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Multi-crew Pilots Licence (formerly: South African Airway's plan to get co-pilots)

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Multi-crew Pilots Licence (formerly: South African Airway's plan to get co-pilots)

Old 16th Sep 2006, 16:23
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Multi-crew Pilots Licence (formerly: South African Airway's plan to get co-pilots)

SAA's controversial plan to get co-pilots flying
September 16, 2006 Edition 1, Saturday Star

Sheena Adams

South African Airways is on the brink of introducing a radical new pilot training programme, which will see trainees taking their place as co-pilots after 70 hours actual flying time.

The bulk of the training - 250 hours - will take place in flight simulators, which allows trainers to slash actual flying hours in a real aircraft by more than half. SAA spokesperson Jacqui O'Sullivan has confirmed the details of the new programme.

The cost-cutting initiative is part of efforts by the national carrier to introduce more black people into its pilot ranks.

Called a Multi-Crew Pilot Licence (MPL), the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) is currently drawing up programme standards and regulations, which could be ready in mid-2007, according to Captain Colin Jordaan, general manager of SAA's flight operations.

However, pilot associations around the world, including the Airline Pilots Association of South Africa (Alpa-SA), do not support the MPL, saying the safety of passengers will be compromised.

Jordaan said in an interview this week that the initiative would fast-track the num-ber of black pilots employed by the national carrier. At present, the airline employs just 66 black men and women pilots out of a total of 796.

SAA's target, introduced in 1996, was to have 300 black pilots by last year.

Jordaan said the new type of licence would be "a heck of a lot cheaper" to imple-ment than the airline's cadet school, which costs SAA R750 000 per person for the intensive 18-month course.

SAA already owns four simulators required for the new training and would thus only be paying for electricity and maintenance costs, he added.

Jordaan said the airline was intrinsically involved in the ICAO steering group drawing up the MPL regulations and that information was fed regularly to the South African Qualifications Authority to ensure that the programme, when implemented, would comply with the country's training regulations.

"We will be able to take a person off the street and train them in our simulators for between 12 and 18 months.

"They will then be able to move into the right-hand seat of a Boeing 747 as co-pilot," Jordaan said.

He said the course would be designed specifically for airline flying and would not devote any time to "unnecessary aspects" such as using topographical maps.

The course would entail just 70 hours of flying time in a real aircraft as opposed to the 200 flying hours required in order to get a commercial pilot's licence.

MPL graduates would only be able to fly in a "multi-crew environment" for the first few years, he added.

Opposition to the plan has been widespread, with organisations such as the European Cockpit Association (ECA), representing 29 professional pilots' associations, saying that the MPL risks downgrading the standards of commercial flight training when aircraft are becoming increasingly complex and when air traffic is expected to rise substantially over the coming years.

"Downgrading of these standards can not be accepted in an industry that relies on a permanently increasing safety profile and which faces numerous challenges over the coming years," the ECA said.

Alpa-SA president Harvey van Rooyen said he was concerned that while simulations could be useful, weather patterns such as storms could not be simulated.

The new licence was "obviously about costs" and Alpa-SA did not believe that 18-year-olds off the street would be able to handle intensive pilot training.

More thought should be given to taking in university graduates who were PC literate and had certain "technical advantages", said Van Rooyen.

"It is a little bit of a leap forward and people are just assuming it will work but I have my reservations. Flying is not monkey see, monkey do. You need to create people who can think under pressure.

"You can't pluck a rabbit out of a hat and then say: 'There you go! Transformation has been sorted out'," he said.

Jordaan brushed off claims that SAA's programme would compromise aviation safety. He said today's aircraft design and training programmes placed emphasis on co-operation between crew members unlike "in the old days when all the decisions were made by the captain".

Co-pilots would spend 10 years in the right-hand seat of aircraft before attaining commander status, he added.
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Old 16th Sep 2006, 23:49
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He said today's aircraft design and training programmes placed emphasis on co-operation between crew members unlike "in the old days when all the decisions were made by the captain".
Seems to me that this arrangement will place more, not less, responsibility on the shoulders of the captain than ever before. A pilot and a gear monitor don't a crew make. Right back to the old days of single pilot captain and seat filler/chief bottle washer. Except that these days, cappy will probably be required by feel-good company policy to pretend that the gear monitor has an opinion worth hearing. I hope they are up for the extra work.

So be it!
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Old 17th Sep 2006, 03:10
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The concept of the MPL proposal was to reduce the overall training time not necessarily to reduce costs.

The MPL requirements indicate a total time of 240 hours, with a basic element of approximately 60 flight hours up to PPL standard. After this, all training will be in a synthetic environment with the student spending approx 60 hrs split between PF and PNF on a level-A type simulator to achieve a basic level of competency before a further 60 hrs again split between PF and PNF achieving the next intermediate level of competency.
ICAO indicate that this device should be a generic type with advanced visuals but not necessarily with motion.
Only the final 60 hrs should be spent on a level-D simulator that represents the aircraft type to be flown.

IMHO the use of level-D type specific sims or even decommissioned old (aircraft) generation sims for the basic and intermediate stages is totally inappropriate.

In needs to be remembered that the intensive use of specific dedicated simulators in airline student training programmes is not new. Lufthansa Bremen stated their programme with 5 Cheyenne FFSs in the 80s. Alitalia’s Sardinia school mirrored this with their own Cheyenne FFS and SQ have been operating Lear FFSs solely for student training purposes for many years to name but a few. Of course these programmes supplemented flight training as opposed to replacing it.

Whilst within these illustrious PPRuNe walls I am not suitably qualified to comment on the merits (or demerits) of the MPL as a concept and I’ll leave this to those that are I do strongly believe that the simulation industry, whether manufacturers, regulators and to some degree users have ‘screwed up’ big time by not defining any standards for the generic type simulator envisaged for the basic and intermediate stages of synthetic training and until these standards are defined, agreed and adopted both industry wide and worldwide, the MPL is not going to achieve what ICAO presented to the industry over 2 years ago in Pheonix.

The RAeS Flight Simulation Working Group amongst others is actively working on the issue now but with some establishments already investing in expensive synthetic training equipment to support their MPL programmes, adoption and acceptance of standards is now going to be that much harder.

Any operator that sees the MPL only as a cost cutting/cost saving exercise has really lost the plot.
Competency based, effective and applicable training accomplished within a shorter timeframe was the goal. Cheap training only was never the objective.
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Old 17th Sep 2006, 05:26
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We've had a generation...or two perhaps, that have very little experience of flying a seriously compromised aircraft, or indeed an aircraft at all sometimes. Now do I understand that the ONLY other pilot apart from the captain on this substantial aircraft, will be without ANY REAL flying skills? I'm sorry about the shouting, but I'm unable to stop myself.

This is mind-boggling irresponsibility, just an incapacitated captain and a coincidental malfunction and the result could be catastrophic.
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Old 17th Sep 2006, 06:39
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Saa Mpl

Ok Guys and Girls, Let's stand back and think about this one.
We all know that SAA invented flying, (They think so anyway), Over the years they of course have perfected it beyond anyone else, (They think so of course).
Is it not fair to now let them come full circle and destroy all they have achieved???
In my humble opinion this policy would be an unmitigated disaster.
Let's hear from some of the everyday Line Capt's at SAA what they think about this. Will they be happy to have a 70Hr wonder sitting next to them negotiating the "Welkom Waghonde" on a late summers afternoon? Or how about going to the bunk over darkest Africa and letting same 70hr wonder try negotiate traffic, weather and levels with Khartoum via HF?
Good luck chaps, I'll be on another carrier.
Old 17th Sep 2006, 08:48
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Another reason ( amoungst many )I wont ever fly them again, nor will anyone in my family or anyone in my company
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Old 17th Sep 2006, 09:42
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Let us hope the Captain doesnít become incapacitated during the ten years itís going to take the seat warmer to get a vague clue about whatís going on.
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Old 17th Sep 2006, 10:23
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Before everyone gets too focused on SAA it should be remembered that others have already commenced MPL programmes.

SQ/Alteon Beta project is about to start. Alpha Aviation has ordered aircraft and a simulator for their MPL programme in the Philippines (to train initially Kingfisher & Deccan ab-initios). Many others are in advanced stages of preparation.

Whether one agrees or disagrees, the MPL is here.

The adoption and implementation is the greatest challenge and with synthetic training being 75% of the programme, this element is far from ready for this challenge.
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Old 17th Sep 2006, 23:04
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Political Correctness can be a powerful force. Yes, it can really change the way we get things done in this world.
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Old 18th Sep 2006, 01:14
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10Hrs PIC?

What about when the MPL holder wants to convert to an ATPL and become a Captain?

My interpretation of amendment 167 to ICAO Annex 1 says that an MPL holder needs a minimum 10 hrs PIC. Depending on how National Authorities allow the use of Pilot-In-Command under supervision (PICUS), an MPL holder can avoid the requirement of any further Command time (previously 100 hrs, now 70hrs) PIC for an ATPL by accruing 500hrs PICUS from the Right Seat of a multi crew aeroplane.

Thus an ATPL holder that converted from an MPL could conceivably have 10 hrs PIC and the rest under instruction, Co-Pilot or PICUS.

Is my interpretation of ATPL holders having only 10 hrs PIC incorrect or unlikely? If it is correct, does it matter? Can the airline training organisations handle such a reduction in command requirements for ATPL holders?

For those who cannot access ICAO documents I believe its requirements are mirrored in JAR NPA-FCL 31 particularly Para JAR-FCL 1.280.
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Old 18th Sep 2006, 03:31
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Aside from all the safety issues pointed out, can you think of anything more deadly than having to complete 240hrs in a simulator? With no real flying except before and after 240 hours of practise ILS/go around, SE work, electrical failure, gear up landing etc, etc. How many scenarios would you need to fill those 240 hours? Like most kids nowadays, they'll be able to handle the computer after a few hours, but a simulator whizz kid is probably not going to be much help, if or when they get spooked in the real world.

How do you persuade newbies to sign up? Come along and sit in a simulator for the equivalent of 10 non-stop days, and then have no chance of command upgrade for the next 10 years
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Old 18th Sep 2006, 05:48
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" Flying is not monkey see, monkey do."

Unfortunate choice of phrase in the circumstances by Fat Albert. Beware or the PC police will be on your case !!

Last edited by rmac; 18th Sep 2006 at 05:49. Reason: spelling
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Old 18th Sep 2006, 06:22
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You got exactly to the point. Every lesson has to be filled with useful content.
Just flying the autopilot and reading checklists locks all the attention to satisfying the guy in the aft seat.
Real descisions make pilots beeing commanders after time. This requires real time pressure to the brain.

In fact this high amount of time in the sim will be done on a thumb sitting duck simulator having the level of micro+*#.

If they use a real airliner full flight sim we are talking about 400 - 500 dollars/h about 2 times the price of a training twin. Where is the business case - in a class room with 30 PC's.

happy landings for those having a yoke or stick (dont weigh the sequence )
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Old 18th Sep 2006, 07:33
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Originally Posted by PAXboy View Post
Political Correctness can be a powerful force. Yes, it can really change the way we get things done in this world.
Certainly - but not for the better

How do you persuade newbies to sign up? Come along and sit in a simulator for the equivalent of 10 non-stop days, and then have no chance of command upgrade for the next 10 years
This should be quite easy - the chance of getting to play with a REAL flightsim is gonna be enough to draw the punters in. Look, people spend many, many more hours playing online games or, indeed, FlightSim.

What worries me (as a pax) is what has been expressed by several posters already: I doubt that these people will make the right decisions under pressure, especially if these involve 'thinking outside the box'. Another thread on here discusses the (IMHO very brave and laudable) decision by an Onur Air captain not to depart with an a/c he deemed unsafe. Would one of these 70-hour wonders really consider ALL factors ? MEL, wx, alternates ? One wonders.

Only hope, methinks, is that at least some of them get the bug and take flying lessons after they're qualified - hey, who would've thought it'll ever come to this: learn to fly a 172 AFTER you're qualified to fly a 747
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Old 18th Sep 2006, 12:56
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Thumbs up In defence of the MPL-license...

So what exactly is it that the extra 130 hours in a PA28 and PA34 are gonna give our student?

These hours are - largely - worthless. You spend ages and ages training stuff that is type/class-specific, and of little worth when going straight into the RHS of a commercial jet. Actual flying hours spent putting around the flagpole on a doubious syllabus are far less worth than simulated hours spent flying the aircraft that you will eventually operate, according to a comprehensive syllabus

As for decision-making (especially thinking outside the box) - what makes people think that todays cadets with 250 hrs "real" aircraft have skills in this area that you cannot gain in a sim? On a multi-engine "real" aircraft, you generally train 6 failures (engine fire, engine failure, generator failure, loss of one instrument power source, gear will not extend , flaps will not extend) to a high standard. In a simulator you train these, plus many, many more. Have taught engine failure shortly after V1 in both MEPs and simulators... In the "real" aircraft, you could do 4 of these in an hour, still leaving the student with a need to do further training to master the manoeuvre. In the sim, we'd do 10-14 in one hour, and the student would now master the manoeuvre, only needing brush-up-work for the rest of the course. Plus, you can take a break in when the student needs further explainantion or gets tired in the sim, a facility that the "real" aircraft sadly lacks (short of the instructor taking control), and you can simulate ATC, cabin crew, dispatchers and ATC to your hearts content - in the "real" aircraft, any attempt to teach the student any such pitfalls would require a lot of coordination (and the FI owing the guys in the tower a lot of beer - just try doing com-fail into a busy CTR).

Bottom line - the simulator is a much more effective training tool that the "real" aircraft, you can teach the student far more things, teach them quicker and better, and you can let the student commit all the errors that you feel are necessary without having to intervene. After all, it's quite easy to say "Noooo...that's not really what we're looking for" and do a reset. Anyone who prefers "real" aircraft training over simulator training are in urgent need to expand their horizons and get a better feel of the subject before posting.

Wonder how many of the "OMG-brigade" have conducted both basic and airline training and had a chance to evaluate how well these two match? And how easy it is to get your student thinking along the lines of the latter after spending 18 months doing the former?

Last edited by Empty Cruise; 18th Sep 2006 at 13:17. Reason: ...forgot (and later remembered) an important point
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Old 18th Sep 2006, 16:59
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Good Post Empty Cruise.

Most of the flight training carried out at present bears no resembelance as to what is required to operate the latest generation of transports. Smashing around in a light twin shooting NDB approaches is a total waste of time and resources.

Wether or not the MPL is the right vehicle for current training will become apparent over time and it will be tuned to meet the needs. What is apparent is that the current training is not the right tool.
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Old 18th Sep 2006, 20:09
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Agree with Empty Cruise

....mostly agree with what Empty Cruise is saying.. But, I also feel that the simulator is just a big Playstation and part of you knows that. You can't re-create the pressure of a crappy dark night in the sim! Flying real aircraft where you feel a sense of self-risk is an important part of gaining confidence.

However, once trained and flying the line, experience is quickly gained flying the real aircraft. I reckon after 500 hours, you're initial training becomes a relatively minor factor.

However, (again) I don't think anyone should go ab-initio (conventional or MPL) into a long-haul job - not enough handling experience is gained when flying long haul. There should be some minimum like 1500 T/Os and Landings required before getting a job on a long-haul jet.
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Old 18th Sep 2006, 20:15
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ok, well done empty cruise, give yourself a pat on the back becausae you clearly have all the answers. and whilst most of your arguments 'could' be legit, all i want to know is where on earth are these new MPL's going to gain the invaluable 'building block' type experience. which you and others seem to think is a waste of time.

i mean the type of flying that you get driving your caravan around in africa dodging thunderstorms, landing on rubbish runways, getting lost and learning how to make a plan, when just about all else fails.

i know you're probably going to say that the scenario that i have just described is worth nothing to a MPL, that will only ever land at lovely big airports and fly the GPS home. and i somewhat agree with that. but then you are missing my point. there is a huge learning curve that has to be travelled as a young pilot, and i think a lot of people feel that the MPL doesn't cater for that.

now if an MPL isn't going to be able to be a capt for 100 years then we are creating a new problem here and it will be an even bigger one than what is trying to be dealt with now, the lack or virtual non existance of suitable captians and training captains. where to go now.

lets see how politics solves that one bud.........................
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Old 18th Sep 2006, 20:20
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Amen buttline, nicely said.........that experience is vital. feeling your life is at risk in a particular ugly situation can be a huge learning process.

not saying people must go and threaten their lives, but i think you all get the picture. a sim ain't going to hurt you that bad!!!!
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Old 18th Sep 2006, 20:24
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I really do not want to waste a year of my life to do the quite frankly pointless ATPL.

The stuff you are required to learn is superfluous to day to day big bus driving.

An entire shake up of the whole process should be called for.
In the anologue days when you had to be a real pilot lots of it was relevant, and pilot knowledge was genuinely needed and used as a highlighted safety issue to calm passengers.
Now pretty much everyone knows how computer reliant modern airliners are, to the point where an imput by an up to date sytems operator cant even exceed a certain angle of bank without the computer relinquishing control.

Handflying in some airlines is now actively discouraged so where is the real skill?

Management that is all it is.

I realise that some of the responses here are from people who have fully been through the mill as far as training goes and would hate to see someone next to them who has done half if not a quarter of the training that they have done. The truth is how many of you really remember everything you learnt? I for one would want to kill if i wasted said year and a: got hit by a bus and b: the syllabus changed.

Go for it SAA start the wave..

It has always amazed me the lengths people will go to, to fly for an airline. Just the other day i drove past a ryr hostie waiting for a bus. I thought " My god you have paid for your training and uniform. Pilots starting at 5 in the morning and late finishes with no perks. There is just no appeal and most of them just seem to take it. It will go one of two ways. Pay cuts or reduced requirements for experience.

We all hold the keys to the future of aviation.

Something will give soon

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