Farnborough Air Show

CAE streamlining pilot training

 - July 14, 2008, 7:11 AM

Simulation and training specialist CAE is about to embark on a full-scale beta test of the new multi-crew pilot’s license (MPL) curriculum it developed to complement existing programs in its Global Academy.

CAE introduced the Global Academy network of flight training organizations two years ago to address the shortage of pilots by offering the training required for a commercial pilot’s license and a clear path to a specific type rating.

Jeff Roberts, CAE’s group president for innovation and civil training and services, said the MPL program is also designed to focus on the skills and abilities that are specific to airline or transport category airplane operations.

The traditional path to commercial flying tends to embrace flight instructing and building hours in small airplanes. “The skills, talents and abilities required to do that are not all that closely aligned with those necessary to serve as a first officer for an airline,” Roberts said.

The training program associated with the MPL, by contrast, “has been created from day one to indoctrinate people in crew concepts, challenge and response check list utilization and situational awareness, all the concepts that are needed to be a successful, confident and safe airline pilot.”

The beta trial of the curriculum is due to start at CAE’s Moncton, Canada training center in the fall of this year, with a dozen or so students from Canada, the Middle East and southeast Asia. And where traditional pilot training tends to take 24 to 30 months, the MPL course sets out to produce a qualified first officer in just 12.

The course includes about 400 hours of flight experience per cadet, all but 85 to 90 of them in a simulator of some kind. It includes seven to 10 hours of extreme attitude or upset training and recovery, but only 14 to 15 hours of solo single-engine flying. “We just don’t see a whole lot of value from a training standpoint for that,” Roberts commented. “Then we’ll have the required night flying as well.”

The course also incorporates scenario-specific training such as wind shear recognition and recovery, along with normal, abnormal and emergency procedures. It includes aviation English labs “so that we can be sure that everyone will be at ICAO level 4 competency,” and threat and error management training via scenario-based lesson plans. “And then we’ve also pulled some of the lessons learned from the advanced qualification pilot training program that some of the airlines have used as part of the methodology,” said Roberts.

CAE’s pilot training portfolio embraces the general aviation, business, regional commercial and military segments. “We’ve tried to pull best practices from each of those areas and introduce them into the curriculum to try to create a new standard that will be the best in the world for this beta program,” added Roberts. “It’s very different from anything we’ve ever done and I think it’s materially different from anything the industry has ever seen.”

CAE tailored and “modularized” its MPL program to adapt to the needs of specific regions. Some places have adopted it aggressively, Roberts said, while others have taken a more reserved approach. “I think it will be accepted globally,” said Roberts. “I don’t think you’re ever going to eliminate the other avenues of certification for pilots.
I’ve said all along it’s going to be an additional way to create an airline pilot and so we’re going to be part and parcel of it and try to create a leadership position for it.”   


Let us not forget Alpha Aviation Group's disaster of an MPL program in Clark, Philippines. It is well-known throughout the industry and paticularly among ICAO in Montreal that AAG lured several cohorts of MPL cadets into a program that had no airline sponsor--a critical fact that was hidden from the cadets until their training was over and all the fees paid. (Cebu Pacific Air, the airline that sponsored the first two MPL cohorts, pulled out after long delays and quality problems with the MPL cadets--but AAG didn't tell this to CAAP or the following groups of cadets.) It was a travesty because soon enough ICAO knew exactly what was going on and did nothing to put a stop to it. And AAG would not give refunds to those cadets who rightfully requested their money back after the deception and the necessarily useless MPL's. Finally, the CAAP Director-General stepped in and put a stop to the fraud. The primary AAG manager who slept well through all this (Andy, a truly bad kind of Apple) is no longer with AAG. A closer look at the parent company, C&C Alpha group, will show that this type of harmful mismanagement is how they do their business in a variety of their other ventures such as subpar mental hospitals in the UK and withering almond crops in California. AAG may quote 99% placement rates of cadets with airlines... but the real question is how many of them are actually flying? Its about 1 in 3. The rest are waiting to be called for actual salaried work, or have moved on. This is not surprising at all, considering the 100% acceptance rate of MPL cadet applicants during this time this all happened. There are no MPL holders left in the Philippines--ALL of them went back to flight school and converted their licenses to CPL. Shame on the lot of all those involved!

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