A new buzz-term in flight training is emerging as a succession to recent trending towards scenario-based methodology. It’s called evidence-based training, (EBT), and its application could be the new paradigm for training of airline pilots in the future.
At its core is a foundation of eight pilot competencies. For each of these competencies there are defined behavioural indicators that provide evidence of each competency’s presence and proficiency.
“Competency,” by the definition of the International Civil Aviation Organization, (ICAO), is the “combination of knowledge, skills and attitudes required to perform a task to a prescribed standard.” A problem with training as it is now, goes the current thinking, is that conventional recurrent training requirements address only technical skills and knowledge. Competency in such an area as, say, situation awareness, is in no way addressed or assessed.
As to why knowledge, skills and attitudes are considered so important a combination, is attributable to two particular matters. First, aircraft reliability has improved significantly over time, yet accidents still occur even though everything was perfectly fine with the aircraft that crashed. Secondly, aviation system complexity is such that the next accident may be something completely unexpected and unforeseeable. Thus, current scenario-based training — wherein pilots are trained to react to “real world” situations that are known to have occurred in the past — cannot anticipate the unfolding of every possible eventuality.
EBT, then, is a new process that is moving training from the scenario-based realm towards prioritizing the development and assessment of defined competencies that will lead to better training outcomes. Mastering a finite number of competencies, so the thinking now goes, will allow a pilot to manage potentially dangerous situations in flight that could never have been predicted, and planned for, solely through any scenario-based training applications.
EBT is an initiative that is coming on stream for the training of airline industry pilots. It will use scenario-based events not just to practice what may be encountered, but as a process and means to develop and assess crew performance across the range of competencies identified as crucial qualifying attributes for cockpit crews.
The competencies themselves describe a range of desirable behaviours. The first of these competencies has to do with a pilot’s application of procedures. In other words, EBT training will look to see how pilots identify and apply procedures in accordance with published operating instructions and applicable regulations, using the appropriate knowledge to do so. Secondly, EBT will assess communication: a pilot’s demonstrated effectiveness for oral, non-verbal and written forms, in normal and abnormal situations.
Aircraft flight path management is another behavioural competency wherein EBT training will seek to ensure that pilots control an aircraft’s flight path through competent use of automated or manual controls, including appropriate use of flight guidance and management systems.
Leadership and teamwork skills will also be evaluated within EBT. The desired competency here is for pilots to demonstrate, amongst other behavioural indicators, an effective understanding of the roles and objectives of each pilot crew, as well as their ability to take initiative and responsibility whenever required.
EBT will evaluate pilot competence as it relates to their ability to accurately identify risks and resolve problems. It will grade pilots on the appropriateness of their decision-making under all circumstances and it will check to see how they persevere in working through problems without reducing safety.
EBT will appraise pilots on how they perceive and comprehend all of the relevant information available, and anticipate what could happen that may affect the operation of their aircraft. And lastly, EBT will gauge pilot competence in their management of available resources, and how well they prioritize and perform tasks in a timely manner under all circumstances.
EBT analyzes root causes of unsuccessfully flown manoeuvres in order to correct inappropriate actions. It seeks to develop and assess crew performance in accordance with prescribed levels sought for each competency so described. Watch for it to become the core focus for airline pilot training of the future.