Beyond need-to-know

This first appeared as a Comment in the 17 June issue of Flight International

One of the obstacles to spreading the practice of modern evidence-based training (EBT) for airline pilots is that everybody thinks traditional recurrent training is based on evidence. It is, but the evidence is very old, and much of it not relevant to the task of flying computer-controlled aeroplanes in today’s area-navigation-based air traffic management environment.
The concept of competency-based training (CBT) tends to engender the same blank looks among pilots. They would naturally argue that their licence is evidence they have proved their competence. They may indeed be competent – but they did not prove competence, they passed a test. The academic analogy is training a pupil to pass an exam rather than educating a pupil to mastery of a subject. EBT is based on evidence from the line that shows what skills and knowledge pilots actually need to improve, and CBT provides the definitions of what competency looks like for every manoeuvre, so it can be measured, and shortcomings identified and corrected.
Only a few airlines have implemented EBT. This week Flight International takes a look at two of these, and what their experience has been. We also look at the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s intentions for EBT and CBT. The instructors need a completely different approach, but they have embraced it with enthusiasm, and the pilots? They love it.

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