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Recurrent Training Project Is Charting New Territory
NBAA is midway through a groundbreaking process that has the potential to modernize recurrent training for business pilots.
The Business Pilot Training Project is an effort begun last year by NBAA’s Safety Committee, which, together with industry stakeholders, is examining the Federal Aviation Regulation Part 61.58 process to determine how recertification practices can be expanded to include new training and skill sets that may be lacking in today’s recurrent training process, which basically recertifies pilots rather than trying to teach them new skills and sharpening old ones.
A Need-Based Training Model
“We need training that is based on the actual needs of business pilots,” said Steve Charbonneau, secretary of NBAA’s Safety Committee and chairman of the Business Pilot Training Project. “Training and standards are all about safety, and in both commercial and business aviation there are gaps in pilot performance. When there is an incident and ‘pilot error’ is cited, was it really pilot error, or was it lack of training? Or training that had gone stale, or recertification that was not pertinent? We are focused on increasing the value proposition of business aviation training at all Part 142 centers by determining what it is that pilots need to learn. Up until now, nobody has really articulated that or put together a safety program that specifically addresses the skill sets required of business aviation pilots.”
A distinguished group of 19 NBAA Members, safety professionals, training experts and providers has been working on the project since the fall of 2011. The group recently met at a two-day symposium in Washington, DC, as part of the progression toward the goal of having a set of deliverables ready to present at NBAA’s 2013 Annual Meeting & Convention. According to Charbonneau, the effort is focusing on four separate areas: skills and standards, operator guidance, training provider engagement and regulatory guidance.
Most of business aviation is already operating voluntarily on a higher level than required, so we need to provide a path to help reap the benefit of all these training programs. STEVE CHARBONNEAU Safety Committee Secretary, NBAA
In addition to the project committee, NBAA is soliciting Member and pilot input through surveys, Air Mail and meetings, including an upcoming town hall meeting on the Business Pilot Training Project that will be held at this year’s Annual Meeting & Convention in Orlando, FL. “We need to understand where the issues are, and find out what is working, as well as what isn’t working,” said Charbonneau. “Training is the most important mitigation for high-risk flight operations.”
Some of the more obvious gaps in pilot performance that the committee will examine, based on recent accident investigations, include concerns with loss of control, runway excursions, cockpit resource management, and decisionmaking and judgment, among others.
Two New Products to Offer Guidance
Doug Carr, NBAA’s vice president of safety, security, operations & regulation, expects at least two products to come out of this effort, including an NBAA Business Aviation Pilot Standards and Skills Guide, which will detail the best practices and core skills in pilot training. “We expect this document will be part of the NBAA Management Guide and essentially lay out the ‘gold standards’ for training,” said Carr. “This will go way beyond once- or twice-a-year simulator training.”
The other product will be a Training Program Development Guide that will assist Members in getting the best programs from their training provider. “This guide will help flight departments ask the right questions and help them get the right coursework from their training partner,” said Carr. “It will help them build an effective training program.”
Curriculum Will Continue to Evolve
Carr noted that business aviation training providers “have been part of the discussions on this project since Day 1, and have been willing partners in this effort.” Training providers such as FlightSafety International, CAE and SimCom are the link between the Federal Aviation Administration and the business aviation community, carrying out the Part 142 regulations for recertification and currency training, but are often asked by customers to address specific needs and training. “We have to make sure that the FAA regulations are in place and are flexible enough to accommodate the needs of business aviation training,” said Carr.
“Most of business aviation is already operating voluntarily on a higher level than required, so we need to provide a path to help reap the benefit of all these training programs,” said Charbonneau. “In addition to identifying the skill sets and developing a guide for the training vendors, we hope to provide a training template for operators to take to the FAA to demonstrate an alternate means of compliance – one where pilots are actually learning and getting additional training, not just getting checked.”
Bob Barnes, president of the International Association of Flight Training Professionals (IAFTP) and a member of the Business Pilot Training Project committee, is looking forward to providing a global forum where the new training curriculum can be shared. “IAFTP strongly supports this NBAA initiative to take a fresh look at the overall issue of business aircraft pilot training from the operator and pilot perspective,” said Barnes. “As the committee’s work progresses, we hope to see a competency-based training curriculum evolve that reflects operational realities while still respecting current regulatory requirements.”
The multi-year Business Pilot Training Project will be well worth the effort, said NBAA’s Carr. “We have to continually look at performance and training to make sure we are doing everything to make business aviation safe,” he said. “We want to stay at the forefront of business aviation safety by working hard to earn our outstanding safety record.”