Evidence based training (EBT) is a training and assessment method based on operational data that is characterised by developing and assessing the overall capability of a trainee across a range of core competencies rather than by measuring the performance in individual events or manoeuvres.
The aim of an EBT programme is to identify, develop and assess the competencies required by pilots in order to operate safely, effectively and efficiently in a commercial air transport environment by managing the most relevant threats and errors based on evidence collected in operations and training.
The need for EBT
The evidence-based training project is a global safety improvement initiative in the training environment supported by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). The origin of EBT arose from an industry-wide consensus that, in order to reduce the airline accident rate, a strategic review of recurrent and type-rating training for airline pilots was necessary.
The international standards and national regulations for airline pilot training are largely based on the evidence of accidents involving jet aircraft of the early generations, in the apparent belief that simply repeating pilot exposure to ‘worst case’ events in training is enough. Over time, new types of events occurred that were simply added to the requirements resulting into progressively crowded training programmes. This led to a ‘tick box’ approach to training.
EBT recognises the need to develop and evaluate crew performance according to a set of competencies without necessarily distinguishing between the ‘non-technical’ (e.g. crew resource management) and the ‘technical’ competencies needed in order to operate safely. Any area of competence assessed by EBT instructors not to meet the required level of performance needs to be associated with an observable behaviour that could lead to an unacceptable reduction in safety margins.
Under EBT the following are the competencies that trainees are required to demonstrate and EBT instructor are required to be able to accurately assess:
- Application of procedures;
- Aircraft flight path management, automation;
- Aircraft flight path management, manual control;
- Leadership and teamwork;
- Problem solving and decision making;
- Situation awareness; and,
- Workload management.
EBT vs traditional crew training
The training concept shift proposed under EBT is not simply to replace a sometimes-outdated set of critical events with a new set, but rather to use the events as a vehicle for developing and assessing crew performance across the range of behavioural competencies. In addition, EBT requires instructors and trainers to focus on the root causes of sub-standard behaviours, rather than merely asking a flight crew to repeat a manoeuvre with no real understanding as to why it was not successfully flown in the first instance.
It is very difficult, if not impossible, to foresee all plausible accident scenarios in today’s aviation system, which is characterised by complexity and high reliability. EBT addresses this limitation by moving from pure scenario-based training to prioritising the development and assessment of behavioural competencies, hence leading to improved training outcomes. The aim is that by mastering a finite number of defined competencies a pilot will be able to manage previously unseen potentially dangerous situations in flight.
Under the EBT training concept, qualified flight simulation training devices (FSTDs) should be used to the maximum extent possible for assessing and developing crew competence. Crews should be exposed to a wide variety of situations that may be faced in line operations. In today’s high-fidelity simulator environment sophisticated training tools exist that are often not used effectively, as training regulatory requirements are oriented more significantly toward checking. EBT seeks to redress the imbalance between training and checking as it recognises that an assessment of competence is necessary, but once completed, pilots learn more effectively when being trained by competent instructors to perform tasks and manage events measured according to a given set of behavioural indicators, while not under pure test conditions.
The development of a baseline EBT programme requires the determination by each air operator of critical training events based on data, the development of training scenarios and the definition of appropriate flight crew performance criteria when managing these events and scenarios.
EASA opinion 08/2019 (A) is part of a global safety initiative endorsed by ICAO to determine the relevance of the existing pilot training according to aircraft generation. This Opinion is a second step in the European rulemaking actions to implement EBT. The first step was completed in 2015 with the publication of ED Decision 2015/027/R that provided guidance material to allow the implementation of a ‘mixed EBT’ which maintains the current operator proficiency check (OPC) and licence proficiency check (LPC).
Opinion 08/2019 (A) proposes further changes to the EASA AIR OPS and AIR CREW regulations to allow authorities to approve the baseline EBT, which replaces OPC and LPC. This will allow a single philosophy of recurrent training within the airline.
Further work is foreseen in the context of the activities of RMT.0599 to allow expansion of EBT to the operator conversion course and initial type rating, as well as to other types of aircraft (e.g. helicopters and business jets).