Dubai Airshow

CEFA Aviation Software Lets Pilots Review Their Flights

 - November 12, 2017, 5:00 PM
CEFA believes that if pilots can debrief their own performance in confidence, with instrument and outside views, then every flight becomes a training flight.

Colmar, France-based CEFA Aviation (Stand 378) has developed a new product for iPads that will allow pilots to review their detailed flight profiles in confidence and learn from them. The company’s main product Flight Animation System (FAS) is already in use with airline flight data management (FDM) departments worldwide and was developed by company founder and CEO Dominique Mineo after he left Switzerland’s Crossair in 2000.

According to Mineo, the new product—CEFA AMS (Aviation Mobile Services)—will help address issues with “loss of piloting skills due to automation,” something even the latest flight simulators don’t really help to address.

He said AMS takes evidence-based training a step further; the fact the company’s launch customer for AMS is All Nippon Airlines (ANA) of Japan (with 3,000 pilots using it since last March) goes a long way to explaining where it fits in. Loss of face in Japanese culture can, more than in other cultures, prevent pilots from admitting mistakes. “The idea is to have a better, individualized briefing tool," Mineo said.

Experience with ANA has shown how well AMS works, said Mineo, and how much it can add compared to just simulator recurrent checks. “To improve training, you’d need more simulator time with the greater costs involved,” he said.

Informal Post-flight briefings

AMS allows pilots to review every flight with instrument and external views, reflect on it and correct anything that they know to be wrong. Crews are able to discuss flights afterwards, giving themselves a post-flight briefing even If it’s in the bar afterwards. “This also increases acceptance of any failures,” compared with an instructor telling a pilot, said Mineo. He noted that NASA led the way in approaching this form of evidence-based training. “Every flight can become a potential training event,” he said, pointing out that simply relying on memory, might also be inaccurate.

Mineo said that for most operators, “getting to review FDM data can be a long process, following a request from a pilot. This is the first self-improvement tool. Nothing else exists on the market” to allow pilots to review their flights in such detail.

The iPad has to be connected to the Internet so that it can take the flight data from the Cloud, but the download happens straight after a flight so it can be reviewed as soon as the pilot(s) want, in the cockpit, in the bar, or back at home in privacy.

It took seven months to put the system in place with ANA, said Mineo. It is also set up to provide video, and ANA pilots have already “created tens of thousands of videos” they have reviewed after flights, said Mineo. “All videos are de-identified and encrypted,” added Mineo. “Pilots can view it together as a team if they wish. The idea is to have a mirror. They can play it back at various speeds and compare.”

He added, “ANA had an idea: to bring a video of their flight to each pilot. I said I have had the same idea.” So the next step, having completed implementation with ANA, is to seek other customers by promoting AMS at shows such as the Dubai Air Show.

Price depends on the an operator's size (it is mainly aimed at airlines at present). There is an initial fee and a fee per flight. “We will do a case-by-case price for existing [FAS] customers,” said Mineo, “but it is a separate product." He said savings for an operator could be huge, but is intangible, noting that avoiding tail strikes and other anomalous flight situations, such as hard landings, through a well-trained pilot workforce would save maintenance costs, preserve aircraft in good condition and help to avoid their being removed from service for repairs.

Experience with ANA has shown that “one out of five takeoffs has been watched by a pilot, and every second landing. And there is not the stigma of the pilot having to ask to review something.” An internal survey by ANA’s flight operations department showed that 90 percent of its pilots said it was a good addition.

Mineo pointed out another advantage: the flight operations department can check how many videos have been requested for a particular airport. He used Runway 05 at Geneva as an example. “It’s a proactive way to see that there might be something tricky, such as a hill where northerly wind speed increases on short final. Then you can put it in the simulator and re-create the threat.” The airline cannot see the identity of the pilots who flew the approaches.

Mineo said, however, that “it’s good to have a neutral advisor available to speak with a pilot who has a concern."

He concluded by saying airlines tell their pilots they need to put the autopilot on “so they don’t make an error,” aware that they are getting less manual flying, so errors could be more likely. “This creates a downward spiral…it’s a crazy situation.”

CEFA is due to participate in a round table on automation at the GATE (Gulf Aviation Training Event), taking place on the second day of the Dubai Air Show (Monday, November 13). A “White Paper” titled “The Benefits of Flight Data Animation: An Airlines Perspective” is available for download on CEFA’s website. It was produced in conjunction with Rick Adams of AeroPerspectives.