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The recent International Civil Aviation Safety Organization (ICAO) initiative to introduce a competency-based Multi-Crew Pilot Lcense standard and training syllabus is seen as a positive step, with regulators supporting this development. It is recognized that manual flying skills are being lost among pilots. The limited simulator/flight time exposure inherent in MCPL programs does not provide the experience to address this problem. MCPL and improved manual airmanship – basic IFR manual flying – are mutually contradictory. There is no substitute for actual flight experience in developing aircraft handling skills.

By a conservative estimate, currently in India about 5 percent of commanders on single-aisle jet aircraft … are under 30 years of age. This trend will only grow,” said Capt. R. Otaal, general secretary of the Indian Commercial Pilot’s Association. For instance, the rapid expansion of commercial aviation in India, coupled with the virtual absence of general aviation, has combined to create the phenomenon

Potential hazard

  1. Safety consequences are difficult to predict. One must assume that the regulators will take this phenomenon into account.
  2. Pilots obtaining an MCPL may never have performed a solo flight though this may not be a factor in the safety of flight. First officers in commercial twin-jets having completed an MCPL curriculum may have only 240 hours total simulation and flight time.
  3. MPL enables airlines to train pilots tailored to their aircraft types and their operations right from the start, so in a way the MPL course is the ab initio training equivalent of an ATQP. Pilots may lose flexibility in moving among airlines due to the limited MCPL certifications for specific types with an airline.
  4. Many student pilots have serious problems facing their first type rating on a modern, complex jet. An MPL prepares the student for precisely this challenge, whereas the modular route, depending on what experience the pilot achieves during it, may provide little or no experience of jets and the speed at which things happen in them, or of managing sophisticated flight management and aircraft control systems, and it is in these aircraft that LOC events have been occurring.
  5. MCPL will not solve the cultural issues that will remain despite the new approach to train pilots to CRM from the outset.

Corroborating sources and comments

What is MCPL?;

Learmount, David, IN FOCUS: Loss of control – training the wrong stuff? Floghtglobal, January 2012

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