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Is this a dying breed of Airman / Pilot for airlines?

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Is this a dying breed of Airman / Pilot for airlines?

Old 11th Apr 2011, 22:58
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skilled at watching an autopilot but precious little else .... when by the looks of things the priority should be on hand flying raw data instrument flying skills

As A37575 and I can reflect from a previous life, it is not too hard to bring these kids up to a competence level where they can drag the jet around, single pilot, hand flown raw data, and in lousy weather .. and land safely (and, for some, even with a modest touch of elegance) off an OEI ILS.

Doesn't make them aces or give them much depth of judgement. Does, however, give them the basics of recovery on a dark night if the Commander is dead or away with the fairies.

On average, about 1-2 simulator sessions worth of I/F and OEI practice during their initial endorsement programs - in the program I am referring to we had a reasonable control over getting a few extra hours in the box for the kids and we milked it for their benefit.

We have both had raw cadets straight off their < 200 hour CPL program able to fly a SP high workload OEI circuit in the 737 sim by the end of their endorsement training.

In the real world it's not hard but it does take management gumption to spend a few extra dollars during training programs, especially at the initial endorsement stage.
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Old 11th Apr 2011, 23:52
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No way JT

Been to single pilot school too many times to let that pass.

The 200 hr SIC looking at his dead captain in the left seat is pretty much good for working the autopilot to a VMC airport with a long runway.
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Old 12th Apr 2011, 00:12
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The 200 hr SIC looking at his dead captain in the left seat is pretty much good for working the autopilot to a VMC airport with a long runway.

.. not on my watch.

If such is an option - absolutely the way to go and what we trained the kids to do.

However, if the option is not available, I sleep much better knowing that I gave the kid the basic skills to find his/her way back to the runway with a bunch of things conspiring to thwart a safe recovery.

While there is not a great deal of pragmatic sense in spending a lot of time training for things so far out of left field that the cost/benefit is extremely marginal, this one is too easy and, I suggest, not too great a cost to make it a worry.

Quite apart from which, the general benefit accrued in the ramping up of basic I/F skills produces a much more polished student at the end of the endorsement program - the self confidence benefits are palpable.

Afraid I just can't see anything much in training to the lowest common denominator - such an attitude probably is a result of acculturation as a product of the old (pre-1989) Ansett approach to over training.

An aside - on a contract years ago I had an initial command upgrade crew. The would-be captain was somewhat fearful of OEI work due, largely, to his training background in that particular airline. We were able to beg a few extra hours from the sim techs during late night sessions with the result that my gentle ministrations had both guys (upgrade captain and intake F/O) able to handle absolutely critical OEI failures during T/O etc., etc. It brings a smile even now to recall how their self confidence zoomed when they could handle a Vmcg-limited seizure (that operator had an FDR modelled bird strike which was somewhat eye-opening) in near nil vis with a min V1/V2 schedule AND be able to backtrack on the opposite end localiser through to clean up while keeping the box under control.

Mind you, they did end up with very sweaty shirts by the end of the sessions.

As the upgrade fellow observed during coffee before heading off home .. something along the lines of "I used to be frightened of failures, now it's a breeze".

Made a good captain, apparently, after breezing through the command checkout - overtraining has its advantages.
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Old 12th Apr 2011, 02:14
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I'd love to know what outfit they flew for.

Simuflite and Flightsafety would come to a crashing halt if they required all pilots to hand fly single pilot raw data all the type rating courses for a pass.
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Old 12th Apr 2011, 02:38
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Moderate size airline with its own sim centre and training facilities.

Our little group had some reservations with philosophy and derived a small satisfaction from seeing the general standards improvement as a consequence (in part) of our somewhat different approach to training philosophy.


The driver for specific skills development generally wasn't the cute stuff like being able to do a zero/zero landing - that's easy with a bit of practice - but, rather, the benefit accrued for basic raw data hand flown I/F skills.

Some of the low time pilots we were seeing were, without putting too fine a point on it, a bit average in the skill base. It became apparent, early on, that spending a bit of time on I/F skills early in the endorsement program paid handsome benefits later as the flight management workload increased.

Generally, to maximise utilisation and progress, we would use a vignette approach ie a few minutes interspersed here and there to push skills development. Once the old standards were OK (turning climb/descent with accel/decel against the clock) the best sources of short sharp high concentration work is final approach and takeoff. Hence the use of short exercises using high freeze/reposition rates - working up to zero/zero takeoff or landing with progressively higher concentration requirements.

It's interesting to see just how much progress one can get with 5 minutes inserted here and there between programmed exercises. The other fatigue management trick is to get both pilots to do one exercise each in turn from whichever seat so that each is kept as fresh as possible.

come to a crashing halt if they required

Two factors here -

(a) management desire - do we wish to extract the maximum value out of the sim's capability or just do the box ticking exercise ?

(b) instructor initiative - a bit of sensible enthusiasm in the back can increase the session productivity dramatically. Once the folk in front realise that there is no penalty involved if they don't do as well as they might wish, they can relax and run with the sim's capabilities for personal training. Obviously, the training and checking bits have to be put firmly into two quite separate paddocks if the thing is to have any chance of working. The integrity and personality of the instructor becomes fairly important.
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Old 12th Apr 2011, 04:04
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JT - Help me to understand what possible motivation an airline can have to hire and train the most inexperienced pilots in the industry.

When I try to put myself in the shoes of an airline, the only thing I can come up with is 'it's easier to train them to our way of doing things, then to find guys that agree to our way of doing things'.

That's just a guess of course.
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Old 12th Apr 2011, 04:46
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Far be it for me to aspire to such matters of philosophy.

However, having hired and fired, I am firmly of the view that one prefers to seek the appropriate person and then train to a requirement rather than the other way around. If that training means some unlearning and retraining, so be it. I value experience and accept that age generally goes hand in hand with it. Hence I tend to look to folk who have the occasional senior moment but have a solid track record of been there, done that. I have a chap in his mid-60s whom I put on several years ago - I consider that a coup, given his vast experience in his field - he is a fine mentor to the younger chaps who will benefit from his counsel.

As Joe Bloggs in the cabin, I far prefer to delude myself into believing that the guys/gals up front are greybeards/blue rinse set and have a whole bunch of runs on the board when it comes to out of left field situations.

I shudder to contemplate the scenario of a captain (presumably experienced appropriately) with an F/O straight out of boot camp and only the barest of a box ticking endorsement. I came through a system wherein we were backhanded until we came up to a reasonable standard. Never did one have any concern that the average line F/O couldn't SP the bird back to wherever it needed to be taken in whatever weather if the boss fell over
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Old 12th Apr 2011, 05:44
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JT - Few people have the ability to write so much, and say so little.

Again, why the push for 200 hour pilots, when you could just pick off the top of the resume pile.

It's pretty clear you have to look for 200 hour pilots, actually chase them down, when in fact you have guys walking in resumes with thousands of hours.

So again, why specifically market to pick, hence to train, low time pilots? What is the rationale?

Am I to understand your not comfortable actually answering this question directly?
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Old 12th Apr 2011, 06:16
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You do like to flatter people.

However, apologies - I didn't realize that the hiring question was directed at me. I had no involvement in the hiring side on this one and was but one of the sim instructors for a fill in contract requirement.

As to my own views, I start with applicants

(a) sorted by qualifications/experience and then

(b) subsorted by personal qualities within the experience groups

This might then see some of the top/bottom folk in the quality sort being moved into adjacent experience groupings ie it is a two pronged effort to get a match of good people with the best experience on offer

(c) next output is a ranked list for assessment, followed by

(d) a ranked list for interview.

I must note that I have seen some fairly impressive and promising 200 hour folk. One such comes to mind - trained him up on the 737 a few years ago and he has recently got his command and will do very well, I'm certain.

However, overall I would go for the experienced pilot providing that the personal qualities are good. There is no point buying into troubles - and I have seen that happen on occasion in the past.

On the other hand, if the priority is to pay peanuts, then one might just as well start with the down and outs. Fortunately, I have never been forced into that sort of situation and, in any case, would walk before I accepted such executive pressure.

As an aside, my now-retired former business partner, as CP of a small airline operating jet equipment, did just that when the MD sought to direct that he do this and that, both of which went against the professional grain - we both were mates with the MD and continued to be so - but that didn't flavour the professional assessment and his decision to resign from the CP chair.

I'm never afraid to state my view regardless of the topic ...
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Old 12th Apr 2011, 11:22
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These guys are the leaders of the new generation

I could easily be wrong, but I think this thread was started because OP questioned the likelihood of a similar outcome to the QF32 occurring with the current generation of 200 hour "zero to hero" types. There's no doubting that the QF32 crew's performance was excellent, if not exemplary. But I'll suggest that most of their problem solving skills used came from the training and experience which they had acquired through operating complex airliners over the past years. But like it or not, they were products of a system, in this case the Qantas system. They were also working for a company that has excellent in flight support. I'm not trying to take anything away from these guys, but they were products of the system - in this case as trainers, a system which they helped create.

Bashing around the sky in C152s, meat bombing or doing fire patrols for hours on end or operating IFR in wretched pistons twins with dubious maintenance histories does give you some experience - but is it transferable to complex modern airlines? I'll only go so far as to say "maybe." There's a reasonable chance that guys with this background end up with 2,000 hours after a couple of years, but is that one hours' experience 2,000 times over? The pilot probably is transferable, but his experience might not be.

The new generation of pilots, like the ones beforehand, are firstly products of the selection process. Without the right candidate (personality, enthusiasm, intelligence, trainability, motor skills, discipline, health, etc. - not necessarily the standard HR rubbish!) you won't end up with a capable pilot. The second and most important thing that creates a capable pilot is the training and support systems inside the airline that will shape, guide and support them in the future. Their previous hours matter little, it's the persons basic skills and their mental suitability that count. Just because you had to waste a few years of your life flying a bug smasher doesn't mean to say that this is the only way to get good competent pilots who will save the day when the chips are down. Over the years I've seen 200 hour cadets who are excellent and 5,000 hour pilots who I wouldn't let park my car. (There are also some 10,000 hour pilots who I'd happily leave at the side of the road in a rainstorm as well.)

As for dealing with automation, if fitted, I've learnt that the sooner you learn to understand it the better. This will enable you determine if it's working properly. If it is, use it and it will "unload you" enabling you to get on with the next task in hand. If it's not, you know to ignore it and then proceed a little more slowly. Turning the automatics off when they are working perfectly but other things are not, is not the wisest of moves in my opinion.

I'll agree that there are too many people who can't fly who are actually flying for a living. But this is a product of the system we work in. Weakness in employment law, union agreements, government oversight, poor training and checking systems and corporate greed are all responsible for these people remaining in their seats. What should be done is to work out a fix. Is it training or chopping or a bit of both? It would be difficult to add more technology as the law of diminishing returns has probably set in - so solutions have to be sort in other areas.

Oh, and I nearly forgot - we're still working with Mk I human beings.

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Old 12th Apr 2011, 17:27
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Sounds like one organization culls for personality, another culls for skills. Having pondered this, I think culling for personality might make sense in a team environment where skill levels and performance are not going to a have a serious effect or outcome on the team.

Do you hire a chef to work at Taco Bell, or do you train a kid who gets along with everyone?

Conversely, sports teams hire the most disreputable of people because it's ONLY the performance that counts. That could probably be said of needing a Brain Surgeon, do you hire the guy that is a pal and buddy, or someone that has a 99% cure rate, but isn't very social.

Either way, the irrefutable fact is this, more buddies and pals have crashed planes when the circumstance was out of their limited experience and training parameters.
So I tend to lean on the side that if a chief pilot can chase some experience that is relevant to the operation and be man enough to deal with professional people, and not run a kindergarten, maybe the passengers will be better off.

If the argument can be made in real statistical terms that proper training and candidate selection actually is a performance bump over guys with decades in the left seat, I would like to see it.

It just seems to me this a management issue, where the chief pilot just wants guys that all get along, a harmonious group of kids that do what they are told...like the military.
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Old 12th Apr 2011, 18:15
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Over here the 200 wonder cadet is a thing that has been normal for the last 60 years in airlines, so nothing new at all about it.
Flight International 5-11 April 2011.
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Headline: TRAGICALLY FAMILIAR
Now that you put my quote in context to accidents of african airlines i guess i have to say what i mean by "over here". I was talking of course about western european airlines which use a very thorough selection and training program, not about african airlines with in general (and usually ethiopean is not counted into that) very poor standards.

I was a product of one of such training programs myself (Lufthansa, however not for Lufthansa themselves) and work now in an airlines that uses a similar program. There is a very good reason to train your own pilots. You can choose extremely careful who to take on for flight training, then monitor them every step on the way and get exactly what you want. And of course flying OEI raw data approaches is normal part of that training and of course checking.

When it comes to direct entry pilots we have to apply the same thorough testing, but we have to be more thorough during training as those pilots quite often have to unlearn quite a bit of their prior experience, especially if the background is single hand flying or mostly VFR stuff, 2000 hours dropping parachuters is not really useful in an airliner.

Our aim is not to get the cheapest, it is rather to get the best suited with a nearly guaranteed success during training and fitting in well with the existing pilot corps, replacing someone halfway through his typerating (which is payed for by the company of course) is extremely expensive, better to be sure that the individual in question has a high chance of success. And quite often we see that in young pilots, but we do like to take on more experienced ones as well if they fit into the mold.

It is mainly not about hours as the main pointer for experience though, it is about selection and training aimed for the intended operation.
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Old 12th Apr 2011, 19:11
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Well I think in the end, the philosophy is simple...your hiring people to fill seats, not throw touch downs in the NFL.

When the performance required of our employees drops a notch in the job description, it's pretty obvious that management will drop the employee performance required and pay, to fit the description.

As automation increases, I suspect as the pilot skills become even less necessary, being a team player will become more of an issue in the cockpit..

....unless the plane crashes...then of course we want pilots again...but then we forget...and drop the standards, hire buddies and pals over experience....then a plane crashes....and we want pilots again.....and then that passes, and we forget......
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Old 13th Apr 2011, 08:52
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As automation increases, I suspect as the pilot skills become even less necessary, being a team player will become more of an issue in the cockpit.
Yes and no. First the No. As automation increases, so the prospect of it containing bugs increases. There will be bugs in the software as written, some in the compilers used to create the software, some in the processors in the FMS boxes, others in the avionics hardware. So even writing perfect software gives no guarantee that a 100% reliable system will be in the air - so if just for that reason, pilots will be required. Then you have the "Ah, we hadn't considered that" aspect. When in service, faults are often found with the basic aircraft hardware, like valves, transducers, sensors etc., resulting in unpredictable behaviour of the aircraft - only for the reason than that particular failure was not properly considered in the software design. Pilot skills are then required to solve these problems in flight, often without a checklist. And here's the Yes - When solving these problems, it really helps if you approach this as a team exercise.

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Old 13th Apr 2011, 14:02
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There have been so many of these loss of control on dark night fatal crashes that it is hard to know what was the initial start of the accident sequence. Was it poor knowledge of automatics? Was it simply poor instrument flying ability?

The crash that really made up my mind where the problem lay was, I think, the Eygpt Air 737 that departed on a dark night and within five minutes was out of control in a steep spiral dive with the captain who was PF repeatedly shouting at his first officer the words "ENGAGE THE AUTOPILOT -ENGAGE AUTOPILOT" How chilling is that when the captain had no idea what he was doing and wanted the automatic pilot to save his life.
There is something deadly wrong with a system that permits some one like that to be in command of an airliner...
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Old 13th Apr 2011, 17:27
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First off there isn't a 200 hour pilot that would pass an ATP flight test with the FAA.

Over and out, done, not even a debate. 200 hour pilots live in a rarefied world where they are culled and trained to fly for a particular operation, to standards, by exemption from ATP standards, in the shadows, outside of the purview of the FAA, being tested by their own airline examiners. That system would crash if these pilots were trained then sent to the FAA for testing in real planes and held to ATP standards.

Flying abilities aside, maybe a fresh 200 hr pilot, fresh on emergency procedures, fresh on hand flying might actually do better then a lazy 10,000 pilot who hasn't hand flown in years. Circumstances exist where training can supersede the performance of supposed performance coming from experience.

The argument can also be made that when you train, you know what your pilot knows, as opposed to a guy walking in with 10,000 hours and it's probably BS, and his experience might actually be so far removed from the operation your hiring for, that it's irrelevant. Like a 10,000 hr flight instructor in Florida with zip IFR, Multi, jet, crew, or trip experience. Or an airline pilot looking to go corporate and he's never flown single pilot, he's never managed maintenance, he's never planned a flight.

So certainly I can argue for training to an operations needs, but there is no way, if you take the 1500 ATP standard as the starting place for a pilot skills and experience to be at, will a 200 hour pilot be able to step up to that level through training.

Ergo, if you did by some miracle train the 200 pilot to pass a real ATP standards flight test...would he be able to handle a situation outside of the checklist, where he needed to make a decision based on aeronautics, logic, experience?

I see it like this. Some people are working around the standards, some see the standards as really a starting point. Some shoot for higher ground, some are simply trying to get away with what they can. It's a philosophy and attitude difference.

Not quite ready to live in the gutter myself, not quite ready to sell out. Maybe it's because I don't have to. It's like taking steroids in baseball? Is that what it takes to be competitive or is the reality that some players need them to be in the game?

Regardless, even congress had enough with this silliness and bumped the hours back up to 1500.

Rant over.
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Old 13th Apr 2011, 22:24
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Nice to see you back ssg, is that now your nr. 15 persona?

First off there isn't a 200 hour pilot that would pass an ATP flight test with the FAA.
The practical test flight is not a real hard thing to do, is it? It can be done during a normal OPC check in the simulator, something even our new 75 hour MPL wonders can do without a problem. The oral exam is really another thing though as we do not train for that, same as US pilots usually do not train for a 14 part, 3 day written exam.

However it is correct that no 200 hours wonder can take a FAA ATP test as you need 1500 hours for that, however not 1500 hours of training, just plain 1500 hours of no special training value. By the way, 200 hour wonders do not get an ATP, they do get a CPL and after 1500 hours many of which have to be done to certain standards they will get an ATP. Back in my days we actually did get a national ATPL at 200 hours, however that was restricted to SIC only and needed 2.200 hours of SIC airline flying to get upgraded into a full ATPL (by which time JAA came around and i just got the JAA ATPL instead). Airline flying means to pass a full blown simulator check to full ATP standards every 6 months though.

The real scary stuff, as A37575 correctly mentions, is bad training, bad selection, bad standards. Quite often seen in regions with somewhat dodgy oversight. Yes, the report of the egypt air is chilling, as is the animation of aeroflot 821 (crash in perm). And to switch on automatic if in doubt goes against anything i was trained for, if in doubt reduce the level of automation, if that means flying raw data manual that is nice as you know exactly what you are doing and how the aircraft responds to that. Bad training might train to rather increase the level of automation, which does not help at all as it removes the pilot farther from the aircraft. However any competent pilot should not be only proficient in flying manual, raw data, he has to be able to use all aspects of automation as well.
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Old 14th Apr 2011, 00:15
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Denti -

Feel free to sell the world that 75 hour pilots can walk out to a twin and pass the ATP flight test without the moving maps and such, I know it's crap, so does everyone else.
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