Right then, on to the next most requested topic: Evidence Based Training (EBT)! You might have heard about it already in the last few years, or you might be in an organisation who has already fully embraced it.
At the same time though, there are loads of professionals in the aviation industry who have not been exposed to EBT at all. We’re going to cover what exactly EBT means, where it came from, and what the benefits are! So sit back, relax, and let’s go over the ins and outs of EBT!
THE ORIGINS OF EBT
The aviation training industry has strangely remained the same in a lot of areas for decades, all while the actual working environment of a pilot has become more and more complex as time goes on.
This is because cockpits get bombarded with more and more technology, aircraft get equipped with more advanced systems, and the flight environment demands pilots to be more adaptable than ever before.
This is why, if you think about it, it’s actually pretty strange that the training environment has remained so static for all these years. As the amount of tasks and the amount of variables increases, it becomes less and less productive and feasible to just hammer certain repetitive tasks into a pilot’s brain.
We’ve all seen the numerous tickboxes on a test or training form that state wether or not you’ve been tested on X emergency and Y procedure. Instead, it’s proven to be more effective to zoom out, and look at the actual core competencies that pilots should obtain, and train those competencies that can then deal with X or Y emergencies.
By using this approach, you can assess pilots based on their ability to use their skills and expertise to deal with a wide variety of circumstances and variables. If competency A shows that they can deal with situation or emergency X, it will likely mean emergency Y can be dealt with using the same skillset, as long as the emergency is reasonably similar.
This means there’s no longer a need to go through 21348973 emergencies over time. Instead, you get tested to deal with certain variables that gets thrown at you, which can then be translated to other emergencies! Much more efficient right?
This is where ICAO and IATA developed EBT, and defined a framework that can be used to test pilots in this newer and more complex cockpit environment based on pilot competencies.
EBT is based on 20 years of flight operation research, analysing over 3 million flights, using 10.000 flight observations and over 3000 accident and incident reports (hence the ‘Evidence’). So what are these pilot competencies? Let’s dive into them! There are 8, and they consist of:
Each competency has a set of behavioural indicators, defined by IATA / ICAO, that can determine how skilled a pilot is for that particular competency. We’ll cover these for each competency to make it clear what is and isn’t important. You can also watch this short video for a quick introduction to EBT by the UK CAA:
Let’s dive into the 8 core competencies EBT is based on:
1) APPLICATION OF PROCEDURES
This competency determines how skilled a pilot is in identifying and applying the correct procedures developed by either the aircraft manufacturer or the company / airline. You should take the regulations and latest operating instructions into account and weigh off the pros and cons of each, using your discretion and appropriate knowledge.
Some people struggle with following basic instructions. If this is something a pilot might struggle with, the EBT model can predict which situations yield a less successful outcome for this particular pilot. The behavioural indicators for this are:
- Identifying the source of operating instructions
- Following SOP’s unless safety dictates otherwise
- Timely application of procedures
- Correct operation of aircraft system and relevant equipment
- Complies with applicable regulations
- Applies relevant procedural knowledge
A disturbing amount of accidents still happen simply because of a lack of adherence to SOP’s. Whether it’s the infamous ‘watch this’ pilot attitude, or simply a lack of discipline and knowledge.
Communication is becoming more and more important for pilots, especially during multicrew operations. Within the flight deck environment, loads of external variables mask normal cues that we use during normal conversations.
Things like body language, facial expressions, voice tonality, eye contact, all of these are diminished inside a cockpit.
The EBT assessment looks at how competent a pilot is at demonstrating effective verbal, non-verbal and written communication, in both normal and emergency situations. Let’s have a look at the behavioural indicators:
- Ensures the recipient is ready and able to receive the information
- Determines who, what, when and how to communicate appropriately
- Conveys messages clearly, accurately and concisely
- Confirms receipt and correct understanding of the conveyed infromation
- Listens actively and demonstrates understanding when receiving information
- Asks relevant and effective questions
- Adheres to standard calls and phraseology
- Accurately reads and interprets company and flight documentation
Emotional Intelligence plays a big part in this, so for some this is much easier than others. At the same time though, company culture influences individual pilots more than they usually want to admit, and the desired way of interacting with colleagues can definitely be developed and trained.
3) AIRCRAFT FLIGHT PATH MANAGEMENT – AUTOMATION
This category looks at how efficiently you can control the aircraft’s flight path using all automation options available. This includes the use of flight management systems and guidance equipment.
In an industry where use of automation is still on the rise during any particular flight, this is becoming more and more important.
Even in HEMS nowadays we are using the automation a lot more than we would have 20 years ago, when cockpits and aircraft were much simpler to fly. The behavioural indicators are:
- Controls the aircraft using automation with accuracy and smoothness appropriate to the situation
- Detects deviations from the desired aircraft trajectory and takes appropriate action
- Keeps the aircraft within the laid out flight envelope / parameters
- Ensures optimal operational performance and efficiency throughout the flight
- Manages distractions and other tasks effectively whilst using automation
- Uses appropriate levels of automation depending on the situation and phase of flight
- Effectively monitors systems including engagement of modes and transitions
As you can see, this one’s all about the interaction between pilot and autopilot. To get a high score here, system knowledge is a necessity, as well as an efficient use of said knowledge and awareness of the engaged modes.
4) AIRCRAFT FLIGHT PATH MANAGEMENT – MANUAL CONTROL
Here we look at your skill to control the aircraft without the use of automation, but still while making use of the tools available such as flight management systems and guidance systems or flight directors. Here are the behavioural indicators:
- Controls the aircraft with accuracy and smoothness while flying manually, depending on the situation
- Detects deviations from desired variables
- Keeps the aircraft within flight envelope
- Manages flight path efficiently
- Uses appropriate level of automation
- Effectively monitors flight guidance systems and automation transitions
This is what many pilots in the past focussed on the most when asked ‘How good of a pilot are you?’ or ‘How good of a pilot is colleague X’. The interesting thing about this, is that manual control is only 1 part out of all 8 competencies that are important, in an ever changing industry.
While automation is clearly getting more and more common and part of company SOP’s, manual control is still a major part of EBT. Often (but not always) the aircraft isn’t going to land itself during major failures or unforeseen circumstances!
5) LEADERSHIP AND TEAMWORK
Yes – of course, leadership and teamwork are both part of being a pilot. It’s not just about pushing buttons and moving some cyclics or yokes around. While both these terms might be hard to define, there are some clear indicators again that can aim to quantify your ability to work together and lead a cockpit crew:
- Understands and agrees with the crew’s role and objectives
- Creates an atmosphere of open communication
- Uses initiative and gives directions when required
- Carries out instructions as directed
- Admits mistakes and takes responsibility
- Communicates relevant concerns and intentions
- Gives and receives constructive feedback
- Demonstrates empathy and shows respect and tolerance
- Engages others in planning and allocates activities fairly
- Projects self-control in all situations]
- Addresses and resolves conflict in a constructive manner
Again, something that can in fact be trained, and when the ‘captaincy’ term gets used within the industry, a lot of these variables are assumed to be the relevant for that.
6) PROBLEM SOLVING AND DECISION MAKING
This one is all about identifying the most relevant risks and efficiently coming up with ways to mitigate them and solve problems. The way different people go about the decision making process can say a lot about them and their competency on how to tackle unexpected variables.
What are the most important indicators for this category? Let’s have a look:
- Seeks accurate and adequate information from appropriate sources
- Identifies and verifies what an why things have gone wrong
- Employs proper problem solving strategies
- Perseveres in working through problems without reducing safety
- Uses appropriate and timely decision making processes
- Sets priorities appropriately
- Identifies and considers options effectively
Most of these traits all come down to analytical skills and prioritising as a crew. There are various multicrew models that airlines and operators expect their crew to use while problem solving. Whichever model it is, it can be executed in an efficient and effective way, or not so much – depending on your competency.
7) SITUATION AWARENESS (SA)
This one is harder to quantify but has luckily always been a massive part of pilot training for the most part. SA is how the pilot perceives and comprehends all the relevant information available and also thinks about how those variables can impact the situation in the near future.
If you are ahead of the curve you will gather all data efficiently and will often be 3 steps ahead of the aircraft and its flight path. On the other side you can have someone who struggles to cope with the information presented to him / her and therefore when things change, it can get very messy very quickly. Let’s look at the behavioural indicators:
- Identifies and assesses the state of the aircraft and its systems in an accurate way
- Identifies the aircraft’s vertical and horizontal position and anticipates its flight path, as well as the environment
- Accurate mental picture of time and fuel consumption
- Maintains awareness of the people involved in (or affected by) the operation
- Develops effective contingency plans based on threats
- Recognises and responds appropriately to reduced SA
SA can make or break both normal and emergency procedures. Staying a head of the aircraft is a term we all remember from our basic training, but it’s easier said than done.
This especially counts in situations where pilots have not been put in before, or in a new aircraft type, or while transitioning from multicrew to single pilot, or vice versa.
8) WORKLOAD MANAGEMENT
Workload management, while affected by the other competencies above, is also a competency by itself. How effective are you at using the resources available and at the same time managing the amount of tasks efficiently, is extremely important in modern aviation environments. Let’s have a look at the behavioural indicators:
- Maintains self control in all situations
- Plans, prioritises and schedules tasks effectively
- Manages time efficiently
- Offers and accepts help from others, and delegates where necessary
- Reviews, monitors and cross-checks actions
- Verifies tasks are completed correctly
- Manages and recovers from interruptions, distractions and failures effectively
Thinking ahead and dragging the next ‘to be completed tasks’ forward can help with this, but needs to be done in a way that does not compromise your SA or creates tunnel vision.
This list with all the behavioural indictors will hopefully give you a better understanding of what is actually being zoomed in on with EBT, and what the bigger picture of EBT looks like as well.
For the model to work though, we need to define what emergencies or events are considered to be ‘similar’ for them to be linked as emergency Y and X as discussed before. Let’s have a look at this.
EBT’S PHILOSOPHY ON PILOTS DEALING WITH FAILURES
EBT describes the importance of the equivalency of malfunctions. As we said before, the idea is that if you can handle system emergency X using your pilot competencies that are accurately trained and tested, you will be able to use the same competencies for emergency Y.
To apply this logic however, we need to have some sort of idea of what emergencies can be linked to each other. Being able to deal with a pitot tube failure, does not necessarily mean you can deal with a double engine failure while the hydraulics are having issues. Let’s have a look at the equivalency table:
The table shows which categories of emergencies can be considered equivalent to others (and which can’t). The difference here is that rather than focussing on specific emergencies, we observe how a crew deals with a certain category, and score them based on their competencies shown during this performance.
Crews should really be exposed to a wide spectrum of emergency procedures without specifically focussing on any particular one.
This will help operators as well, as it considerably increases training efficiency, although there is a suggested 2 year EBT implementation period for training departments to adopt the new philosophy.
So there we have it, an introduction to EBT. Currently, EBT is already very common within the leading airlines, and hopefully the rest of the industry, including helicopters, follows soon. It streamlines the training standards, increases the efficiency of training departments, and puts reality and training more in line with each other. If you want to read more, head to the resource section below, but we’ll cover more specific sections of EBT in the future as well.
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Here are all the main official resources for EBT if you’re interested in knowing more about the details: