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Old 01-22-2012, 11:20 AM   #1  
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Question What Training/Checking Standard Should Exist

Today, the FAA is wrapped up in a couple of rulemaking efforts. Included in these efforts are:
1) A revision to the training and evaluation requirements; and
2) The issue of crew rest.
Both of these issues seemingly arose from the controversies that developed after the Colgan accident in Buffalo in 2009. Of course, there are other examples where at least one of these issues played a prominent role ... but this one seems to have been the catalyst for all the current flurry of activity from the Feds.

I’m going to stay away from the “crew rest” issue simply because I believe it is almost impossible to develop a meaningful set of regulations to “ensure” that pilots are well rested before the beginning of each sequence. Outside of being able to identify those who are cavalier about closing the bar at 2AM with a lobby show time of 08:00, or flaunting ski-lift tickets for the last run of the night with a similar show time, I can see virtually no way for anyone to determine if a crew member is or is not “well-rested” before flight. So, I’ll stick to the first issue – that of training regulations.

Today there seems to be more than one way that an airline may approach training program development, approval, and application. First, there is very little chance of applying any training program without the Feds granting approval ... but that approval can be achieved in one of essentially 2 ways. First, there is the existing regulations that lay out what has to be trained and tested initially and then revisited during recurrent checks. I can rather easily find what I’m going to be checked on ... but, other than my instructor’s outline, where can I look to find out what I’m going to be trained on? When I asked the last Fed who graced our jump seat, he said to “…check 121 appendix E.” That does answer some of my question … but the material in that appendix seems to be terribly high level and completely avoids almost all specificity for anything described. How does any company know for sure that what they are proposing for training is going to be in compliance with regulations that are so vague?

Second, if my company chooses to do things differently, they may find it beneficial to seek approval under the AQP. For some time now, I’ve never really looked to see what that meant – but I’ve recently taken the time to research it a bit more. According to the material I’ve read, almost anything will be considered as long as the Feds are given something on which to hang their regulatory “hat;” and from what I’m told, that means essentially hiring a staff of behavioral psychologists to provide all the necessary “buzz” words. The almost immediate result is an increase in the training intervals for some crew members and a rather significant departure from what the rules have been requiring for some time. For example, under this approach, the airline is apparently allowed to set their own objectives for the individual functions that are included in the “approved” training program – although the caveat here continues to be that these staff psychologists can convince the Feds that what they describe really does what they say it does. Under this approach, the content of what is actually “checked” can be reduced to only “sample” the functions that have been trained - again, depending on those psychologists' ability to achieve agreement with the Feds. Additionally, the number of functions required during each recurrent training session can be reduced by having the FAA agree that some of the normally required functions are “routine” and can be observed during the regularly scheduled "line check." Of course, with each reduction in what the crew members are exposed to during recurrent training, there is at least some savings in time (read that as “expenses”) that benefits the corporate structure. The justification for this is that these reductions are described as "adjusting the training program to conform to the individuality of the specific airline’s operation." I’m aware that any two companies are very likely to do some things a bit differently, but I am not at all sure that our operation of a B-737NG is decidedly different from any other company operating the same airplane type.

My question then becomes … what happened to the concept of everyone having to meet the same standards? A standard set of regulatory requirements not only should ensure that the minimum knowledge and proficiency has been achieved by everyone involved, it should prevent anyone from being granted a “more streamlined path” to achieve what they have described as "proficiency." And, if we re-define that “end point” for everyone, we effectively allow everyone to follow a different "path," allow everyone to achieve their own individual goals, and effectively eliminate any "regulatory standard." Is this a good thing?

I’m not trying to be “picky” and I’m certainly not trying to get any airline management into some kind of trouble … but I AM curious as to what is so good about doing things differently from everyone else. So ... I ask ... what should be trained and checked that will help ensure a safe operation?
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Old 01-22-2012, 11:35 AM   #2  
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Well - quite a post. Anyway - AQP allow the training/checking function to be focused on the problem areas. Most of us don't need training and checking on flying a normal, all-engines ILS. We see that in the line constantly - thus, many AQP programs don't focus much on that. At my airline, the Safety department uses FOQA data (anonymous data from the FDR) to see where each fleet is having problems.

For example, the Safety department sees many unstable approaches at MCO, landing on 18R. So this year we spent some time with unstable approaches at, you guessed it, MCO.

Airline Y that also flies into MCO and flies the same approach might have different procedures (configured by a different altitude, different flap settings, different engines) so they don't have the problem at MCO. So they focus on say, RNAV approaches to EWR instead.

As I see it this way, everyone is meeting the standard of a "safe operation", but working on their individual problems rather than a boiler-plate approach.
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Old 01-31-2012, 12:02 PM   #3  
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Well - quite a post. Anyway - AQP allow the training/checking function to be focused on the problem areas. Most of us don't need training and checking on flying a normal, all-engines ILS. We see that in the line constantly - thus, many AQP programs don't focus much on that. At my airline, the Safety department uses FOQA data (anonymous data from the FDR) to see where each fleet is having problems.

For example, the Safety department sees many unstable approaches at MCO, landing on 18R. So this year we spent some time with unstable approaches at, you guessed it, MCO.

Airline Y that also flies into MCO and flies the same approach might have different procedures (configured by a different altitude, different flap settings, different engines) so they don't have the problem at MCO. So they focus on say, RNAV approaches to EWR instead.

As I see it this way, everyone is meeting the standard of a "safe operation", but working on their individual problems rather than a boiler-plate approach.
Well, first, it seems that the example you cite prompts a different set of questions. While few would argue the logic behind training pilots on what controls to use to correct any instability at any time during flight, it seems that if the instability you describe was or could have been caused by the timing of any configuration change, an adjustment in the location or timing of gear, flap, and/or speed brake deployment would be warranted. Sorry, I just don’t see how using different flap settings or having different engines might cause anyone to either have, or not have, stability problems. If there is a geographic anomaly that regularly or irregularly contributes to turbulent air or visibility problems, an awareness program supplemented by control application suggestions and an opportunity to see demonstrated and perhaps practice such applications, might be all that is necessary.

Secondly, if “most” folks don’t need training and checking on “fill-in-the-blank,” does that not imply that there are at least some who DO need that kind of training and checking? If that answer is “yes,” how might those persons be identified? One could also ask about the purpose of recurrent training. Should recurrent training be applicable only to those tasks that crew members see less than some specific number of times per year? Traditionally, recurrent training programs call for 2 precision approaches and 2 non-precision approaches. I know that most airlines, if not all of them, are authorized and actually fly many more than 2 of each of these kinds of approaches. I get from your comments that you may believe that this requirement is too much, leading me back to the question above … what is the purpose of recurrent training? The reason it’s called “recurrent” is that it is supposed to recur, or happen again, at least periodically.

Going through “recurrent” training is not a sign of pending doom or demonstrated failure. Each year sports professionals regularly go through a “pre-season” training camp of some sort. No one believes they do this because the players have forgotten how to hit a baseball, field a “hot” grounder, roll in a lay-up, or make a corner kick. They do it because muscles have memory and eye-hand coordination is a beautiful thing when done correctly. Besides, it provides for the coach to notice anything that may be starting to go askew, and offer corrective advice or suggestions. I can’t help but believe that pilots have the same muscle memory, use eye-hand coordination the same way, and can periodically use an objective review of their rather large set of skills … just in case “the coach” (the instructor/check airman) notices something that could make the difference in doing or not doing something that could become important at some critical phase of flight.
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Old 01-31-2012, 02:02 PM   #4  
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There is "Testing" and there is "Training".

Any nit-wit can fly a 10 mile final straight in ILS to CAT 1 mins.... I hope! But the FAA still needs to see you do it as part of your annual certification. There is also the V1 cut, the hand flown engine out ILS, missed approach, and of course your non-precisions approaches, all "Required" by the FAA. First you train it, then you fly it, every body has to do it, from the RJ driver to the Whale. No biggie. If that freaks you out, you are in the wrong business. But there is always that 5% that will have trouble with those simple things. You can't get away from that fact, I don't know what you do with those guys...maybe make them Office Guys?

Then there's all the "other stuff" we actually might run into, in the real world. This is what the more fleet specific training at recurrent is aimed at, or at least it should be.

I have always enjoyed going to recurrent TRAINING, because that's the time we get to see some of the new 'problems', and the new airports, new SID's, STARS, etc. in a safe environment, before you actually have to go out and deal with it on the line.

But there are only so many hours in a sim period. (4 usually, and the first two are used up doing the required stuff). They can't show you every possiblitiy in a limited amount of time, so they focus on what the feedback from the line tells them they need to focus on, what are the most common problems the line guys are having? Let's do that and see what's up with that in a non-threatening environment, ie. the sim.

Why waste sim time flying approaches to some airport your fleet doesn't even go to when you can actually do the stuff that's giving guys a problem, and work on that instead. But that means every program, in every fleet, at every airline, will be a bit different, as it should be. I don't need to train to fly a single engine departure out of Jackson Hole, when my airplane will never be anywhere near Jackson Hole. The Hong Kong engine out sid is something I would like to look at though, or the Tel Aviv visual, or what ever else my fleet actually does. So it shouldn't be a 'one size fits all' because the fleets all have different issues that need to be focused on.

Oh, and the only "Problem" in MCO is driven by ATC airspace limitations. MCO approach has to keep you high when landing south to stay out of the Executive Airport's airspace until you are in close, then you have to dump everything to get down quickly. Once you've seen it, you'll remember to slow down and configure and be ready to drop it in as soon as you're south of the VOR, next time. But it will catch some guys high and hot the first time they do it. That's the kind of stuff they could put in the recurrent program, so you get to play with it in the sim, before you do it out on the line.

As far as the Colgan accident, well, how much training did they already have built into their recurrent, about airframe icing and how to deal with it? And stall recovery? And how much training did the Air France guys get on dealing with "Un-reliable Airspeed" at night, in the weather, over the ocean?

I'll bet they are training for it now! We are even doing it in my fleet (777) and there's not been a 'problem' in either of those two areas...yet.

But to answer your question, "What should the standards be..." well, I think they should be the same as when you got your ATP in the first place, plus or minus 10 knots, 5 degrees and 50 feet. Or were you talking about something else entirely?

Last edited by Timbo; 02-01-2012 at 07:00 AM.
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Old 02-02-2012, 08:28 AM   #5  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BTDTB4 View Post

My question then becomes … what happened to the concept of everyone having to meet the same standards? A standard set of regulatory requirements not only should ensure that the minimum knowledge and proficiency has been achieved by everyone involved, it should prevent anyone from being granted a “more streamlined path” to achieve what they have described as "proficiency." And, if we re-define that “end point” for everyone, we effectively allow everyone to follow a different "path," allow everyone to achieve their own individual goals, and effectively eliminate any "regulatory standard." Is this a good thing?

I’m not trying to be “picky” and I’m certainly not trying to get any airline management into some kind of trouble … but I AM curious as to what is so good about doing things differently from everyone else. So ... I ask ... what should be trained and checked that will help ensure a safe operation?
You're missing part of the picture here. Like you said, there are two basic ways that crew are trained/checked at 121 carriers - the standard 121 program covered in appendicies E,F, and H - and AQP. The structure of these programs can be quite different, but to suggest that one (or both) does not have set standards for training and checking is not correct. And neither is the suggestion that the requirements of an AQP program are made up by a bunch of psychologists to meet FAA buzz words.

You seem to be critical of the AQP program specifically - have you been through an AQP training program? There is a sim day during the typical AQP training and recurrent programs called the MV, or maneuvers validation. During the MV, all of the normal check ride type events are evaluated and must be preformed for the same set of standards as you would find in the more "traditional" check ride. The big difference is that if a maneuver does not meet standards, that it can retrained until it does.

A little extra background here - there is much more to 121 training/checking than the afford mentioned FAR references. First of all, there's the ATP PTS, which sets the basic STANDARDS that are applied to all checking events including the "validations" conducted in an AQP program. In addition to the PTS, there is a document called the Flight Standardization Board report, or FSB. The FSB is aircraft specific and is created during the aircraft certification process. The FSB outlines all of the specific training/checking that must be completed by pilots who will operate that equipment. For example, if during certification, it is found that maybe zero flap landings can be tricky, then the FSB might contain a requirement that all pilots of that type be trained and checked on zero flap landings. And guess what, if you fly that plane (even if it for a company for a company that has an AQP program), you will be performing zero flap landings, and they must be preformed to standards.

The great benefit of the AQP program has already been mentioned by others - that is, the ability to integrate focused training for problems that are occurring out on the line. In this way, AQP fits right in with other programs such as ASAP, FOQA, LOSA, and others.
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Old 02-02-2012, 09:14 AM   #6  
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I am getting the feeling that BTDTB4 isn't flying in a 121 environment, or may not be a pilot.

I think one of the points that he/she is missing is cost. Sure, a recurrent training program could go over every item and procedure that we *could* do. "OK, we did the left gen failure, I'll reset everything and we'll work on the right gen failure"

But an airline is trying to make money - at some point, at every airline, there is a cost/benefit analysis. I imagine Recurrent training is constantly evaluated to make sure we're getting the right training at the right time.

AQP is trying to focus our training - take it from the shotgun approach down to a sniper shot. ASAP, FOQA, LOSA and all that stuff help the training department focus on the items they think are important.
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Old 02-05-2012, 09:57 AM   #7  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iaflyer
I am getting the feeling that BTDTB4 isn't flying in a 121 environment, or may not be a pilot.
Well, actually, I am a pilot ... having flown several “types” in my career ... and my first approach and landing at the controls of a US Part 121 operator was in June of 1980. I don’t like braggarts who proudly proclaim the numbers of hours they have logged – so suffice it to say I have more than enough to be aware of and comfortable with what it is I’m saying.
Quote:
Originally Posted by iaflyer
I think one of the points that he/she is missing is cost. Sure, a recurrent training program could go over every item and procedure that we *could* do. "OK, we did the left gen failure, I'll reset everything and we'll work on the right gen failure"
But an airline is trying to make money - at some point, at every airline, there is a cost/benefit analysis. I imagine Recurrent training is constantly evaluated to make sure we're getting the right training at the right time.
It is “he,” thank you … and I don’t think I’m forgetting “costs” – what I am interested in is the possibility of having my company (or any company for that matter) give-in and adopt an AQP (or an AQP-style) training approach. Apparently you are not aware of the differences in training program requirements between operators conducting training under AQP. Were you aware that until the Colgan accident there were some part 121 airlines authorized to NOT train OR check on recoveries from approaches to stall BECAUSE they were authorized to train on Windshear encounters? The justification was that a windshear and approaches to stall occur in the same portion of the flight envelope; therefore, you were authorized to choose one and forget the other. Were you aware that AQP operators are encouraged to exercise “...judicious analysis of training requirements and training equipment...” and there from “...enable a participant to significantly reduce the need to use a full simulator for training and checking? I presume you are aware of the merger arguments between CO (authorized to conduct LOEs in Level 6 FTD) and UA (required to do LOEs in a Level D simulator).
Quote:
Originally Posted by iaflyer
AQP is trying to focus our training - take it from the shotgun approach down to a sniper shot. ASAP, FOQA, LOSA and all that stuff help the training department focus on the items they think are important.

Sorry, but for me, the “focus” is on only 2 things: 1) how little can be done and still convince the Feds that whatever is done is “enough;” and 2) how much management can save by cutting down on the training expenses.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dash8widget
You're missing part of the picture here. Like you said, there are two basic ways that crew are trained/checked at 121 carriers - the standard 121 program covered in appendicies E,F, and H - and AQP. The structure of these programs can be quite different, but to suggest that one (or both) does not have set standards for training and checking is not correct. And neither is the suggestion that the requirements of an AQP program are made up by a bunch of psychologists to meet FAA buzz words.
Oh, I agree that both programs have set standards for training and checking – that is not the issue on which I am focused. My concern is the fact that the standards for pt121, E,F, and H have the same standards, and that the standards authorized under the AQP are different – and may very well be different from every other AQP operator’s standards – and, in fact, many are different from all other AQP operators. Are you aware that the operator is authorized to establish “terminal training objectives (TPOs)” that, when developed, replace the FAA’s traditional compliance requirements and from there the airline is then authorized to make “additions, deletions, or changes” to these TPOs as needed. I am aware that the AQP staff includes psychologists – which is all well and good, perhaps even beneficial to some extent – as long as they don’t get involved in approving or disapproving training programs applicable to piloting an airplane. I have had one such person tell me that the reason a Level 6 FTD is authorized to be used the way it is in some cases has to do with the fact that it is the same as a Level D simulator without a motion system. That’s when I turned him “off.”
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dash8widget
You seem to be critical of the AQP program specifically - have you been through an AQP training program?

I wasn’t necessarily critical of an AQP program initially – but once I began reading what it was, what it demanded, and what it authorized, I began to get more than a little concerned and suspicious. And, no I have not been “through” an AQP program, but I have observed quite a few ... up close and personally ... and am currently formulating a recommendation to management as to our recommendations with respect to seeking approval under AQP. So far, I’m impressed … but not in a positive way.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dash8widget
There is a sim day during the typical AQP training and recurrent programs called the MV, or maneuvers validation. During the MV, all of the normal check ride type events are evaluated and must be preformed for the same set of standards as you would find in the more "traditional" check ride. The big difference is that if a maneuver does not meet standards, that it can retrained until it does.

Are you aware that not in all cases is the MV session conducted in a Level C or D simulator – if what I am told is correct, there are some who use (and others who are petitioning for use of) simulation equipment all the way down to Level 5 and Level 6 FTDs for this purpose? There are some now who are authorized to perform their Line Operational Evaluation (LOE) in Level 6 FTDs and others are petitioning to use Level 5 FTDs for that check (see above comment on UA and CO merger).
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dash8widget
A little extra background here - there is much more to 121 training/checking than the afford mentioned FAR references. First of all, there's the ATP PTS, which sets the basic STANDARDS that are applied to all checking events including the "validations" conducted in an AQP program. In addition to the PTS, there is a document called the Flight Standardization Board report, or FSB. The FSB is aircraft specific and is created during the aircraft certification process. The FSB outlines all of the specific training/checking that must be completed by pilots who will operate that equipment. For example, if during certification, it is found that maybe zero flap landings can be tricky, then the FSB might contain a requirement that all pilots of that type be trained and checked on zero flap landings. And guess what, if you fly that plane (even if it for a company for a company that has an AQP program), you will be performing zero flap landings, and they must be preformed to standards.

Actually, the Practical Test Standards (PTS), as a whole, are supposed to be applicable to all testing of pilots ... and a specific PTS is supposed to be applicable to all pilots seeking certain specific levels of certificates or authorizations. The Flight Standardization Board Reports are also supposed to be applicable to any operator operating the referenced airplane type. However, neither of these documents (the PTS / FSB Reports) are regulatory – they are both documents written to FAA personnel for their action – unfortunately, there is precious little information to those folks about what “action” they can legitimately take. And when someone is authorized to establish their “own” terminal proficiency objectives – what is said in a particular PTS document is no longer relevant to the issue. You might be interested to know that I’ve been informed that there are pending issues today as to whether or not an FAA inspector or an FAA designee can require someone to do something on a check simply because it is referenced in the PTS, or that during a check an FAA inspector or an FAA designee may authorize a person to not complete something that is contained in the PTS. Apparently, it’s not quite as “cut-n-dried” as many have believed.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dash8widget
The great benefit of the AQP program has already been mentioned by others - that is, the ability to integrate focused training for problems that are occurring out on the line. In this way, AQP fits right in with other programs such as ASAP, FOQA, LOSA, and others.

This “ability” has been talked about quite a bit. However, there are several operators who regularly incorporate into their training programs those relevant issues that are been brought to their attention through those same programs – but none of the operators I’m referring to have an AQP approved training program. Obviously, having an AQP training program is not a necessity to exercise this “ability.”
Quote:
Originally Posted by TIMBO
There is "Testing" and there is "Training".

Any nit-wit can fly a 10 mile final straight in ILS to CAT 1 mins.... I hope! But the FAA still needs to see you do it as part of your annual certification. There is also the V1 cut, the hand flown engine out ILS, missed approach, and of course your non-precisions approaches, all "Required" by the FAA. First you train it, then you fly it, every body has to do it, from the RJ driver to the Whale. No biggie. If that freaks you out, you are in the wrong business. But there is always that 5% that will have trouble with those simple things. You can't get away from that fact, I don't know what you do with those guys...maybe make them Office Guys?

Then there's all the "other stuff" we actually might run into, in the real world. This is what the more fleet specific training at recurrent is aimed at, or at least it should be.
I’m glad you brought this up – as this is part of what it is I am looking into. The most recent version of the proposed modification to the existing regulations addressing airline pilot training (the specific action to which I am referring is revising, and maybe replacing, the two subparts of part 121 that currently address training and qualifications). The rule that is being proposed includes a lot of what the US Congress has mandated as a result of the Colgan accident. It apparently includes a provision for more training time, and provides that at least some of that additional training is to be focused on recoveries from stall (not just approaches to stall), recoveries from “jet upsets,” and the potential problems that inadvertent encounters with icing conditions can cause, as well addressing the amount of flight time that has to be achieved prior to a pilot being hired by an airline for a flying position. Some of the “additional training time” that makes up some of the basis of this “new” rule, is apparently designed to be available to address the kinds of “other stuff” you describe that occurs in the real world.
Quote:
Originally Posted by TIMBO
I have always enjoyed going to recurrent TRAINING, because that's the time we get to see some of the new 'problems', and the new airports, new SID's, STARS, etc. in a safe environment, before you actually have to go out and deal with it on the line.

But there are only so many hours in a sim period. (4 usually, and the first two are used up doing the required stuff). They can't show you every possiblitiy in a limited amount of time, so they focus on what the feedback from the line tells them they need to focus on, what are the most common problems the line guys are having? Let's do that and see what's up with that in a non-threatening environment, ie. the sim.
Feed back from the line is definitely a good thing. But, I also think that being able to review some of the stuff that we do routinely shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand. Perhaps one of the reasons we don’t have a real problem with executing missed approaches – the few times we have to execute one in the real world – is because we regularly revisit them on recurrent training sessions. Additionally, I don’t necessarily want to argue about the amount of time that is available for simulator training. As far as I can tell there is no mandated minimum or maximum time that has to or should make up a simulator session. I do know that around the world there are simulator sessions that vary from 3 hours to 5 hours – not counting any breaks that might be taken. Perhaps this is where those psychologists can provide a more meaningful input ... how much “time on your butt” can one person take before the amount of information that goes into your head begins to decrease and eventually reach zero?
Quote:
Originally Posted by TIMBO
Why waste sim time flying approaches to some airport your fleet doesn't even go to when you can actually do the stuff that's giving guys a problem, and work on that instead. But that means every program, in every fleet, at every airline, will be a bit different, as it should be. I don't need to train to fly a single engine departure out of Jackson Hole, when my airplane will never be anywhere near Jackson Hole. The Hong Kong engine out sid is something I would like to look at though, or the Tel Aviv visual, or what ever else my fleet actually does. So it shouldn't be a 'one size fits all' because the fleets all have different issues that need to be focused on.

Oh, and the only "Problem" in MCO is driven by ATC airspace limitations. MCO approach has to keep you high when landing south to stay out of the Executive Airport's airspace until you are in close, then you have to dump everything to get down quickly. Once you've seen it, you'll remember to slow down and configure and be ready to drop it in as soon as you're south of the VOR, next time. But it will catch some guys high and hot the first time they do it. That's the kind of stuff they could put in the recurrent program, so you get to play with it in the sim, before you do it out on the line.
Wait a minute ... the training you see in a simulator is not necessarily designed to familiarize pilots with a specific airport (yes, there are some circumstances where a simulator has been used to qualify a pilot into a new or different airport ... but spending the bucks to develop and modify a specific visual model for a specific airport just to qualify new captains, could get exorbitantly expensive, very quickly) – the airport model is often selected because it is easy (i.e., relatively cheap) to acquire, it has the attributes that are more like the attributes of a majority of the airports into which a particular airline flies – and in many cases, if the airport model used in the simulator is patterned after a “real world” airport used by that airline, the flight crews can use their own Jepp plates. But there is nothing that guarantees if you see XYZ airport in the real world, that same XYZ airport in the simulator will be 100%, 80%, 60%, or only 10% accurate. Of course there are limits, and to verify that, just recently each airport model available in the simulators we use in our training programs had to be reclassified as either Class 1, 2, or 3 … where Class 1 is very much like the real world … and Class 3 may be authorized only for certain aspects where there just may be limitations placed on the use that visual model. This is a requirement found the new simulator rule. We’ve always treated the simulator as a training and evaluation tool – an expensive tool perhaps, but only a tool, used to train and evaluate the pilot.

Obviously, I can’t comment on the decisions made at your airline ... but it may be that the acquisition of models of the Hong Kong or the Tel Aviv Airports that approach Class 1 accuracy may be beyond the capability (or willingness) of the purse holder. My position is that doing training at the simulated Miami airport isn’t about Miami – it’s about the airplane performance and handling qualities at a sea level airport. The airplane is likely to be very similar in its performance and handling qualities at any sea level airport on the planet. If one of those sea level airports has a more challenging departure or arrival – the airplane will perform and handle through those required maneuvers just like it did at Miami, had Miami required a similar departure or arrival profile. If your airline goes to some high altitude, short runway, airport in Central or South America ... the airplane will likely perform and handle much like it would if you flew into a simulator model of Aspen, Colorado. It’s not about the airport ... it should be how you learn to manage the airplane and make it do what you what it to do, when, where, and how you want it to. If you had to train in the simulator on every airport you operate into, your simulator training would be several orders of magnitude longer! In fact, we’re considering structuring a completely fictitious simulated world where there are 5 or 6 fictitious simulated airports – collectively representing the kinds of variances our company sees on our route structure. Yes, it would be more costly up front – but those airports would change only when WE wanted them to change and no one could criticize the fact that the terminal wasn’t right, the intersections were not properly spaced, or the surrounding terrain was to flat or too mountainous.
Quote:
Originally Posted by TIMBO
As far as the Colgan accident, well, how much training did they already have built into their recurrent, about airframe icing and how to deal with it? And stall recovery? And how much training did the Air France guys get on dealing with "Un-reliable Airspeed" at night, in the weather, over the ocean?
Well, that is the question isn’t it? Based on what the CVR and the FDR show, the Colgan captain apparently fought the stick pusher all the way to the ground. Did he not know what was happening? What’s up with the F/O raising the flaps without being asked to do so and without coordination? Two years ago no airline was criticized for not training on stall recoveries, because it was thought that training on recoveries from approaches to stall was sufficient – and that loosing zero altitude was the desired outcome. Today, these are not the thoughts that are making their way through the regulatory and training industry hallways of the world. And as far as Airbus is concerned, I have heard that only recently (after how many Airbus stall accidents?) has the chief training guys at Airbus acknowledged that perhaps pushing forward on the side-stick to reduce the angle of attack might be an appropriate step when the stall warning sounds. Training is a powerful thing – and bad training, lack of training, missed training, training that wasn’t taken seriously, or training that was missed all together, often takes pilots to their graves. In the Air France tragedy, there is a good chance that both of the co-pilots on that flight were trained prior to the shift in Airbus training policy with respect on the “forward movement of the side sticks.” At the very least, not taught, taught and forgotten, or taught and not taken seriously – there is little doubt that the person at the controls held a nose up input for essentially the entire descent. Some have been reluctant to point a finger at this person ... but no one doubts that the training that was originally delivered ... i.e., “rely on the airplane to get you out of trouble” … is not the current way Airbus is training their clients. And in the words of the chief executive of the Flight Safety Foundation with respect to this particular accident, “We have to get back to the focus on automation as a tool to manage the aircraft. It should be serving us, not the other way around.” I couldn’t agree more.
Quote:
Originally Posted by TIMBO
I'll bet they are training for it now! We are even doing it in my fleet (777) and there's not been a 'problem' in either of those two areas...yet.
Certainly, training on what is known to cause problems for a flight crew is a good thing – but training to be able to fly the airplane should have always been the most important parameter.
Quote:
Originally Posted by TIMBO
But to answer your question, "What should the standards be..." well, I think they should be the same as when you got your ATP in the first place, plus or minus 10 knots, 5 degrees and 50 feet. Or were you talking about something else entirely?
Thanks for that answer – but my concern is not what the specific values are – but rather from where would we get those specific numbers – and why those numbers – and considering AQP, why would we want to see those numbers altered because a particular airline believes it’s okay to change them? Do we need regulations ... or should we allow each airline to rely on their own professionalism and let them choose what they want and when they want to do it? From my research (which has been just asking questions of several training departments around the country) it would seem that AQP airlines are pretty much “free” to establish what they want to do. Is that healthy? Is that what we all want to do? I don’t mind meeting regulations IF those regulations are logical and evenly applied. I’m really nervous about dealing with the kind of regulatory oversight that is apparently left up to the individual airline – particularly when it is almost exclusively management at the airline that makes the final decisions.
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Old 02-05-2012, 10:40 AM   #8  
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From above: Wait a minute ... the training you see in a simulator is not necessarily designed to familiarize pilots with a specific airport (yes, there are some circumstances where a simulator has been used to qualify a pilot into a new or different airport ... but spending the bucks to develop and modify a specific visual model for a specific airport just to qualify new captains, could get exorbitantly expensive, very quickly) – the airport model is often selected because it is easy (i.e., relatively cheap) to acquire, it has the attributes that are more like the attributes of a majority of the airports into which a particular airline flies – and in many cases, if the airport model used in the simulator is patterned after a “real world” airport used by that airline, the flight crews can use their own Jepp plates. But there is nothing that guarantees if you see XYZ airport in the real world, that same XYZ airport in the simulator will be 100%, 80%, 60%, or only 10% accurate.

I' talking about the training I've had over the past 26.5 years at Delta. We have always trained "airport specific" threats, with visuals to match, at least since I got on the 757+767 in 1989. Prior to that, in the 'old' 727 sims, generic was about all you could do.

With the newer sims (I don't recall what 'level' these sims are, but they have airport specific visuals) training is much better. The 777 sims we use have airport specific stuff and we train for all the 'problem' airports, as well as all the standard missed approaches, engine out, noise abatement climbs in TLV, slam dunks and last minute runway changes in LAX, all of that, and at my last recurrent we also did stall recoverys and a deep stall over water at night after unreliable airspeed, in effect, both the Colgan and A/F scenarios, minus the airframe icing. Seems Boeing just won't ice up like a (POS) Q400. I partly blame the FAA for ever certifying that thing.

I realize I've been lucky, Delta is one of the industry leaders, and many of the other 121's use generic airports for training, because as you point out, they can't (or won't) afford the better sims. I flew at another 121 ops and two 135 ops, and the Air Force prior to Delta, so yeah, I've seen 'other' training...I like what Delta is doing today.

Also from above: From my research (which has been just asking questions of several training departments around the country) it would seem that AQP airlines are pretty much “free” to establish what they want to do. Is that healthy? Is that what we all want to do? I don’t mind meeting regulations IF those regulations are logical and evenly applied. I’m really nervous about dealing with the kind of regulatory oversight that is apparently left up to the individual airline – particularly when it is almost exclusively management at the airline that makes the final decisions.

The bottom line is always Money. The FAA doesn't have enough money to hire enough oversight people, that's how they came up with allowing the airlines themselves to oversee their own training, which as you point out, is then again subject to "Cost Constraints" ie. do the absolute minimum to pass, and save as much money as possible. Training is expensive, just like good maintenance, so of course that will always be under -economic pressure- . I doubt the FAA will ever have enough money to hire more oversight people though, so...?
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Old 02-05-2012, 07:25 PM   #9  
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From above: Wait a minute ... the training you see in a simulator is not necessarily designed to familiarize pilots with a specific airport (yes, there are some circumstances where a simulator has been used to qualify a pilot into a new or different airport ... but spending the bucks to develop and modify a specific visual model for a specific airport just to qualify new captains, could get exorbitantly expensive, very quickly) – the airport model is often selected because it is easy (i.e., relatively cheap) to acquire, it has the attributes that are more like the attributes of a majority of the airports into which a particular airline flies – and in many cases, if the airport model used in the simulator is patterned after a “real world” airport used by that airline, the flight crews can use their own Jepp plates. But there is nothing that guarantees if you see XYZ airport in the real world, that same XYZ airport in the simulator will be 100%, 80%, 60%, or only 10% accurate.

I' talking about the training I've had over the past 26.5 years at Delta. We have always trained "airport specific" threats, with visuals to match, at least since I got on the 757+767 in 1989. Prior to that, in the 'old' 727 sims, generic was about all you could do.

With the newer sims (I don't recall what 'level' these sims are, but they have airport specific visuals) training is much better. The 777 sims we use have airport specific stuff and we train for all the 'problem' airports, as well as all the standard missed approaches, engine out, noise abatement climbs in TLV, slam dunks and last minute runway changes in LAX, all of that, and at my last recurrent we also did stall recoverys and a deep stall over water at night after unreliable airspeed, in effect, both the Colgan and A/F scenarios, minus the airframe icing. Seems Boeing just won't ice up like a (POS) Q400. I partly blame the FAA for ever certifying that thing.

I realize I've been lucky, Delta is one of the industry leaders, and many of the other 121's use generic airports for training, because as you point out, they can't (or won't) afford the better sims. I flew at another 121 ops and two 135 ops, and the Air Force prior to Delta, so yeah, I've seen 'other' training...I like what Delta is doing today.

Also from above: From my research (which has been just asking questions of several training departments around the country) it would seem that AQP airlines are pretty much “free” to establish what they want to do. Is that healthy? Is that what we all want to do? I don’t mind meeting regulations IF those regulations are logical and evenly applied. I’m really nervous about dealing with the kind of regulatory oversight that is apparently left up to the individual airline – particularly when it is almost exclusively management at the airline that makes the final decisions.

The bottom line is always Money. The FAA doesn't have enough money to hire enough oversight people, that's how they came up with allowing the airlines themselves to oversee their own training, which as you point out, is then again subject to "Cost Constraints" ie. do the absolute minimum to pass, and save as much money as possible. Training is expensive, just like good maintenance, so of course that will always be under -economic pressure- . I doubt the FAA will ever have enough money to hire more oversight people though, so...?
I want to second this BIG TIME. While our training pay sucks (something to be worked on in next contract) the training I have received in initial and recurrent has always been relevant and outstanding. AQP has made it much better.
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Old 02-06-2012, 03:53 AM   #10  
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I want to second this BIG TIME. While our training pay sucks (something to be worked on in next contract) the training I have received in initial and recurrent has always been relevant and outstanding. AQP has made it much better.
Points taken ... but, if you will, can you say just what about your training today is better than the training you had prior to AQP - or, more appropriately - what does AQP offer/require that cannot be accomplished under the "traditional" programs?
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