APS Expands Upset Training for Airbus Pilots

 - May 7, 2017, 7:11 PM

Aviation Performance Solutions (APS) is offering its upset prevention and recovery training (UPRT) for Airbus pilots, after testing and refining the training during the past three years with nearly 1,000 pilots flying for South African Airways (SAA). “We’re taking a proven and established program and making it available to industry,” said APS president Paul "B.J." Ransbury. Previously the APS Airbus UPRT was available only through SAA, which since 2013 has sent its instructors to APS to learn how to teach the program. 

The APS training is now available for A320, A330 and A340 pilots, and the APS type-specific “UPRT program is in compliance with ICAO Document 10011 Manual on Aeroplane UPRT as well as Airbus Operational Training Transmissions (OTTs) and published guidance on conducting UPRT in Airbus fly-by-wire airplanes,” according to APS. The company is headquartered in Mesa, Ariz., and has training facilities in Arlington, Texas; Breda Airport in The Netherlands; and at Thumamah Airfield in Saudi Arabia.

Training the Trainer

While APS offers UPRT in aircraft such as the Extra 300 piston single and advanced courses in Siai-Marchetti S211, Dassault/Dornier Alpha Jet and Douglas A-4 jets, it conducts the Airbus training in simulators. APS doesn’t train all of an airline’s Airbus pilots. Rather, it teaches instructors how to provide the training, the same approach it used teaching SAA instructors to teach UPRT so they could train the airline’s pilots and offer training to other operators. 

The APS training is usually done at a customer's location, where the simulator is available. APS also offers its Airline Direct program, which is designed for smaller airlines without a large complement of their own instructors; under this program, APS experts provide the training instead of training the airline’s instructors.

Although more simulators are being reprogrammed with extended flight envelopes that include the full stall regime, the APS Airbus UPRT program is designed to work with either extended envelope or traditional simulators, which aren’t programmed to model aerodynamics accurately beyond the point of stalling. 

“It’s up to the customer to provide the simulator,” said Ransbury. “We always prefer high-fidelity simulators, but we are focused on teaching to whatever the simulator has. If there is no extended envelope, we don’t teach the full stall. We want the training to represent what the airplane can really do.”

Airbus pilots studying the APS UPRT start with the industry standardized UPRT Aid material and exercises on APS’s mobile app. The training session involves two hours of academic classroom time focused on a high-level review of the upset threat based on Airbus control laws, flight-protection modes, reversion conditions and implementation of upset training in a fly-by-wire jet. Next is a four-hour simulator session covering handling, control laws, low, medium and high-altitude stalls then line-oriented flight training scenarios and crew resource management techniques. “We don’t focus on accident-oriented [scenarios],” Ransbury explained. “We focus on techniques and strategies for a wide diversity of events.” These include unreliable airspeed indications, which were a factor in the Air France Flight 447 stall accident. 

Training the trainers who then teach line pilots is the best way to spread the word on loss-of-control prevention and recovery. “It would be horrifically expensive to send [thousands] of pilots through APS,” he said. “Train-the-trainer makes sense to big airlines, where they really need to do this training internally.”

UPRT for fly-by-wire airplanes is important, Ransbury explained. “The more complex the airplane, the more complex its failures. Our mission is about making a difference. We really want training that’s going to help.”