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-   -   Do a degree, be an instructor, don't be too impressed by flying hours.... (https://www.pprune.org/professional-pilot-training-includes-ground-studies/553922-do-degree-instructor-dont-too-impressed-flying-hours.html)

Genghis the Engineer 3rd Jan 2015 11:42

Do a degree, be an instructor, don't be too impressed by flying hours....
 
I've been reading this paper published 2 years ago from several US universities in response to an FAA notice of proposed rulemaking.

"The 2012 Pilot Source Study (Phase III): Response to the Pilot Certifi" by Guy M. Smith, Derek Herchko et al.

It is worth reading the lot, but the maths is a little heavy in places, so let me just quote the abstract. I've highlighted in bold what I think are the most significant bits..


The 2012 Pilot Source Study (Phase III) was a continuation of the 2010 Pilot Source Study (Smith, Bjerke, NewMyer, Niemczyk & Hamilton,
2010), using the same research design with a new data set containing no duplicate records. University faculty and students assisted seven regional airlines to enter data on 4,024 pilots hired between 2005 and 2011. New-hire pilots’ college and piloting backgrounds defined their input (Source) variables. Training and first year operations data defined the output (Success) variables. Identifying information for pilots and participating airlines was removed fromthe data sets, and records were combined into a single data set for independent analysis by five researchers. Results were verified by two independent researchers from the University of Central Florida (a non-affiliated university). Results showed considerable consistency between the 2010 Pilot Source Study and the 2012 Pilot Source Study regarding initial pilot training at a regional air carrier. The study found that pilots entering the industry with an aviation-specific college degree, particularly a degree from an AABI-accredited flight program, performed better in initial training than those with no degree or a non-aviation degree. The results also ndicated that a pilot’s background, such as having a CFI certificate and obtaining advanced training from a collegiate aviation program, is an indicator of success in training. One important result was that commercial pilots had more completions than pilots with an ATP certificate. On the other hand, total flight hours produced inconclusive results.


I think that this is a very important piece of research.

Comparing this to my own background and prejudices - I have two aeronautical engineering degrees, and later did a CPL. I also designed the syllabus of one of the UK's "aero-eng + pilot studies" courses. On the other hand, I've been arguing for years that degree education and pilot training should really be regarded separately: this paper seems to say that I was wrong, and those three years spent putting that degree course together really weren't wasted. [I'm deliberately not saying which one, so don't ask - but anyhow, I am no longer inolved with it in any significant way.]

On the other hand, I've never liked the idea of either the MPL or Integrated courses, and this also seems to support my prejudices there. The paper is saying that people who have gone straight through training from scratch do less well in the airlines than those who have gained a significant breadth of aeronautical education and experience. That at least agrees with the views I've had in the past.

Interesting also that it finds that how many hours you've got is pretty irrelevant to your success in joining the airline. That goes against a lot of conventional wisdom, but it's not unreasonable to say that the quality of experience is what really matters, not the volume of it. The old adage about flying 1000 hours, not the same hour 1000 times.

It is also interesting to read that apparently there is no real difference between having no degree, and having a non-aviation degree, in your success in entering professional flying.

I recommend that anybody involved in professional pilot training, whether as a student or instructor, should read this - it really is an important paper. The obvious next question however, is will this work actually influence anything? It should, but I have a feeling that it won't - the training industry, and supporting regulatory effort, are really very bad at using rigorous research in their work.

Capn Bug Smasher 3rd Jan 2015 12:06

Smashing Genghis! After a quick flip through I am very pleased with this as it appears to validate my own approach to becoming a professional aviator. Many thanks.

I shall now take the time the report deserves to read it fully.

Thanks again .

turbopropulsion 3rd Jan 2015 12:19

I fully take this on board but would like to raise on point.

I have a non aviation degree but I highly disagree that it's not going to help me. I majored in Automotive Engineering and most of the modules were combined with aeronautical students. The same rules of aerodynamics apply to aerofoils of all shapes, whether they are designed to produce lift or downforce. I'm sure that anyone who's majored in any similar field will benefit from understanding the theory of flight prior to commencing training.

:ok:

Genghis the Engineer 3rd Jan 2015 12:32

On the face of it, that research disagrees with you. Of course this is always the issue with much of humanity: "my opinion disagrees with the peer reviewed research, therefore the research must be wrong".

In reality, any evidence about it is probably anecdotal. That particular research just divides aviation degrees from everything else. Possibly research comparing STEM and non-STEM degrees would give a different answers. Or possibly not.

But frankly, I think that if you believe that a high level of understanding of incompressible aerodynamics will significantly aid you as a professional pilot, you could just be wrong. It's a pretty tiny part of the broader field we call aeronautics. That you are good at maths is probably much more significant.

turbopropulsion 3rd Jan 2015 12:53

To reiterate, I value what has been posted and haven't for one second discredited it. I was merely pointing out that making blanket statements undermines the value of the (as you put it) peer reviewed research. :ok:

Zaphod Beblebrox 3rd Jan 2015 15:55

I just downloaded the study. I was formerly a fan of the 1500hour rule, absent any other useful criteria or published study. Well here is the study and here are the results. You can't argue with the data. I will read the study more critically to make sure they are measuring what they say they are measuring.

This does seem to be an endorsement for University Training programs. I would agree. Those types of programs are highly structured and go far beyond the FAR basics. The 500 hour reduction to graduates of accredited aviation University's was made based on the greater coverage of the curriculum of these institutions as opposed to the training academies which train to the test standards. This was a published finding of the FAA in the NPRM to lower the 1500 hour requirement

I suspect the FAA will be revisiting the 1500 hour rule in the future.

Chris the Robot 6th Jan 2015 20:44

Do you think that the fact that university tends to be much more the default choice for those deemed "intelligent" in the States, as opposed to over here, has an effect on the data? From what I've heard apprenticeships certainly are not as big over there as over here.

I do think that each individual's brain is "wired" in a certain way, it would be interesting to create a small sample representative of the overall survey population and invite them for detailed testing. I think areas such as spatial reasoning, processing speed, memory etc. could be considered and compared with university of flight training test scores.

turbopropulsion 7th Jan 2015 09:58

Certainly worthy of investigation. I'm sure we all know someone who hasn't attended adult education and yet they seem to excel in other areas. Haha my dad for example! I very much doubt he would be able to hack the maths associated with anything engineering related but I can't see why he wouldn't be able to cope with other areas. A great thinker.

taxistaxing 7th Jan 2015 11:33


Comparing this to my own background and prejudices - I have two aeronautical engineering degrees, and later did a CPL. I also designed the syllabus of one of the UK's "aero-eng + pilot studies" courses. On the other hand, I've been arguing for years that degree education and pilot training should really be regarded separately: this paper seems to say that I was wrong, and those three years spent putting that degree course together really weren't wasted. [I'm deliberately not saying which one, so don't ask - but anyhow, I am no longer inolved with it in any significant way.]
A fascinating document, many thanks for uploading.

Although sadly, given the cost of degrees these days, I wonder how meaningful this study really is for the notional 18 year old aspiring aviator starting from scratch who is about to be faced with some rather expensive life choices. The 40k+ tuition fees and living costs of many degree programmes would go a long way towards obtaining professional flying qualifications and some valuable experience.

This is further compounded by the fact that, rightly or wrongly, the flight training fraternity and indeed airlines seem to place little emphasis on rigorous academic ability and rather more on ability to pay. I'm just not sure that the limited additional benefit of having a degree on your cv when looking for an aviation job would justify the costs involved.

I realise that this isn't really comparing apples with apples in sense that, unlike flying training costs, the 45k spent on a university education is available as a student loan at low interest rates, only repaid from salary above a certain earnings threshold etc. Nonetheless it is a substantial debt to be saddled with at a young age. Particularly for someone who is then going to have to find tens of thousands of pounds to fund flight training.

Given this backdrop I'm not sure I would advise our notional 18 year old to embark on a degree at all if he or she knew from the outset they wanted to be a professional pilot.

At the risk of going slightly off topic, it is a sad state of affairs in my view that as the cost of academic study goes up people are increasingly forced to conduct a cold cost-benefit-analysis of how likely they are to secure a high paying job off the back of their degree in order to justify doing it in the first place. There is seemingly no room any longer for the lofty notion that academic study should be seen as an end in its own right, pursued purely to further oneself.

Ironically it is probably the widening of access to university level education that has created this scenario - so many people now go to university (many of whom would be better advised to spend their time and money doing something else) that the government can no longer afford the cost of subsidising the fees.

EDIT: the above is written from the perspective of the UK employment market. I understand that in the states a university degree is a prerequisite to getting hired by a major airline so the considerations will clearly be very different here.

Jwscud 7th Jan 2015 14:05

Colour me cynical, but shock horror, research from major U.S. Aviation Universities finds having attended them makes you a better pilot.

Of course, I am arse about face in that I now realise for further professional development, some form of degree in the subject area is essential, but I'm not sure how it correlates with flying ability. Perhaps it just means you're more of an aerosexual and thus likely to work harder, or have a better technical underpinning allowing you to focus more on other areas of the training you're struggling with.

zondaracer 8th Jan 2015 01:33

I have to agree with JWScud here. A study produced by researchers from a University which benefited from the 1000hr reduced minimums...
... Self serving study if you ask me. Most pilots that I know in the USA with a 4 year aviation degree (not an engineering degree but a degree titled professional aviation or something similar) felt that their degree is not worth much and they would have studied something different in hind sight.

microkid 8th Jan 2015 09:57

I have recently conducted a research project on how pilots actually gain competence (hours, training, education etc) with reference to this particular study however there are other more recent and relevant studies out there.

One of the best quotes I liked from the preliminary literature review was:

"There is a huge difference between a pilot with 10000 hours and a pilot with 1 hour, 10000 times"

The bottom line:

1.The value of hour building is limited if not done in a relevant environment.
2.Continued training is more effective than simply hour building.
3.Continued training and practice in CRM (Non technical) skills are required.
4.RELEVANT aviation knowledge does help to improve competence.

It comes down to the KSA model.

Knowledge
Skills
Attitudes

You need all three to be competent, a lot of pilots out there are lacking at least one of the three. The word "Experience" also needs to be disassociated with "hours", they are very weakly linked. Experience involves a combination of knowledge, continued training in both technical and non technical skills with a small element of time (i.e hours) for practice.

The future of training:

It really points towards new training programs such as the MPL, preferably combined with a strong element of relevant aviation knowledge.

Genghis the Engineer 8th Jan 2015 09:59


Originally Posted by zondaracer (Post 8815376)
I have to agree with JWScud here. A study produced by researchers from a University which benefited from the 1000hr reduced minimums...
... Self serving study if you ask me. Most pilots that I know in the USA with a 4 year aviation degree (not an engineering degree but a degree titled professional aviation or something similar) felt that their degree is not worth much and they would have studied something different in hind sight.

Yes, but the evidence is all there in the paper for anybody else to second guess the analysis.

One imagines that the paper might not have got published if the results showed that the aviation degrees added no significant value - but that doesn't mean that the paper that was published is incorrect.

mad_jock 8th Jan 2015 10:40

but it is selective evidence G.

There are a heap of other factors such as previous education standard before training which they have completely ignored.

You just have to look at the editorial team

Editorial Board | The Journal of Aviation Technology & Engineering (JATE) | Purdue University Press Open Access Journals | Purdue University

To see there is a distinct bias towards the big players.

It was the same with that Boeing fantasy sale projection requiring thousands of Pilots.

It was touted and dismissed as bollocks.

6 months later, cry's of there is a pilot shortage according to ICAO.

When you looked at, it wasn't ICAO at all it was a ICAO training conference had decided this and funny enough it was all the people who were hanging their pensions on the Boeing report that were there.

I suspect this paper will be flashed about until someone can be bothered ripping holes in it.

ShyTorque 8th Jan 2015 11:54


Ironically it is probably the widening of access to university level education that has created this scenario - so many people now go to university (many of whom would be better advised to spend their time and money doing something else) that the government can no longer afford the cost of subsidising the fees.
True, getting people into university means they don't appear on the "unemployed" list. Getting more people into university was a short term tactic with a view to making the government look better than they actually were. With a view toward an upcoming general election, of course.

Introducing tuition fees at the level that it was done has saddled young graduates with a tax for life. Ironic that it was callously introduced by those who received their own tertiary education for free.

All that happened was that the goalposts were moved. It matters not a jot that you have a degree if there is no job to go to on graduation.

Jwscud 8th Jan 2015 15:09

Actually, I couldn't access the full version of the paper as it would very much have liked to read it, but as I said, my instant response is a slight cynicism.

As others have said, isolating a single factor is difficult. Attitude and aptitude are very important, but so is experience. The fact that these are all US regionals is also another big point, as a lot of the pilots may have spent a long time flying single pilot cargo, and may have had difficulty adapting to two-crew environments. These types are also less likely to be Riddle or UND graduates. I would like to read the study to see him they address issues like the above.

Genghis the Engineer 8th Jan 2015 17:10

Try the link top right of the page JW.

And if that doesn't work, PM me your email address.

Jwscud 9th Jan 2015 11:46

Thanks - it wasn't working on the iPad but worked on the laptop. I'm not so much cynical now as disappointed. They have presented some nice data, but done no analysis. I would be far more interested if they had worked out why there was a slight reduction in extra training events and so on across their graduates (amongst others). What are their flying backgrounds apart from University? What sort of extra training were they given at University? Could they draw conclusions to help improve training &c?

Are the people struggling single pilot night freight types with poor CRM? Are they simply not used to the airline's structured training environment which ERAU, UND and so on provide from day 1? Are the universities "pre-training" in the sim which means they have less to learn when they turn up on the jet?

Actually the most interesting in context were the training events vs. hour ranges which look like some more research should be done, which may or may not show the FAA 1500hr rule as counterproductive.

The study could also have been headlined "Instructional experience makes you a better pilot"...

mad_jock 9th Jan 2015 16:59

Its a paper where the conclusion was written before the research was done.


The research done to prove what they wanted.

I have been involved in papers like this before. If your not into that sort of thing it leaves a dirty taste in your mouth. And its particularly annoying when people start referencing the paper when you know its flawed and targeted research. But its all part of the dirty side of academia and if people pay for research they get what they want if its possible.


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