Crew training is evolving. Are you?

Everyone in aviation understands the importance of providing consistent, high-quality training for airline crew, but achieving this is certainly no mean feat. When specific teams have very different training needs (consider the differing needs of pilots, cabin crew, engineering, flight operations, and ground operations teams) and when the training approaches considered to be best practice keep changing, it can feel like a near-impossible task.

But we believe it is possible to have more consistency and control over your crew training to achieve standardisation. In this blog, we’ll outline how your airline can move towards this.

Shifting sands: the evolution of training programmes

During the last ten years, pilot training in particular, has been completely reimagined with the shift away from skills-based training to competency-based training. Within these two broad approaches, there has been a rapid evolution of programmes, including:

  • Traditional, which focuses on assessing pilots according to their performance of a rigid set of key tasks.
  • ATQP (Alternative Training and Qualification Programme), which allows for more customisation and tailoring of training programmes based on an operator’s needs.
  • EBT (Evidence-Based Training), which places a strong emphasis on using empirical evidence and data to identify the most relevant threats and errors. Data-driven training programmes are then designed to ensure pilots acquire the competencies to manage these risks.
  • CBTA (Competency-Based Training and Assessment), which incorporates EBT and identifies and assesses specific competencies or skills that a pilot needs to perform their job successfully. Importantly, the performance of the pilot is judged with greater accuracy in CBTA, because it uses objective, observable performance criteria (‘observable behaviours’) to grade pilots.

This pace of change has been challenging for airlines and ATOs, and many are still trying to evolve their training programmes into the newer approaches. This makes the management and monitoring of training (and ensuring compliance) much more difficult.

However, the evolution in these training programmes has occurred for good reasons. The availability of data has been a key driver — the industry now has access to better insights around the threats, errors and risks encountered in-flight, and has wanted to use this to adapt its training accordingly. Another driver has been changes to the pilot’s required skillset, while aircraft have become more automated, as soft skills have become more important.

Overall, by shifting away from rigid task-based training to developing core competencies and skills, the industry felt pilots would be better prepared to deal with unexpected situations (‘black swan events’). After all, history shows us, it is these unpredictable events that can cause the biggest problems.

Evidence and competency-based approaches are not restricted to pilot training programmes. They are already being adopted by other airline teams as well, such as cabin crew, and we expect these to be embraced by all airline teams in the future. In fact, it’s the way training is going across all industries.

How automated training management can help

Clearly, you can’t deliver the same training to all teams because their needs differ greatly, but you can adopt the same approach, and this is the ideal. Imagine being able to seamlessly transition into EBT and CBTA methodologies for all your teams, wherever they are based in the world. And imagine being able to manage and monitor all your training in a single platform.

Actually, this is all possible now with the help of new technology! Automated training management solutions can standardise your training in this way and take away the headaches associated with monitoring different programmes and complying with different regulations.

In fact, automated training management solutions bring a host of benefits, including:

  • Improved accuracy and compliance — Training data can be automatically captured and validated to minimise errors.
  • Reduced workload — These systems monitor key information automatically, such as qualification expiry dates and exam results, and alert teams accordingly, reducing monitoring workload.
  • Valuable insights — Because everything is in one place, in-built analytics tools can provide valuable insights, such as around instructor concordance, or competency strengths and vulnerabilities across your entire team.
  • Scalability — As your organisation or training programme grows, the automated solution can scale with you. You’ll need far fewer people to manage and monitor crew training than you would with more manual processes, so you won’t find yourself under-resourced or rapidly increasing your headcount.
  • Accessibility — Training management solutions are usually cloud-based and can be accessed through any device with an internet connection. Some even have apps that work offline and then seamlessly sync the data when you get online again.

Evaluating training management software

The problem is, not all automated training management solutions are equal. So how do you decide which solution to go with? There are some key things you need to consider.

1.    Total cost to the business

Don’t just consider the cost of the initial investment or ongoing subscription to the software. You need to evaluate how much time your team will need to spend getting the solution up and running, how user-friendly the system is (and therefore how much training will be needed before people feel confident using it), and how much time you will likely spend maintaining it and dealing with issues. Some suppliers offer a more managed implementation than others and this will be reflected in the price.

To help you evaluate the total cost to the business, you could ask suppliers questions like:

  • Who will be responsible for setting up and maintaining all your airline’s training forms and courses? (This is by far the most time-consuming task)
  • How much training will staff need to go through to get up to speed? Will the supplier provide that training, or will you need to?
  • Is there a limit on how many hours’ support they provide after go-live?

2.    Data migration

Tied into the total cost, is this question: if you’re moving over from another training management system, can that data be migrated across to the new system and will the provider do that for you?

Some providers are happy to do this, while others aren’t. If they aren’t, you’ll need to factor in the costs of retaining the old system and the managing data in two places.

3.    Flexibility of the solution

Ask whether the system can be configured to work with many different training approaches (ATQP, EBT, CBTA etc) and whether it can monitor all of these simultaneously? This will be important if you are running several different training programmes at once — for example, for different teams or different bases.

4.    Integration with other systems

Evaluate to what extent the solution can integrate with other systems, such as crew scheduling software, business intelligence tools, and wider training platforms.

Integrations can streamline workflows further and increase efficiency. For instance, if a pilot fails some critical training, this can automatically alert the crew scheduling software, letting that team know that pilot will be unavailable to fly until further notice.

5.    Experience and expertise

Consider the supplier’s experience in the field. Do they have considerable experience of managing pilot and crew training? Can they offer advice on the best way to transition between the different training programmes? Can they provide references from other airlines and/or can they point to long-term relationships with airlines? If they are new to the industry or have a high turnover of clients, that could be a red flag.

EFOS Training — Training management made easy

EFOS Training is our automated training management solution for airlines, designed to centralise and improve all your crew training programmes. It integrates fully with a wide range of third-party platforms and regardless of how you’re working now (using paper-based processes or another digital solution), EFOS Training will make it easier for you to monitor and standardise your global crew training.

It works across all teams supporting all training programmes (Traditional, ATQP, EBT and CBTA) and can deliver seamless transitions into EBT and CBTA. For example, when it comes to pilot training, EFOS is well proven to cater for diverse training scenarios, including ground school, simulator, line training, competency assessments, and regulatory checks — all of which can be fully tailored to meet the needs of each airline.

To see a demo of EFOS Training, just get in touch.

Up next — Using big data to transform crew training

In our next blog on crew training management, we’ll look at how you can use big data to transform your crew training, including identifying performance issues before they even become issues. If that all sounds a bit ‘Minority Report’ don’t worry, we’ll explain all soon!

Product implemented

Before EFOS

Air Malta was struggling with a leave management process that was highly complex and labour intensive. Each leave request had to be processed manually, which meant pilots and cabin crew were forced to wait a long time to get confirmation of their leave.

 

After EFOS

EFOS Leave replicated the airline’s custom validation rules in the new digital platform. This made the transition smoother, as these rules were already accepted by both union representatives and crew members.

 

What they said

“The project was delivered very swiftly, enabling Air Malta’s team to quickly realise the benefits of the new software. The team at Evoke were committed and totally onboard for this project. The system was easy to understand, and help was always found along the project.”
Caroline Zammit