Multi-Crew Pilot Licenses (MPL): A Threat to the Pilot Profession?

ICAO is going to propose the adoption of a new type of license, the Multi-Crew Pilot License. The objective of this development is to reduce drastically the cost and the time needed for training airline pilots.
See ECA - IFALPA Position Paper (Dec. 2005) | ECA Proposal for Monitoring mechanism (Jan. 2006)

How do they propose to do it? Among other things, reducing by more than 50% the number of real flying hours needed to obtain the license and substituting them with simulator training. If this initiative goes ahead, a brand new student would be able to fly a wide-bodied glass cockpit airplane in 45 weeks, not much more than what it takes to obtain a private driving license!

Many experts and pilots' associations view this initiative with serious concern. While recognising the need to adapt the current training methods to new technologies, replacing real flying hours with simulator time cannot be the answer. Pilots say that Simulators are good to teach system operations, but real flying is needed to learn airmanship, the very basis of safety!

Pilots' associations are sceptical as to changes in training schemes motivated mainly by economic concerns. Our Members believe that before any new methodology is implemented, it should be subject to a testing and monitoring phase to ensure that it provides at least the same levels of safety as today's licensing systems. Attempts to rush through MPL will not have professional pilots? support.

ECA will deliver this message to the JAA licensing meeting in February. The ECA Member Associations are actively supporting ECA in its calls for a cautious approach to the MPL. Proper Pilot training is the very foundation for our profession and a key element of flight safety in Europe and beyond.

In addition to some changes in the texts of the MPL, ECA is proposing the establishment of a Monitoring Mechanism to ensure that its implementation would not compromise current safety standards.