Return-to-line training must be tailored for individual pilots: federation

Cockpit crew representatives are cautioning that resumption of flight operations as the coronavirus crisis recedes will require careful consideration of varying training levels for returning pilots.

Cockpit crew representatives are cautioning that resumption of flight operations as the coronavirus crisis recedes will require careful consideration of varying training levels for returning pilots.

There will be a range of situations that operators will need to take into account, says international airline pilot federation IFALPA.

Some pilots will have continued conducting services, such as those who have flown freight flights during the pandemic, while others will have stayed qualified and current but been subjected to a prolonged absence from operations.

Pilots might have remained qualified but operating under regulatory exemptions, while others will have fallen short of requirement for recent flight experience – including the need to perform at least three take-offs, approaches and landings in the last 90 days – or lost qualification altogether.

“Minimum training required to requalify a pilot to the regulatory standard may not be sufficient following either a break in operational status or loss of qualification,” says the federation.

“Operators must be prepared to provide training above the minimum required by the regulatory authority.”

Experienced and long-serving pilots will not necessarily need the same level of restorative training as a relatively new crew member, it says.

But the federation also points out that even pilots who have the proficiency and qualifications might need a certain level of training to ensure they are sufficiently confident to return to line flying.

“Operators should allow pilots the opportunity to request additional training over and above the normal or expected training footprint,” it adds.

Effective return to line operations requires co-operation between the regulatory authorities, the operator, and the cockpit crew members, it says – pointing out that trainers and examiners might also need to undergo their own requalification as a result of the coronavirus disruption.

“It is recognised that there will be an increased burden to airlines’ training departments,” the federation says. “While it is important that training be designed and conducted efficiently, it is critical that the training is not rushed and its quality is not compromised.”

The circumstances of the currency lapses should not be used as an excuse for regulatory waivers allowing retraining on a lower level training device. Nor should on-aircraft training be carried out if it would not normally be.

As well as informing pilots of any regular changes in standard procedures, the federation adds, operators must also ensure that crews are aware of any significant amendments introduced as a direct consequence of the coronavirus crisis.