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Airbus Official Urges Major Pilot Training Changes

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Airbus Official Urges Major Pilot Training Changes

Old 1st May 2015, 22:49
  #181 (permalink)  
 
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The cure for this lazy attitude is in the hands of the checkies.
Once the word is out that every simulator check will include a significant amount of manual flying with at least one raw data ILS to a missed approach, pilots soon lift their game by sneaking in practice on the line.
Chuck in the occasional LOFT where failures degrade to emergency power and limited instrumentation, or iced-up static sources, to further concentrate their minds on the importance of maintaining basic skills. Even if LOFT is supposedly non-jeopardy, if pilots crash the simulator, checkies should require a repeat session. That costs money. Management eventually get the message and rewrite the book to allow manual skills practice during normal line flying and under suitable conditions.
Line training and checks are the low cost/no cost place to consolidate 'normal' use of all automation. After initial type rating, a significant proportion of simulator hours in the training budget should be available to reinforce survival skills, yet too often it is regarded simply as an unwelcome impost to tick boxes on a form.

Last edited by Mach E Avelli; 3rd May 2015 at 00:34. Reason: Meant to say 'consolidate' wrt normal usage of automatics. Never enough simulator time to do everything!
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Old 2nd May 2015, 02:40
  #182 (permalink)  
 
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A favourite excuse is a perceived workload increase on the PM. That excuse is pure tosh and they know it.
The PM is now also responsible for updating the radios, heading bugs, CAB, FMC and MCP, checklist as well as trying to monitor what the ace next to him is up to. However in benign airports such as HNL, BNE, etc it should be no biggie so I agree with you there. LHR, LAX, JFK after a 12 plus hour flight maintaining the big picture is far more important, so I would not agree with you in those cases.

I would surmise that the biggest impediment to more pilots opting to leave everything in is FOQA, stable approach criteria and touchdown monitoring that is now prevalent in airlines, as well as ATC track/speed monitoring plus airport noise monitoring. To keep the skills up one must accept the occasional deviation as we are human pilots not dumb dutiful machines. However a few calls from the "Lord FOQA" or ATC report about a "deviation" or "noise bust" you understand that it just is not worth it!
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Old 2nd May 2015, 09:53
  #183 (permalink)  
 
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Aren't too many bells & whistles what got us here in the first place RAT? The promise was better SA, but the automation is taking us further out of the loop.
Is automation taking us further out of the loop or simply allowing some to take themselves further out of the loop?

I can only suggest the dilution in SA might be caused by their apprenticeship. I was brought up on 1970's GA a/c and then very basic B732; much of the operations into non-radar airfields with very little nav aids. That was well before VNAV/LNAV and Maps, auto-thrust etc. The same level of fuel efficiency as today for descent & approach was expected then as it is today, except profile management was for the pilot. SA was vital, as it was when in non-radar environment. Your brain was programmed & educated to be aware of these matters at all times, including climb & cruise. When the 'bells & whistles' arrived we were taught all about them, how they worked and how best to use them. Our mental approach was the same, but now we could be so much more accurate in a more relaxed low work-load atmosphere. I never forgot my apprenticeship and used the new toys to make my life easier. I did not let the gizmos take over command and drag me around the sky as a follower: I was always the commander and told the a/c where I wanted to go and what I wanted it to do and I made mighty sure it was doing it at all times. There wasn't the "what's it doing now" because I was telling it what to do and I knew what it was doing because of my training.
So, in review, I do not consider the increase in 'bells & whistles' to be the problem; I consider it to be lack of education during the apprentice stage and lack of further consolidation in simulator exercises. One negative consequence of this lack of knowledge foundation is it becomes self-perpetuating. Captains are coming through an isolated airline training system with less foundation than earlier generations, they are upgraded in half the apprenticeship time as earlier generations, they then move into training and the spiral twirls on. I believe the change needs to be in attitude & education not in technology. The pilot should be the commander not the computer. I feel there is a lack of meaningful oversight, call it monitoring, and too much utter reliance that the computer can never be wrong. There was a wonderful comment by an NTSB investigator into a loss of SA crash: a pilot should not take the a/c to a place where his brain has not already been a few moments earlier. That's what we learnt during the B732 apprenticeship. We knew where we wanted to put the a/c and then we used the very basic tools we had to make sure it went there. Now guys program the computer where they want to go and at what speed and assume it will happen. When it ends up high, too fast, off track there is an external warning. That warning should have been internal, moments before.
Note: manual flying is not mentioned in the above. Manual flying may well improve SA, but the brain needs to be educated first otherwise the workload of manual flying will may well overload and SA will suffer. After the brain knows how to keep SA sharp then add the manual flying task.

Last edited by RAT 5; 3rd May 2015 at 07:45.
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Old 2nd May 2015, 10:50
  #184 (permalink)  
 
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RAT5, agreed...

The MCP is the interface where you can tell the aircraft what to do.
The FMA is how the aircraft tells you its interpretation of what you told it to do.
Monitor the FMA...
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Old 2nd May 2015, 11:30
  #185 (permalink)  
 
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great...so bring on the MPL....more folks that can't fly..that will resolve the problem
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Old 2nd May 2015, 19:37
  #186 (permalink)  
 
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It is becoming clear that there are several here who have hit the proverbial nails (plural) squarely “on the head.” Unfortunately, the more “nails” involved, the potential for hitting each “squarely on the head” becomes more problematic … and does so geometrically.

• operators who actively discourage their pilots from manual flying on the line even in good weather …
• operators who have absolutely no problem with their pilots practicing “manual flying” …
• operators who allow their crews to use their discretion to practice manual flying, but very few crew members actually take the opportunity … because they cannot be bothered …
• the occasional simulator LOFT exercise where failures regularly degrade to operating with “emergency power and limited instrumentation” focusing the attention on systems knowledge and operation …
• the favorite excuse for [i[not manually flying[/i] is the perceived workload increase on the PM …
• the un-helpful attitude of individual captains …
• LOFT sessions that are treated as realistically applied “non-jeopardy” exercises by the instructors conducting them …
• the lack of “follow-trough” in cases where a new pilot’s initial training is truncated after completing the prescribed course without providing the availability to reinforce “flight survival skills” …
• the incorrect perception that line training and checks are the low cost/no cost place to cover 'normal' use of all automation …

All of these concerns add multi-dimensional aspects into this out-of-proportion safety failure. Some here lay that accusation at the feet of “the checkies” … and while I completely agree with this … MY interpretation of what “the checkies” should mean, is the national regulatory authorities (plural) – and is only tangently applicable to those who conduct training/checking at the airline. As I’ve said multiple times on this forum, the only things that get done in the airline industry are those things that generate income (or needlessly reduce income) … and … whatever it is that the regulator mandates.

It would seem to me that were the national regulatory authorities, in cooperation with, and equal participation of, airline management representatives, pilot organizations, individual pilots, instructors, evaluators, educators, and trainers, to hold regular standardization review meetings, intended to analyze and adjust the current regulatory requirements for pilot training and testing to ensure that pilots are exposed to all of the current concerns that have varying impact on operational flight safety … and conduct these meetings on a regular basis where the intent would be to formulate and adjust the regulatory requirements on an equitable and across-the-board manner … the overall level of aviation safety would be enhanced.

Such an effort IS possible – and the only reason that I can see that it isn’t happening now, is the level of individual and corporate commitment – which, I believe, could likely be overcome if an internationally recognized body were to initiate such a program … perhaps ICAO or the UK’s Royal Aeronautical Society (???) … and I am convinced that if there were enough pleas from interested personnel (representing those named groups above) certainly one, or both, of those organizations would leap at the chance to provide the necessary facilities to accomplish just such an effort.

The reminder I would offer is a slightly reworded saying … The only thing preventing success would be that interested and knowledgeable persons recognize the situation and collectively decide to do nothing.
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Old 3rd May 2015, 07:37
  #187 (permalink)  
 
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RAT 5's post no 188 hits the nail on the head.
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Old 3rd May 2015, 11:44
  #188 (permalink)  
 
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I would surmise that the biggest impediment to more pilots opting to leave everything in is FOQA, stable approach criteria and touchdown monitoring that is now prevalent in airlines, as well as ATC track/speed monitoring plus airport noise monitoring. To keep the skills up one must accept the occasional deviation as we are human pilots not dumb dutiful machines. However a few calls from the "Lord FOQA" or ATC report about a "deviation" or "noise bust" you understand that it just is not worth it!
I am sure you are right. That may be why some Asian operators have a policy of not letting their first officers take off or land or even do a non-precision approach until they have completed five years as co-pilot on type.

That approach is counter productive and plainly ridiculous but that is ethnic culture at work and that will never change..
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Old 3rd May 2015, 15:28
  #189 (permalink)  
 
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RAT, I agree 100% with your sentiments although my background is rather different - 1960s high school > cadet programme flight school > advanced airliner jet right seat with 220 hours. At the risk of being seen as flogging a hobby-horse to death, on another website a few months ago this was written.......

"Automation and "de-skilling".
A problem of increasing concern in the airline industry is the risk of pilots losing manual flying skills. Historically, much training emphasis has been on strict adherence to SOPs that involve the use of autoflight systems, to maximise the economic benefits of having these systems fitted as well as the safety benefits in situations such as very low visibility.

But as noted by the FAA in 2013, "Autoflight systems are useful tools for pilots and have improved safety and workload management, and thus enabled more precise operations. However, continuous use of autoflight systems could lead to degradation of the pilot’s ability to quickly recover the aircraft from an undesired state."

To counter this, the FAA now encourages operators to incorporate emphasis of manual flight operations into line operations. This attitude is reflected in the attitude of manufacturers as well: both Boeing and Airbus are revising some aspects of their conversion training programmes.

However, many airline managements have now become convinced by earlier arguments that automation could only bring benefits, believing that "automation has made flying safer, so much so that pilots need to be instructed to use it as much as possible to achieve leaner, better, more efficient flight and save on wear and tear to engines and so forth."

This has created what many operations experts now see as a dangerous over-reliance on the autoflight systems, particularly among less experienced pilots, who are sometimes referred to as "children of the magenta line" (magenta being the intended flight path as shown on a Boeing electronic map display). Perhaps subconsciously, the overall chain of control (if not command) is being perceived as one where autoflight systems should be allowed to control the aircraft to the maximum possible extent, and by implication have the highest authority over the flight path.

The new advice to "incorporate emphasis of manual flight operations into line operations" therefore presents airline managements with a dilemma: how to have manual flight in line operations simultaneously with maximising the safety benefits of automation? The use of PicMA as an SOP may well be helpful in this respect.

The PROPER hierarchy
Operations using PicMA as the SOP can clearly be shown to reinforce the proper chain of command and control of the aircraft, in which automation is a subordinate to both crew members. In normal operations, the Captain (P1) supervises the First Officer (P2). The P2 is responsible for setting up the autoflight systems to achieve a satisfactory approach for the P1, and for supervising the autoflight systems to properly achieve it.

This chain recognises that autoflight systems normally do a great job of flying accurately, but have no intelligence and cannot handle unforeseen circumstances. As clearly pointed out in the FAA's PARC/CAST Automation report "The safety and effectiveness of the civil aviation system rely on the risk mitigation done by well trained and qualified pilots (and other humans) on a regular basis."
If this hierarchy is recognised, then it becomes easier to treat the autoflight systems as the useful but subservient tools they are intended to be, and find a way to safely practice manual flying in routine operations.

Good and bad days.
Every flight is unique in its details, but has common characteristics with thousands of others. The extremely rare approaches that end in CFIT accidents have a combination of features that meant that an ordinary crew error that would have been survivable on almost all other occasions, had proved lethal.
Consider the "normal", every day, safe operation. The aircraft exists in a "bubble" or "regime" which has a certain amount of tolerance of crew mistakes. This tolerance is reduced by threats in three broad domains - the aircraft itself, the world (and in this case specifically the approach) it is flying in, and the pilots themselves. As risk factors in these domains build up over a spectrum from negligible to severe risk, the flight's regime becomes less and less tolerant of errors.
For example, "aircraft" factors include its complexity, existing MEL items, and maintenance standards that cause defects to arise in flight. The "world" includes terrain, the actual weather encountered compared to that forecast and then reported to the crew, ATC quality, and traffic density. And in terms of "people", the crew members' training and actual skills, experience, culture and language, personalities, individual concerns, fatigue and alertness.
When risk factors or threats coincide, vulnerability to errors is multiplied. This is of course why initial pilot training, when errors will be frequent, is conducted in a very error-tolerant regime in simple aircraft, over flat terrain, in good weather with low traffic density etc.

The level of safety expected by the public should be provided by operators meeting regulations which set required margins to provide a reasonable degree of tolerance for crew errors even after some threats arise, like the examples shown.

However, in the real world, these assumptions cannot always be met. Threats become bigger until on rare occasions they overwhelm the crew's capacity to deal with them, and the crew become very vulnerable to their own errors.

Although obviously many other aspects are involved, some airlines generally operate in a much more error-tolerant regime overall than others. For example, US domestic operations are conducted with no issues of language to affect pilots' understanding either of their aircraft (training and manuals etc), or the environment (ATC communications), and with underlying high standards of training, regulation, and air traffic control.

It does not require major threats in all factors to remove error tolerance and bring about an accident: for example the Asiana B777 SFO accident did not contain major "world" threats in terms of weather or terrain. The aircraft was fully serviceable, but as in other events, the problem appeared to be crew unfamiliarity with aspects of its automation's complexity and the aircraft's basic flying qualities, factors which have been partly responsible for the current re-emphasis on manual flying.

"Automation is safer and cheaper, so how we can allow manual flying ?"
Where managements need to deal with the dilemma of "autoflight is safer - but manual flying is still needed", the use of PicMA procedures as standard could provide a solution. Manual flying for pilot practice and familiarity provides a long term safety benefit, but it needs to be done in benign conditions, when the notional reduction in safety levels of not using the automatics can be balanced against the greater error tolerance of having fewer threats.

Even so, this may not be acceptable to many managements, unless additional safety measures are put in place. The demonstrated greater effectiveness of monitoring using PicMA is exactly the sort of additional precaution needed. For example, during a normal sector in benign conditions the Captain would have good visual cues, etc., and plenty of "spare capacity".

Under these circumstances the First Officer could safely concentrate on flying a MANUAL instrument approach, in the full knowledge that the Captain will be taking control himself either approaching DH/DA minima, or at a higher altitude and with full visual reference, in the event that the F/O experiences difficulties.


Automation and Captain's discretion.
Manoeuvring the aircraft, especially hand flying, is one of the most enjoyable experiences imaginable - and that is why so many pilots, especially Captains, are reluctant to accept the concepts of PicMA. But the simple fact is that passengers are not paying for pilots to enjoy themselves. They have the right to expect the safest possible flight.

Commercial operations should always be based on the assumption that there will be problems, and require crews to prepare themselves by planning an approach to give the maximum possible safety margins so they can deal with such foreseeable problems. But then, once it becomes clear that those problems have not materialised, for example on a fine day with little ATC congestion and a fully serviceable aircraft, Captains can and should use their discretion as aircraft commander to allow the extra safety margins, that have now been proven to exist, to be used for other purposes to increase the operation's long term safety. This could include
• continuing to fly a PicMA down to the appropriate minima without using all the elements of available automation.
• after confirmation of being stabilised "in the slot" with full visual reference and a landing clearance, the Captain (pilot) assumes control well above minima to practice a primarily visual final, while the First Officer (Copilot) maintains full instrument monitoring down to touchdown.

Practice for both pilots.
While this appears to refer only to the First Officer getting significant manual instrument flight practice, the reverse would also of course apply during a First Officer's sector, to allow the Captain manual flying practice. As we've seen in the section on "benefits in all cultures" this also gives an incentive to Captains to allow First Officers practice at takeoffs and landings.
These practices help maintain the essential basic handling skills that many pilots, manufacturers and regulatory authorities are concerned are now being eroded by an overemphasis on the use of all available automatics on all possible occasions. Emphasising that this is a permitted deviation from the default SOP, but is always at the Captain's discretion, leads to an increased alertness of all crew members to the need for vigilance.

"Never land off your own approach?!?"
Making PicMA the default SOP does not mean that in airliners, the same pilot should never fly both approach and landing - that would be absurd. It is absolutely essential that all pilots be able to conduct an approach and then land off it. There will always be the need for visual approaches; for training; to develop skills to handle abnormal configurations safely; and to cover rare cases like incapacitation, among others.

Test pilots in particular need the entire flight envelope, and check pilots and trainers must see it demonstrated to proficiency. Pilots get great satisfaction from taking an aircraft through the whole cycle from takeoff to landing, and any pilot who does not is probably in the wrong job and will not last long. But dividing these tasks is simply the sensible thing to do for maximum passenger safety in normal commercial operation."

Awaiting incoming.....
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Old 21st May 2015, 01:22
  #190 (permalink)  
 
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If the thread
Flight - Should airline pilots have more/better/different upset recovery training?
is in the Rumors & News section, why isn't this thread also in that section.

Must be an Airbus thing. Can't wait until this message is erased.
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Old 21st May 2015, 13:16
  #191 (permalink)  
 
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There is no shortage of anecdotal evidence that a significant number of operators still actively discourage pilots from practicing their manual flying skills during line flying. Turning off the flight director to practice raw data is recorded on QAR's and often attracts the wrath of higher authority and in worst cases dismissal.
While this head in the sand attitude prevails in the industry with regards to automation dependency - and it is here forever - then nothing will change. Loss of Control accidents are inevitable but acceptable, based upon the premise it always happens to the other bloke or other operator.
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Old 6th Jun 2015, 02:39
  #192 (permalink)  
 
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I keep saying that there are only 2 things that regularly make it into the typical pilot training curriculum - for either training or testing … first, those things that airline management believes will save money (and that may include eliminating things from training curriculums) and second … those things that are mandated by the regulator.

If one presumes that the regulator’s personnel are, in fact, knowledgeable about training / testing issues, why is it that the regulations are not more packed with requirements for training / testing on tasks that mean something to competent pilots? Could it be that decision making regulators are listening to those airline managers who regularly compliment those higher placed regulators for their knowledge and professionalism, all while ensuring that those regulators take every opportunity to reduce the cost-generating time requirements for that training / testing of crewmembers?
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Old 6th May 2020, 14:13
  #193 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by silvertate View Post
How hillarious. When I said exactly the same to xxxx lo-co airline, I was told I was a Neanderthal who needed to move into the modern aviation world. The quote was: "passengers don't pay for you to improve your hand flying skills.". It looks like reality has caught up with the naive progressives, as it always does.

However, as I said them, this is not simply a matter of more handflying jets. These newbies need a four-week gliding course, not simply to brush up on hand flying skills, but to test themselves when the pressure is on and heart is beating fast. Try doing a landing into an unknown farmer's field, of largely unknown elevation, quality and texture, with no possibility of a go-around. Performa few of those, and you can call yourself a pilot.
I feel you are damn right. As glider pilot instructor and aviation professional (but not commercial pilot) I had a chance to take several experienced commercial jet pilots in a glider. To my surprise, I flew with more than one, that was unable to sort out an unusual attitude without my intervention (we were about to leave the envelope), let alone stall/spin recovery. Flying aerobatics with some of them was even more interesting - mostly, it was a loss of situational awareness, followed by recovery attempt, that, if continued, would go into loss of control/breakup. Not all of them, of course, but uncomfortably more than one. I still remember our company A-320 chief pilot, otherwise also one of the top and well respected glider pilots around, that during an approach to an airport in one of Greek islands turned to me (I was in a jumpseat) saying: watch this. It was a a night NonPrecision approach, requiring crossing VOR on the airport, flying outbound and after some DME miles 150deg turn, intercepting radial to runway. He switched off A/P and A/THR, and watched over his shoulder back towards airport. In one moment he pulled throttles to idle - we glided graciously outbound, turned inbound when he felt it is OK, called for flaps on his feeling (well within speed limits) and gear in the right moment so we crossed threshold at the right spot with the right speed - engines idling for about two-three minutes already and speed brakes not touched. A perfect touchdown followed. And yes, it was around midnight, in perfect summer weather, with no other traffic and yes, a loadfull of happy holidaymakers. I remember young copilot just watched in disbelief.
Today, he would be probably disciplined for pulling such a thing.
And I agree 110% that pulling an emergency landing into an unknown farm field provides you with a unique experience and some self assesment that no simulator can provide. Did it 6 times so far.
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Old 6th May 2020, 14:25
  #194 (permalink)  
 
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And another thought: just few weeks ago EASA allowed distance learning for maintenance technicians - for now basic license course and Type rating theory, but I believe regulations are in the works that also practical part of type rating course (or most of it) will be allowed to be completed sitting behind computer and moving - "doing" things on the airplane by moving cursor/buttons etc. on the screen. Current COVID-19 situation accelerating this even more.
This on top of the current situation, where most of newbie licenced engineers get their EASA Part-66 licence by doing exams only-meaning ticking a, b, c boxes and completing 5 years practice work in maintenance environment - with no tutorial/mentoring etc. required/defined/prescribed. No wonder someone recently put 37 times more biocide in an A-320 fuel tank than prescribed by Maint. Manual, without blinking an eye. Where is this going?
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