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Old 08-26-2007, 12:40 PM   #1  
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Default New pilot training plan sparks worries YIKES!

If I hadn't already verified this as legitimate ... I would have bet it was one of MNB's hair-brained ideas (it might make a marginally competent f/o like him a Capt?)

New pilot training plan sparks worries


BRUSSELS, Belgium -- The international airline industry, faced with a growing passenger load and a shortage of pilots, is ready to graduate its first flight crews from a shortened training program that experts warn may not be good enough.

The new curriculum - known as the Multi-crew Pilots License - departs from conventional methods by slashing schooling time both on the ground and in the air and by making greater use of flight simulators.

The industry says the program will improve the ability of new co-pilots to function as flight crew members, but critics argue it's a quick-fix scheme to overcome pilot shortages that could compromise safety standards.

The program was conceived in 2000 by the Montreal-based International Civil Aviation Organization, the U.N. agency in charge of civil air traffic. It designed the program to rely more on simulators and to train students from the start to function as crew members on the specific types of aircraft they will operate during their careers.

Supporters say the new program - known as MPL - is a significant improvement, since trainees are placed immediately into the multi-crew environment working closely with other pilots, rather than spending long periods flying solo as is required by the present schooling system.

"The whole idea of MPL is to have a modern training concept tailored to meet today's requirements, because the role of pilot has changed from a stick-and-rudder-pusher to a manager of highly technologically advanced systems," said Capt. Chris Schroeder of the International Air Transport Association, a grouping of the world's airlines.

"We had to move away from the old training scheme where the emphasis was on flying skills without any system management whatsoever. Instead, we now have fully integrated competency-based training for cockpit managers in aircraft such as the Boeing 787 Dreamliner."

But critics say they are skeptical about the need for such sweeping changes in training programs, claiming these are principally motivated by economic considerations and by the airlines' desperation for pilots.

"Simulators are good to teach system operations, but real flying is needed to learn airmanship, the very basis of safety," said Philip von Schoppenthau, secretary-general of the Brussels-based European Cockpit Association, a pilots' union.

"We're not fundamentally against the MPL idea, but let's not reduce flying hours drastically so that the knowledge base of airline pilots can be maintained," he said.

Over the past several years the growth of air traffic in the Middle East and Asia and the proliferation of budget airlines in Europe and the United States have created a drastic shortage of airline pilots. With global air traffic predicted to grow by 5-6 percent annually over the next two decades, the shortage will only become more acute.

Carriers around the world will require 17,000 new pilots a year until 2024 just to keep up with new aircraft deliveries, according to estimates by Boeing's Alteon training subsidiary. By comparison, Germany's Lufthansa - one of the world's largest airlines - employs only 4,000 pilots.

The primary demand for pilots will come from China, India, Southeast Asia and the Persian Gulf region.

The new program will begin graduating pilots this year from schools in Australia, the Philippines and Denmark. The first six cadets who will finish are being trained in Australia by Alteon and are from China Eastern Airlines and Xiamen Airlines, also a China-based carrier.

So far, the U.S. Federal Aviation Authority and most European regulatory agencies have not given the go-ahead for using MPL. But pressure has been building to inaugurate its wider use, and the program will likely soon be accepted by established air training academies.

The training initiative offers airline companies significant economic advantage over the standard program created in the mid-1950s, which normally lasts 18-24 months. The MPL would allow a trainee to qualify as a co-pilot in 45 weeks.

Currently, trainee pilots must complete 50-60 flying hours to obtain a Private Pilot's License, then about 150 hours for a Commercial Pilot's License, the basic commercial permit. The Air Transport Pilot's License - the advanced credential required to fly a commercial airliner - obliges pilots to log about 1,500 flying hours. The entire process takes roughly two years.

But the MPL would only require about 64 hours of actual flight time as pilot-in-command, because the emphasis would be on simulator training. The International Civil Aviation Organization argues the new curriculum would save on the time a trainee is required to "punch holes in the sky" flying solo in a piston-engine trainer.

"Through wide use of flight simulation, the MPL program introduces the multi-crew environment almost from the start," said Henry Desalque, a technical officer for the aviation organization. "It is specifically geared to meet future airline needs."

Nonetheless, critics note that 45 weeks is about the time needed to obtain an ordinary driver's license in Europe. They say the trainees will not have enough time to learn basic English - the language of international aviation.

Pilots' unions, including the influential International Federation of Airline Pilots Associations, have expressed concern about any training scheme where candidates don't accrue sufficient solo flying time. Even some who favor the new program have warned it must be carefully studied.

"By itself the MPL is neither good nor bad," said Jean Benoit Toulouse, an Air France pilot engaged in creating a French MPL program.

"We obviously had to modernize training because simulation devices are now so sophisticated that they can be used in most of it," he said. "But the MPL can also end up as a dangerous thing - like giving a license to a co-pilot who is not up to scratch - unless national regulatory agencies maintain strict oversight of the program."

The industry says the program will improve the ability of new co-pilots to function as flight crew members, but critics argue it's a quick-fix scheme to overcome pilot shortages that could compromise safety.
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Old 08-26-2007, 07:26 PM   #2  
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Originally Posted by MaydayMark View Post
The new curriculum - known as the Multi-crew Pilots License - departs from conventional methods by slashing schooling time both on the ground and in the air and by making greater use of flight simulators.

Typical civillian training, right?
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Old 08-26-2007, 07:57 PM   #3  
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Now lets open phase II of Open Skies in 2010 and these pilots will be flying point-to-point in the US for pennies on the dollar. Will make a commuter pilot look over paid. Recently saw a CNN International piece on Open Skies and Phase I starts soon. Some interviewed individuals in the piece made it seem that phase II, which opens up the US to foreign airlines and loosens up foreign ownership in US airlines, will more than likely be approved.
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Old 08-27-2007, 05:26 AM   #4  
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"We just can't find Americans to do these jobs....."
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Old 08-27-2007, 06:36 AM   #5  
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See, there are plenty of job opportunities for the over 60 guys after they retire here.
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Old 08-27-2007, 06:53 AM   #6  
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Originally Posted by Lippy View Post
Typical civillian training, right?
Hey, watch it now!
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Old 08-27-2007, 05:23 PM   #7  
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Now with the new age 60+ rule we can have a senile guy as PIC and a 64 flight hour co pilot flying into JFK on the Canarsie approach. Does this sound safe to anyone besides me......
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Old 08-30-2007, 07:59 PM   #8  
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Sounds safe to me: On approach

FO: Capt...ahh what do I do now.. do I press that thingy or the other one...?

CAPT: AHHHHHHH it's my's the big one comin' (Red Fox impression)

FO: ahh... what?
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