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FAA proposes to strengthen airline pilot training

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FAA proposes to strengthen airline pilot training

Old 13th May 2011, 09:37
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Correct me if I am wrong but I thought that the Colgan Air Dash 8 didn't stall UNTIL the Capt. pulled back on the control column and the FO retracted the flaps. All that was happening until then was the stick shaker had activated due to the ice protection switch being activated.

Once the stall occurred after the aircraft was severely mishandled following the activation of the stick shaker, it half rolled into a severe nose down attitude and the rest is history.

Whatever the recovery technique used it would have worked because all it needed at that point was an increase in speed, it wasn't actually falling out of the sky. What wasn't required was what the crew subsequently did, whether out of ignorance, poor training or tiredness who knows.
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Old 13th May 2011, 09:46
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Hmmm, whilst I certainly agee that a broader aviation experience is generally better than hopping directly into the right seat of an Airbus or Being I think we must also be honest with ourelves and others regarding some of the "glorified" routes into the cockpit of a modern jet transport.

Many pilots say they are glad that they had to do instructing, cargo-flying in light aircraft etc before getting a shot at a commuter/regional.

I agree to some extend. However: There is a limit to what instructing in light aircraft will do for your airline pilot skills. Also, I am glad I never had to fly badly maintained old airplanes for a crap-operation (such as some light aircraft cargo or pax charter operators) for a living. Also, bad operators can form lot's of bad habits (accepting airplanes that are not quite airworthy, flying around CBs without wx-radat erc, overloaded aircraft etc) I am certainly not saying that this is true for all or even most entry level operators but we have all heard and read the stories.

In my view, ideally someone would do a bit of instructing (at a professional flight training organisation), a bit of turboprop flying with a professional operator on well-maintained aircarft, respecting the FARs or equivalent, and then move on to a jet-airline with high training and ops standards.

Having said all that, I do still believe that the ab-initio approach (zero-to hero) can work if the training is completely airline-integrated from day one (Lufthansa, Air France etc). Sure, they can't teach experience but the training itself will be of very high quality and the selection is tough.

It always surprises me how everybody is happy that the military put their pilots through a very compreshensice and fast-paced traing program were guys in their early twenties fly fast jets with only a couple of hundred hours total time but the same thing in a two crew airline environment is considered unacceptable.
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Old 13th May 2011, 09:59
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Simulators and stalling

Simulators interpolate between data points collected from test aircraft. I believe the data points are well within the normal envelope; when outside the normal envelope, the simulator doesn't know how to behave; it's guessing.

This issue arose with upset training on B737s (the rudder thing). Some trainers were teaching to do a complete roll instead of countering the roll because the simulator showed more terrain clearance. Boeing highlighted the simulator could not accurately replicate such an extreme maneuver, and pilots should stick to recommended techniques.

My point: simply expanding a simulator syllabus to include full stalls may not be enough; there are technical issues too.
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Old 13th May 2011, 10:56
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It always surprises me how everybody is happy that the military put their pilots through a very compreshensice and fast-paced traing program were guys in their early twenties fly fast jets with only a couple of hundred hours total time but the same thing in a two crew airline environment is considered unacceptable.
You shouldn't be surprise, on a military fast-jet you do not carry 150 passengers!
But in order to avoid future surprises you should check the time-line, the training programs, and the pass rate in any military organization in the western world dedicated to train military pilots!
Instead in the an airline environment, where you must have two 'qualified' pilots to fly a plane, you deliberately putting a very experience captain with a low timer full of sh...t rich kid. Perfect scenario for a pilot incapacitation right after V1! ...and who is getting incapacitated is the captain of course! Please record the result after the first couple of crashes or the stats will look really bad!
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Old 13th May 2011, 11:24
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Another thing that is missing in our airline cockpits is knowledge of how to fly if you get in an unusual attitude. Spin recovery and doing a roll or recovering from inverted flight should be mandatory training. Hopefully you will never need it but what if you do? Everybody just dies because you couldn't handle it? A lot of the new right seat guys can't and probably neither can their captains teaching them. Our military guys are probably the only ones that have that training unless you did it on your own. I did it on my own because I wore glasses and the military wouldn't let me fly. I did get to solder wires on the USS Enterprise though in 69. A guy let me sit in an F4 on the hangar medivac deck one day going to Nam. Closest I got to Naval aviation.
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Old 13th May 2011, 12:01
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The training programs of the like of lufty or other big airlines that use cadet programs for the last 60 years are very comprehensive. Yes, of course you go out and do spin and unusual attitude training (in my case it was in a T34, nowadays its a G120 shared with the german air force). And of course it is not about "full of sh...t rich kids" as the training is sponsored until the student flies for the relevant airlines, it is about getting the best possible match. To achieve that said airlines use very thorough entry selection and training progress monitoring.

I am surprised though that approach to stall and stall training are not mandatory in the states. In every single simulator training event during my career we had to do that, every six months (once upon a time every three months), same as the V1 cut and the raw data OEI pattern and approach and of course and same as unusual attitude training although that is better done in the real world (in certified airplanes).
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Old 13th May 2011, 12:54
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A few things I remember about the Colgan crash that seem to have been missed:-

-Both pilots were badly paid and overworked.
-The Captain was very new to the Q400
-The Captain had commuted in from a 1000 miles away and had spent the previous night sleeping on and off in the crew room.
-The FO had commuted in from 2000+ miles away via two cargo flights.
-She had fallen sick in the night but decided to fly anyway because otherwise she would have to pay for her own accomodation and on $15,000 that was too much.
-Colgan training had included a NASA video detailing how to recover from a tailplane stall. The Q400 was not susceptible to tailplane stall.

In my opinion, that crash was nothing to do with the Captain or FO's basic ability to fly. They were dangerously tired and the Captain forgot to put the Power Levers forward again after slowing to capture the Loc. The aircraft stalled and he tried to do a tailplane stall recovery. The even more tired and sick FO retracted the flaps and..... It was the dysfunctional and dangerous cost cutting culture of Colgan and many other airlines that lead to this accident. No matter how many tests the Captain failed I'm sure he would not have got into that situation if he had been better rested and the FO would not have let it happen if she was on her game. Sullenberger, or any other pilot could have screwed up this way if they were in the mess those two pilot's were that day.

Most airline training is all done at minimum cost with competitive advantage gained from doing less or not at all. The FAA needs to increase the amount of recurrent and training that pilots are given. I don't mean increasing or intensifying testing either. Regulation is the answer.
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Old 13th May 2011, 13:27
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This issue arose with upset training on B737s (the rudder thing). Some trainers were teaching to do a complete roll instead of countering the roll because the simulator showed more terrain clearance
Would be most interested if you can quote the authoritive source of "some trainers". And could you amplify the statement "the rudder thing."

Without sounding too cynical, these statements do sound like "my mate told me and his mate told him".
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Old 13th May 2011, 13:43
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It always surprises me how everybody is happy that the military put their pilots through a very compreshensice and fast-paced traing program were guys in their early twenties fly fast jets with only a couple of hundred hours total time but the same thing in a two crew airline environment is considered unacceptable.
Yes, but the military still conduct aptitude testing which has a strongly-rooted scientific background. They also conduct extensive team management and leadership training long before Bloggs gets anywhere near an aeroplane.

Whereas some huggy-fluffy human resources spook interview and a few technical questions for existing licence holders who might even have paid for their own type rating seems all the airlines bother with - if that....

Last edited by BEagle; 13th May 2011 at 17:48.
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Old 13th May 2011, 13:53
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BEagle preaching to the choir, mate!
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Old 13th May 2011, 14:13
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Beagle, agree 100% - therein lies the key.
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Old 13th May 2011, 14:33
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They forgot to push up the throttles and then forgot how to recover from their self induced stall? How can you use regulations to fix that? I agree neither one had adequate rest but you can't blame that totally for their extremely poor performance that day. We have all flown extremely tired and somehow get through it without crashing. Usually the hardest part is driving home after an all nighter without falling asleep at the wheel.
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Old 13th May 2011, 15:27
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bubbers makes a good point, let me say something on that.

Lindbergh (remember him?) flew an uncomfortable, unsophisticated plane for over 33 hours...any reading of his books showed he had some moments of sleep/near sleep, and other difficulties.

he had challenges including letting fuel tanks run dry.

But, despite his challenges he kept from stalling and managed a safe landing...ALONE.


all this means is we should be able to take care of the basics of airmanship in a reduced state of focus...for whatever reason.
Colgan crashed because of deregulation, dropping the cost of running an airline to the mcdonald's level (hamburger chain). cheap on training, cheap on caring for your workers, and so many other things as to be scary.

IF deregulation had not happened, the flight would be a mainline flight in a jet like a 737, flown by two pilots who could have called in sick with no big hassle, who could afford to live within 90 minutes driving time of EWR airport, and who would have had training of high order. The captain probably would have had 17 years with the airline and the copilot probably 12 years.

along came deregulation and you get what you pay for...

I'll remind you that Lindbergh only had 2500 hours when he flew NY to Paris...but not one minute was on autopilot or with autothrottles.
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Old 13th May 2011, 17:48
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......but Lindburgh was running on pure adrenaline, with fame and glory on awaiting him on the other side of the Atlantic. For the Colgan pair it was just a standard day at the office for them and the rest of the regional airline industry. The law of averages caught up with them.

I agree with you, degregulation has slowly lead to a race to the bottom in the US. I worked out there for a few years and would not want to go back but much of Europe is going the same way. My employer does things the Colgan way too, cut back to the bone. Any increases in training will need to be forced by the authority, accountants won't do it.
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Old 13th May 2011, 18:07
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I knew some people would counter my military fast yet analogy because of the kack of pax but I guess that is not really the point. The selection and training are top notch and to the point. A bit like some of the ab initio programs I was refering to. Just trying to say that training and experience have to be relevant.

Also, I guess it is fair to say that the airforces don't want to let pilots loose in multi-million dollar airplanes if they are not fit for the task. Just like cargo aircraft don't have lower licensing/training requirements.

My point is: Experience is great but it needs to be relevant quality experience. Some ab-initio programs seem to be able to mitigate the lack of experience through tough selection and relevant quality training. I am not talking about some of the pilots pilots who "bought" a license and maybe a rating and went to work for a third class operator. Of course some of those pilots are just as good but quality control can be an issue.

By the way: I was a self-funded, self-improver having done night cargo turboprob, pax jet and corporate jets.
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Old 13th May 2011, 19:06
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I knew some people would counter my military fast yet analogy because of the kack of pax but I guess that is not really the point.
I wish one day the passengers will be able to choose not only the class of the ticket but also the pilots they want from a roster made by the airline.

The selection and training are top notch and to the point. A bit like some of the ab initio programs I was refering to. Just trying to say that training and experience have to be relevant.
Yes indeed! It is really not possible to compare for example a Royal Air Force College Cranwell to the best BA cadet program.

Experience is great but it needs to be relevant quality experience.
I guess everyone in the world would like to have the right amount of 'relevant quality experience', but I guess nobody really know the exact meaning of this very difficult, almost philosophical concept!


Some ab-initio programs seem to be able to mitigate the lack of experience through tough selection and relevant quality training.
Absolutely! Usually those very good ab-initio program are finalized to train pilot not to teach how to became one! Or usually those very good ab-initio program start with very good intent and end-up turning into a TR machine where its value is not quality but quantity and in the shortest amount of time!
I am not saying we have to start to teach pilot how to fly a plane with their butts again but it is really demotivating think about a young 21 year old kid (rich or poor whatever) starting his/her career start to push bottoms.
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Old 13th May 2011, 22:41
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I am surprised though that approach to stall and stall training are not mandatory in the states.
Denti-

There is a misunderstanding developing. There certainly is stall training in FAA land, the issue is that the emphasis is on minimizing altitude loss which then discourages aggressive lowering of the angle of attack.

In other words too much checkride choreography and too little reality.
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Old 13th May 2011, 23:07
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They forgot to push up the throttles and then forgot how to recover from their self induced stall? How can you use regulations to fix that?

Concur, poor training, and a system that allowed this to fester.
Forget lack of sleep, that is the individuals responsibility, and that can occur no matter how much experience....

Lack of training, lack of experience, and the broad brush of fundamentals required to obtain a license are the foundations of this problem.

How many of you have flown with someone in the right seat, where you dont even want to go to the bathroom and leave them at the controls....
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Old 16th May 2011, 11:11
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Denti-

There is a misunderstanding developing. There certainly is stall training in FAA land, the issue is that the emphasis is on minimizing altitude loss which then discourages aggressive lowering of the angle of attack.

In other words too much checkride choreography and too little reality.
if true, this is insane!

It always surprises me how everybody is happy that the military put their pilots through a very compreshensice and fast-paced traing program were guys in their early twenties fly fast jets with only a couple of hundred hours total time but the same thing in a two crew airline environment is considered unacceptable.
no way you can compare: military training is all about selection, if one can't do the job, he's out in the next few days, no second chance, no waste of hours to let him improve enough. In the army, you dont wanna know how much hours one needs to eventually reach the good level, you just wanna get pilots who can make it in the few hours scheduled.
Moreover, as mentionned before, i'm pretty sure you cant compare a military pilot course and the best cadet training program. But, you'll still need more than a couple of hundred hours to fly a fast jet, and you'll need much more hours to be qualified as an operationnal pilot on this aircraft.


Last word for fairweatherflyer, there's no way you can accept that being unable to recover from a stall is something else than poor training and lack of basic skills to say the least, this is definitely something every pilot should be able to do while being asleep...
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