Boeing finds FMS training for pilots flawed

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Pilots take much longer than assumed by manufacturers and airlines to become comfortable with operating a new flight management system, according to a Boeing study of airline pilot perceptions of training and its effectiveness.

The study, presented by Boeing's lead research scientist Dr Barbara Holder at the Flight Safety Foundation's European Aviation Seminar in Dublin today, found that 63% of pilots feel they struggle to manage the FMS on a new aircraft type until they have been operating it on the line for between three and six months. More than 40% of pilots say that most of the FMS training they get is done while flying the line. The implication is that the FMS training the pilots receive on their type rating work-up is inadequate.

Holder noted that there is no standardisation among aircraft manufacturers, avionics manufacturers and airlines in how FMS training should be delivered, or the regulators. Holder found that the manufacturers make assumptions that the pilots will have a certain - unspecified - degree of prior knowledge, which evidence does not appear to support. Comment generated by Holder's presentation at the seminar included the information that manufacturers provide no FMS training guidance at all for an operator trying to transition pilots from a second-generation aircraft like a Boeing 737-200 on to a 737NG. Holder concluded there is a need for FMS training to be radically reappraised.