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Is Competency Based Training a big Con?

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Is Competency Based Training a big Con?

Old 2nd Apr 2015, 13:10
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Is Competency Based Training a big Con?

For several years CASA has pushed flying schools to teach a concept called Competency based standards. From what I see there is no difference between this concept (apart from a million more pages of utterly useless paperwork) and how I was taught to fly over 65 years ago on Tiger Moths and later in the RAAF.

I have tried hard to be dispassionate about all this extra terminology and general record keeping bumpf called Competency Based Training but I am buggered if I can see how this all makes better pilots or better instructors.

When I learned to fly at Bankstown in 1951 I was blessed with very experienced ex wartime flying instructors. The pre-flight briefings and post flight briefings were good enough for me and at the end of each flight my instructors would write appropriate comments in a document called Student Progress Sheets. Later in the RAAF they were known as Hate Sheets - all in wry humour of course. Their purpose was to ensure the next instructor was aware of what sequences had already been covered successfully.

The flying training in aero clubs was generally good and Examiners of Airmen would do the PPL and CPL tests. The subsequent RAAF training I received was first class and the purpose of the Hate Sheets never changed. That is they recorded student progress.

Allowing for the difference in types of training aircraft then and now, instructor technique was similar except for the propensity now of the use of inexperienced flying instructors barely out of flying school themselves. Steep turns, aerobatics, practice forced landings, in other words basic aircraft handling techniques, have hardly changed over the past 60 years.

Do today's Competency Based steep turns fly any differently to my steep turns in a Tiger Moth or a Wirraway of yesteryear? I don't think so. In fact the instructor patter used today is based on what was used all those years ago. Briefings have changed though, in that time, and not for the better either. In those days, briefings were concise. Today I see a plethora of weasel words or motherhood statements and stuff like Threat and Error Management thrown in as subject matter in simple preflight briefings.

CASA has mandated that these are now an essential part of all briefings. Now there are long involved pre-take off "Safety Briefings" where the student does a Shakespeare Play of verbalising his every intention if something should go wrong and the dreaded "Threat" happens.

In a recent Flight International article on airline pilot training, a former Lufthansa captain Dieter Harms known in his country as "father of the multi-crew pilot licence" or MPL, writes about competency based training and warns that "instructors must be qualified to train to competency - based standards, not the old pass/fail criteria."

From what I see of competency based training, it is all about paperwork box ticking and lots of it at that. In the end the student still passes or fails. So can someone tell me what this bloke means when he derides "the old pass/fail criteria?" And can someone please tell me in clear and concise words what does Competency Based Training, purport to mean? And how does it differ from how I learned to fly in the RAAF and eventually became an airline pilot? No sarcasm, please
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Old 2nd Apr 2015, 13:22
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Is Competency Based Training a big Con?
YES, YES and YES

It is a training system based on accepting mediocre
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Old 2nd Apr 2015, 14:21
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From what I see there is no difference between this concept (apart from a million more pages of utterly useless paperwork) and how I was taught to fly over 65 years ago on Tiger Moths and later in the RAAF.
I guess that my Instructors deemed me competent when they let me fly solo back in the 60s.

I guess the reason they don't use C150s for training any more is that the aircraft cannot carry the student, Instructor, the CBT Syllabus, Training Matrix Achievement Record and the countless other bits of paper.

One question - Has this change to CBT made better pilots than the generation that were trained during WWII or the generation trained in the 60s and 70s?
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Old 2nd Apr 2015, 20:08
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I'm not sure whether it is CBT or the current training curriculum, but graduating trade apprentices trained under a CBT system, do not appear to be anything near the quality of graduating apprentices from thirty years ago.
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Old 2nd Apr 2015, 20:23
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I always assumed CBT was forced on CASA as University's wanted to get into the flying training industry. The existing "system" was not compatible with the University system and hence the change to CBT.

It's been many years since I have been instructing in a flying school environment, but during the first few years of CBT, training delivery was not changed, just the mountain of paperwork.

There hasn't been the same motivation to provide competency based training programs for Instrument Ratings, Instructor Ratings, Large Aircraft Type Ratings as they are not part of University Courses.
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Old 2nd Apr 2015, 21:27
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The box that says "not yet competent" amuses me. A touchy feely way of saying that the trainee is INcompetent.
Good old pass/fail worked back then and would work now.
But wait, using such harsh language as 'fail' could cause all sorts of problems from low self esteem to erectile dysfunction.
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Old 2nd Apr 2015, 22:25
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Well said Mach E !!! To be politicallycorrect perhaps you should add vaginismus to the problems which may be induced by the NYC box. Taily, by observation wrt engineering I believe you are correct. The knowledge base of "graduates" is declining rapidly as we churn LAME's out of the training institution sausage factories. And it will get worse when the examination responsibilities are turned over from CASA. The understanding,and I emphasize understanding, of the basics is not there anymore. All broad picture now. And to obtain a "Diploma", if I make an application and pay a fee I can be assessed by " somebody" for my suitability for the grant of same against my current 40 year old Licence.The race to the bottom is well and truly on in engineering as well! Rant over!!!
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Old 2nd Apr 2015, 22:35
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CBT

Couldn't agree more. The whole process has turned into a bureaucratic nightmare. In actual fact I think we know less about our students than we used to. Where we used to have comprehensive note taking that gave us a realistic overview, you could get a very efficient snapshot of how a student was progressing. We now have tables, graphs, matrix's etc. It certainly satisfies CASA and keeps them happy. The whole process is about satisfying CASA and covering our arses. An enormous cost to industry to implement. In fact the cost to my own business for this implementation alone, is more than our profit from the 2013/2014 year. All under a Government that proposes to be a supporter of small business, and reducing red tape. Cant wait till the next election. My vote will be going straight to the Dick Smith Party. Hopefully the industry can limp through and survive till the next election. I have no doubt that many small businesses will be forced into financial ruin before we get an opportunity.
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Old 2nd Apr 2015, 22:38
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YES! straight out of cert IV manual....and a very poor fit at that!

Flying training was already competency based. It was just not in a format understood by bean counters. Still, as a consumer, there are still a couple of good old school instructors around the ML basin who pay lip service to the box ticking but teach the proper way.
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Old 2nd Apr 2015, 23:15
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Don't see the value in CBT - the old Hate sheets worked well and helped the training. I guess some things need to change over time, but at what cost? and what value? does not seem to make better pilots (?) Seems some sequences don't even get covered because the instructor did not do it for whatever reason - X/W ops being a good example. Trouble is that we now have 3 or 4 (perhaps more) generations of instructors that don't know what they don't know!

Airmanship fell off the training truck some time ago - used to be part of every brief and debrief.

I heard it said a few years back that a pilot passing a Commercial Test today would not have passed a Private Test 30/40 years ago. From what I have seen, I would have to agree.
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Old 2nd Apr 2015, 23:42
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Yes..!!

A37575..as you know..In the good old days it was Training to Produce Competency along with the KISS principle. Now long gone, due to bureaucratic self-serving job creation with the associated avalanche of paperwork. Give it a new name, add a tsunami of paperwork, impose it on the Industry and all will be much "safer"

The crusty old Instructor sent you off solo because he believed you to be capable/competent and safe at this point in yr newly learnt skills.
He sent you off to practice spins because he believed you to be capable and safe/competent
He sent you off to do low flying because he knew you to be capable of landing the Tiger back on the airfield in one piece, and not returning in bits on the back of a truck.

Why is it now that the time to get away solo is about double what it was then ?
Its not because students are that 'incompetent' or just plain dumb, surely.

Perhaps its the commercial way, as well as the CAsA induced complexity and paperwork rubbish.

I asked a recent student about a 'limit turn' and he had never heard of it, and the "steep" turns that he was shown were nothing of the sort.

Seems to me like its time to ..
...tell CAsA to rack off and take all their bs paperwork with them.
....reintroduce the KISS principle,
....and get back to basics

Oh, sorry...unelected bureaurats rule, OK

DICK SMITH PARTY....VOTE 1
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Old 2nd Apr 2015, 23:54
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Much as I dislike the current box-ticking approach to licencing (it turns everyone into a sausage factory) the old "Hate Sheets" were in fact CBT - they were recording what the student could competently do, and what needed more training.

The alternative (never really been used in Australia, as far as I know) is the hours/lesson based scheme - Bloggs has spent 1 hr doing steep turns, so that box is ticked and ignored henceforth. Other countries have used this approach: done the lesson - tick - the result of each lesson - ignored; the only measurement of competency being the final licence test. No wonder people have been terrified of flight tests.

I believe the current emphasis on detailed recording is actually moving us away from competency - there is no real ability to half-tick a box, to say Bloggs doesn't need a repeat lesson but does need to practice steep turns again. Especially when students fly with many different instructors - the most an instructor can do is look at the ticked boxes and think "Bloggs has done steep turns" - at least if you flew with Bloggs last week, you'll remember that he steep turns needed some more practice, you might even remember why!
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Old 3rd Apr 2015, 00:00
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And aroa - a yes from me. In addition to excessive box-ticking and arse-covering, I don't see much:
  • common sense - I know common sense has always been uncommon, is it getting worse, or is that me getting older...
  • general knowledge - very few people come to aviation knowing which end of a spanner to use; or having broken many flying model aircraft
  • drive - when you had to pay your own way, and do lots of crap work in crap aircraft, it filtered out the not-really-interested and gave those that did get through plenty of real experience.
  • interest - it's a long way between students who bother doing any of their own reading, questioning, thinking. It's easier now, all sorts of stuff around the internet, but seems to be less curiosity, less I-should-know-stuff-because-it-might-be-helpful, and less general I-am-responsible, I-should-be-as-good/knowledgeable-as-possible.
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Old 3rd Apr 2015, 00:32
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It always was and always will be competency based training. Even for you dinosaurs it was. Its just that these days they have a nice shiny and wanky name for it. You only went solo because you were up for it i.e competent.

Saying that, I think most of modern day CBT is about ar$e covering than a pathway to high quality pilots.

It still comes down to the individual instructor, his or her passion and care for the job at hand, and how well they were taught to begin with.

Nothings changed, just the paperwork blizzard.
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Old 3rd Apr 2015, 01:04
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I asked a recent student about a 'limit turn' and he had never heard of it, and the "steep" turns that he was shown were nothing of the sort.
Most of today's flying instructors only know about Rate One turns. Ask then about Rate 2,3, and Rate 4 turns and it is probable they have never heard of them.

I suggest they visit the RAAF Point Cook museum and ask the curator to show them the museum Tiger Moth. First aircraft on the left (after the Link Trainer) after leaving the reception area. There, one can see the Turn and Bank Indicator and graduations showing Rate One to Rate four. Same with the Mustang instrument panel in the museum. Rate 4 is mighty close to a limit turn in most aircraft.

On a similar subject to that of the OP (mind-boggling ever-increasing CASA bureaucracy), think about this:

Pre Part 61, the experience requirements for issue of an Australian ATPL was 1500 hours and completion of "The subjects." No flight test needed. It is a good bet that almost every airline pilot in Australia was granted an ATPL on application as soon as they met these minimum conditions.
Part 61 changes all that with a vengeance. Read below from CASA document:.

Edited quote: CASR 61.700 describes the general requirements for the grant of an air transport pilot licence, that is, you must meet all the requirements mentioned, or have alternative but equivalent experience/qualifications. If you can provide evidence that you have either;

1. Completed a CRM/Human Factors course which complies with NTS 1, NTS 2 and MCO competencies as described in the MOS. Or:
2. Been operating within a CAR 217, CAO 82.3 or 82.5 multi-crew, regular public transport operator in Australia which may have “MCC-like” elements embedded within its first officer/co-pilot induction/training or aircraft type rating program;

Then (1) above satisfies the MCC requirement, and, under the transition regulations, these training courses ((2) above) are deemed to be “MCC equivalent” training courses and these operators may issue the MCC course completion certificates to pilots. (For purpose of MCC courses, overseas flying experience with foreign airlines is unacceptable to CASA)

CASA needs to sight evidence of either (1) or (2) above, and would review the MCC-equivalent course content (2 above) to confirm compliance with the MOS.

Once all the requirements are met, contact CASA to arrange an ATPL flight test. The ATPL candidate must provide the following for the test;

1. The simulator; and
2. Support pilot; and
3. An instructor/IOS operator; and
4. A set of SOPs and the company Ops Manual which the CASA examiner can review prior to the test (say 1 week before the test date) to confirm compliance during the test; and
5. The flight test profile in accordance with the Part 61 MOS for the ATPL flight test (the flight test profile can be provided by CASA if required)
............................................................ ................................

Can you just imagine the cost to the candidate to meet all these requirements starting with a rough quote of at least $8000 for a CASA approved MCC course at a CASA approved flying school. Plus paying for the CASA examiner time, at current cost recovery rates. Plus cost of hiring full flight simulator and qualified on type copilot. Plus, plus,plus...
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Old 3rd Apr 2015, 01:33
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Why does it take twice as long to go solo now as it did in the past? It's not the basic handling. A reasonable student would be able to go solo if it wasn't for all the other assorted crap stuck on top. Box ticking is a problem. Threat/Error Management is a farce; it's essentially a combination of what we would call Airmanship and Common Sense but it's required now to be banged on and on and on about. It's ludicrous checklists foisted upon students and instructors by operations manuals bigger than the bible and the yellow pages combined. Operations Manuals written to satisfy some bellend at the Conspiracy. At busy aerodromes it's also other morons who can't fly an accurate circuit (when 2 up) that cause grief. It's also insurance policies that mean the instructor is pretty much liable if the student screws up. There's certainly no turning a blind eye and hoping you made the right call in 2015.

Who would actually want to be an instructor?!?
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Old 3rd Apr 2015, 04:19
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I'm not sure whether it is CBT or the current training curriculum, but graduating trade apprentices trained under a CBT system, do not appear to be anything near the quality of graduating apprentices from thirty years ago
I'm a product of the 'old' trade system. It didn't matter whether you'd seen every type of repair or indeed made every repair in my trade. You were an apprentice for 4 years. I can't recall any of us expressing any desire to get signed off early. I loved trade school, it was a great break from work and the trade teachers were the best of the best.

There are huge gaps in tradies knowledge these days. You may as well do the work yourself. In a lot of cases an 'apprentice' has demonstrated competency on a particular job sequence once. CBT is a scam perpetrated by scab employers & politicians who don't want to resource and fund trade schools.
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Old 3rd Apr 2015, 12:03
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There are huge gaps in tradies knowledge these days.
Not only tradies.
Does anyone remember an Instructor telling you "not to stretch a glide" whne practicing forced landings?
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Old 3rd Apr 2015, 12:26
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Threat and Error Management is but one aspect of the whole Human Factors/CRM/Safety Management/Error Management/Decision Making/Airmanship conglomeration of Aviation Matter - methinks someone at CASA did their thesis on it and decreed that it shall be the way ahead! The material available relating directly to Threat and Error Management is limited and, I find, relatively intangible to the average simple pilot, like myself.
But CASA have grasped hold of this element of "aviation theory stuff" and made it the be all and end all. I agree, it's a farce, but makes up 5 questions in the ATPL Human Factors exam - I couldn't even understand the questions, let alone know what the answers were - good thing I got all the other important stuff correct!
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Old 3rd Apr 2015, 13:44
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Folks,
CBT has nothing to do with any University conspiracy theories, CBT is required throughout all education streams that comply with national educational standards, Certificate I through IV Diplomas to Degrees. That's why CASA has decreed that LAMEs must have a Cert.III in Marine and Automotive Upholstery to work on aircraft interiors.

Whether CBT as it has developed is a good or bad thing is another subject, much debated in a number of circles where the concern is the same as aviation, the result is not good enough. I am of the view that CBT is seriously misapplied, and as many of you know, the CASA version has created a a very expensive paper intensive nightmare.

What else would you expect from CASA.

As to the Part 61 ATPL flight test, we have recently been privy to a genuine costing for a pilot who already has a type rating on several suitable "two pilot crew" aircraft and is first cab off the rank for the test.

The best was about AUD $55,000, depending on the interpretation of Part 61 plus MOS, with varying interpretations, something over AUD$ 80,000. This was before the CASA announcement about increased cost recovery, particularly Part 61 related.

Interesting situation, when a single flight test costs almost as much as the CPL course.

Of course, there are no money back guarantees, if you fail the test, or any clarity if you fail a part, do you do the whole lot again.

From the operator's point of view, thank goodness for the 457 visa program, to fill L1 and R1.

Tootle pip!!
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