly be published.

Mark Dransfield of Thales provided a progress report on the RAeS International Working Group, which has been working to update ICAO’s 9625 manual on flight simulators. The group has proposed just seven FSTD levels to replace some 26 different JAA and FAA device levels.

Perhaps the most important issue that arose out of the first WATS/RATS Pilot Combined Stream presentations on Day 1 was the discussion on training capacity shortages and the threat of lower pilot qualifications. Captain Christian Schroeder of IATA asked how the industry was going to adequately train and qualify the estimated 17,000 pilots per year needed to meet this demand.

Pilot Insights

Captain Michael Landrin of Airbus kicked off the Day 2 WATS Pilot sessions with a presentation on Airbus “Train the Trainer” concepts, followed by Captain Hurych of Czech Airlines, who discussed A320 pilot dual control concepts relating to the sidestick controller.

The morning’s intense briefings continued with a presentation by Captain Rick Valdes of IFALPA, concerning ICAO’s English proficiency requirements as outlined under ICAO document 9835. The requirements will be effective as of March 5, 2008 for flight crew. Craig Zysk from AgustaWestland then shifted the focus to helicopter training and outlined his company’s route towards FAA Part 121 Approved Training Centers, while emphasizing that good training can help secure aircraft sales. Sessions were rounded out by Ray Butler of UPS and Mike Sharp of Honeywell International.

RATS Pilot

Moderated by Captain Drew Bedson of Sentient Flight Group, and Terry Hibler of FSI, presenters for the Regional Airline, or RATS Pilot stream, focused on current top issues for regional airlines. Captain Brian Wilson of ASA Airlines described how the lowering of the airline’s new hire experience levels is leading to significant increases in simulator sessions to prepare students for their check rides and higher washout rates, which is increasing the airline’s training costs. The change in new hire demographics has led to the need to find ways to “accelerate the acquisition of expertise,” he said.

One solution to regional airline pilot shortages and the need for airline focused training is an airline bridge training program with a clearly defined university partnership with airlines, said Ron Karp of Arizona State University (ASU). He cited the ASU/Mesa Air Group relationship providing a clear career path for students along with the basis for proficiency, not hours-based airline training.

Shawn Raker of Flight Training Services International (FTSI) presented the company’s CAPT program as a way forward. The 12-month program, formerly operated by Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, emphasizes aeronautical decision-making and CRM from Day 1 of training. Pan Am International Flight Academy advises its customers to look for pilots that have good personal characteristics and a solid knowledge of aeronautics, said Greg Darrow.

Training and Simulation

By the third day, delegates were ready to dive into training and simulation media. Captain Bill Roe from DAE outlined his company’s integrated ab initio training program based around the latest aircraft and simulation technologies, within the JAR frozen ATPL framework. Captain Jamie Smith from AirTran followed with a highly informative presentation on how his airline used an open-sourced learning management system (LMS) in a two-year development.

Captain Bryan Burks of ALPA kicked off the next technology session on a subject always given much attention at WATS – the merits of motion in flight simulation, while Dr. Paul Buza of the Southern Aeromedical Institute delivered an informative presentation on simulators in crew-based physiological training. This was followed by Jon Adams of CAE, who discussed ATC environmental simulation. Finally, Alain Brault provided a glimpse of Airbus policy on the supply of aircraft data, parts and equipment to simulator manufacturers.

The final conference session, titled “Future Probable – What Flight Simulation will look like in 2020” was led by Rick Adams, CAT Magazine’s Technology Editor.

Maintenance Track

Panel themes addressed the challenge and use of advancing technologies in training, producing the maintenance workforce, training and repair station issues, and the practice of training.

Training for composite repairs suffers from a lack of standards and training capabilities. Michael Hoke, Abaris Training Resources, addressed these and other challenges and outlined initiatives to address the challenges in the first session. IETMs are an advancing technology, but developing these digital manuals sometime is easier said than done. Caroline Daniels, Aircraft Technical Publishers, explained the pitfalls and highlighted the performance benefits of highly interactive electronic documentation. The final presenters in this panel, David Growley, Standard Aerospace, and Gabe Batstone, Ngrain, took the IETM concept a step further with the concept of informed maintenance techniques to provide one-stop technical and logistical support and training functionality.

Producing and retaining maintainers is a global challenge. Holger Beck, LTT Phillipines, described the challenge of meeting the manpower demands in Asia and discussed strategies to recruit, train and keep staff. Rayner Hutchinson, AAR Corporation, reviewed the current state of technician supply, and discussed initiatives and strategies to meet the current and forecast shortages. Training for the global workforce was the focus of Dr Ronald Sterkenberg, Purdue University, who spoke to initiatives to provide students with a global outlook and appreciation of other cultures. Finally, Alteon’s Steve Pennington made the case that technician performance should drive training – not content – and we should train people to a skill, not to knowledge.

Warren Chim, HAECO, described the evolution of a safety management system in a growing MRO and how the HAECO “Iron Triangle” of customer, shareholder and employees shapes policies and procedures. Continental’s Doc Garrett traced the evolution of SMS from the crew coordination concepts of the early nineties to today, noting that the industry is still waiting for definitive regulations.

Cabin Track

Moderated by Jeanne Kenkel of United Airlines/Human Factor Prescriptions, and Al LaVoy, the cabin track began with a look at curriculum issues. Michelle Farkas from Delta outlined successes in implementing AQP in cabin training. This was followed by Heidi Giles and Richard Gomez from Medaire, discussing air carrier medical training.

Kai-Hui Lee from China Airlines delivered an excellent presentation on a study involving a rigorous analysis of factors leading to safety culture. Erick Cauldwell described United’s successful effort to minimize inadvertent slide deployments, while Jeff Kruse from JetBlue shared his company’s enroute flight deck entry procedures.

On the opening session of Day 2 delegates were ready to hear from Captain Herbert Schwarz from Austrian Airlines on the subject of utilizing avatars in cabin training. Abhijit Navale from Hurix Learning then shared his company’s methodology for developing cost-effective outsourced e-learning programs, while Sandra Ingram described United’s data-driven approach to recognizing and reducing flight attendant injuries.

The next cabin session explored egress and evacuation training. Frank Ciupka of Lufthansa presented his company’s plans to utilize “virtual slides” in its future evacuation training.

The two cabin track breakout sessions proved highly informative. Ivan Noel of Inflight Innovations outlined the demographics of the next cabin crew generation and the best techniques to provide training to this group. Finally, Captain Fred Bates from American Airlines delivered an outstanding briefing on American’s approach to ensuring its aircrews are prepared to handle all events in the cabin, ranging from disruptive passengers to a full-blown security threat.


WATS 2008 Sponsors

Follow us on Twitter