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Many airlines today are making the switch to the Advanced Qualification Program when it comes to training crew members. The main distinction in this program, from previous years, is that it aims to train crews to proficiency with a quality number of hours over just putting them in the sim for X number of hours (Weitzel & Lehrer, 1992). The company I work for only within the past year made the switch and it is easy to see that this program has many improvements that really do make it, for the most part, a proactive approach to training.
While crews now are only required to perform in the simulator once a year now, opposed to every nine months, the amount of study and homework throughout the year has increased. Forcing crews to once a quarter have a set of modules assigned covering various aircraft systems helps to keep systems and operations knowledge fresh. AQP is also proactive in how it is incorporating other safety management programs such as CRM and LOFT. For flying a commercial airliner is not just flying an airplane anymore. Systems are enormously complex and there are two or more pilots in the cockpit that have to work together when something goes wrong thus encouraging crew members to be interactive with each other and with the aircraft.
One area I find that AQP is still a bit reactive is how the program determines which scenarios will need to be trained to proficiency. Companies look at their FOQA data and ASAP reports to see if there is a common trend in errors happening in normal line operations (FAA, 2020). Since humans make errors and always will, I think it is mandatory that AQP continue to base some of its scenarios off modern difficulties crews are having so that those errors can be trained to proficiency. Since the program is having to base scenarios off what is happening in the recent past, it does take away time from training possible events in the future or other skills that aren’t used as frequently. However, it seems overall that it is a great program and I hope to see more airlines switch to this method of training.
FAA. (2020). Volume 3 General Technical Administration. Chapter 21 The Advanced Qualification Program, Section 1 Safety Assurance System: Scope, Concepts, and Definitions. Published April 21, 2020. Retrieved January 22, 2021 from: https://fsims.faa.gov/wdocs/8900.1/v03%20tech%20admin/chapter%2021/03_021_001.htm
Weitzel, T. R., & Lehrer, H. R. (1992). A Turning Point in Aviation Training: The AQP Mandates Crew Resource Management and Line Operational Simulations. Journal of Aviation/Aerospace Education & Research, 3(1). https://doi.org/10.15394/jaaer.1992.1081