Airline Pilot Training Shift Urged


The company that built its business around automating airplanes is now saying it’s time for airline pilots to brush up on their stick and rudder skills. TheWall Street Journal reportsthat Harry Nelson, the former VP of flight testing and now a product safety executive for Airbus, told the 70th annual meeting of the International Federation of Airline Pilots Associations in Madrid on Saturday that pilot training should be revamped to put more emphasis on hand flying. He said airline training is too focused on meeting regulatory requirements and recurrent training is too weighted toward assessing skills rather than teaching and fostering them. That, he says, makes the regular sim sessions and check rides dreaded threats to job security. “There is no perceived upside to the training,” he said. “And that’s wrong.”

Nelson said there is another perhaps more insidious dynamic at work in an age where most of a pilot’s time is spent inputting data and monitoring systems. “It used to be cool to be a pilot,” Nelson said. “For a lot of pilots it’s just another job.” Nelson said refocusing pilot training will require a wholesale rewrite of curricula and it might require additional training time. He also said time is running out to capitalize on a huge training resource: old-hand pilots with actual hand flying experience in life-threatening circumstances. “Tomorrow’s instructors will not be teaching from personal exposure,” he said. “They’ll be speaking from hearsay.”