Evidence Based Training (EBT) comes with tempting propositions for everyone in the chain – from the airlines, pilots in training through the aviation authorities. It promises efficiency, safety, more and better training, while reducing the standard checking. But could this concept live up to its promises?
Most likely it can. The industry is in dire need of a new approach to pilot training that would allow it to follow the pace of new technology developments and traffic growth. Yet, the danger is that in all the excitement about the new and better training, elements which are critical to EBT’s success slip out of sight. In a new position paper, European pilots outline those areas of concerns to be kept in mind while gradually shifting to EBT.
If there is a loose link between the EBT programme and the operator, much of the added value of EBT would be wiped off.
A first precondition for EBT’s success is that it leans to an airline’s profile. EBT programmes’ strength lies in the ability to tailor training to the specific operational characteristics of a given operator. These are the aircraft types, route structure and typical sector lengths, special operations, destinations requiring special attention, pilot experience levels, etc. When enhancing a baseline EBT program it is important to first know these specific operational characteristics in order to train pilots adequately. If there is a loose link between the EBT programme and the operator, much of the added value of EBT would be wiped off.
That makes it also critical for aviation authorities to be able to recognise if an operator is genuinely doing EBT and has the capacity to do EBT. EBT is not simplified training. On the contrary, EBT requires individualised attention to each trainee and therefore increased attention from instructors and corresponding investment from the operator. It is not difficult to imagine that not all operators would be equally mature to recognise, self-assess their weak spots and tailor training to adequately address those. Having clear criteria and guidance to assess airline’s safety management system is another critical aspect to EBT.
EASA should play a key role when it comes to providing guidance on training, oversight and even final approval of EBT programmes
Just like airline’s maturity to safety management, inspectors and authorities must also build sufficient experience and understanding of EBT. Inspectors must have received qualifications and training in EBT principles, application, approval processes and continuing oversight. As a new concept, there would be question marks and even differences in interpretations. Because of that EASA should play a key role when it comes to providing guidance on training, oversight and even final approval of EBT programmes at least in the initial stages of EBT implementation. The agency has a broad overview over Europe’s aviation authorities and has its own in-house pool of experts that could lead everyone in the same direction.
Will this change happen overnight? Most likely it won’t. Rather than a sudden transformation, Evidence Based Training will need to change the mentality in the industry and shift it towards different tools to achieve the same (and higher safety) goals.