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APS White Paper: Comparing Industry Airplane Upset Recovery Training Aids

Comparing Industry
Airplane Upset Recovery Training Aids

Airplane Upset Recovery Training Aid – Revision 2 (AURTA Rev 2), and the
Airplane Upset Prevention and Recovery Training Aid – Revision 3 (AUPRTA Rev 3)

BY:  Larry Cross, Advanced Instructor Pilot, MCFI-A, 
Aviation Performance Solutions LLC (APS)


The airline industry is faced with a dilemma with two industry guidance documents addressing the awareness and mitigation of airplane upset events. These two documents are the Airplane Upset Recovery Training Aid – Revision 2 (AURTA Rev 2)  and the Airplane Upset Prevention and Recovery Training Aid – Revision 3 (AUPRTA Rev 3). Both are valuable documents yet neither document replaces the other. As of the publication date of this paper, U.S. regulatory authorities have not formally referenced AUPRTA Rev 3 in any guidance of which the author is aware.  The following impactful Upset Prevention and Recovery Training (UPRT) differences exist; 1) stronger emphasis on prevention in AUPRTA Rev 3; 2) no specific example of a training program in AUPRTA Rev 3; 3) no practical discussion in AUPRTA Rev 3 about the potential for a pilot to have to practically recover from a nose low, high bank upset over 90 degrees of bank; 4) markedly different length, comprehensiveness, and accessibility of documents; 5) no specific parameters for an upset defined in AUPRTA Rev 3; 6) specific discussion in AUPRTA Rev 3 about propeller effects; and 7) more discussion and emphasis in AUPRTA Rev 3 about pilot monitoring.


The objective of this white paper is to provide a balanced assessment, in broad terms from a training standpoint, of the major differences between the Airplane Upset Recovery Training Aid Revision 2 (AURTA Rev 2)  and the Airplane Upset Prevention and Recovery Training Aid Revision 3 (AUPRTA Rev 3). Both documents provide excellent resources to help mitigate one of the most important safety concerns facing the aviation community today; Loss of Control In-flight (LOC-I). Yet, neither document effectively replaces the other.

Executive Summary of Each of the Documents

While both documents address most of the same subject areas, below summarizes the major differences in emphasis and scope between each.
1. Airplane Upset Recovery Training Aid Revision 2 (AURTA Rev 2)

  • Revision 2 is intended to supplement the Airplane Upset Recovery Training Aid Revision 1 that was released in August 2004. It fully and comprehensively replaces previous versions of the AURTA.
  • It was developed in response to FAA request to convene an industry and government working group to develop guidance to flight crews as it pertains to issues associated with operations, unintentional slowdowns, and recoveries in the high altitude environment.
  • In 2008, it was decided to introduce a high altitude supplement to the Airplane Upset Recovery Training Aid, first released in 1998 to maximize visibility on the topic.
  • While the Airplane Upset Recovery Training Aid specifically addressed jet airplanes with 100 seats or greater, the information in the high altitude supplement is directly applicable to most jet airplanes that routinely operate in this environment.
  • This supplemental information has been inserted in the AURTA Rev 2 completed October 2008.
  • Revision 2 is substantially more comprehensive than Revision 3, providing insights to many aspects of airplane upsets considered to be critical safety knowledge for pilots.

2. Airplane Upset Prevention and Recovery Training Aid Revision 3 (AUPRTA Rev 3)

  • It’s apparent that the intent of Revision 3 was to replace Revision 2 but, unfortunately, Revision 3 removes a significant amount of essential information necessary to comprehensive UPRT.
  • Based upon many aspects of ICAO document 10011, Airbus, ATR, Boeing, Bombardier, Embraer and ICAO created Revision 3 of the Airplane Upset Recovery Training Aid to emphasize the importance of prevention.
  • The Revision 3 team was restricted to a relatively small group of OEM representatives and did not involve the diversity of industry stakeholders as was done in the AURTA Rev 2 and its previous versions.
  • This revision is expanded to include transport category straight wing propeller airplanes and regional jet airplanes with less than 100 seats.
  • Positive advances with regard to upset training and Threat and Error Management (TEM) are integrated.
  • The main premise of Revision 3 is that an upset arguably exists anytime an airplane is diverging from what the pilots are intending it to do. This concept is also addressed in Revision 2 but with less intensity.
  • AUPRTA Rev 3 redefines airplane upsets and uses the established concept of undesired airplane state and the pilot’s awareness of this regardless of airspeed or specific pitch and/or bank angle parameters.
  • The name of the document has been modified to reflect the criticality of prevention. The name of this new and less comprehensive resource is the Airplane Upset Prevention and Recovery Training Aid (AUPRTA). This is consistent with the evolution of industry terminology since the creation of the original document.

Analyzing the Differences

In order to better understand the relevance, benefits, and limitations of each of the two documents, it is essential to have a clear view of how the two versions differ. In the sections that follow, the identified differences between the AURTA Rev 2 and AUPRTA Rev 3 are expanded.

#1 Stronger Emphasis on Prevention in AUPRTA Rev 3

  1. AURTA Rev 2 – The “Pilot Guide to Airplane Upset Recovery” (Airplane Upset Recovery Training Aid, Sec. 2) presents a holistic view of recognition, prevention and recovery, if necessary, from an airplane upset.  The emphasis in this document is on recognition and recovery from a number of complex scenarios. The practice of recovery skills promotes a more thorough understanding of the entire upset domain including awareness, recognition, and prevention.  AURTA Rev 2 is a very comprehensive treatment of prevention and lessons learned from past upset accidents and incidents.
  2. AUPRTA Rev 3 – The “Pilot Guide to Airplane Upset Recovery” (Airplane Upset Recovery Training Aid, Sec. 2) rightly points out that the goal of every pilot is to avoid an upset, intervene if one is developing, or to regain control, if necessary.  The major emphasis is on the recognition of the undesired aircraft state. This emphasis may lead one to incorrectly conclude that recognition alone will prevent a loss of control inflight event.

There will be ramifications from these differences which will be discussed later in this treatise.
Caution: APS agrees that prevention is critically important in UPRT. However, not at the exclusion of other essential training that may be required of pilots in LOC-I situations.  In our extensive training experience, many upsets are sufficiently complex that over-emphasizing prevention while de-emphasizing recovery skills leads pilots to a false, and unfounded, sense of security.  In addition, if human factors complicate the scenario, pilots may find themselves in situations that require unique skills that can only be gained through a train-to-proficiency methodology. AURTA Revision 2 provides essential in-depth training that is invaluable in initial qualification and annual recurrent training programs until a pilot is more highly experienced.  AUPRTA Revision 3 is a valuable as a resource for those with expert knowledge and experience developed using training programs similar to those contained in AURTA Revision 2. AUPRTA Revision 3 should not be considered as a stand-alone, comprehensive LOC-I mitigation or training resource.

#2 No Sample Upset Training Program in AUPRTA Rev 3

  1. AURTA Rev 2 has all of the following additional data available that may contain added value to some organizations:
    1. Recurrent Training Exercises
    2. Appendix 3-A, Pilot Guide to Airplane Upset Recovery Questions
    3. Appendix 3-B, Airplane Upset Recovery Briefing
    4. Appendix 3-C, Video Script: Airplane Upset Recovery
    5. Appendix 3-D, Flight Simulator Information
    6. Appendix 3-E, High Altitude Operations Presentation
    7. 4 References for Additional Information
  2. AUPRTA Rev 3 is less prescriptive on how to accomplish training
    1. There are no instructor techniques presented.
    2. There is no identification of potential trainee errors.

Important Note: The detailed data and specific references to exercises and delineation of a complete syllabus in AURTA Rev 2 is essential to an airline developing a comprehensive UPRT program.  These in-depth sample training programs, exercises and presentations provide an essential foundation to standardize the industry.

#3 Nose Low Recovery, > 90 Degrees Bank is Not Addressed in AUPRTA Rev 3

  1. AURTA Rev 2 specifically addresses the greater than 90 degrees angle of bank situation including briefing slides, exercises, instructor techniques and defined  recovery procedures.
  2. AUPRTA Rev 3 emphasizes appropriate recovery procedures from a nose low high angle of bank scenario, but does not address the scenario and effects of a bank angle of greater than 90 degrees.

Caution: The nose-low overbank scenario beyond 90 degrees angle of bank is not addressed in AUPRTA Rev 3 from a practical training standpoint. Organization’s not comprehensively addressing this situation, are perpetuating deficiencies in current civil licensing which has led to the existing unacceptable LOC-I accident rate.  The specific statistics for the LOC-I problem is apparent when viewing the Statistical Summary of Commercial Jet Airplane Operations (1959-2016):

Moreover, operators who do not adequately prepare pilots and instructors for these conditions outside of the normal flight envelope must understand that pilot reactions and responses will be based solely from experience in the normal envelope. High bank attitudes experienced beyond as little as 60 degrees, and even more so at more than 90 degrees, require control inputs which are increasingly counter-intuitive and unlikely to be performed correctly without prior instruction and practice. Improper response to this type of time critical situation can have catastrophic results. These exercises provide instructors and pilots with essential knowledge and skills found nowhere else in civil licensing training or airline operational training requirements. This exercise is therefore foundational to effectively overcoming Loss of Control In-flight (LOC-I).

In our experience, the overbanked situation beyond 90 degrees angle of bank is one of the most dangerous scenarios that can be encountered by a pilot for the reasons stated above, as well as the fact that human factors will vastly complicate the recovery in these situations.  Proper prior instruction and practice of recovery from these situations reinforces appropriate response and control inputs. This practice and instruction is not adequately addressed in Revision 3.

#4 Substantially Different Comprehensiveness Levels and Access

  1. AURTA Rev 2 and it’s 443 pages are downloadable and readily available for search and review or further study.
    1. Affords availability of extraction of material for potential re-use.
    2. Items are generally discussed in greater depth.
    3. Does not require connectivity.
  2. AUPRTA Rev 3 is available on-line and much shorter in length and somewhat easier to read/digest.
    1. Allows for easier cross-reference with links to specific material.
    2. Accessible via mobile devices with limited storage capacity.

#5 Parameters Defining an Airplane Upset Not Specified in AUPRTA Rev 3

  1. AUPRTA Rev 3 addresses criteria for an undesired aircraft state but does not establish criteria for an aircraft upset as is specifically defined in AURTA, Rev 2.
    1. Rationale:  The premise of this revision is that an upset exists anytime an airplane is diverging from what the pilots are intending it to do. Prior training practices (i.e. “close your eyes while the instructor drives the simulator to an upset”, etc.) missed the primary objective for pilots to intervene as soon as an undesired airplane state starts occurring. Most recovery maneuver training was done only after exceeding specific aircraft parameters, without paying attention to the reasons for these diversions. This document redefines airplane upsets and uses the established concept of undesired airplane state and the pilot’s awareness of this regardless of airspeed or specific pitch and/or bank angle parameters.

Note: APS agrees that the concept of an undesired aircraft state is important.  However, there are some situations where proper monitoring and prevention may not be able to prevent an ensuing upset (e.g. weather or systems-related events).  This is particularly problematic as most current Multi-Crew Pilot Licensing skills do not provide the full range of skills required to recover from certain situations. Human factors encountered in real life can exacerbate the problem and are often underappreciated in the training environment. Defining specific aircraft parameters that could provide triggers to initiate response vastly improves coordinated crew response to an upset.

#6 Propeller Effects Addressed in AUPRTA Rev 3

  1. AUPRTA Rev 3 has some excellent language specifically addressing propeller effects.  Specifically, the following paragraphs are targeted for a prop or turboprop airplane:
    1. Propeller Effects Turboprop Airplane (PROP) and subparagraphs
    2. 6.4.7. High Altitude Turboprop Characteristics (PROP)
    3. 6.6.1. Flight In Icing Conditions (PROP) and subparagraph and
    4. 8.4.2 Effect on Icing on Turboprop Airplane Performance (PROP)

Note:  This additional language is helpful in addressing aircraft beyond the original target audience of swept-wing turbojet aircraft of 100 passengers or more.  This expands the applicable scope and provides some minor differences for operators of those aircraft.

#7 Pilot Monitoring Given More Emphasis in AUPRTA Rev 3

  1. AURTA Rev 2 has very limited guidance on the monitoring requirement.

It primarily addresses monitoring in the paragraph labeled: Instrument Cross-Check.

“Since it is difficult to stay focused on monitoring during low workload periods, it may be beneficial for pilots to alternate this responsibility. The important thing to remember is that at least one pilot must monitor the aircraft at all times. Effective monitoring allows a pilot to take control of the aircraft before an upset occurs. Some airlines refer to the pilot not flying as the “pilot monitoring” to add emphasis to the importance of this role.”

2. AUPRTA Rev 3 builds specifically on the Threat and Error Management (TEM) model and provides guidance on what is expected of pilots while monitoring.  In essence, Threat and Error Management teaches pilots to identify and manage situations so they do not impair safety. The idea is that trained pilots can detect and respond to events that are likely to cause damage (threats) as well as mistakes that are most likely to be made (errors) during flight operations. TEM allows crews to identify the threats and errors encountered by pilots and document human performance in that context. TEM incorporates strategies from Crew Resource Management to teach pilots to manage threats and errors.

Some sample verbiage from Rev 3 includes:

“The OEMs believe that flight crew engagement combats complacency through active monitoring. Therefore, active monitoring is the critical element to ensure awareness and avoidance of undesired airplane states and provides the strongest countermeasure against startle. An engaged crew is in the best position to cope with undesired airplane states.”

Each pilot should:

      • Know and understand the expected airplane state for the situation
      • Communicate expectations
      • Keep track of current airplane state
      • Detect and communicate deviations from expectations
      • Assess risk and decide on a response
      • Update and communicate understanding
      • Take timely corrective actions

The requirement to actively monitor as part of a safe flying operation is reinforced in the following UKCAA publication “Monitoring matters.” 


This white paper was developed to provide a high-level discussion to compare AURTA Rev 2 to the AUPRTA Rev 3 with training-relevant commentary inserted by APS from a practical UPRT solutions standpoint. Both documents provide excellent resources for professional aviators to gain knowledge and administer safe flying programs to help mitigate the loss of control in-flight threat.  Accident statistics continue to show that even highly experienced and well-trained pilots have difficulty when faced with upset scenarios.  The fatalities that result can sometimes be catastrophic and are influenced by a lack of training outside of the “normal” envelope.
In our view, there is essential information in AURTA Rev 2 that will be invaluable to all pilots in preventing and then, if required, recovering from a LOC-I situation.  Rev 2 includes significant data and background that instructors and flight departments can reference when developing and using Upset Prevention and and Recovery Training programs. AUPRTA Rev 3 is a valuable document as an add-on to, not replacement of, the AURTA Rev 2.


Aviation Performance Solutions LLC (APS), headquartered at the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport in Mesa, Arizona, trains thousands of professional pilots and instructors in comprehensive Upset Prevention and Recovery Training skill development. APS provides integrated LOC-I solutions via industry-leading computer-based, on-aircraft (jet and piston), and full-flight simulator Upset Prevention & Recovery Training (UPRT). All training is in full compliance with the Airplane Upset Recovery Training Aid, FAA Advisory Circular 120-109A on Stall Training, ICAO Manual on Aeroplane Upset Prevention and Recovery Training, IATA Guidance Material and Best Practices for the Implementation of Upset Prevention and Recovery Training, and the FAA Advisory Circular 120-111 on Upset Prevention and Recovery Training. APS is the only Part 141 Flight School certified in the delivery of complete upset prevention & recovery, stall/spin and instrument upset recovery training courses worldwide. With additional training locations in Texas (USA), The Netherlands (Europe), and military division in Alabama (USA), APS provides global access to the highest quality Upset Prevention and Recovery Training available.

Larry Cross is retired military pilot and instructor, and former airline pilot. Larry serves as a Senior Upset Prevention and Recovery Training (UPRT) Instructor at APS’ Texas USA location. More on Larry Cross:

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