Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority has released a notice of proposed rule making for the incorporation of the multi-crew pilot licence (MPL) into Australian aviation regulations.
CASA's release for public comment comes as the first batch of students undertaking Alteon Training's beta test of MPL in Australia are in the final stages of training.
The authority intends to implement MPL in Australia in line with International Civil Aviation Organisation standards and recommended practices. Training will comprise four stages - core flying skills, basic, intermediate and advanced - with human factors and threat and error management in all phases of training and the extensive use of flight simulation training devices.
Australia is proposing that an MPL applicant should meet the minimum flight experience standards published by ICAO - 240h of flight experience including 40h as a pilot in an aircraft, 10h solo in an aircraft including at least 5h of cross-country flight time and the rest in synthetic training devices.
CASA says that Australia is popular with airlines in Asia, the Middle East and Africa for training cadet pilots. As MPL is already established elsewhere, if Australia does not follow suit it will lose training opportunities.
The authority says it is committed to the concepts underpinning the MPL and the need to evolve pilot training through the use of modern simulation technologies, better training practices and the further adoption of CRM and threat and error management. The authority plans to monitor and review MPL implementation on a six-monthly basis for the first two years and conduct a post-implementation review within that period.
Newly qualified MPL pilots will need to be closely monitored, says CASA, and it will require them to complete 12 take-off and landings in the actual aircraft before starting line operations, as recommended by ICAO.
Alteon's proof-of-concept beta test trial started in March 2007. Six students from China Eastern and Xiamen Airlines are undergoing Boeing 737 simulator training at Alteon's Brisbane facility after the completion of flying training with Archerfield airport-based Airline Academy of Australia. The students are due to complete the course in early November, says Alteon.
The academy's chief executive Stewart Cameron concedes the jury is still out on MPL in Australia, but believes the concept is working well. "It's all about producing a multi-crew pilot and that's what we have produced," he says, adding that the extensive use of high-fidelity simulation in training is where the future lies. Alteon parent Boeing plans to decide its MPL future after completion of the beta test.