US, Europe poised to shake up upset training

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Regulators on both sides of the Atlantic are preparing to issue rules requiring airlines to provide upset prevention and recovery training (UPRT) for pilots, according to US Federal Aviation Administration and European Aviation Safety Agency speakers at the Royal Aeronautical Society’s UPRT conference in London.

The FAA will issue a final rule in October requiring airlines to develop an approved UPRT programme that will be operational within five years. Subsequently, in February 2015 it will issue a notice of proposed rulemaking requiring simulator manufacturers to extend the performance of their machines to represent – more accurately than they currently do – aircraft performance and behaviour close to the edges of the flight envelope. If the NPRM is approved it will become a rule the following year.

One of the problems in reaching decisions on how simulation can be used for safe upset recovery training has been the fact that, carried out badly, it can have a negative effect on pilot ability to deal with upsets correctly.

A dramatic example was the fatal crash of an American Airlines Airbus A300-600 near New York in October 2001, when UPR training at the airline caused a pilot to overreact to an encounter with wake turbulence. The aircraft’s fin was overstressed because of excessive rudder use and detached.

In the fourth quarter of 2014 EASA says it will issue a notice of proposed amendment (NPA) defining a proposed UPRT requirement for airlines.

Both these actions have effectively been enabled by international consensus awaited since the need for UPRT was recognised in 1998, as a result of the increase in fatal loss of control accidents involving airliners. The ICAO has already prepared its manual of upset recovery and training, and in 2014 it will publish standards for UPRT in Annex 1 to PANS TRG, which provides the national regulators with agreed standards on which to base their regulations.