NBAA Convention News

FlightSafety Expanding UPRT Course to More Types

 - October 31, 2016, 11:35 AM

This year FlightSafety International is celebrating its 65th anniversary, and the company is highlighting all of its capabilities, especially its Advanced Training courses, here at NBAA-BACE Booth 2679.

The addition of upset prevention and recovery training (UPRT) to FlightSafety’s Master Level Advanced Training programs has proved wildly popular. “The uptake from customers has been phenomenal,” said executive vice president David Davenport. “Over 500 of these events were either delivered or scheduled for 2016, and we anticipate 550 before the end of the year.”

The one-day UPRT course was the first to adopt new simulator parameters that replicate full stall and high-speed upset aerodynamics. The first FlightSafety simulator to be reprogrammed and flight tested into the extended envelope was the G550, and the UPRT course launched last year at the training company’s Savannah, Ga., Learning Center.

Now, UPRT is available at FlightSafety centers in Wilmington, Del., Dallas-Fort Worth and Wichita, and Hong Kong is next on the list. Not all aircraft models that FlightSafety trains on will be available for UPRT. For the CitationJets, for example, FlightSafety upgraded the CJ3 simulator with the extended envelope, and that jet is close enough for the training to be effective for CJ1 and CJ2 pilots. Other simulators coming online for UPRT include the Citation Latitude, King Air series and Pilatus PC-12. FlightSafety is also planning on adding Falcon models and many other business jet types.

“Our biggest problem is prioritizing the training of instructors and getting them ready,” said Dann Runik, executive director, advanced training programs. “We’re getting interest and approvals from [airframe] OEMs, and our engineering team is building aerodynamic models almost faster than we can get instructors qualified.”

While FlightSafety has a large cadre of highly qualified and experienced instructors, the UPRT course is one of the most challenging of the advanced courses to teach. “You can’t just be a good pilot and know the airplane well,” he explained. “Those first three and a half hours of academics [in the ground school portion of the class] requires someone who remembers their physics and aeronautical science and knows it well enough to credibly teach from it. That instructor is a real high-level person. We’ve had a lot of interest in getting trained, and if everything is perfect, it takes seven straight days to get two instructors qualified. That’s if they have a really good background and we don’t have to reteach Bernoulli and stability and control.”

That said, the number of instructors applying to teach UPRT is plenty more than can be trained. “The interest is there,” he said. “We’re not even having to push the program.”

FlightSafety has recently added advanced courses for other aircraft types and now offers Master Level training for the Falcon 900 and 2000, including the Rejected Takeoff Go/No-Go, Energy Management and CRM/Human Factors LOFT (line oriented flight training) courses. “The only thing missing to round out Dassault is UPRT,” Runik said. The Master Level courses are also available for other models, including the Gulfstream G280 through G650, and including the GV, but not all these models’ simulators have been modified yet for the UPRT training. “We have to be fair to other OEMs, some don’t even have one Advanced Training course yet. We want to spread them to other [types].”

The Advanced Training courses are usually one-day events and are included at no extra cost in full-service contracts. One of the reasons these courses are popular is because they give pilots an option to learn something new and different. “Doing something different is a bit of an understatement,” Runik said, “especially after UPRT when people come into the [post-flight] briefing still shaking.”

The genesis of the Advanced Training, he explained, is the push for evidence-based training. Data recorded by aircraft, including from accidents, can be used to replicate scenarios that pilots can practice in the simulator. “We’re building actual training events on evidence,” he said, “and making all those bad data points go the other way.”

Although Runik expected pilots to take these courses just once, his team was surprised to find that pilots benefit from taking these courses on a regular basis. “This skillset is too perishable,” he said. “We want to see UPRT once a year, energy management once a year and rejected takeoff every six months. In the case of unstable approaches, data showed a marked reduction after pilots took the Energy Management course. This is a great example of the use of the course, and how the evidence moved the needle the other way.”

Most trainees take one of the Advanced Training courses at the beginning or end of their annual recurrent training, while some elect to slurp up two or three courses in one visit. “That is a lot of knowledge to pack into your head in one visit,” Runik said. “We prefer to see one or two at most at the beginning of the recurrent. Some people advocate one at the beginning and one at the end; the first one gets you warmed up and ready to jump into the 61.58 [recurrent] full blast, then if you have enough energy at the end, close it out with a final advanced course. When you do three you’re pretty beat afterwards.”

Runik’s team is developing a fifth Advanced Training course, but he won’t yet reveal the subject, although it is also based on evidence from “several embarrassing incidents and one fatal accident, a weakness in the area we operate our airplanes. The fifth course should be ready by the second quarter next year.

“We keep measuring and seeing what’s going on,” he said. “There is no total fix. Problems are stubborn in this business. As technology grows, new problems result from technology. It’s a constant battle to keep up with the data, and new inventive ways to mess up.”

{{CUT HERE TO END IF THIS IS TOO LONG-MATT}}In the case of UPRT, there is an ongoing discussion in the industry about the benefits of in-airplane upset training versus using a simulator. Until last year when FlightSafety and Gulfstream worked together to program the G550 simulator with the extended envelope, simulators were incapable of replicating the full stall, and trying to train pilots beyond that limited envelope was not beneficial.

FlightSafety does in-airplane training at its academy in Vero Beach, Fla., but when Runik and Gulfstream v-p of flight operations Randy Gaston (now retired) looked at the data, they found that the majority of upsets happened due to an inadvertent stall at low speed. At higher speeds, pilots can feel the g loading and tend to self-limit the amount of g they pull and thus avoid stalling. “That’s one element in a real aircraft you could feel,” he explained. “But in low-speed events where you stall, this is where you find a huge disconnect. You don’t have enough speed to pull enough g [for the stall] to be felt.”

In a real airplane, the trainee learns to sense the rising angle-of-attack and the pitch rate that results in a stall. But negative transfer is a risk because trainees are usually practicing in an aerobatic airplane, not the same business jet that they normally fly. “If you don’t use the same flight controls, there is bound to be negative training,” he said. “Second, you can’t do it at night or in IMC or low to the ground where you see the trees and buildings rush up. To train in those circumstances, where you can see the ground rapidly approaching and then get [pilots] to push [forward on the controls], you can’t do that in a real airplane. Our decision was that the one aspect that the simulator can’t do is sustained g, and that literally plays no role in a modern upset. At low speeds you can’t feel the g anyway. That one aspect in the pro column is mitigated by the fact that you can’t do this in hard conditions, at night, in IMC and low to the ground.”

In the FlightSafety UPRT training, one of the scenarios is stalling from about 800 feet agl in the traffic pattern, and this gives trainees a good look at the ground rushing up the simulator’s Vital 1100 high-definition visual display. What Runik and the UPRT instructors often see in this scenario is the pilots initially recover from the stall by pushing forward on the yoke and unloading the wing, but then pull back too quickly, enter a secondary stall and crash.

“What is the human reaction to do?” he asked. “When the ground rushes up, you pull a little bit, and that’s all it takes to stall again. That’s what we see 95 percent of the time, including test pilots. The visuals are so good, when you see that kind of detail rushing up at you, you pull. They say, ‘But Dann, I didn’t pull.’ We can look at the [data] and say, ‘Believe it or not, you did.’ In my view, it’s invaluable. We’ve seen so many experienced pilots take that bait, pull, and roll over into the ground. The secondary stall is much more violent. Recovering from a primary stall and not getting into a secondary stall is hard to teach. There is no substitute for seeing it.”