As technical requirements for maintenance personnel change and evolve, training protocols will evolve as well. Particularly, training has already seen a shift from inventory-based, where pilots train on existing accident scenarios, to competency-based, where pilots train in core competencies and adapt to various situations. The primary difficulty in establishing these paradigms is accounting for unforeseen situations and establishing how best to measure identified competencies. Furthermore, instructors must also be knowledgeable in the fields tested.
IATA Traning and Qualification Initiative (ITQI) for Maintenance is a recent IATA initiative centered on competency-based training. Competencies identified by the ITQI include application of procedures, leadership and teamwork, communication, and aircraft flight path management, both automated and manual. An approach has been validated through meetings with OEMs, airline maintenance and training organizations. IATA has worked closely with ICAO to develop this material. While ITQI primarily applies to pilots, it could also be transferred to maintenance; however, this would require a substantial re-evaluation of competencies and procedures.
One recent evolution in procedure is virtual training for maintenance personnel. Digital/electronic mock-ups, as well as virtual reality goggles and HoloLens equipment, are now being adopted by the industry as substitutes for physical mock-ups. It should be recognized that the current digital mock-up capability, together with available human modeling capability, does not permit total maintenance/assembly task simulation, although such technologies are constantly adding more details and practice scenarios.
While any safety related risk is low, if a situation is not recognized during design phase, it will not emerge or be addressed until assembly of first aircraft. This results in a cost/schedule penalty and aircraft maintainability issues. Virtual training also leads to less time spent aboard actual aircraft. While this can be considered a positive, it could also lead maintenance personnel to make erroneous judgments in the event of unforeseen real-world circumstances.
Proper implementation of any new maintenance procedures is key to prevent skill degradation and negative learning transfer.
- Lack of ICAO guidance material on how competency based training can be applied to maintenance.