CAE has introduced an enhanced recurrent training option for business aviation that leverages modern competency and evidence-based training philosophies. The program includes human-factors-based scenarios and uses data to reduce risk by continuously evolving recurrent training sessions to improve pilot competency and resilience. Best of all, this program satisfies all required proficiency checks and provides an alternative to the traditional “box-checking” events.
Current-day training programs that are maneuvers-based are the bane of most business aviation pilots and industry safety advocates. For over a decade, the NBAA safety committee has recommended ditching these cookie-cutter training and checking events in favor of scenario-based training sessions tailored to meet the specific needs of a business aviation operation.
Scenario-based Enhanced Recurrent (SER) training, as CAE calls it, shares the positive attributes of an airline-style Advanced Qualification Program (AQP). Like AQP, CAE’s SER provides a data-driven approach to target critical tasks during pilot training while focusing on crew performance and CRM through scenario-based simulations. AQP has been employed by most airlines in North America since 2005 Another benefit of SER and AQP is the ability to adapt training to not only be more realistic but to allow for the creation of innovative training scenarios.
For the pilot, gone are the days of flying the same approaches, stalls, steep turns, and engine failures at V1 maneuvers year after year. Now, with SER training, pilots will fly, for example, a line-oriented segment (point-to-point) with a malfunction, and a potential diversion to an alternate with an approach to a landing at the end of the session.
The beauty of SER training is that each year it introduces a different scenario—one year, it could involve a circling approach at Teterboro, New Jersey; the next year, a challenging approach at Eagle, Colorado; and the year after that, a steep approach at London City Airport in the UK. These new scenarios cover the prescribed requirements but add in more decision-making, crew coordination, and problem-solving. This is impactful since these are the issues that show up in the accident reports.
CAE’s SER training delivers value to the business aviation community by providing data-based program development and adopting industry best practices that are more efficient and effective than traditional training. This change in training philosophies is due to CAE’s commitment to dedicate resources—technology, personnel, and funds—to change the status quo.
“Civil Aviation has benefited from data-based training programs like AQP over the past 20 to 30 years [in the U.S.] and more recently, evidence-based training [EBT, in Asia and Europe],” said Tim Schoenauer, CAE director of global training solutions for business aviation training. “The shift to data-based training is a commitment made by the operator and pilot. Many business aviation flight departments have evolved to more scenario-based training in the recent past, but adoption of such programs has not gone mainstream primarily due to the time [required for] programming and coordination.
“Given CAE’s training footprint globally,” he added, “we have chosen to support and offer data- and scenario-based training, which we call Scenario-based Enhanced Recurrent, for customers electing to participate. These programs are available in many aircraft types and will evolve as customers seek a different way to train while still meeting the baseline regulatory requirements in the same training time.”
A challenge in developing an enhanced recurrent training program for business aviation was to create an adaptive learning environment and improve the learning experience for the student without adding days to the training schedule or footprint. Schoenauer said, “CAE developed enhanced recurrent in the most popular five-day recurrent footprint [two days of ground school, three days in the simulator]. The standardized plans of action are developed using modern ICAO advanced training program development recommendations and industry best practices by using safety and flight data as well as assuring compliance mapping of FAA regulations applicable to the curriculum. This pragmatic process is also collaborative with the customer where we can include items called Special Procedure Operations Training [SPOT] elements applicable to their operational environment or requested training items normally outside a traditional recurrent event. Enhanced recurrent should give a more standardized delivery by our amazing team of instructors while accomplishing compulsory FAA elements facilitated in a more operationally realistic standardized manner.”
An early adopter of the CAE SER training program was the Embraer Executive Jets flight department. Based in Melbourne, Florida, Embraer’s flight department supports a large fleet of demonstration aircraft at three primary locations around the globe. In addition to supporting Embraer’s sales and marketing activities, the company pilots provide customer acceptance and delivery flights when needed.
A primary motive for Embraer to participate in CAE’s enhanced recurrent program, according to Bradley McKeage, v-p of flight operations for Embraer Executive Jets, is “to be a great example of a flight operation to our customers.” He added, “As a professional flight department, it is our mission to be a role model to our customers in order to promote safe operations, and we have embraced various safety programs to uphold this commitment. These programs include a formal SMS, FDM/FOQA program, ASAP, e-learning program, as well as a fatigue management program.” In addition, McKeage says, “We are very proud of our flight operations manual and the procedures that have been specifically tailored to our OEM operation. We are a Stage III IS-BAO-accredited organization and seek continual improvement to retain this standard.”
One of the greatest benefits, as envisioned by Embraer, is the ability to add a level of realism to the training environment. Sessions are conducted as if they were actual flights with trip sheets, flight plans, and other tools that support the flight department’s missions. Likewise, the training scenarios will be based on real data, including FOQA events and internal hazard reports.
According to Embraer, “Leading the way in the industry is our passion, and this also applies to the training environment. A well-trained crew is vital to safe operations. As an engineering company, we see the benefits of big data in helping refine the training approach to be better suited for individual operators. Using real-world data and experience from our operation to help develop training scenarios will ultimately better prepare our crews for what we will see daily. We are keen to help lead this training evolution and hopefully set a gold standard for our customers.”
Supported by Data
CAE uses several sources of data to tailor training scenarios. According to Schoenauer, “Advanced training program curriculums rely on data sources such as flight data analysis [operational flight data], safety management system data including pilot safety reports and safety trend information, line oriented safety audits [LOSA], and now with CAE Rise [which stands for real-time insights, standard evaluations] training data.”
“CAE is deploying Rise, which allows CAE customers to include training data into the advancement of the training curriculum,” according to Schoenauer. “In addition to the benefit of incorporating training data into the curriculum, Rise will allow pilots to view their performance against [that of] other pilots from the same aircraft type globally.”
To ensure that training program curriculums satisfy all requirements, CAE analyzes and maps this data to determine how it relates to competency and [evidence-based training] philosophies. “ICAO introduced pilot competencies to groups and organized pilot performance into eight standard competencies,” Schoenauer explained. “These competencies comprise the core skill set of an aviator, which facilitates assessment into groups.
“By identifying performance in pilot competencies, curriculum developers can create scenarios where analytical trends have identified opportunities for improvement. Coupled with operational and flight data, scenario-enhanced training programs can mitigate operational threats, evolving pilot training beyond traditional qualification-based training and checking.”
When asked what value SER training adds for the customer, Schoenauer said, “The primary reason is safety. Data-based training programs have statistically reduced incidents and accidents in civil aviation over the past 30 years. By incorporating SMS, operational, and training data and evolving the training topics, a more practical, relevant, and meaningful training experience is the result.”
Schoenauer also suggested that this new program complements an operator’s SMS and is cost-neutral or may even provide financial incentives. “Scenario-enhanced recurrent allows an operator to incorporate requests of their own to mitigate operational threats which may have been identified in their SMS or based on their operational profile in special procedure operations training events,” he said. “Aviation insurance and assurance companies value data-based training programs, which have resulted in financial benefits or operational flexibility when participating in such enhanced programs.”
Advancing flight training in business aviation is long overdue. CAE’s SER training program provides an alternative to traditional programs and makes training more effective and efficient. This initiative is based on the best practices of airlines and other operators that have embraced the philosophies of competency and EBT programs. This shift from maneuvers-based to modern training programs using real-life data can significantly improve safety and the training experiences of business aviation flight crews.