You know the drill. If it's Tuesday, it must be hydraulic failures and hot-and-high takeoffs. Break out the manuals Monday night, study the systems and plan for the predictable emergency to be encountered some time after takeoff during tomorrow's sim session.
Later, we'll depart out of Colorado Springs on a 32C/90F day, lose an engine at V1, rotate, retract the gear with a positive climb rate and peg the airspeed at V2 until we reach 400 ft. Accelerate, retract the flaps and fly the departure at the best en route OEI climb speed. Declare the emergency and fly an OEI approach to an uneventful landing at a tower controlled airport.
Same training center, same sim instructor, same scenario. See you next year. That's the all too typical recurrent training model for “Bored Bob” pilots, according to some flight department managers and simulator training centers.
“They want to check the box and get out of there just as fast as they can,” said Richard Walsh, chairman of NBAA's Safety Committee and Hewlett-Packard's director of aviation. “It's a really huge issue.”
Just meeting minimum requirements also is a concern fortraining centers, according to Leon Botteron, general manager aircraft training. He says it's up to customers to determine how much additional training they receive beyond basic statutory requirements. Sim training centers can't mandate what's not in their -approved recurrent training curriculums.
“One real impediment to training is the pilots themselves. Many say if it's not required, they don't want to do it. If the sim sessions are too hard, they'll look for another training facility,” said Robert Agostino, former head of Bombardier Flight Operations and founder of the firm's acclaimed Safety Standdown program.
“I think sim training ought to be mandated. There are some maneuvers, such as V1 [engine] cuts on takeoff that involve a risk factor. It's just not wise to do them in aircraft,” said Agostino. “The goal should be to train as you fly and fly as you train. But that's not necessarily what happens during some sim training. Some pilots don't treat the sim as vital education for their survival. And while it's a vital part of training, it must be augmented with good academics. It's great to understand systems, but that's not necessarily looking at the root causes of accidents.”
Robert E. Breiling, head of an eponymous consultancy based in Boca Raton, Fla., is recognized as one of the top business aircraft accident analysists extant. He says that rote sim training, for instance, usually involves coping with multiple engine failures during various phases of flight. That's because the FAA's practical test standards require those maneuvers in accordance with FAR 61.58(d). But Breiling's accident statistics indicate that blown tires, bird or other wildlife strikes or loss of directional control are considerably more likely causes of accidents than simple engine failures.
Breiling also said that 11% of business aircraft mishaps occur at uncontrolled airports, ones that may not have weather report broadcasts, and may not be used for sim sessions. In addition, his analysis shows that three out of four landing accidents involved runway contamination and that light jets are more likely to be involved in runway overrun mishaps than larger aircraft, indicating that airspeed control or other critical landing technique elements played a factor. “Smaller airplanes appear to be harder to stop,” Breiling observed.
A sizable portion of large cabin aircraft landing incidents occur with crosswind conditions, a problem exacerbated by runway contamination. Notably, more than three-quarters of all landing accidents occur on runways longer than 5,000 ft.
The need to review accident forensics notwithstanding, FAA's requirements for recurrent training specify a litany of tasks that must be completed each 12 calendar months to meet the recurrent proficiency requirements for pilots of aircraft that require more than one crew member. Among those requirements are the demonstration of systems and components knowledge, accurate and effective use of performance tables and charts, weight and balance computations, effects of icing and knowledge of stabilized approach procedures.
Some flight department managers claim that the comprehensive list of pilot proficiency tasks that are mandated by FAA squeezes out training time that could be devoted to accident analysis and prevention along with realistic line oriented flight training (LOFT) sim missions. But complying with the published requirements and spending more learning time in the sim aren't mutually exclusive.