Multi Crew Pilot Licence

So here it comes, the Multi Crew Pilot Licence

Eagerly “longed” and fought for by several visionaries, it can supposedly work wonders! Obtaining a licence quicker and at a lower price - a universal remedy against the impending shortage of pilots? Was a worst case scenario just barely prevented by the International Federation of Airline Pilots’ Associations and France?

However, it’s not as simple as that...
Even if some articles in pertinent professional journals lead you to believe that it is all just about 70 or even 60 hours of training in a real aircraft.

No wonder emotions are running high here!

So the question here is whether facts are being intentionally twisted or if some people just did not understand or want to understand what was extremely heatedly debated for three long years in the Flight Crew Licensing & Training Panel of the ICAO and then decided by consensus.

The result is unequivocally on record!

And, not to blow this out of proportion: For now training which heavily relies on full flight simulators, should not become less expensive than if a trainee spends the bigger part of his or her flight training in a Cessna 150 or similar aircraft.

The idea and prospect of the MPL is to determine interactively how ideal pilot training must be organized under today’s basic conditions, which differ from those 50 years ago...

The MPL, a story with several episodes... or: How many hours and in which device does a prospective pilot require, to be able to take on the share of the responsibility for the weal and woe of an airline and its passengers?

We still do not know the exact answer to that.

The solutions are as versatile as we people are numerous.

What counts is the result and optimum training on the way there.

Adapted to more complex aircraft, systems, technologies & CRM but also to the training equipment, which is more high-tech than it was 50 years ago.

What remains is the necessity of providing our future colleagues with the aeronautical tools they need.

However, children learn coordination in three-dimensional space easily; climbing on trees, jumping over streams - just the fun of moving around. Here, the generation of computer kids shows considerable deficits.

The direct physical limitations and the consequences of their disregard or an inadvertence at the wrong moment only become clear to us in reality and then, unfortunately sometimes even tragically.

We need the emotional deep-rooted knowledge of our limitations and proper respect for them, in order to let ourselves be repeatedly guided by them for the duration of our lives as pilots.

Based on this aeronautical basic knowledge, the necessary “additional elements” of flying can be learned using a variety of equipment. Procedures can actually be learned very well and effectively in a simulator.

The better the respective “equipment” is adapted to the learning task, the better the results can be.

In order to determine the optimum formula related to “hardware” and “time”, the European implementation of the revised ICAO Annex I, which became effective as of November 2006, has no longer specified minimum flight hours. There is merely a time frame of at least 240 training hours.

In this connection, it must be observed that PF & PNF hours can be totaled in certain configurations, i.e. above mentioned hours are completely training, (of course except for “solo”, etc.) and that the type rating is included in the MPL..

The schools and the airlines bear significantly more responsibility for the quality of training than they did in the past; furthermore, they can only implement this concept in close collaboration.

The training and continuous evaluation reaches all the way to the line training of the airlines taking on the pilots. At the same time, this ensures quality monitoring and the necessary feedback loop back to the flight school.

The starting point and at the same time benchmark for any MPL training worldwide is the ab initio concept we are familiar with and a gradual modification of the same - to increased application of simulators during training.

In turn, a prerequisite for this is a continuous evaluation process of each trainee pilot during each flying lesson. This concept should have a familiar ring to many colleagues; it is now also included in legislative text under the name competency based training.

In Australia and New Zealand this concept, which is geared towards the final result instead of the flight hours, has already been successfully implemented for PPL, CPL & IR training. It verifiably leads to an increased requirement of training hours there.

It goes without saying that this concept requires special "care and monitoring"

An implementation board will carry out the supervision and monitoring of the implementation of the MPL in the JAA environment including the corresponding evaluation.

We instigated the formation of this board; in addition to the individual authorities, we, the pilots’ associations, the major manufacturers Airbus and Boeing, the European Association of Airline Pilot Schools and the European airlines are invited to participate there.

Our support of or opposition to the project MPL all depends on the correct implementation of the ICAO decisions in the JAA environment. The implementation is on the right track.

At the moment, we are optimistic that we can truly use the advantages of this currently new and courageous concept for a more effective and target-oriented training.

Uwe Harter