NBAA2008 Safety Panelists Discuss Aircrew Training Challenges

ORLANDO, FL, October 6, 2008 – Industry leaders discussed challenges facing flight departments in today’s "NBAA Business Aviation Aircrew Training Challenges" session. The challenge, according to the experts, is the need for quicker and cost-effective training for pilots, but with an emphasis on best practices and procedure standards.

"There are more challenges than ever before because the cockpits are such increasingly complex environments," said Casey Norman, chief pilot for Cargill. "There is also an increasing reliance on technology and…people are less forgiving of human error now."

Rick Bedard, director of training operations for FlightSafety International, said there needs to be a change in the role of the pilot not flying in the cockpit. Those in the right side of the cockpit need to be "pilots monitoring" instead of "pilots not flying," and continually aware of the automated instruments through the flight.

The need for increased training is evident in recent data, according to Dan Jenkins, manager of the Air Carrier Training branch of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). In June of 2008, there were 269 deviations from flight paths and 164 of them were attributed to the pilot. Of those pilot deviations, 148 occurred while taxing before takeoff. " Most often, pilots do not read back the air traffic instructions correctly and go on to do something else," Jenkins said.

He said the FAA has formed an Enhanced Pilot Deviation Work Group, comprised of a variety of stakeholders to root out the cause of pilot deviations, with the results published in an effort to reduce the numbers, but it can only happen with the full participation of pilots and air traffic controllers.

According to the panel, pilot deviations are just one piece of evidence for increased, and altered, training. Douglas Mykol of Aircare Solutions Group said it can be important for owners of aircraft that hire professional pilots to know how to become the third crew member if called upon. "What we offer is training for the owners on every job that is going on in their plane. We find that the owners and their staff are really appreciative to know what should be going on in the plane at any given time," he said.

Norman and Steven Gignac, head of standards and regulatory compliance for Bombardier Aerospace training, said more emphasis could be placed on the quality of the flight instruction. The Practical Test Standards to obtain or renew a pilot license could be adjusted to reflect "real world" practices and stress vigilance, resourcefulness and increasing the use of simulators.

Given the increased awareness and popularity of very light jets (VLJs) in recent years, Sven Lepschy, manager of OEM training for CAE SimuFlite, said a private pilot license, instrument rating, multi-engine rating and passing a practices test are what is required for single-engine pilots to command a VLJ. There is unique training for the VLJs, but studying the systems and equipment before beginning a training program tailored to specific pilot needs would not be incredibly difficult.

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