Multi-crew Pilot Licence (MPL), the new type of licence approved by ICAO one year ago has caught a lot of attention from the media and from Pilot Associations. This attention, accompanied sometimes by concern, is justified because the MPL represents a completely different approach to training involving very complex and very technical concepts.
The MPL is not just a reduction in the hours needed to train a professional pilot. The development of an MPL course requires a thorough knowledge of specific topics such as threat and error management, competency based training and safety management. Unfortunately there are very few experts on these very technical points which are essential for a successful and safe implementation of the MPL.
We are now in a critical phase of the implementation of MPL. If the first courses do not comply with the strict requirements of the ICAO PANS-Training, safety will be at risk. That is why it was agreed to set up monitoring mechanisms which included not only the authorities but also Pilot Associations. Unfortunately the system is not working as planned. The introduction of the MPL is not being done in a transparent way. Some authorities have not included pilot associations in monitoring MPL programmes and have failed to communicate the necessary information to the JAA, as required in the JARS.
ECA Member Associations are therefore writing to their authorities asking for compliance with ICAO guidelines and for closer monitoring of the courses under development.
IFALPA has established an MPL task force that reassembles all the expertise in this area. The MPL task force includes experienced trainers who are knowledgeable on all the technical aspects required by ICAO. The MPL taskforce can therefore help any Pilot Association in their role monitoring the implementation of any MPL project in their own country.
At EU level, ECA representatives are in close contact with the JAA (Transition) and with EASA to promote a harmonised and controlled introduction of the MPL in Europe. It is important that the first MPL projects are professionally developed from the beginning. If we wait, then it might be too late.