Connected Learning Solutions

Big Data, EBT adoption, eBooks, and the need for new talent get airplay at APATS and EATS 2015 (Part 1)

In this two-part blog post, we share the insights and experiences of Steve Young and Rory Stewart at the recent airline training symposiums hosted by Halldale in Asia Pacific and Europe. The 12th Asia Pacific Airline Training Symposium (APATS) was held in Thailand in September with representatives from more than 50 airlines were in attendance. Meanwhile, the 14th European Airline Training Symposium (EATS) was hosted for the first time in Poland where delegates from more than 70 airlines and 40 countries attended last month.


APATS 2015 Conference Review by Steve Young

Attending the sessions on Day 1 of the recent APATS Conference here in Bangkok, I learned a few things about some threads that were common in many of the conference sessions. Although there were no samples shown, big data and analytics received its fair share of comments throughout the day.

As the conference is centred around the training that is conducted within the airlines industry, typically pilots (although this year there is a new stream for cabin crew), this new focus on analytics reflects the need to better measure and anticipate gaps in training and competencies.


Big data to help pilots “fail”

Much of the big data is coming from the simulators, which they are looking at to see the trends in the activities that pilots are doing during their recurrent training, and using the data to analyze where deficiencies in training are occurring. This is helping airlines formulate and implement their Evidence Based Training (EBT) programs and create scenarios that are designed to help pilots identify deficiencies in their skill and not to have them “fail”.

When pilots identify their areas of weakness, they learn faster and what better place to learn than in a simulator. CAE is taking these failures one step further and looking into adaptive learning as an extension to EBT.

Let’s look at a simple example how Adaptive Learning could work in a single scenario.

In a cross wind landing, the slip (as the plane is flying at an angle that is not perpendicular to the runway) will be corrected at a height between 200 feet and 50 feet from the runway, depending on the operation procedures for each airline and aircraft type. In the past, if all the pilots were to get this scenario incorrect in the simulator it would require the following steps to correct:

  1. Review the flight procedures
  2. Review the scenarios
  3. Determine if the instructions are incorrect
  4. Rewrite the procedures
  5. Obtain approval for the new procedures
  6. Update the flight procedure/scenarios
  7. Implement in the simulator

This all takes time and involves a lot of processes to be approved. CAE is looking at using the data from each pilot’s sim run to determine where the incorrect areas for that individual pilot are occurring to dynamically change the learning path for that individual pilot in real time. More emphasis will now be applied to correctly implementing the procedure for “washing off” the slip in a cross wind landing.


Need to train 500K new pilots in the next 20 years

Some other interesting facts: it is predicted that the airline industry will need 500,000 more trained pilots in the next 20 years to maintain growth in the industry. If they train pilots the same way they always have, it would take 75 years to train the required number of pilots needed in the next 20 years. Somehow the math does not quite line up under this plan. They need to look at more efficient and effective ways to train pilots, without compromising safety, if they are to achieve these goals. Some of the ways that the industry is looking to shorten the training period is to first look at the initial pilot selection programs.

There is a lot more emphasis now on personality as well as the standard technical requirements. Even areas such as “passion for the aviation industry” are considered a key selection criteria. This would indicate that a pilot has passion for the entire industry and not just interested in flying for the entirety of his or her career. The aviation industry needs experienced pilots in areas of operational aspects as well.


Wider adoption of EBT

EBT received a fair amount of airplay. Many of the airlines are starting to seriously implement their EBT programs. They do tend to start off slow, most commencing with the senior pilots first and of course, the EBT instructors.

Asiana took around a year to implement just the EBT instructor program before they could start implementing the EBT program across the airline. This places more strain on the airlines as it consumes the resources in the early stages, however there does seem to be a wider adoption of EBT.


A Better Way to Fly

Aviation is one of the most highly regulated industries in the world. Learning and development professionals and compliance training officers in this industry are under constant pressure to ensure employees across their organization, as well as external staff of companies that support their business on the ground, comply with a multitude of regulations set by national and international regulatory bodies around the world.

The importance of compliance training has led a lot of airlines into setting up and maintaining multiple systems, diverse processes, and different technologies. This piecemeal approach increases Total Cost of Ownership, prohibits a 360-degree view of people compliance, and introduces additional levels of risk to the safety and well-being of tens of millions of airline passengers every day.

Forward-thinking airlines need a better way to significantly reduce and efficiently manage the time their employees need to spend away from doing what they do best, while staying competitive and profitable, as well as maintaining high levels of service quality.



Steve Young is General Manager for Asia Pacific at NetDimensions. Prior to joining NetDimensions, Steve spent several years with various technology companies in Australia, Singapore, and Japan developing the market for enterprise talent management applications. His area of expertise include managing compliance in aviation and life sciences. In a past life, Steve was an Airframe/Flight Fitter/Helicopter Crewman for the Royal Australian Air Force for more than 10 years.