MPL mythbusters

The multi-crew pilot licence (MPL) is still new enough for many industry people to be suspicious of it.

These suspicions will gradually erode as knowledge and experience accumulates, and the MPL will – eventually – become the default way of training to become an airline pilot – possibly with the exception of the USA.

The erosion of suspicion first began with revelations from the meeting last December at ICAO Montreal, held to validate the MPL concept by getting airlines all over the world to report back on the performance of MPL graduates on the line. No-one reported less than good or very good, although a few treatable anomalies were reported.

Now another little news event has provided the missing proof of the MPL qualification’s transferability across employers during training.

A group of UK MPL trainees dropped by their sponsoring carrier because of corporate restructuring were immediately taken on by another airline, busting the “myth” that an MPL is not transferable.

The carrier, Monarch Airlines, also had to make redundant some CTC-trained first officers with MPLs who were well past their first line check. But CTC’s chief commercial officer Anthony Petteford says the company is already in talks with carriers who will take them on.

For the trainee cadets, the Monarch decision came at the end of their MPL phase one “core skills” syllabus. Petteford explains: “As their training provider, we got involved and facilitated their transfer to another MPL airline – EasyJet – and the guys are now back on track again – in less than one month, all supported by the Civil Aviation Authority. So MPL training is definitely transferable between airlines.”

Another MPL “first” will be announced soon, says Petteford, because a “high profile airline” has signed up with CTC to have cadets trained under the MPL system for delivery straight into the right hand seat of a widebody aircraft. So far most UK MPL graduates have started work on Airbus A320s, Boeing 737s, and – with Flybe – Bombardier Q400s.

The final MPL myth to be busted will take a year or two yet. That is the belief that MPL training only prepares pilots to be career first officers. A glance at the syllabus shows that any MPL is equipped with the technical skills, knowledge and competency, so those who have command potential will get command. When the first MPL-based captains take command of their aircraft, the MPL will finally have arrived.

Meanwhile CTC says it has decided to embed an upset prevention and recovery training module in all its ab initio training, whether for MPL or the commercial pilot licence. This requirement is expected to be mandated by EASA and the US FAA, but CTC is not waiting for the starting pistol.

The UPRT training will comprise three hours in a Slingsby T67 aerobatic aircraft which will be based at the company’s Bournemouth training centre, and four hours in one of CTC Aviation’s Boeing or Airbus level D full-flight simulators “to enable transfer of the core UPRT skills into an operational airline environment”, Petteford explains.

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