Is Evidence Based Training a solution looking for a problem?

Evidence Based training (EBT) arose from an industry-wide consensus that in order to reduce the aircraft hull loss and fatal accident rates, a strategic review of recurrent and type-rating training for airline pilots was necessary”. Since these words were written (in ICAO document 9995) the hull loss and fatal accident rates have continued a downward trend and 2017 is generally considered to have been the safest year yet for airline travel. Is the premise on which EBT was built still valid?

‘Black Swans?’

Document 9995 goes on to say that “complexity and high reliability mean that the next accident may be something completely unexpected”. This may be true but, in fact, many recent accidents have been the results of pilots mis-handling relatively simple events. For example, AF447 on 12 June 2009 (loss of indicated airspeed), EK 521 on 3 August 2016 (baulked landing), FZ981 on 19 March 2016 (go-around). We continue to train for the events that presented a safety risk 50 years ago, such as engine failures on take-off, and it’s just as well because these events continue to happen (BA2276 on 8 September 2015, AA383 on 28 October 2016, HL2708 on 27 May 2016).

Whats the issue?

Before an airline takes the decision to make a change to the way that pilot training is delivered there needs to be a clear diagnosis of the problems with the existing training programme and it must be clear that the proposed solution will address those problems. Current training regulations allow flexibility so it may be that the necessary changes can be made without adopting a whole new framework such as EBT. Changes should be implemented incrementally and, at every stage, there must be a way to measure whether the changes being implemented are having the intended effect. This means having a consistent assessment methodology throughout the change and having data based on that assessment methodology.
Implementing EBT will be a complex, multi-year project. Each operator’s training programme should be based on the specific needs and risks of that operator (whether EBT or ‘non-EBT’) so there is no ‘off-the-shelf’ EBT solution. Any big change programme has the potential to introduce new risks to an operation and EBT is no different. Although EBT introduces some great training methods we must not forget that EBT has the potential to erode safety, as well as to improve it.

IS EBT right for you?

McKechnie Aviation are presenting a series of seminars on EBT. The objective of these seminars is to explain what EBT is and to enable you to decide if EBT is right for your organisation. We are training experts but we are not ‘EBT consultants’ and we are not going to try to sell you EBT. We are happy to work with any organisation to evaluate pilot-training programmes and help with the implementation of improvements.

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