A Flight Department’s Overview of Evidence-Based Training

Evidence-Based Training (EBT) is an important concept – but how does it apply to Business Aviation and how can Flight Departments adopt it as part of their training processes? Mario Pierobon shares an overview.

Mario Pierobon  |  26th June 2023
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    Mario Pierobon
    Mario Pierobon

    Mario Pierobon holds a Master’s Degree in Air Transportation Management from City University London,...

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    How evidence-Based Training can enhance Business Aviation

    Evidence-Based Training (EBT) is rooted in the principles of Competency-Based Training and Assessment (CBTA) which increasingly defines training across several aspects of the aviation industry.

    In essence, EBT requires that training be developed and delivered not in a prescriptive fashion (for example, through the repetition of a certain number and type of items) but according to a pilot’s actual training needs. This helps them to develop a wealth of behavioral competencies, reinforces a solid professional attitude, and helps them acquire and develop the necessary technical skills they need.

    The principles of EBT are very important for the Business Aviation community and should inspire the recurrent pilot training development and delivery efforts of corporate flight departments, even if individual operators choose not to implement a formal EBT system.

    As we introduce the concept of EBT in Business Aviation, we’ll focus on what it is, how it applies to Business Aviation, and provide an overview of EBT’s competency framework.

    What is the Concept of Evidence-Based Training in BizAv?

    According to the ‘Evidence-Based Training Implementation Guide’ issued by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) in 2013, EBT is an initiative to improve safety. It stems from an industry-wide consensus that reducing aviation accident rates requires a strategic review of pilot training. 

    ICAO’s ‘Manual of Evidence-based Training’ (Doc 9995, also published in 2013) points out that current requirements for pilot training in regulations are largely based on evidence of damage to airframes in early jet aircraft. They simply assume that to reduce risk, repeating a single event in a training program is sufficient.

    Over time, many new events have emerged that have subsequently been added to training programs and have ultimately saturated recurrent training schedules and created a ‘check box’ approach to training.

    According to EASA AIR OPS AMC1 ORO.FC.231(a) which deals with EBT program suitability, an operator’s EBT program is one in which the training focusses on the advance of competencies, whose development is based on data-driven EBT training themes, and is linked to the operator’s competency framework with pilots’ needs addressed via training that’s based on underlying competencies.

    The EBT program consists of an evaluation phase to identify training needs based on competencies and collect population-based data.

    To identify the training needs, the root cause of the deficiency should be identified rather than the symptoms. The programs also include a manoeuvres training phase (for skill retention) to train skill-based manoeuvres (i.e., body memory actions). These manoeuvres should place a significant demand on a proficient pilot.

    Lastly, the scenario-based training phase of the EBT program should focus on identified training needs upon competencies as opposed to task repetition, according to EASA AIR OPS AMC1 ORO.FC.231(a).

    Another important feature of EBT is the customization of training syllabi. Operators should describe in the operations manual the procedure to customize syllabi, including how to select the example scenario elements within a training topic to be included in the EBT program, and contextualize the example scenario elements based on their own operational data [e.g., input from the safety management system (SMS), the flight data monitoring (FDM) program, etc.] and training data, according to EASA AIR OPS AMC1 ORO.FC.231(a).

    EBT system performance, according to EASA AIR OPS ORO.FC.231, should be measured and evaluated through a feedback process to validate and refine the EBT program and ensure that pilot competencies are developed.

    How Does Evidence-Based Training Apply to Business Aviation

    EBT implementation can be a long process requiring significant commitment. One thing that should be considered is that, so far, EBT has been implemented within major international airlines, and the industry and regulatory guidance is more tailored to the needs of the airline business.

    Nevertheless, the underlying principles of EBT are equally applicable to the Business Aviation community.

    The aim of an operator implementing EBT should be to develop and deliver training that is more pertinent to the peculiarities of their Flight Department and its safety risks, thereby avoiding a ‘tick box’ approach to training, and to develop a positive attitude. These are essentially the requirements of a corporate Flight Department that is proactive and pursues continuous improvement.

    The Key Components of Evidence-Based Training

    ICAO Doc 9995 highlights that one of the main components of EBT, as crew training paradigm, is a set of behavioural competencies.

    In Appendix 1 of Doc 9995 (Part II) there is a complete framework of competencies, competency descriptions and related behavioural indicators encompassing the technical and non-technical knowledge, skills and attitudes required to operate safely, effectively and efficiently.

    The competencies were used to develop the baseline EBT program and include:

    • Application of procedures
    • Communication
    • Aircraft flight path management (automation)
    • Aircraft flight path management (manual control)
    • Leadership and teamwork
    • Problem-solving and decision-making
    • Situation awareness
    • Workload management.

    Individual operators are encouraged to develop their own competency system, which should list observable behavioral indicators, meeting their specific needs and including a set of technical and non-technical knowledge, skills, and attitudes, says Doc 9995.

    It is advantageous to develop, train and assess competencies utilizing scenarios that are relevant to the operation.

    Scenarios can sometimes be identified through data collection and analysis. In some cases, data may highlight the criticality of certain competencies, which may lead to a focus in specific areas as part of the training program.

    By continuing to focus on the complete set of identified competencies, the operator’s EBT program will prepare pilots for known and unforeseen threats and errors, says IATA’s Evidence-Based Training Implementation Guide.

    In Summary...

    EBT is an important change to training that has already developed critical mass in the airline domain of the aviation industry.

    Nevertheless, because its underlying principles are very important in Business Aviation, and have a significant potential to make a positive impact, Corporate Flight Departments should familiarize with the EBT system and be inspired by it.

    In this first article, we have illustrated what EBT is, how it applies to Business Aviation, and provided an overview of EBT’s competency framework. Next time we will focus on how to process the various competencies, and share some tips for managing EBT implementation.

    Read more articles focused on Flight Department Management

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