Thomas Leoff


Chair, International Association of Aviation Personnel Schools

Challenges and Possible Solutions for Commercial Pilot Training in 2023 and Beyond

The major challenges for the Pilot Training industry are:

  • Sustainability of the training programs and the operation of the industry
  • Interesting enough trainees (“the right stuff”) for the pilot profession in the medium and long term
  • Employing a sufficient number of suitably qualified instructors
  • Modernizing the theoretical knowledge instruction and testing
  • Integration of new training technologies into the pilot training system
  • Enablement for training development in terms of legal options and economic feasibility

These challenges are linked with each other and it will require therefore a holistic and cooperative approach from industry, NAAs and EASA to find suitable solutions that will enable our “aviation eco-system” to stay healthy and successful.


  • Develop actual CO2 footprint of an Integrated ATP syllabus (approx. 25t CO2) into an ecological sustainable syllabus. One big part are the required landings at the end of the 1st MPA type rating, which stand for more than 30% of the entire CO2 production of the training. The starting point here is based on the data from a program for the qualification of CRCs (Cruise Relief Co-pilots) which was developed by a German ATO and a B777 freighter operator and has qualified hundreds of young pilots who are now 1st officer or even already captain on the B777 without any base training during their qualification.

The right trainees in sufficient numbers:

  • We will have to develop a widely accepted selection program to ensure the intake of the “right stuff” into our pilot training system. This must ensure that it is fit or purpose, gender neutral and affordable. The other even more important challenge for our industry will be the availability of affordable financing with a limited risk for the young prospect pilots. Finally yet importantly, the industry stakeholders must agree on a sustainable career perspective for potential young pilots.

The right instructors in sufficient numbers:

  • Develop the suitable improvements in the ongoing RMT.0194 to ensure a suitably qualified instructor work force for the future. This is time critical not least because of the fact, that the instructors from the generation of the “Baby Boomers” are now leaving the pilot training system in increasing numbers.

Modernization of the Theoretical Knowledge instruction:

  • Take care of the identified needs to improve the TKI. EASA has initiated a task force to look into an improvement of the integration of TKI and practical training. The analysis of the performance of fully qualified and licensed applicants for the position of B737 FOs by Ryanair (EATS 2017?) has shown a low performance of our actual training system. This will require i.a. transformation of the training paradigm of the TKI:
    • The actual TKI, which is focused on the transfer of detailed knowledge in the different subjects of the CPL- MPL- or ATPL syllabi must be transformed into a new form that is focused on the enablement of the Application of knowledge as it is defined as a core competence in the CBTA approach.

Integration of new training technologies:

  • Develop a technologically state of the art and economical feasible set of requirements in our European legislation, which will enable ATOs and the providers of new training technologies (VR, Digitalisation etc.) to integrate these new technologies in a safe and productive manner that will improve the training outcome and the suitability of the future pilot training. The ABLE concept and the ongoing RMT.0196 must be the enablers to achieve this goal. This will lead to the transformation of the actual training paradigm of the practical training:
    • The actual inventory based approach for the practical training with the focus on hours and landings in actual aircrafts must be transformed into a new paradigm. This new paradigm will have intermediate training milestones (1st real flight, basic stick and rudder skills, traffic pattern, 1st solo, 1st x-country, IR, 1st MPA type rating etc.). They will be achieved with training in all kinds of suitable new training tools and technologies. That will enable the trainee to get to the “real aircraft” training session at each milestone with a level of preparedness, so that the aircraft based training is primarily a re-assurance of the training progress and supports the confidence building of the trainee in the developed competencies.

Enablement for training development in terms of legal options and economic feasibility:

  • These challenges are interlinked with each other and will require a coordinated effort by all stakeholders to enable or “aviation training eco-system” to develop solutions for these critical and demanding development tasks in a coordinated and timely manner.
  • The probable solutions will require changes in our legislation including changes in hard law and the development of suitable AMCs and GM
    • The legal requirements must enable ATOs to develop new training syllabi, which may deviate from existing hard law requirements by utilizing new training tools and technologies provided that they can demonstrate, that the training outcome is as good or better than existing training syllabi.
    • Hard law must be focused on the long lasting systemic requirements and the detailed descriptions, how the requirements are achieved, must be outlined in AMCs and GM so that necessary amendments are triggered by new developments and can be done with minimal efforts and in a timely manner.

If the stakeholders of our aviation training system will successfully meet the described challenges, we will jointly achieve an enablement for ATOs to develop new training processes for a sustainable pilot training.

This will include the modernization instructor qualification and the integration of new training technologies into all forms of pilot training. This will create the opportunity for ATOs to develop new state of the art training that meets the required competence profiles and assures the necessary quality of training in all dimensions.

ATO Breakout Session
Day 1 – Tuesday 8th November 2022 

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