British Airways has adopted a new form of recurrent training for pilots that allows the carrier to tailor training sessions to its specific needs rather than following a rigid statutory testing routine.

The alternative training and qualification programme (ATQP), approved by the UK Civil Aviation Authority, is already in operation at British Airways, but EasyJet, Thomas Cook, Thomsonfly and Virgin Atlantic plan to take it up.

BA's head of flight technical and training Steve Sheterline says: "ATQP allows us to manage training time more effectively by using evidence based data. Our crews will now have more time for training rather than being constrained by some of the elements of the fixed training and testing regime."

The CAA says it has worked with BA for two years to develop the changed approach to training that ATQP represents, and emphasises that it does not mean a saving in total training time. Also, since it is a closed-loop system, training and testing results have to be monitored.

ATQP is not only airline-specific but fleet-specific, the CAA says, and it is based on meeting the training needs demonstrated by experience as revealed in mandatory occurrence reports and the carrier's operational flight data monitoring programme.

Sheterline says the programme will be rolled out over BA's airline's entire fleet in the next 12 months, but that it is already operational in the carrier's Boeing 777 simulators at its Cranebank training centre near London Heathrow. BA says ATQP does not involve special equipment nor modification to existing simulation.

BA's flight training manager Keith Dyce, who was responsible for producing the BA ATQP, says genuine training time is created by performing the statutory tests, such as engine failure during take-off, only once a year instead of twice, but the crews still perform their six-monthly recurrent training sessions, and these are used to improve pilot knowledge and performance where it is shown to be needed.

The ATQP model is based on the US Federal Aviation Administration's advanced qualification programme, which US carriers have been free to use since 1990, but Dyce points out that the European Joint Aviation Authorities did not provided guidelines until 2006 on how to apply its own regulations on the subject. Swiss and SAS have also adopted ATQP.

Read more about BA’s new training in Learmount’s blog "Nigel learns to fly"

Source: Flight International