The race to eliminate loss of control–in flight (LOC-I) in large commercial jets will enter its most challenging stage — implementation of agreed countermeasures — in 2014. The shift follows more than four years of painstaking and contentious research and development.
In their presentations to the 8th International Flight Crew Training Conference in September in London, several veterans of this work said they feel pride, impatience and/or trepidation as they anticipate the staggered releases of relevant final regulations (see “Pilot Training“) and guidance. The conference was devoted to aircraft upset prevention, recognition and recovery training.
Seven years ago, a proposal to reintroduce upset recovery training took two years to gain approval of senior leaders overseeing the KLM Flight Academy, said Herman Hello, a captain, vice president, Boeing 747-400 and training facilities, and head of training, KLM TRTO, Air France KLM. But that was the last time that justification of need was subject to debate, he added. In 2010, the company introduced an extra, full-simulator recurrent training dedicated to airplane upset prevention and recovery training (UPRT) and manual-flying exercises in all other types of recurrent training sessions.
The currently recognized deficits in the world’s airline pilot training can be traced to gaps during periods in which the industry expanded attention from a primarily technical focus, to a human factors focus and finally to an organizational focus, Hello said. “A lot of technical-era training was dedicated to old-school pilots teaching how to ‘play the piano’ — the MCP and CDU [mode control panel and control display unit],” he said. “Core flying skills were further forgotten. Today’s … copilots can typewrite blindfolded with 10 fingers on the CDU … but that doesn’t necessarily make them safer. When I ask if they want to fly a visual approach, they prefer a full lineup [i.e., an instrument-based procedure].”
Accident trends led to the next focus on flight crew factors through concepts such as crew resource management, threat and error management and the efficiency-thoroughness tradeoff. The organizational era next was adding risk-based, proactive safety management systems to the preceding concepts — further improving overall accident rates — when LOC-I rapidly came to the forefront.
“What did we miss?” Hello asked. “I think we entered a new era … the low-stress era, the complacent era. The problems of today are a combination of presumed situational awareness, low stress and a lack of core flying skills. Those three issues will catch you by surprise, leave you startled way too long and won’t help you fly out of an aircraft upset.”
The technology is now so advanced that some pilots have developed a false sense of security, he argues. “Newer aircraft are reliable, silent and equipped with CPDLC [controller-pilot data link communication],” Hello said. “Once at level [cruise with] clearances in, crew rests assigned, dinner completed, you’re entering the night within your window of circadian low; there is absolutely no reason for stress. Your cognitive capabilities are at an all-time low for the next couple of hours. Usually, you really have to focus and push yourself to be sharp for the approach and landing. Just to be clear, we are not discussing a fatigue issue here. We simply don’t keep [pilots] busy anymore. Imagine the [sudden onset] of a problem. It really takes a couple of seconds before the adrenalin kicks in — precious seconds.”
LOCART Veteran’s Viewpoint
One way of monitoring the LOC-I accident category is to look back one 10-year period at a time. Such recent periods consistently have had about 2,000 fatalities, said Philip Adrian, a captain, Boeing 737/737MAX chief technical pilot; chief pilot, regulatory affairs, The Boeing Co.; and co-chair of the disbanded 100-member Loss of Control Avoidance and Recovery Training committee (LOCART, formed by the International Civil Aviation Organization [ICAO]; ASW, 7/13). LOCART’s final report was issued to ICAO in April 2013.
The responses of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and ICAO all show that LOCART solutions lately have been “getting traction” for near-term implementation, Adrian said. “Is that enough?” he asked. “Probably not … but it’s a start. … I don’t know if [LOCART] succeeded. I’m afraid we haven’t. … We need to get down to business … I am a little hesitant about some other initiatives that are starting up right now when I think we should be starting to coordinate … the actual introduction of training rather than keep on talking about it.”
A key LOCART-debated concept adopted by ICAO is providing UPRT throughout a professional pilot’s career. “You cannot build when there is no foundation,” Adrian said. “That is something that I think we overestimated in most of industry. … We used to base type-rating training on the [assumption that] pilots … came from other airplanes and had flying skills. We used to only have to teach them [the type-specific] ‘tricks.’ However, those tricks have now become the major part of the curriculum, and we have forgotten that pilots might not have the background that [conference attendees near or past retirement age] all have. … That is worrying because we need to reach the new people coming into aviation and make them aware that there is no ‘reset’ in aviation.”
ICAO’s Loss of Control Symposium in May 2014 will address an issue that fell outside the LOCART primary focus: the human factors elements of LOC-I. “It may lead to additional recommendations in the fields of crew resource management and human factors training to prevent or recover from loss of control,” he said.
Adrian reiterated the caveat from a few other presenters to any aviation professional who mistakenly might conclude that information and insights from a conference are sufficient to launch a UPRT program. “The knowledge part of training? Go ahead, please [study it] — there is so much to learn,” he said. “But please don’t go out and think ‘Let’s go upside down, and see how we can recover from that.’ That’s not the intent here. Instructor-qualification standardization must come first. … Please connect with your OEM [original equipment manufacturer]. … We want to make sure you do it right.”
Early Airbus Concerns
Concerns among specialists at Airbus in the mitigation of LOC-I risk have evolved as consensus is reached on government-industry solutions, and deliverables emerge in their near-final or final form (Figure 1), according to David Owens, a captain and flying training manager, Airbus.
“We worried back in 2010 about the direction the industry was taking,” he recalled. “There seemed to be a huge focus on [upset] recovery. I’m pleased to see that, to some extent, that has changed.” A few people around the world then seemed to conflate aerobatic training with UPRT, he added.
“Sadly … upset/unusual attitude [elements] used to be basic training for the world’s airline pilots, the way they came through their cadet training,” Owens said. “It’s not true today for many of them. Are we reaping the whirlwind for that change in regulation?
“But we don’t recommend the use of full flight simulators today for dynamic upset demonstration and recovery. Why? Because we believe there is an excessive risk of negative [transfer of] training. American Airlines 587 is a bitter lesson from history that we must not forget — if we do [UPRT] we must do it right.”
Another concern in 2010 involved indications that some operators might rush to develop their own procedural airplane-recovery solutions. Attempts to do this, he said, can result in conflicting steps in the use of autopilot, autothrust/autothrottle, rudder, and full control inputs in general, for example.
Henry Defalque, technical officer, licensing and operations, ICAO, gave an update on the status of new provisions, including standards, recommended practices and guidance relevant to UPRT. The proposed Doc 10011, Manual on Aeroplane Upset Prevention and Recovery, has been revised significantly within ICAO since it was received in December 2012 from the Royal Aeronautical Society’s International Committee for Aviation Training in Extended Envelopes (ICATEE).
The primary revisions include relocation of the section on competency-based/evidence-based training to a multi-crew pilot license appendix so that the main guidance encompasses both competency-based and non-competency-based (also called prescriptive) approaches. The overall revisions cover academic training; practical on-airplane training on a flight simulation training device (FSTD) of a generic type or type-specific training; training scenarios and recovery techniques harmonized in consultation with Airbus, ATR, Boeing, Bombardier and Embraer; qualification of instructors and how an instructor should oversee UPRT training programs; and explanation of the new requirement that all UPRT at the multi-crew pilot license level and the commercial pilot license level be under the oversight and approval of the national civil aviation authority.
As covered in July 2013 in ASW, the amendments to Annex 1, Personnel Licensing, will address UPRT requirements for all pilots at the commercial pilot licensing level and the amendments to Annex 6, Operation of Aircraft, Part 1, International Commercial Air Transport — Aeroplanes, will address UPRT requirements for airplane pilots in commercial air transport at the recurrent training level.
The requirements have been synchronized with a new chapter on UPRT procedures in Procedures for Air Navigation Services–Training (PANS-TRG); with an amendment to Doc 9625, Manual of Criteria for the Qualification of Flight Simulation Training Devices, Volume 1 – Aeroplanes; and with the new guidance in Doc 10011, which is now scheduled for publication at the end of 2013 based on the September rewrite incorporating stakeholder comments and ICAO’s own restructuring.
ICAO received responses in October to a state letter that sought comments from national aviation authorities on both annexes and PANS-TRG amendments, and performed the final review in November intending that the standards become applicable in November 2014. In Annex 1, the term “prevention” was added to existing language requiring upset recovery training as part of the multi-crew pilot license.
“ICATEE is preparing the amendment to Doc 9625 with the Royal Aeronautical Society’s International Committee on Flight Simulation Training Device Qualification,” and was expected to finish its proposals by November 2013, Defalque said, enabling ICAO to quickly finalize and issue this amendment in first quarter 2014. The July 2013 ASW discussed these changes, and Defalque added at the conference that ICAO ultimately “had to water down ICATEE’s recommended [pilot] exposure to all-attitude [training], including inverted flight, in the on-airplane training.”
With ICAO representing 191 countries, he said, the decision-makers reasoned that “this [inverted flight] is kind of a Cadillac solution for the training, and it is not possible for most states. … Only 40 percent of those states had an aerobatic-capable aircraft on the registry. So, basically, we left the licensing authority … to decide whether inverted flight training would be required, but we recommend it for the multi-crew pilot license.”
The forthcoming Annex 1 contains a recommended practice for UPRT in actual flight for the commercial pilot license. “Potentially, a more important Annex 1 standard is a UPRT requirement for the type rating of multi-crew airplanes … covering not only commercial air transport operations but the general aviation heavy jets where a type rating is required,” Defalque said. “We will also propose a requirement for UPRT for the training programs of commercial air transport operators.
“In the new PANS-TRG chapter is the on-aircraft and, optionally, an FSTD training program for the ab initio commercial pilot license and multi-crew pilot license. Then at the type rating [level] and in commercial air transport initial and recurrent training, we provide procedures to support FSTD training, some instructor qualifications and how the regulators should oversee any training programs.”
ICAO’s current cautionary message to the industry concerns the possibility of negative transfer of training if states or their operators disregard these new standards and guidance. “Your FSTD must be suitable for the training task, and we must be cautious [about the possibility] that industry may use unsuitable FSTDs,” he said. “[Operators] need changes to the FSTD modeling to enable new training maneuvers. On-aircraft training needs to be tailored to recognize the differences between a light single-engine aircraft and a transport jet aircraft so that the training can transfer.”
FAA and EASA Progress
Several years of work — some originally independent from UPRT initiatives — essentially have culminated in FAA regulations and guidance material consistent with the international consensus on UPRT, said Robert Burke, manager, FAA Air Carrier Training Branch. Government-industry collaboration has been key to recognizing needs and delivering solutions, he said.
Burke cited the new core principles of Advisory Circular (AC) 120-109, Stall and Stick Pusher Training, which specifies reduction of angle-of-attack as the pilot’s most important response to the first signs of approaching stall; no mandated value for altitude loss in the response; and the importance of incorporating autoflight systems and high-altitude scenarios in stall training. FAA inspectors recently surveyed U.S. air carriers and found that 50 incorporated this voluntary guidance into their training programs and 25 plan to do so. “One currently does not plan to incorporate it, and we’re conducting ‘outreach’ to them,” he added.
The agency was surprised initially by several operator misconceptions of the AC’s meaning and applicability. Those that did not have stick pusher/shaker–equipped aircraft and operators of envelope-protected fly-by-wire aircraft said they disregarded it; and some even told inspectors they supposedly were conducting training on full stalls in FSTDs. “There are many of the principles that [any operator] can incorporate — at least … let’s get reduction of angle-of-attack as primary response; everything else can follow,” Burke said. “We’ve been training the wrong way for so long that it’s going to take a long time [to change highly experienced pilots’ discredited] instant response: firewall the power and hold onto the altitude,” he said. “It’s going to take a very long time to break that — not one training cycle, not two, not three. We’ve got to [be] persistent.”
A second example of UPRT-relevant FAA regulatory progress was the November 2013 issuance of FAA National Policy N 8900.241, Qualification, Service, and Use of Crewmembers and Aircraft Dispatchers, which includes a requirement for full aerodynamic stall training as mandated by U.S. law. “Not only are we requiring an airline transport pilot [ATP] certificate to fly an airliner, we changed the training to …require completion of an ATP-certification training program [including] extensive academic training [Figure 2] on aerodynamics, teaching the core concepts of energy management in transport category aircraft,” he said. “This course [to be implemented in 2014] is a prerequisite to taking the ATP knowledge test. [The change] also has enhanced instructor requirements. … You [instructors] have to have an ATP. … You have to have air carrier experience, and you also have to be additionally trained in the limitations of the simulation [such as motion and fidelity].”
The FAA also is conducting a rulemaking effort related to ICAO Doc 9625 and preparing a related UPRT AC that will detail a five-year operator compliance period intended to allow time for the required simulator technology to become available. The notice of proposed rule making is scheduled to be published in February 2014, including requirements for UPRT-compatible instructor operating stations and enhanced airborne-icing models for FSTDs.
EASA also has been a key participant in the world’s major UPRT initiatives, and in November launched EASA Rulemaking Task 0581 and 0582 (one task designated with two numbers), said Daan Dousi, rulemaking officer–flight crew licensing, EASA.
In addition to UPRT working groups, EASA has closely monitored the safety recommendations of the world’s accident investigation boards. Other recent influences include 30 experts who presented at the March 2013 EASA workshop on LOC-I and the European Aviation Safety Plan.
Dousi said the agency’s near-term focus is following up on implementation of ICATEE’s recommendations to reduce LOC-I, revising and promoting UPRT guidance material in light of the forthcoming ICAO annexes and manuals, and organizing a 2014 workshop to “define and promote requirements and guidance in Part-FCL [flight crew licensing] and Part-OPS [operations] related to the prevention of loss of control accidents and identifying needs for future improvements.”
“It was a consensual idea that [EASA] should base any future ideas more on ICATEE and LOCART, use them as the pillars for future tasks,” he said. Areas in which EASA expects to contribute new viewpoints and training improvements include development of realistic, startle-inducing scenarios using current technologies; ensuring that qualified UPRT instructors have adequate flexibility; adding devices that enable g-awareness, spatial disorientation and spin training; and improving pilots’ manual flying skills. This work also will influence EASA’s new rulemaking task.
EASA already has published safety information bulletins harmonized with FAA counterparts for training on manual flight skills and for stall and stick pusher training. An internal work group also has been studying flight deck automation mode awareness, energy-state management and “automation addiction” trends, he said.