2020 Conference Report
APATS Virtual Looks Beyond Covid
More than 20 of the Asia Pacific region’s leading experts on airline pilot, cabin crew and maintenance training met online to discuss, among other things, how to best manage the new world of online training in a socially distanced world.
The first virtual version of Halldale Group and CAT magazine’s Asia Pacific Airline Training Symposium (APATS) was held in early September, led by Capt. Jacques Drappier. The three-day event featured three hours per day in 60-minute sessions, which included Q&A in real-time. IATA Regional Director of Safety and Flight Operations, Blair Cowles, was keynote speaker across all three days.
Moderated by Professor Paul Bates, Session 1 addressed the impact of the crisis on pilot training and how the industry looks at the future.
Capt. Yann Lardet, Vice President, Flight Operations Support & Training Standards for Airbus, explained the OEM’s four-step approach to navigating the crisis:
- Face reality
- Protect the health of employees and customers
- Secure financial viability and safeguard the production system
- Understand the new demand … and perform again.
CAE Chief Learning Officer Capt. Chris Ranganathan gave a view of an ATO’s way forward with a heavy emphasis on data collection and analysis.
Capt. Aric Oh, Group Managing Director, Lion Air Group, predicted evolving ATO trends such as a reduction in self-training (by airlines) and consolidation of training toward a single supplier or partner.
In Session 2, focused on the financial and human toll of the pandemic, Capt. Adrian Young of QantasLink stated, “The Asia Pacific region is already showing ‘green shoots’ of recovery.” He added the outlook is “positive and promising,” and “there is life after Covid.”
Capt. Mike Varney, EBT Solutions, and Dr. William Cox of Management & Excellence presented considerable detail supporting the paradigm shift in pilot training toward evidence-based training (you may be surprised how many airlines are implementing EBT). They also outlined a concept of “Smart ROI” for measuring the financial impacts of human factors.
Solent University’s Owen Sims delivered an intriguing analysis of the crash of PIA Flight 8303, in which the crew failed to lower the landing gear (among other errors). “What were they thinking?” Sims asked, then explained the role the brain and emotions play in decision-making. “Banning emotion from the cockpit is a biological impossibility,” he stated.
Cabin Crew Training
Richard Muralee of GRIP Training, Malaysia, continued the emotion theme. “Fear, more than the virus itself, has driven people to the limit. The mind can be a dangerous place if we are unable to manage it.”
Laura Khodakovskiy highlighted safe hygiene practices and how to handle emergency procedures while wearing PPE. Robin Pijnaker of Flame Aviation also discussed the dilemma of wearing jumpsuits and face shields while dealing with onboard fires.
Geoff Trappett of Inclusion Moves presented some unique challenges of passengers with disabilities (wheelchair, deafness, autism, etc.), some exacerbated by pandemic issues while other trends are beneficial.
Medical Air’s Dr. Rob Liddell illustrated how gas pressure can affect an individual as an aircraft climbs. He also described the air flow through a cabin, and advised flight attendants to avoid leaning in front of a passenger (in the line of exhaled breath).
Paul Bates, University of Southern Queensland, spoke on memory, advising learning over a long period (versus cramming) and repetition, as well as “slow-wave sleep,” which is essential for memory formation.
Moderated by Geoff Hill, the first MTX session on the theme “PT145 Training Post Covid” featured experts from three different angles: an airline, a training organization, and a regulator. Stuart Membrey, Cobham, admitted initial attempts at a virtual classroom were not as successful as face-to-face instruction, and advised incorporating interactive content to stimulate engagement. Aviation Australia’s Mark Thompson said they used mobile phone cameras like a field trip to show components of the aircraft such as flaps and landing gear. Matthew Castello, CASA, said lack of access to an aircraft poses difficulties for completing practical maintenance course requirements.
In the final session, Sam Lee (Integra) noted that blending of online and classroom environments yields more time for discussion. Professor Ron Bartsch (Avlaw) described the failure of some LCCs on the difficulty of changing interpersonal cultures; he advised, “Think function rather than form.” Liam McGuire (Opaque Interactive) provided a tutorial on XR technology, including how to approach an AR/MR/VR project, but cautioned, “There are no silver bullets.”