Pilot training compass: Back to the Future

Ever since the first take-off of a manned aircraft 110 years ago aviation has been undergoing constant change. Increasing automation, proliferation of technology, complex regulations and tighter budgets are affecting aviation and the demands on the profession of an airline pilot. To identify how pilot training should look like now and in the future, ECA has published a report called: “Pilot training compass: Back to the future”.

Published on 28 Feb., the “Compass” reflects the vision of pilots and pilot training experts and identifies several key principles of flight training: early investment in good basic flying skills, fluency in critical manoeuvres and more time for training rather than checking. 

Today’s tasks of an airline pilot range from pure handling of the aircraft to managing the whole event of a commercial flight which requires a completely different set of skills. Being able to switch between skill sets as rapidly and frequently as the circumstances require is nowadays a prerequisite for any professional pilot. Yet, basic flying skills remain the basis of the pilot profession. 

Despite sophisticated technology, the laws of physics have remained the same and the good old-fashioned ‘stick-and-rudder’ was not only crucial in the past but will remain essential in the future. An early investment in fundamental flying skills lays a foundation upon which pilots can rely for the rest of their flying career. 

The “Compass” therefore urges for training programs which develop fluency in critical manoeuvres rather than proficiency. While proficiency comes down to a (one-time) demonstrated ability, fluency is the ability to use in the “heat of battle”.

Download "Pilot Training Compass: Back to the Future"