View Full Version : Zero flight time ATPL

Lee Dingedge
25th May 2001, 00:28
Zero flight-time ATPL. Several European airlines are applying to the JAA for direct entry commercial pilots. They argue that it is pointless doing c200 hours on singles and twin props just to get an ATPL and then never fly them again, and they have a point. They argue that it is quite feasible to go straight on to a B737 or A320 simulator and learn on the kind of aeroplane on which the the pilot will spend his flying career. The quality of simulation now is such that effects of controls, stalls and I/F can just as well be taught on a modern sim as on a Cessna or Piper. It is further argued that modern aircraft are so well protected against mis-handling, that mis-handling practice is virtually redundant.

There would still be a need for the theory exams, but they will exclude all mention of propeller theory etc.

I think it will happen, especially as the forecast pilot shortage will make the whole concept very attractive to the airlines and they will push their Authorities into trial programs. Very soon, I think.

25th May 2001, 00:36
Sounds like a Zero Flighttime CPL to me.

Lee Dingedge
25th May 2001, 00:42
Morse, call it what you will, but it will be, in effect, an Airline Licence, not a Light Aircraft pilot's licence.

25th May 2001, 01:06
Well , thinking about it :

-Simulator availability for those long-terms training will be a problem.
-A cessna is much cheaper per hour.

(By the way : a CPL is one's first "airline license" (to quote your word)).

Cheers !

25th May 2001, 01:17
Makes no logical sense to me. Why pay 300 quid an hour for a 737/A320 sim when you can spend 100 an hour for a PA28? The sim environment will teach virtually no airmanship, will be all multi crew (what happens when the skipper keels over and the f/o has virtually no experience of making any decisions REALLY on his/her own?), and as for no prop theory, well they're not quite dad yet...

Irish Steve
25th May 2001, 01:28
Hmmmm...........The theory is nice, but there are some very serious practical concerns that have nothing to do with professional aviation, but everything to do with the concept that the ATPL is the "ultimate" licence. This route means it no longer is such, it's a very limited variation of the concept that was there with the BCPL, but in a different arena,

I guess I can see several big objections. I for one would be very reluctant to fly as a passenger in something like a Seneca with a pilot that's never flown single crew, never flown piston props, ( or even worse, carburettor engines with icing potential) or flown a single engine go around in such an aircraft, or had to fly "steam" driven analog instrumented aircraft, or had to (try to) find a grass strip that's only got a windsock to identify where it is, or, or,,, or....

In a nutshell, a zero flight time ATPL would ideally have to have a restriction that prevents any single crew GA type flight operation without a comprehensive check out first.

Maybe I'm over reacting, but I've seen a few examples of both end of the spectrum, and some of what I've seen has not impressed me at all.

[This message has been edited by Irish Steve (edited 24 May 2001).]

Wee Weasley Welshman
25th May 2001, 01:37
It will never happen for so many reasons. Just one is insurance - nobody will underwrite the policy that allows the first dozen zero hours FO's to fly pax. Just imagine the press coverage...


25th May 2001, 02:07
The next step will be a professional licence to use and programme the Autopilot, obtainable after a thorough and comprehensive six- months course at OATS, and any previous flight experience, or worse, any previous working experience as pilot will disqualify the candidate. bad habits are hard to eradicate.

25th May 2001, 03:20
Did this "idea" originate in the UK? Sure sounds like it did. Theory conquers all, practical experience be damned http://www.pprune.org/ubb/NonCGI/tongue.gif

PPRuNe Towers
25th May 2001, 04:07
South Africa actually.

25th May 2001, 11:46
I can see the single crew IR being binned in favour of the Multicrew as an initial and the
first step towards this has already been made

Most airline pilots will let their single crew IR lapse - too expensive

[This message has been edited by RVR800 (edited 25 May 2001).]

Flap 5
25th May 2001, 12:21
Am I just a cynic or have I seen the true reason that airlines would like this?

1. The cost of training becomes prohibitive for the individual who has to use airline training schemes to get qualified, with the subsequent result that the airlines can bond the pilot and keep him.

2. The licence would only be applicable to the particular aircraft type on which the pilot trained. This would make it harder for a pilot to change aircraft and therefore companies.

25th May 2001, 12:25
Give me the names of the airlines who seriously think about doing that... I'll be extremely careful to never fly with them again !

25th May 2001, 12:44

Why on earth not? I believe it has got to come one day. Insurance companies change with the times. They always have. They even insure lighter than air craft these days - who would have thought it?!

As for press coverage, there is no howling by the press about: "Shock horror - Authorities allow pilots with only a few weeks of total flight time in little petrol powered planes to fly Jumbos!!!" (Maybe there should be!!) As long as precautions for safety are taken, and are shown to be taken, the press don't have a front page story.

Referring to Irish Steve's post, there would obviously have to be a restriction on the licence. If the pilot who is restricted to multi-crew, jet only, specific types then wants to fly for fun, he can get himself a PPL!!

Whether the current training system gives specific quantifiable benefits to large jet pilots, that couldn't be gained without flying small piston engine aircraft, is open to debate.

If any debate comes down, finally, on the side that there isn't any real benefit, or that the benefits aren't worth the time and cost, the world (and insurance companies) will adapt to the change.

Wee Weasley Welshman
25th May 2001, 13:59
Gerund - the media don't *actually* have to be right to have a cracking story unfortunately. Just imagine the strap lines: "He's 21, he's never flown an aeroplane before, he's taking you on holiday!".


25th May 2001, 14:28
Well : his instructor will start smoking again during the "students" training sessions.

Can you imagine being in the sim for , lets say a year ?

Instructors can change during the sessions.
That is when there are sufficient volunteers (which i can't imagine anyway)

And think about the student , with only theoretical exams for a long while and then a-hell-of-a-lot sim sessions .

Actually the system now is perfect !
Learn on cheap small planes ! While in the real blue.

No hassle for the airlines instructors , there are a lot of light planes instructors who know exactly where they are talking about.

Actually we get the applicants for the jobs nicely presented , the only need is a minimum of 7 sim sessions and he/she is type-rated. But of course we give some extra sessions. NO bother at all.

Again i believe:

-There is no Sim availability for those extreme long courses !

-There are no airline TRI's enough willing to do it.

-The Sim is way too expensive.

-The end-result student will remain a student for appr.5 years even after type

-The line traing will take another year or so.

But it is good to think about it anyway before flushing it through the toilet........


Luke SkyToddler
25th May 2001, 14:34
There must be countless instances where an airline pilot's background and experience in lighties has saved a potentially catastrophic situation. The B767 fuel starvation incident over Canada a few years back, where they landed it in a glider strip, is a classic example that springs to mind - I'm sure there are plenty of others.

For sure, the new generation of airliners bear sod all resemblance to the 1950s design trainers that we all learned on. But IMHO all you'll get if you train someone from scratch on something as synthetic as an Airbus sim, is someone with twinkle fingers on the automatics and no basic appreciation of stick and rudder flying. All well and good until the day when those EFIS screens all go black at once and they actually have to look out the window and fly the damn thing ... I think there'd be some fundamental shortfalls that would make themselves evident pretty quickly.

25th May 2001, 16:04
Deja Vu......

I read about this five or six years ago in CAT magazine. The editorial was about this very subject as it was discussed at a European training conference.

I cant remember the specifics, need to dig the mag out.

25th May 2001, 16:32
I think its a great idea!

I think that a similar course should be adopted for doctors and surgeons to eliminate the shortage in our NHS. After all, there’s no point in a future surgeon fannying around as a junior doctor – Just give me 1 year with a set of anatomy books, a mannequin and a really sharp knife ... and ... anybody fancy a frontal lobotomy?

25th May 2001, 16:38
Ha clunk !

You are absolutely right.

Also counts for psychotherapists and vice-presidents.
(be one in a weeks-course).
Just lay-back and relax or : have a reorganisation in a day !

25th May 2001, 23:13
Excellent. The best thing is that you can do the first 200 hours unsupervised at home on the PC with FS2000. Saves the airlines even more money.

25th May 2001, 23:33
And the next step? Virtual reality headsets, and anyone with a computer can fly the thing from home. Easy really, check out some of the postings around here. Then the bosses can get what they really want. Sack all these expensive pilots, and we can get the newest office junior to "fly" the service tomorrow morning. Me, I'll be travelling B.O.A.T.

25th May 2001, 23:58
Those who want to become a captain of a schip, be it a cargo or pax, spent a lot of time on the sea in small boats, they learn about the enviroment in which the will spent the rest of their career.

In others words, they learn to respect, feel and smell the caprices of the biotoop in which they operate.

For us pilots, our biotoop are the feelds of air, bouncing around in a light single or twin in this ever changing enviroment, is in my opinion very important, as you stay in touch and devellop a feeling with reality.

A full synthetic enviroment does not give that cognitive feedback.

Synthetic reality is absolutely not enoug, it gives a false impression and I am not talking about technical matters, but about the stuff that more than anything else has an impact on our operations, WEATHER in all it's forms.

Flying a big jet in real time and weather already gives you a feeling that WX can not beat you. Those that have had the opputunity to devellop a sense of WX are less likely to be caught.

I think it would be a mistake to underestimate the value of the rael stuff.

Smooth Trimmer

[This message has been edited by Streamline (edited 25 May 2001).]

Mac the Knife
26th May 2001, 01:14
CLUNK, its already done in a sort of way. In (animal) research anyway a lot of the operations are done by technicians rather than vets or doctors and they are VERY good at it. When I did my first microsurgery course years ago we were taught by the techs, who thought nothing of joining up 1mm blood vessels and could do it consistently and successfully time after time.

The problem of course (just as in aviation) is not so much being able to do things as knowing WHEN to do them (and when NOT to do them). And of course, knowing what your options are when you find that you can't (for some reason) do the expected. In other words, knowing how to salvage the situation when things go pear-shaped.

I guess in a way the sim is like working in the animal lab - sure you can do it fine, but we all know just how different it is when one (or a few hundred) person's lives depend on those few seconds that you have to get it right.

"What would you do in that situation Colonel Yeager?"
"Well son, I wouldn't BE in that situation....."

Metro man
26th May 2001, 04:39
Have heard of proposals for an "Airline" licence which would concentrate on multi crew ,FMS,CRM,SOPs ,use of simulators etc, and far less on single engine day VFR flying.With this type of licence the pilot would be restricted to airline flying and could not do a charter in a Baron single pilot without further training.

This however ,would not be zero flight time and would still involve some light aircraft time.

It seeks to specialise in Airline operations only ,which is probably all the students will do in their career.

Ag flying is treated as a speciality,how many ag pilots are trained for CAT 11 approaches,or need to be? How many airlines train their pilots in crop spraying ?

Aviation is becoming more specialised ,like the medical profession.Prehaps the licensing system needs to change ?

26th May 2001, 14:15
Found that article about Zero Flight Time ATPL. The article appeared in CAT magazine Vol.5. Issue 5. By the way, an excellent magazine on all things training in this industry.

At the Flight Crew Training Conference which was held in London in 1994 a Cpt Bob Salisbury - British Airways Senior Training Manager, presented a paper called 'Zero Flight Time - Is it Feasible? Is it Desirable?"

Basically he asked what benefit was learning visual navigation, the 'complexities' of the signal square or how a variable pitch prop works, which are 'forgotten' when the students move on to learn the complexities of how to fly heavy jet transport aircraft. His words not mine!

The answer he gave was to introduce zero Flight Time training in a FFS.

From what the article states, I think the idea was to generate a level of discussion as to whether the current system of ab-initio training is satisfactory for todays complex transport aircraft. The big question the paper raised was "Why has the ab-initio training changed so little in the past 30 odd years, when the aircraft have made the most radical changes?"

Seems he had a lot of hostile reaction from flying instructors and the schools sales managers

Makes interesting reading.

28th May 2001, 02:28
Oh dear, they cannot be serious......

While a good "apprentice" airline pilot will probably do much to prove the concept a theoretically sound one, a not so good apprentice could quite literally spell disaster.
A very wise man once said there is no substitute for experience. It is still true. At best good training can only hope to equal good experience. In the practical world of course, it very often falls quite short. And with accountants running the company and the company paying the sim. bills, well that's a fertile field for the roots of disaster.
IMHO the guy in the right hand seat may be bright and quick, but if things go suddenly pear-shaped, and he hasn't got prior experience to fall back on, you could effectively be back to single crew. And I am not talking about the standard engine fire/depressurisation/engine failure/smoke-in-the-cabin type ICAO disasters that happen once in a blue moon (he has probably been well trained in sim for that stuff), I am talking about the more frequent average shi*ty day that unfortunately just seems to happen in aviation. The sort of multiple-factor scenarios that quite often don't involve any aircraft malfunction, but conspire to make the job just that much harder anyway. The things you learn from those days cannot be taught in sim, they can only be experienced in the practical environment of line flying. They are certainly much better learnt in small aeroplanes where the public is not as much at risk.
Can anyone seriously suggest LESS experience in the cockpit will actually DECREASE the number accidents and incidents attributed to pilot error? Surely less experience in an effoh requires more experience in the Captain to make the system work. So what happened to CRM ? I distinctly remember something about an ideal experience "gradient" on the flight deck, and it certainly DIDN'T involve a near zero-hour effoh. Is it responsible for a company to expect a captain to compromise his skills as manager to take on the extra burden of also being an instructor (from 1+1=3 to 1+1=1).
I am already flying with effohs who, despite being good for their experience, could really benefit from some basic single pilot stuff. It is not their fault they are getting jobs flying airliners with only 250hrs, yet can't get from point A to point B without radar vectors, or the FMS. It is not their fault they are not quite sure how to break off an instrument approach for a visual one when they suddenly become visual on the outbound leg of a procedure. It is one of those things that is hardly ever taught in the sim., yet it is basic and important for a safe approach and landing and should be second nature. What else would be missing in a zero-hour effoh ?
If you are having one of "those" days it is invaluable to be able to fall back on practical experience. If the effoh has very little experience, the more chance there is that things could happen that he is unprepared for. In a busy cockpit where an economy of words is essential, the captain may not have time to fully explain what he is doing and why he is doing it (or what he wants to see done). If the effoh is flying it, it may even mean the captain has to take over. Not an ideal situation I think. Let us not forget that people also make mistakes. Surely in this scenario the system would be a great deal less tolerant of either flight crew erring, but especially the captain.
It seems to me once again commercial pressures are eroding away the often subtle and intangible safety factor that a good experienced crew provides. It is a complete nonsense to suggest it cannot significantly compromise safety.

28th May 2001, 07:34
Gentlemen: My first posting. Be kind. I am surprised none of you have mentioned the utter lack of realism in most simulator training. First of all, non of the sims I've ever flown, except for the 777 sim, handled like the airplane, nor did they afford the visual cues which we rely on in the real world. Secondly, the training scenarios are usually quite artificial; relying on the current hot items, and limited by the sim instructors imagination and competence. The difference between prop and jet seems inconsequential compared to the experience of seeing the earth and sky swap places, and knowing that a mistake in the plane leads to much more dire results than than even the worst catastrophe in a simulator.

28th May 2001, 09:08
If a person is an airline cadet, and his career path is directly to the flight seat of a commercial jet, then the time spent bashing 'round in a spam-can is most likely counter-productive...having to learn the aerodynamics of light propellor planes, then having to relearn the aero's of jets is a waste of time, why not just start in the jet and be done with it...light planes teach airmanship...airliners do not require it anymore (apparently) many many hours of flying light aircraft does not necessarily generate good experience, it may in fact generate bad habits that have to be undone at the jet level, and may in worst-case scenarios, render an applicant unsuitable for airline training...food for thought

28th May 2001, 12:47
We're all just keeping the dream alive and the seat warm 'til the automatics take over!!!!

28th May 2001, 15:13
Actually streamline, the nautical simile is a very poor one to use. I learnt how to take oil tankers through the English Channel by taking oil tankers through the English Channel. The time I spent messing about on the river in small boats consisted of a few afternoons frittered away somewhere on a small lake near Cardiff trying to sail a life boat with four other confused souls wondering "how to get the damn thing going". Nil desperandum,the big ship never sank and the opportunity to demonstrate my prowess (or rather lack thereof) at small boat handling never presented its self.

The important element to piloting is learning stick and rudder skills along with basic airmanship. Irrelevant as to how these skills are learnt, be it courtesy of Cessna or Boeing. To be avoided at all costs is the production of pilots who can programme but not aviate. As evidenced by the recent Gulf air fiasco, virtual reality can turn into actual reality in a big hurry with tragic results, but with aviation as in so many things it's the dollar that rules with the result that safety will ultimately play second fiddle to economic expediencies in an effort to $ave thi$ $tuff.

Caractacus Potts
29th May 2001, 03:01
Does that mean that we are closer to getting my FAA ATP recognised in Europe?

It sticks in my craw that my qualifications and experience aren't recognised here.

And now you tell me that people are going to get jobs with zero time!.....Who thought THAT one up?

29th May 2001, 10:07
XL 5

0f course, the best would be real time B 737 training from the start i.s.o a Cessna 172 as you seem to suggest ?

Smooth Trimmer

Ace Rimmer
29th May 2001, 12:11
Off topic but food for thought:In 1971 NASA sent a crew to the moon (first attempt after Apollo 13 don't forget) with a total (3 guys) space flight time of 15mins. They learnt everything else on sims and as it turned out handled a number of "problems" on the flight incl losing landing radar for a large part of the lunar desent.
Back on track: Can't help wonder where all the sim avalibility is going to come from (good news if yer Flight Safety or CAE I suppose.)

29th May 2001, 13:01
Yes Ace Rimmer , but ofcourse those three guys were already pilots, and then trained on the sim.
Which is excactly the right way !

Final 3 Greens
29th May 2001, 18:54
I have 220 hrs in light aircraft and 6 in an analogue instrument jet simulator.

The sim is interesting in the lessons it has taught me so far,especially in the regard of the need for accuracy and smoothness in handling.

However, IMHO, it is no subsititute for real flying and as a regular SLF I would feel more comfortable if the FO had spent a couple of hundred hours experiencing real skies and gaining some airmanship ("I learned about flying from that etc") before transitioning to the sim to learn the airline craft.

I am not against change per se, but my day job as a change consultant does teach me that not all change makes sense.

29th May 2001, 18:59
In general I think we can say that nobody is in real favour of those ZFT commercial pilots
There is no thing like the real thing

keepin it in trim
30th May 2001, 00:17
The sim is a good teaching aid, you can "die in the box" quite safely while practising handling emergencies that may be too dangerous to practice in the real thing. However, you are always aware that no matter how pear-shaped it goes, your life is not at risk. The big problem is getting enough realism into the simulation. I have never experienced "the leans" doing IF in the sim, but I have on plenty of occasions in real aircraft. I also worry about the loss of piloting skills expertise and airmanship that could result from this idea.

Pete Otube
30th May 2001, 12:38
Morse - does the same apply to EFOTO and Wind Shear? Learn it on the aircraft first and then practise in the sim? You may wish to rethink your logic!

30th May 2001, 13:56

Pete Otube
30th May 2001, 15:22
You didn't ask one

30th May 2001, 15:37
Meaning the topic question ..... perhaps ?