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Multicrew pilot licence numbers grow as it approaches proof of concept

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Multicrew pilot licence numbers grow as it approaches proof of concept

Old 19th Nov 2012, 18:37
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Post Multicrew pilot licence numbers grow as it approaches proof of concept


IN FOCUS: Multicrew pilot licence numbers grow as it approaches proof of concept

At the end of 2013, ICAO will hold a proof-of-concept symposium for the multicrew pilot licence (MPL) adopted in 2006. The licence and training system could be rejected as inadequate - but is that likely? Not according to Capt Dieter Harms, a senior Lufthansa pilot also known as "father of the MPL" for his work with ICAO and the International Federation of Air Line Pilots' Associations to define the competency elements and performance requirements for a pilot operating as a part of an airline crew, on which the award of an MPL is based. There are more than 600 MPL-licensed pilots globally, Harms told the Royal Aeronautical Society's (RAeS) Flight Crew Training Conference in September, adding that "the vast majority are performing above the standards expected of graduates from the commercial pilot licence courses".

MPL take-up has been slow but is accelerating, Harms says: 50 US states recognise MPL, 16 countries have flight-training organisations that run MPL courses, and 20 airlines have set up partnerships with FTOs to train their pilots to MPL standards. Harms says that in December 2010, 1,000 MPL students enrolled, with 180 graduations. By September 2012, there were 1,900 enrolments and 600 MPL graduations. ICAO says future qualifications for pilots and air traffic controllers will be subject to the same competency measurements used to define MPL requirements. The organisation makes it clear this is the only viable route not only to measurable competency, but to unified global standards in licensing aviation professionals.


Mitchell Fox, ICAO chief of flight operations at the Air Navigation Bureau, said at the RAeS conference that once on the line, recurrent training for pilots and controllers will be increasingly shaped by evidence of training needs, rather than performance of statutory exercises which Harms calls "inventory-based training".

The new concept, known as evidence-based training, is already in use by some carriers such as Emirates. The use of line experience to determine what is required, and adopting the concept of training pilots to competency in particular manoeuvres or scenarios rather than only testing them on a pass/fail basis, will bring a new culture to recurrent training.

Harms explains the basis for the new emphasis on competency-based - rather than hours-based - training that arrived with the MPL: "It is based on the insight that inventory-based training and the repetition of past accident scenarios is insufficient to prepare pilots and crews to successfully handle the infinite number of unforeseeable situations they might face and that only the existence and the continuous application of a set of core competencies enable pilots and crews to operate safely, efficiently and effectively, and manage the infinite number of abnormal situations in modern civil aviation."

The facts of modern aviation are that increased reliability will mean rarer technical occurrences, but increasing aircraft complexity also raises the chances that - when things do go wrong - the number of unforeseeable combinations of factors that could occur also increases.

Training, Harms argues, has to provide crews with the basic knowledge, skills and mental resilience to be able to deal with combinations of circumstances for which there is no checklist solution. It is proactive rather than reactive training, he adds, predicting: "Be assured, MPL will continuously grow. The recovery from the current crisis will augment this trend, provided that the international airline training and regulating community is able to facilitate a globally harmonised and standardised implementation."

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Old 19th Nov 2012, 20:06
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Bring back the requirement to hold a full ATPL before operating in aircraft greater than 5700 Kg's!

The standard of Cadets has been steadily declining and is now at the stage where I feel I am operating a large commercial aircraft with the aid of an apprentice. I only have to compare what a long 4 sector day feels like when operating with these very inexperienced pilots compared to flying with an SFO to know it is not right. When I had as many hours as these guys it was just my pink body I was putting on the line and not 100's of fare paying passengers.

My first commercial job followed many years of multi-transport military flying; I found the conversion hard work and can barely fathom how these cadets manage; however, I very much feel that rather than giving them a conversion onto an A/C type we are now using large commercial A/C to teach them how to fly and land, rather than applying an already learnt skill onto a new A/C type.

This has resulted in a complete 'dumbing down' of our profession to the extent where we are required to verbally announce the wind component on selection of Flap! Our Company are now on its 2nd fleet wide landing campaign as a result of heavy/tail scrape landings whilst ignoring the blinding obvious that if you employ 'zero' hour pilots in preference to the many experienced pilots available in the market at the moment, then you invite this risk into your operation. It is not until the guy's get around 1500 hours experience that you find yourself sat next to a competent operator! Um, 1500 hours, that rings a bell?
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Old 19th Nov 2012, 20:46
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capt hook,well said,i could not agree more !
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Old 19th Nov 2012, 20:52
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Capt Hook,

Its all well and good what you are saying, But there is simply NO jobs.
I got lucky i'm flying A nice shinny jet. It took me 3 years to get my first flying job. Having worked in a previous Career to fund my training.
Believe me I would have liked to start off Instructing then small turbo props working my way up ETC, But there are no jobs here for beginners. Also you must agree how expensive that would be for me, Because I can Guarantee all these companies would want you to pay for type ratings.

When I was in search for a job I took a month off work travelled the whole of the UK personally handing out my CVs to everyone, Flight schools, Small operators Large operators Nearly over 1000 CVs. Only one company got back to me, The company im flying with today.

To say that I had limited experience back then, (and still do now) that im not capable for the job is dam right disrespectful. I have first time passes all my flying career, I do good OPC/LPC time in time out, Good line training spend most of my free time preparing for my next flight, or studying the FCOMS. Just feel your a little harsh there Buddy.

Good evening

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Old 19th Nov 2012, 21:09
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Thats you pal - as you say it. But if you are right you are the exception in my experience.

Most of the new pilots (less than 2000 hrs) where I fly have difficulty putting the aircraft in the touchdown zone as well as deficiencies in RT and general aviation knowledge. OK it is Africa but apparently they have been trained to the same standards in S.A. And the U.S.A.

It will all work out in the end one way or another.
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Old 19th Nov 2012, 21:14
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I very much doubt that I am a "exception". But I have worked dam right hard to be where I am today. I will continue to do so. When i watch my Pax board the Aircraft, young kids, Babies. To know that all these people are trusting me is a huge responsibility for me. That is the reason I strive to perfect my Knowledge.
Im just your average joe, No smarty blue eyed boy. I just take pride in my profession.
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Old 19th Nov 2012, 22:16
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A320 baby,

May I make one small point, and no disrespect is intended here, as an FO you only get to fly with other capts. Now while the standard can vary here too (!!) hopefully they are all reasonably experienced and competent.

You certainly seem to be a very conscientious individual, and I have no reason to doubt your commitment, or ability. However, as you do not yet have the opportunity to fly with other colleagues having your current level of experience, please do not be surprised by comments that some may not reach the same high standards that you set for yourself.

I think it might be Shakespeare who said something along the lines that "experience is a jewel, and it has need to be, for it often bought at the ultimate price!" That's the history of aviation covered then...
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Old 20th Nov 2012, 00:24
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This broad-brush, 'all cadets are crap' nonsense that pervades these pages really annoys me. It all depends on where they've been trained, the philosophy behind that training and, of course, the individuals.

Flying with a certain, well known, British carrier I have flown with more than my fair share of cadets and can put my hand on my heart and tell you to a boy and a girl they were all good and I would have absolutely no compunction about flying with them on a dark and dirty night. That airline's philosophy was to to train 'captains of the future', not FOs, and that distinction is significant. In other parts of the World the emphasis is definitely training someone to operate the radio and sling the gear to order and this really shows when they are then called upon to act as PF in less than ideal conditions. The same could not be said of those cadets that were trained by the well known British airline. Their thinking was totally different, they operated just as an SFO would and their training was that of a pilot, not a radio operator.

My first commercial job followed many years of multi-transport military flying; I found the conversion hard work and can barely fathom how these cadets manage
I think this says far more about you than them. I'm not talking about you being a Truckie but the fact that, from day one, these cadets have had training relevant to the commercial field in which they're operating, whereas you had to 'convert' from Betty's Flying Club, no expense spared, providing a pretty lacklustre service for your 'customers', to civvy flying in a commercial operation with all that's involved in that. They've been brought up on FMCs, CPDLC etc, whereas you had to put up with 1950s technology and a flight deck full of specialists to make up for that paucity of decent kit. In short, it's not a big deal for them because the flight decks of today are just X boxes to them and they're learning the commercial side of things, just as you learnt the military operating side of things. Imagine if we said all military pilots have to join already trained to TWU standard (ATPL) and having already passed IOT (line ops)!

I will end by saying that a LOT of people that comment on cadets have never actually flown with them. Because they've had to do the 'hard yards' and have had to work hard to get where they are, they object to others who have been lucky enough to go an easier route. They pontificate with comments that flying a Cessna around darkest Africa has huge relevance to airline operations and how it helps make command decisions which, of course, is nonsense. I enjoy flying with these pilots because I find their stories interesting and their experiences are something they can cherish for life but people need to get off the 'pillory cadets' bandwagon. If they've been trained properly there's absolutely no need for them to have an ATPL to sit on the right seat of a 737 (or whatever) and having 1500 hours flying a 152 around the circuit does not them more or less useful when the chips are down.
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Old 20th Nov 2012, 01:01
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I'm sorry Pontius...

But that might be the most ignorant post of the year. Forget about the exceptionally high standard of training and the washout rate involved in just qualifying for status as a military aviator. Look at the realities of training to a combat standard, fatalities and near misses are simply a part of the job.

Go beyond that and look at the operational conditions in peacetime military flying and then go to X10 for flying in combat conditions. For you to compare the quality of a fully qualified military aviator with at least one complete tour under his belt to a cadet (or even a 1500 hour civilian) is telling.
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Old 20th Nov 2012, 01:03
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Having recently retired after over 40 years in the business I have to agree with Capt. Hook. I'm sure that there are a few very good performing MPL's out there but sadly I never had the pleasure of flying with one.
Shakespeare was right.

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Old 20th Nov 2012, 02:40
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IMHO anybody approving of such MPL or similar programs is simply adding a nail into the coffin of future safe operations.

Without wanting to go into details of why such training, and by the way a lot of today's training in general, is not adequate enough, I simply want to state here, that the flying skill of the FOs I flew with the last 5-10 years, has gradually deteriorated. Not the human quality, not the general aviation knowledge!
It's a simple observation, please take it as that.

Todays sops do not allow a gradual increase of flying skill. Too many restrictions for FOs, too stringent sops to execute other than the highest automated approaches and too many hidden (management) threats to skippers if something goes only slightly wrong, makes that any even slightly special conditions are handled by the skipper, almost every approach goes ILS down to 200 feet.

These FOs then go through upgrade in the same system. They come out as sops performing monkeys and within sometimes one year they run around the ops-centre as TRIs. Logically enough they continue to preach the same very restricted sops and propagate their extremely limited experience, admittedly with their extremely profound knowledge of the AOM and sops, to the newly admitted MPL cadets.

It's a vicious circle and no one wants to break it.

When something sad happens (i.e. AF 447), the involved are very rapidly counting out the standard of training. It was just the individual pilots that screwed up, even if the whole crew was involved. But the training is called as up to regulatory minimum and the airline, the regulator and in close cooperation the manufacturer wash each others hands ..... and together they go one step further in cutting cost and training.

It's a vicious circle and no one wants to break it.

If the older, mostly more experienced pilots start pointing at the deficits, there is a huge, well armed lobby (especially financially) to cry them down.

As skippers, it has been said before, we are more and more confronted with a pilot to our side who is not capable of replacing us. A simple incapacitation might be handled, the autopilot with the FMS and ATC will allow a safe landing. But if we are at 70N30W and confronted with difficult multiple system failures, the new generation FOs are more of a burden than a help, because of their lack of experience. I cannot let them fly at high altitude without AP (lack of skill), risk and damage assessment is a stranger to them, so they are mostly tasked to do the electronic checklists. Now we know how many traps are incorporated there, so we have to follow up very closely that they do not screw up . Again, I do not dare stating why, but it's an experienced observation.

To conclude I reiterate that it is not the human or intellectual quality, it simply the lack of training, time-wise and hours on the real thing. By the real thing I not only mean the final airliner, but the initial goat that had to be dominated, the first underpowered twin with EO and the hours in a aerobatic donkey!!

All this is fatally missing on the belts of today's aviators. And it shows.

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Old 20th Nov 2012, 03:30
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Yet what blows my mind is that guys like myself with thousands of hours operating around the globe in small aircraft are struggling to find work over guys who have an MPL or MCC licence with "zero" hours.

To say there is no work out there is bull****. You will move around the globe to fly the big metal, so why not move around the world to fly the smaller stuff.
I have done that and it has been one hell of an experience.

How can you possibly say that a person with an MPL is just as good as someone who has had real world experience.
Can you trust them to catch you if you make a small error and forget something?
Don't try to preach that you will never make mistakes.

I'm not talking about simple checklist stuff like forgetting to put gear down. I'm talking about things like when you are suffering from visual illusions or flying through heavy icing.

How about when dealing with emergency situations? Or when the chicken doesn't agree with you?

Sure maybe after five hundred or a thousand hours that these guys become competent, but until then....
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Old 20th Nov 2012, 05:13
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For you to compare the quality of a fully qualified military aviator with at least one complete tour under his belt to a cadet (or even a 1500 hour civilian) is telling.
I suggest you re-read my post and tell me where I compared the two I thank you for your nomination of Ignorant Post Of The Year but I'll have to decline the offer as I am not ignorant of the facts and those are portrayed in my message. If I were writing as supposed SLF, then perhaps I might not know about what I write. On the other hand, as an ex-military single-seat, fast jet aviator (as you like to call them), a commercial airlines captain and one who has flown with a good number of cadets, I think I write from a position of reasonable knowledge, as opposed to ignorance.

Go beyond that and look at the operational conditions in peacetime military flying and then go to X10 for flying in combat conditions.
Thank you, again, for your lesson in a subject with which I am familiar but, again, look at what I wrote (carefully this time), climb off that high horse and then tell me where I'm comparing the standards of military training and operations with civilian.


How can you possibly say that a person with an MPL is just as good as someone who has had real world experience.
I'm not saying (and didn't say) ALL. I am saying that those I flew with, who were trained as 'future captains', rather than FOs and who knew more than slinging gear are just as good as a good proportion of those with 'real world experience', better than some and worse than others.

This broad-brush, 'all cadets are crap' nonsense that pervades these pages really annoys me.
Again, this is what I wrote, with the emphasis being on 'broad-brush'. What some of the nay-sayers consider 'real world experience' (for instance, bashing the circuit in the right seat of a Cessna 152) has little relevance to airline operations. This imagined scenario where, because of the plethora of 'real world experience' he's going to be given more scope for saving the day is nonsense. In day-to-day operations, where SOPs dictate how we operate, there is so little latitude for individual 'creativity' to shine through. I'd much rather have a cadet who does what's required by the airline and operates in a standard manner than someone who's spent 3000 hours flying a C185 in the bush and wants to demonstrate to me and my passengers what a great pilot he is. 'Real world experience' definitely had its place when aircraft were basically a hand-flown, single man operation but things have moved on and our perception of pilots as all-conquering heroes needs to advance too. Yes, there will be occasions when things go wrong and require pilots AND experience but Cadet X is not going to be doing anything in isolation, just as SFO Y is not going to be doing anything in isolation, because it's a team job and the bloke in the left seat has got a veto if he doesn't like what's going on in the right seat.

How about when dealing with emergency situations?
If I haven't already 'outed' myself, this isn't going to help I had a cadet pilot in the right seat of a 737, who was on their first flight, having been cleared to the line the day before. This pilot had fewer than 200 hours in their logbook (JAR 'frozen' ATPL). We had to shut down an engine in flight and then followed Company SOPs, FO flies the approach for captain's landing. This supposedly incapable pilot (lacking in loads of 'real world experience'), flew and operated the aircraft like a dream and made my job extremely easy for me. In summary, when dealing with an emergency situation, it couldn't have gone better if it were a 15000 hour captain sitting next to me. Doubtless you will tell me there are exceptions to the rules and I agree.......both ways

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Old 20th Nov 2012, 05:49
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MPL is the way they found to hide single pilot operation on modern aircraft.
Next step is no pilot operation as MPL will upgrade to captain position on cabin crew salary basis.
What the hell have they between their ears.
I hate these technocrats but we are all responsible of the current situation.
Major airlines have maintain a good package untill now and unions did not react on licence downgrading as the majority of their memberships were flying for them.
Future for everybody will be a real pension shame
Capitalism is more and more looking like Communism where real workers work to pay for administration staff and a few happy folks.
Down down and down untill we hit the ground.
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Old 20th Nov 2012, 06:51
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I was going to write a post pointing out the many flaws in peoples arguements, and the many (at least theoretical) advantages of MPL training. But then I decided you all seem so set in your ways that it would be a complete waste of my time. Instead I look forward to discussing it in the flight deck with you, seeing as clearly you'll be doing all the flying.

And to the ex-military multi pilot (Cpt Hook). If you were so awesome why didn't you get streamed fastjet after EFT? And maybe this is backed up by the fact you admit you found it hard to convert? Maybe you flew both, in which case fair play, but remember to thank Betty for the free type-ratings!

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Old 20th Nov 2012, 07:43
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V_2, I never said I was awesome; my remark was in recognition of the task achieved by such low hour individuals in remembering how hard it was when I completed my initial Airbus conversion, and that was with 14 years previous aviation experience; it was not meant as a criticism to any individuals, quite the opposite!

I have been in the training role for over 8 years now (Airbus), and my posting was based on those observations. Arriving on such large A/C, with such little experience, it is apparent that many individuals are still very much learning to fly.

We should not be using large commercial A/C full of passengers as a tool in order to train pilots how to fly and Land, rather, they should already have mastered these skills and it is then simply a case of applying the technique (conversion course). My experience is that the former is now prevailing over the later, and this is recognised by the myriad of restrictions now appearing in response to an increasing number of landing incidents.

What these cadets lack is experience, and after a couple of years they prove to be very competent operators; itís how they gain this experience that is the issue!
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Old 20th Nov 2012, 08:31
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There is no substitute for experience index

Unfortunately there are those that disagree. Usually accountants. (who think they know the cost of every thing including hard landings. BUT know the value of nothing)
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Old 20th Nov 2012, 09:05
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Before I give my replies, I want to make sure I understand what`s being said.


1. Do you say that cadet schemes provide the most satisfactory source of FOs?

2. Do you contend that cadet standards, far from declining, are satisfactory?

3. Are you saying that, on balance, you consider operational and system knowledge to be more important than basic handling skills and airmanship with regards to flying an airliner?

4. If the answer to 3 is yes, what general aircraft specification do you believe imparts skills that are "transferable" to airline operations?


1. Are you saying that FJ streaming indicates "easy" transitions in the future?

2. When determining training processes, do you believe in training for the most capable or least capable candidate?


- Are you saying that the absence of other flying opportunities is a legitimate reason to allow newly qualified pilots to operate as commercial SICs?

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Old 20th Nov 2012, 09:24
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I think a few things need to be put in context here.

Certainly within the UK MPL programmes the following are true:

The only difference between a ATPL(F) and MPL is the single pilot hire/reward restriction. They can however still fly PPL so long as they have their SEP slip stamped because they complete all requiste training to fly to that level.

A typical MPL student will arrive to the airline with c. 110 flight hours as opposed to c.150 for the ab initio ATPL(F). The difference comes in the amount of time, at the latter stages, spent in a suitable simulator.

At 1500 hours it all becomes a moot point anyway because they upgrade to an ATPL in the same way an ATPL(F) would.

Having trained MPL and ATPL(F) students alike on the line, there is very little difference. Both sets of students have the same relative problems at the same relative points.

If you want to be a single crew pilot, do a ATPL(F) course. If you want to be a multi-crew pilot, do a MPL course.

Incidentally, under the UK CAA, in order to have a valid MPL course, you must have an airline partner because the MPL is not complete until the base training has been successfully done (amongst other reasons).
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Old 20th Nov 2012, 09:24
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Some of the posters here seem to be confusing experience with competence.

Competence: "The ability to do something successfully or efficiently".
Experience: "Practical contact with and observation of facts or events".

Experience is no guarantee of competence (though it may help), and if the MPL delivers competent co-pilots, I do not see that there is a problem.
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