The largest threat to aviation safety is loss of control (LOC) and it stems mainly from inadequate pilot training, according to the International Committee for Aviation Training in Extended Envelopes (Icatee). The group was created in June 2009 as an arm of the Flight Simulation Group at the UK-based Royal Aeronautical Society and tasked specifically with suggesting training alternatives to reduce LOC accidents.
Ironically, the group’s first meeting took place on June 1, 2009, on the day that an Air France Airbus A330 (flight AF447) crashed into the South Atlantic.
ICATEE chairman Dr. Sunjoo Advani, an aerospace engineer, told AIN that a recent Boeing report shows nearly 1,500 fatalities in 18 separate LOC accidents between 2002 and 2012. Icatee members–including major airframers, aviation authorities and safety boards, airlines, simulator manufacturers, training providers, research institutions and pilot representatives–have indicated that they see limitations in current airline pilot training programs.
The group also believes that many pilots do not recognize that reducing angle of attack is the single most important element in LOC recovery. “We shouldn’t forget that the number-one priority is flying the airplane,” Advani said. “We rely on systems too much. We train pilots to recognize the onset of the stall and recovery, but we can’t simulate the startle factor that can lead to the loss of control. There is also a lack of exposure to these kinds of conditions in training.”
Icatee recently released its strategic plan to keep the group focused on practical solutions. “We needed a strategy for how we were going to move forward even though it may take a few years to know we are doing the right thing. Academics and practical training on aircraft and simulators are a critical element of the training program we’ll recommend,” said Advani. Training would also include regular upset and recovery practice in aerobatic aircraft.
Advani believes the cost savings that can be realized if a traditional training program is reorganized to focus on more aerodynamic basics will help defray any new training expenses. “We must recognize that we’re still having all these accidents using our current training programs, so we must be doing something wrong,” he concluded.