EBT: An Introduction

Born from an industry-wide consensus that a strategic review of Pilot Training was needed, Evidence Based Training, also known throughout the industry as EBT, has been published by ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation) as a new methodology to conduct Pilot Training.


Current training methods for Pilots are largely based on air accident data from early generation jets which were substantially less reliable and very different to operate than today’s modern generation equivalents. The training tasks many Pilots undertake today have been identified as no longer contributing to a reduction in aviation accidents. The traditional method of repeating these set tasks and scenarios has remained largely unchanged for the past 5 decades, and although different items have been added into the training syllabus over the years, an in-depth investigation and overhaul of training processes has not been undertaken until now.

Thanks to the advancement of digital training records with accompanying data sources over the last 20 years, the availability of useful data for flight operations and training activity has improved considerably. 
Additional data sources from safety and QA systems also provide insight into the threats, errors and risks encountered in-flight, which identify better training opportunities.
introduction to evidence based training

Around 85% of all aircraft accidents which result in loss of life or damage to property are as a result of human error. An advancement in automation has seen a reduction in basic piloting skills, and greater resources need to be allocated to this type of skills training.

Pilots should have the right competencies through the adaptation of training methods in order to cope with new challenges. Whilst it is impossible to train for all plausible accident scenarios, by shifting from rigid task-based training to developing core competencies and skills, Pilots will be better prepared to deal with unexpected situations, leading to better training outcomes. EBT not only introduces a new programme of training items, but also addresses how this training should be managed and delivered.

The Industry Approach In 2007, IATA (International Air Transport Association) launched its Training and Qualification Initiative (ITQI) to consider the future of Pilot Training. As a result, an international working group was formed to conduct a strategic review and establish a new methodology for the development and conduct of recurrent training the assessment of Pilots. From there, EBT was created. This approach was subsequently published in ICAO Document 9995, Manual of Evidence Based Training in 2013 with a supporting IATA Implementation Guide and Data Report. These publications provide guidance to Operators and National Authorities on how they might develop EBT programmes in compliance with the ICAO regulation.

The Implementation of EBT

Operators will need to demonstrate their capability to support the implementation of EBT, performing a safety risk assessment demonstrating how an equivalent level of safety will be achieved before entering into the Mixed Implementation phase which will last for a minimum of 3 years.

An approved EBT programme will need to assess and develop the competencies required by flight crew members for safe, effective and efficient operations of aircraft. Operators are required to have a defined competency framework to use in the assessment of its flight crew which should include competencies and the associated observable behaviours. ICAO has published a suggested framework which operators can adopt. ICAO is currently developing a revised framework which is likely to be published in Q4 2020.

ebt competency grading

Competency Grading

Alongside the competencies, operators also need to use a reliable grading system which is objective and leads to consistent grading of pilot performance. The use of a 5-point scale is intended to be the standard grading system leading to industry alignment. It has been suggested that the VENN grading system would be a good model to adopt. The VENN Grading System has been proposed by EASA in NPA 2018-07(B)  as a suitable framework. 

The VENN grading system works through assessors noting behaviours that lead to under or over performance, classifying those behavioural observations against competencies and assessing how well that competency was performed.

The Training Programme

Pilots need to be exposed to assessment and training topics relevant to the aircraft type or variant on which they operate. Having determined which classification an operator’s aircraft is under, tables of training topics to be used within an EBT programme are published for each generation of aircraft. These tables will detail which topics can be used for assessment or training, the frequency of which these should be undertaken and which competencies are considered critical in managing each scenario. Upset Prevention Recovery Training (UPRT) is now also included as a recurrent training topic and must be delivered annually with all syllabus items completed every 3 years. Operators are also encouraged to add their own scenarios relevant to their operation.

Malfunction Clustering

Traditionally, operators have selected a list of major malfunctions to ensure that flight crew receive training on every aircraft system over a 3-year programme. The new approach under EBT classifies major malfunctions by characteristic rather than by system, ensuring flight crew receive training on each malfunction characteristic over the 3-year programme. This approach recognises that the ability to deal with a complex malfunction of one system is transferable, removing the need for training on every system.

Approach Clustering

Similar to Malfunction Clustering, this new methodology looks to group types of approach by the method flight crew would adopt to perform an approach, accepting that the competency to fly one type of approach meets the requirements of another. Modern aircraft guidance systems have largely harmonised the procedures that are followed for differing approaches. This is recognised through Approach Clustering with the removal of the number of different approach types that have to be performed currently.


EBT Modules

Within EBT there is a clear requirement to collect data, not only to record the completion of the determined training topics but also to record and analyse key competencies within the framework. Where any competency is observed to be below the minimum performance level, data will assist with the identification of specific training needs for individuals thereby determining the training scenarios to be undertaken.

EBT is split into 3 phases:

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ebt evaluation phase

Evaluation Phase

The scenarios within the Evaluation Phase are selected to allow evaluation of one or more competencies. The training programme will be designed so that all key competencies are assessed over 6 separate modules over a 3-year period. The Evaluation Phase is not designed to be a comprehensive assessment of all competencies, however, sufficient data needs to be gathered to allow the determination of individual training needs via a root cause assessment, ensuring holistic analysis of the whole flight crew population takes place. During Mixed Implementation, elements of a combined LPC and OPC will be also be conducted during this phase.

Efos ebt approach

Manoeuvres Validation Phase

The Manoeuvres Validation Phase has been designed for flight crew to practice and develop the handling skills necessary to perform critical flight manoeuvres and associated procedures. The remaining check elements of the LPC and OPC will also be conducted during this phase. Only a limited number of competencies may be graded during this phase, but the training outcome will need to be recorded.

EBT scenario based training

Scenario Based Training

The purpose of this phase is to develop, retain and practice the competencies for effective management of threats and errors to enhance flight crew ability to cope with both predictable and unforeseen situations. The training completed should be recorded, but an overall assessment of competency achieved on completion of the module is also required.

Instructor Concordance

The regulations also emphasise the importance of managing and monitoring instructor concordance to validate the integrity of the EBT programme. 

Operators will require a robust set of analytical tools to perform the necessary analysis supporting their instructor concordance assurance programme.