If they accept the recent consensus of pilot-training specialists on defenses against loss of control–in flight (LOC-I), civil aviation authorities could reap the benefits of updated guidance on best practices by the end of 2013 and templates for changing regulatory requirements by late 2014, says Henry Defalque, technical officer, licensing and operations, Air Navigation Bureau, International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
He offered a preview of the pending ICAO standards and recommended practices for airplane upset prevention and recovery training (UPRT) — including their estimated time of arrival — in April during the World Aviation Training Conference and Tradeshow (WATS 2013) in Orlando, Florida, U.S. The changes are significant inroads to resolving the contentious issues involved in LOC-I in commercial air transport operations, Defalque said.
LOC-I was “a little bit under the radar” until a few years ago, when awareness of the accident numbers increased, especially awareness that about 80 percent of LOC-I accidents were fatal. The safety priority of this accident category then officially increased to no. 1 for the agency’s technical officers, he said.
ICAO has 200 people conducting its entire technical work program, half of those technical officers. So the agency showed openness to participating in external initiatives and receiving expert advice by creating a temporary Loss of Control Avoidance and Recovery Training (LOCART) committee of civil aviation authorities; by receiving input from the Royal Aeronautical Society’s International Committee for Aviation Training in Extended Envelopes (ICATEE), which began its work in May 2009; and by reference to the 2008 version of the Airplane Upset Recovery Training Aid, an advisory document updated twice since 1998 by Airbus, Boeing Commercial Airplanes and Flight Safety Foundation (see “Airplane Upset Recovery Training Aid Remains Relevant”).
“Particularly for the LOCART issue, we decided to go for the low-hanging fruits … the pilot training,” Defalque said. “There are other issues with loss of control–in flight, and that will be a long-term assignment for another group at ICAO. … From those sources, we developed and will run annex and [Procedures for Air Navigation Services: Training (PANS-TRG)] proposals through a very complex adoption and approval process.”
ICATEE delivered its draft manual on UPRT to ICAO in December 2012 with a companion proposal to amend ICAO Doc 9625, Manual of Criteria for the Qualification of Flight Simulation Training Devices [FSTDs], Volume I — Aeroplanes.
ICAO’s 50-member LOCART group was prompted by an October 2011 European Aviation Safety Agency conference on LOC-I, in which participating regulators “realized that everybody was going his own way, and this is a new issue and we needed harmonization,” Defalque said.
By some counts at that time, about 18 separate organizations or initiatives were under way worldwide to address LOC-I. ICATEE had input into LOCART, and after an initial organizational meeting and six monthly meetings during 2012, LOCART joined with a U.S. Federal Aviation Administration aviation rulemaking committee in January in producing a report on solutions that would aid the ICAO Secretariat in proposing Annex 1 pilot licensing proposals and Annex 6 Part I UPRT training requirements, he said.
In late April this year, ICAO presented its final draft proposal for the ICATEE-derived Manual on Aeroplane Upset Prevention and Recovery and corresponding regulatory amendments to a final LOCART meeting to begin the process of peer review for this manual. About 100 reviewers “have two months to comment on it, and then we will finalize everything,” Defalque said in April.
ICAO’s timetable calls for publishing the Manual on Aeroplane Upset Prevention and Recovery by the end of 2013. Timing of approval of ICATEE’s amendment to ICAO Doc 9625 is contingent on completion of review for ICAO by the Royal Aeronautical Society’s International Committee on Flight Simulation Training Device Qualification, he said. “That should be published by ICAO in the first quarter 2014,” he said.
This amendment focuses on additional aerodynamic modeling for UPRT that enables introduction of additional pilot tasks, new functions and tools for instructor operating stations, and specification of which maneuvers should not be trained in an FSTD to avoid negative training.
The ICAO Air Navigation Commission’s first review of the new ICAO regulatory provisions — the UPRT-related requirements for licenses, training programs and PANS-TRG — was set for June 6, Defalque said, adding, “Afterwards, [they] will be disseminated to states and all international organizations for comments. They have four months to comment, and then we will have a final review in November 2013. It’s very tight according to ICAO schedules, but if we make it, it will be applicable in November 2014. Otherwise, it will be delayed by one year.”
The expected changes to Annex 1 only affect airplane pilots. “First, we want to emphasize that the main focus of our action is toward the prevention of upset,” he said. “We hope to avoid the need for recovery. … For the commercial pilot license [CPL] … there is a recommendation for the applicant to receive, in actual flight, upset prevention and recovery training.”
For the multicrew pilot license (MPL), minor wording changes add prevention to the existing description of upset recovery and refer to the new manual and to PANS-TRG revisions.
ICAO made the CPL changes a recommended practice because a standard would have required existing pilots to comply within five years by receiving training in a single-engine propeller airplane, which was not deemed feasible for several reasons. “That makes no sense, and that would tremendously overdrain the training capability, so we are limited to a recommended practice,” he said. “For a type rating for a multicrew aircraft, the applicant shall have, for the issue of an airplane category type rating, received upset prevention and recovery training.”
The guidance material explains FSTD UPRT for a pilot’s type rating. If there is no FSTD for the airplane type, however, other LOC-I mitigations should be adopted, but never including UPRT on the actual airplane. “It’s too dangerous,” he said.
Annex 6 changes are expected to require a UPRT ground training–flight training program for pilots flying as part of flight crews in commercial air transport operations. “An air transport pilot, even if [he/she] is already current and he hasn’t had upset recovery training in the past, would be getting that training under the operator’s training program,” Defalque said.
The expected new UPRT-related chapter in PANS-TRG has six new sections, including ICAO’s official philosophy of UPRT. “It should be competency-based,” he said. “There is an addition [covering] the knowledge-based training because knowledge has been identified as generally deficient in many instances of accidents involving loss of control. … Aircraft manufacturers agreed to a set of upset recovery techniques and FSTD training scenarios which we … introduced with an introductory paragraph in the … appendixes.
“We are strongly advocating that there would be no civil aviation authority flight check or FSTD check. The competency-based training must be conducted in an approved training organization which would be overseen by the authority but would be responsible to ensure the competency of the trainee after the training period.”
Other changes cover the regulatory templates for states and expected state regulatory oversight, single-pilot UPRT on an airplane, MPL UPRT in a generic FSTD and type-specific UPRT in a type-specific FSTD. Also covered is instructor qualification for on-airplane UPRT and FSTD UPRT.
Words of Caution
Averting a global divergence among civil aviation authorities in implementing complex UPRT requirements was not the only concern when they, ICAO leaders and other stakeholders compared notes in 2011. Another major issue was the risk of negative training of pilots.
“Civil aviation authorities and industry must be cautious about promoting training in an FSTD unsuitable for the task,” Defalque said. “It is really critical. On-aircraft training can lead to negative training if the difference in behavior and control capabilities of a light aircraft and a transport heavy jet aircraft is not recognized. … To introduce additional training maneuvers, FSTD modeling may be required to change, and those maneuvers that we want to introduce need additional work if they bring the simulator outside the FSTD normal training envelope. So these are the words of caution.”
Finally, ICAO had to grapple with the controversial issue of the relative value of civilian airline pilots experiencing inverted flight, or roll beyond 90 degrees, as part of UPRT. He said about 90 percent of the training can be completed without this.
“What is currently recommended by ICATEE is that the optimum solution for upset prevention and recovery training for the CPL and MPL — that is, on an airplane — involve exposure to inverted flight,” he said. “For us … inverted flight exposure is a Cadillac solution to loss of control in flight, but it is not possible for most states. … For the CPL, we cannot do it, but for the MPL — because it is an integrated training program involved with an operator with … fairly expensive setup cost — we still recommend it.”
He said this conclusion about limited infrastructure was reached after studying a year-old ICAO database of the aircraft registry data of states, covering 38 member states at the time. “Of those 38 states, 60 percent did not have a single civil aerobatic aircraft,” he said. “The [database search] restriction was that aircraft needed two seats to have an instructor, and shouldn’t be kit-built.”
Now that ICATEE has submitted the deliverables on its agenda, the members remain available to advise on the implementation phases of other organizations. Sunjoo Advani, chairman of ICATEE, reminded the audience, however, of the impressions that research had left on participants and the urgency for the full scope of solutions to be implemented in the near future.
ICAO’s imminent Manual on Aeroplane Upset Prevention and Recovery serves as “a regulator’s handbook for the quality assurance of upset prevention and recovery training programs and standardizing instruction,” Advani said. The Royal Aeronautical Society launched the ICATEE task force because in a 2009 conference “we identified that loss of control is not really effectively trained, and in some cases, ineffectively trained; despite the good intentions of many people, it was being incorrectly trained by some.” Training had been focusing on unusual attitudes rather than the full range of upsets, and limitations in capabilities of FSTDs were not considered adequately. Prevention became a high priority of the committee, but even that had to be explained at first with unsettled terminology.
“What is an upset?” Advani said. “We go from normal flight to an upset to a loss of control situation. We can prevent the upset, and if an upset occurs, we can recover from it to prevent loss of control. … In an upset event, you can end up in a stall. You can end up in an unusual attitude. It can lead to a spin; it can end up overstressing the aircraft and you may [not] end up recovering. So we want to reduce these risks.”
Part of the challenge has been explaining the effects of the stall and post-stall aerodynamics. The red or danger zone on a graphed coefficient of lift/angle-of-attack curve shows that in that post-stall region, aircraft response to normal control inputs tends to be confusing for pilots without UPRT training, and may exceed control recoverability.
In real operational conditions in this region of the envelope, pilots could experience reduced roll stability, reverse roll control, stall g-breaks and other anomalies, he said. “If you’re in a swept-wing aircraft and you encounter stall toward the tips, you could end up having a change in the pitching moment that can catch you off guard,” he said. “Possible uncommanded roll could occur if one wing were to stall. You can end up with tailplane blanketing [normal airflow over the horizontal tail disrupted by disturbed airflow from the wings and fuselage], which can again cause a surprising condition. We saw this occur in the Colgan Air accident where all of these things started to occur in a rapid fire, confusing the pilots and causing them to apply controls which they were not prepared for.”
ICATEE also became concerned about inadequate pilot currency in practical aspects of aerodynamics theory that are seldom applied in line operations. “We have the requirement to maintain airmanship knowledge, but where is that knowledge?” Advani said. “When we [talked] to pilots, the average pilot seems to have a degradation of that knowledge and a degradation of skills. … What we see in all upset events is the response of the pilot to an unexpected situation — to startle, to being frozen, to actually having a loss of cognitive control, of understanding the situation and being able to interact appropriately.”
The working group believes that it pushed the frontiers of UPRT knowledge, training and technology, Advani said. “We’re developing new ideas, new concepts, really understanding what goes on [not only] in the airplane and the aerodynamics, but also in the mind.”
Airplane Upset Recovery Training Aid Remains Relevant
When the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in July 2010 published an Information for Operators bulletin (InFO 10010) titled “Enhanced Upset Recovery Training,” the objective was to highlight “the availability and merits of the Airplane Upset Recovery Training Aid” for all air operators under Federal Aviation Regulations Parts 91K, 121, 125 and 135, and Part 142 pilot training centers.
The first version of the Training Aid was published in 1998 by an FAA-industry work group co-chaired by Airbus, Boeing and Flight Safety Foundation. This comprehensive package was updated in 2004 and 2008 — the latest version covering high-altitude stalls — and remains available at <flightsafety.org/archives-and-resources/airplane-upset-recovery-training-aid>.
“The FAA strongly recommends incorporation of applicable sections … into training programs,” the InFO says. “Although the work group was primarily focused on large aircraft, many of the same aerodynamic principles apply to smaller swept-wing turbine aircraft.” Several presenters at the World Aviation Training Conference and Tradeshow (WATS 2013) likewise urged airline training managers worldwide to know and apply the Training Aid’s content while anticipating new documents from the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and regulators.
During the past four years, however, the Royal Aeronautical Society’s International Committee for Aviation Training in Extended Envelopes has created an enhanced sequel to the Training Aid (ASW, 6/11, p. 24; 10/11, p. 36; 6/12, p. 16) and delivered this Manual on Aeroplane Upset Prevention and Recovery to ICAO for scheduled release by the end of 2013. ICAO plays a critical role given the past reticence of some training organizations.
For example, an FAA aviation rulemaking committee found that more than 60 percent of U.S. airline training managers surveyed before the InFO was published were unaware of the Training Aid, said Lou Németh, a captain and chief safety officer, CAE. “[The Training Aid] is a very valuable document … a fundamentally sound document,” he told WATS attendees. “[The] Training Aid is still very valid and should be used.” He attributed signs of limited adaptation partly to the economically tough environment in which some organizations have been hard-pressed to justify airline pilot training enhancements that exceed current regulatory requirements.
“It’s an excellent document, but it is not a regulatory requirement,” he said. “So in defense of … training departments that don’t know about it and haven’t used it, since it’s not a regulatory requirement, it gets overlooked when people are developing training. … [The work group had] urged the regulator to adopt [the Training Aid] as a regulatory standard and it was not.”
Frank Cheeseman, chairman, Human Factors and Training Group, Air Line Pilots Association, International, and an Airbus A320 captain for United Airlines, called it concerning that some training organizations have professed that they are unaware of this resource. “There are two revisions out there that hopefully worldwide are being used in your training programs,” he told the conference.
One of the task force members present cited another reason. “Some of the training managers reviewed the [Training Aid] and then said, ‘We’re not doing anything that’s in conflict with it, so we don’t have to change what we’re doing,’” said John Cox, a captain and CEO of Safety Operating Systems. “Had it ‘gone regulatory,’ it could have been more effective. … It sits quietly on a lot of desks and gathers dust — which was never the intent. … I would encourage you to use it.”