Selecting a Jet Upset Provider

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Reducing Risk for Your Flight Department

Your number one concern as an Aviation Department Manager, Chief Pilot, Safety Manager or Line Captain is safety. You pride yourself on doing everything possible to take care of the passengers who entrust you to reach their destinations safely.

Figure 1: GAJSC Fatal Accidents 2001 - 2010

Figure 1: GAJSC Fatal Accidents 2001 – 2010

In order to appropriately assess the various threats that you must be prepared for, it is important to look at relevant data. Let’s begin by looking at the accident statistics for general aviation. The U.S. General Aviation Joint Steering Committee (Figure 1) determined that during the period 2001–2010 Loss of Control In-flight (LOC-I) was the top category for fatal accidents in general aviation.

Note that only a portion of the total figures depict turbine aircraft, which represent the majority of business aircraft. As in the overall total, for turbine aircraft LOC-I represents the primary cause of fatal accidents.

There is another set of data which is restricted to multi-engine, multi-pilot crew aircraft that we can use to get a picture of the relative threats faced in Business Aviation. This data comes from the Commercial Aviation Safety Team (Figure 2) and covers the worldwide commercial airline fleet over the period from 2004 to 2013.

While this graph specifically addresses commercial jet statistics, it is still representative of the relative threats to corporate or business aircraft, and parallels the information from the general aviation data.

If you have not seen this information before, it may be a bit surprising. For instance, pilots practice engine failures with every initial and recurrent training session. Yet, there were more than ten times as many fatalities from LOC-I than there were from engine failures (SCF-PP). It raises the question of whether we are spending our time training for today’s threats…or just doing the training we have always done simply because that is what is reflected in existing regulations?

Figure 2: CAST Fatalities 2004 – 2013

Figure 2: CAST Fatalities 2004 – 2013

There is a systemic basis for the accident record that we are seeing. Although pilots are required to demonstrate recovery from “Unusual Attitudes,” there is no definition for what an unusual attitude is. In an airplane we are never required by any existing civil Practical Test Standard to go beyond 60° of bank. In fact we are not allowed to go beyond 60° of bank or 30° of pitch with an instructor if we are not wearing a parachute.

While that might be fine if your aircraft never exceeds a 60° bank angle (or more), certain pilot responses that are appropriate in the normal flight envelope can become deadly beyond certain attitudinal thresholds. The correct responses can be highly counter-intuitive and may not be determined in the time-critical, life-threatening situation presented by an unexpected airplane upset event.

Likewise, our exposure to stalls is usually limited to the first indication of an impending stall, or an approach to a stall, not a full aerodynamic stall itself. In fact, the only time a pilot is tested on a full aerodynamic stall is on the Private Pilot checkride. Unfortunately, most pilots have never seen the dynamic lateral instability present beyond the critical angle of attack, or full aerodynamic stall. As in the case of attitudinal upsets, stalls encountered in the real world can present a much more demanding set of events than the generally benign stalls encountered in the training environment.

Finally, although existing Practical Test Standards separate stalls and unusual attitudes into two separate training and testing events, accident data shows us numerous examples of aircraft encountering both situations simultaneously. In such cases a pilot could be facing a flight condition that they have never experienced before and have not been trained to resolve.

Upset Prevention and Recovery Training

Figure 3: Startle Factor in LOC-I

Figure 3: Startle Factor in LOC-I

National aviation authorities and international aviation organizations have noted these training deficiencies and the resulting LOC-I accident statistics. Their proposal is to provide pilots with Upset Prevention and Recovery Training (UPRT). Unlike the existing “Unusual Attitude/Approach to Stall” paradigm, UPRT combines an academic background with practical skill development in a manner that is more effective at helping pilots to remain in the normal flight envelope, or to expeditiously maneuver back to safety in the event of an unanticipated airplane upset.

The FAA requires all candidates for the Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) to receive UPRT as part of the ATP Certification Training Program described in Advisory Circular AC 61-138. The International Business Aviation Council, as part of their International Standards for Business Aviation Operations (IS-BAO) has added UPRT to their list of recommended Best Practices.

If you are concerned about the risks involved in attending UPRT, look to risk management specialists – insurance companies – as one assessment tool. Multiple international insurance brokers/underwriters have such an in-depth understanding of how UPRT will lower risk that they are willing to provide discounts or premium credits for Flight Departments receiving UPRT.

Because UPRT is a relatively new and specialized area of flight training, information on what to look for in an UPRT provider is lacking. If you or your flight department decides to invest in training to help mitigate the threat of an airplane upset and ensuing loss of control, none of the options are inexpensive. A certain amount of investigation will be required to determine quality and value. Here are some considerations that can useful in finding a reputable and cost-effective UPRT provider.

Selection Criteria for Corporate and Business Aviation UPRT Services

√ Company

  • References: Other pilots who have received training with a particular provider will be able to tell you about how they were treated and the value of the training received. Find someone who has received training from a provider and get his or her impression of the experience. Was it technically beneficial and professionally conducted? What was the customer experience like? By comparing the desires and needs of their flight department and your own you should get a good feel for which provider would be a good fit for what you are looking for.
  • Safety Record: Does the company have a formal safety management system in place? Are they audited by a third party to ensure compliance with safety practices? Do they hold formal safety certifications? Do they have a considerable length of flight history delivering UPRT?

√ Training Program

  • Figure 4: Corporate Jet Upset Mitigation

    Figure 4: Corporate Jet Upset Mitigation

    Syllabus: Does the company have a formalized syllabus and are they willing to share it with you? Has it been reviewed and structured in accordance with the established Flight Training School policies of the overseeing regulatory agency? In the US is it a Part 141 Flight School?

  • Building Block concept:  Does the training program adhere to a building block approach which builds developing skills to enable the introduction of new concepts and abilities? If it doesn’t, it may be a program which skips around without ensuring that basic abilities are mastered before more advanced challenges are introduced.
  • Airplane Upset Recovery Training Aid – Revision 2 compliant: Does the syllabus adhere to the industry-standard Airplane Upset Recovery Training Aid (AURTA)? This reference is well-vetted and accurate. In the field of UPRT there are many theories and notions that have not been properly reviewed by aircraft manufacturers and other experts. Even slightly incorrect instruction can pose significant risks which are eliminated by adhering to the information and techniques advocated in the AURTA.
  • Delivered in Relation to the LOC-I Threat Distribution: Is the course of instruction based on actual accident rates rather than academic or hypothetical threats? Does the training program time distribution and emphasis reflect what is seen in actual accident statistics?
  • Vetted by Industry. If so, how?: Has the Training Program been vetted by industry in both academics and techniques? How was that accomplished?
  • NOT Aerobatics: Does the Training Provider know the difference between Aerobatics and UPRT and why the distinction is important?

√ Instructors

  • Figure 5: APS Expert UPRT Instructors

    Figure 5: APS Expert UPRT Instructors

    All-Attitude/All-Envelope Expertise: How did their instructors acquire their experience outside of the normal flight envelope? Did they have operational positions which required All-Attitude/All-Envelope expertise? How much experience do they have with this type of flying? This is important, as the experience of your instructor is the single greatest factor in mitigating the threat of on-aircraft delivered UPRT.

  • Corporate and/or Commercial Operational Experience: Do their instructors have any experience with civil transport operations such as airline or corporate flight operations? This is crucial for putting lessons into the context of the flying that you do and being able to relate to the threats that exist in normal flight operations such as yours.
  • Instructional Experience: Have they served as an Instructor previously? How much experience do they have in the instructional role?
  • Standardization: What has their organization done to standardize instructors? Without standardization the quality of instruction will be up to the luck of the draw as to which instructor you get and how good they might be (or not). You and your crew may receive conflicting information or learn different techniques from one instructor to another, undermining your reason for attending UPRT in the first place.

√ Training Platforms

  • Figure 6: Transferable Strategy

    Figure 6: Transferable Strategy

    —Aircraft: Are the airplanes certified in the Acrobatic Category, or for aerobatic flight operations? Is the aircraft equipped to video record your flight for later review? Are the aircraft well maintained? You should investigate the level of maintenance conducted as UPRT flight operations are more vigorous than most flight operations. An aggressive maintenance/inspection schedule can detect any developing problems early.

  • —Simulators: If Flight Simulator Training Devices (FSTDs) are used, are they operated within the acceptable training envelope for that device? Has the instructor been trained on the fidelity limitations of the device and the threat of negative training that is possible in conducting simulator-based training?

Aviation Performance Solutions

We firmly believe and have first-hand experience that the LOC-I threat can be mitigated by comprehensive academic and practical UPRT, if delivered by a reputable provider. Improving air safety is our top priority. APS will gladly vet or make specific objective recommendations as to the quality and reputation of a prospective UPRT provider for your flight department. Of course, as a business, we hope you come to the conclusion that Aviation Performance Solutions (APS) provides both the highest quality and best value available, but regardless of which professional provider you select, please take steps to address this threat in your organization.

With more years of experience and students trained in UPRT than any other provider, APS focuses on adherence to quality, standardization and customer service. We have provided training for flight crews of virtually all aircraft manufacturers and types. We encourage you to contact us for a complimentary course overview to see if APS UPRT training is the right fit for your organization.

We look forward to helping you reduce risk for your flight department.