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Frederik Mohrmann & Anneke Nabben

Frederik Mohrmann, EBT Program Manager, NLR – Royal Netherlands Aerospace Centre

Anneke Nabben, NLR – Royal Netherlands Aerospace Centre

Frederik Mohrmann has a Master’s degree aerospace engineering, with a specialization in flight operations and safety. In addition, Frederik has extensive research experience in the field of aviation safety, human factors, aviation psychology and human performance. At the Royal Netherlands Aerospace Center (NLR) he is currently spearheading NLR research and development program for EBT & CAPABLE, supporting best-practice implementation of EBT and CBTA in our industry, as well as supporting the responsible integration of new technical innovations & training platforms into aviation training programs. He is part of the EASA RMT .0196 (ABLE & CS-FSTD) and 0599 (EBT) advisory groups. In his spare time he is a glider and aerobatics instructor.

Anneke Nabben has a Master’s degree of Educational Science and seventeen years of experience in instructional design and research in aviation. Before joining Royal NLR in 2010, she worked for KLM and Airbus. Anneke has been leading projects for civil and military aviation organisations and is expert in the development of training concepts with a focus on proper integration of training solutions within the training design. She is responsible for the development of the EASA concept paper on Aviation Blended Learning Environments (ABLE), which is part of the EASA rule making task 0599 ‘Evidence-based and competency-based training’.

Certifying and Accrediting New Training Devices: A Way Forward with Blended Learning

Virtual-Reality, Augmented-Reality, Mixed-Reality, online (remote) training, digital avatars, low-fidelity cockpit simulators – and everything in between: the renaissance of (digital) technology in our society has undeniably permeated our training industry, and brings with it many promised which some suppliers and ATO’s have already looked at to realize. As simulator sessions (both CBTA and non-CBTA) become packed with more mandated exercises such as UPRT, A(T)QP check-items, startle training and LOFT training, the industry is looking at new technology to relieve some of the training pressures we currently experience. However, unbridled injection of new technology is not without its risks, and done incorrectly it may degrade the quality of training and as with it the safety of our industry. For this reason, many have not yet been approved as alternative training devices, while at the same time their benefits are not to be ignored: so how can these be integrated responsibly?

Recently EASA published the Notice to Proposed Amendment NPA 2020-15, addressing the certification of new training technology and introducing the FSTD Capability Signature (FCS) to value simulation technology for the fidelity they can provide. This is a very positive development in rulemaking, because it removes the legal barriers that have classically restricted training to the realm of higher fidelity requirements. This makes room to train with targeted fidelity: because higher fidelity devices do not necessarily provide a higher level of training. Furthermore, new technologies also feature educational functionalities that classic simulation training devices do not (e.g. augmented-reality cueing). However, approving the technical nature of a training device does not mean it is a valuable and effective device in all training situation. Therefore, the industry much complement the certification of devices with accreditation of devices: we need a method to value these new devices from the perspective of training tasks, competencies and syllabi. The NPA 2020-15 has proposed such accreditation for Appendix 9 training and checking items, but this does not yet cover the full scope of ORO.FC (operator-oriented) training.

The principle of accrediting devices for training objectives be done by introducing the concept of Aviation Blended Learning Environments (ABLE). New technology will not simply replace old training technology, neither is it only an addition to the existing training programs. In an ABLE, training objectives are achieved with a completely redefined training program and associated blend of training devices. In this way, the respective fidelities and capabilities of different training devices are optimized toward maximum training effectiveness. By focussing on training effectiveness, cost effectiveness will follow. Developing an ABLE should be done in a task-to-tool direction, in which the selection of training devices is secondary to the requirements defined from the training perspective. This process is CAPABLE: Comprehensive Analysis Process for Aviation Blended Learning Environments. The CAPABLE process fundamentally de-risks the introduction of new technology by designing and validating the end-to-end effectiveness of an ABLE using solid scientific principles, instead of only evaluating local technology injections (where risks such as poor transfer of training or negative training may become blind spots). This de-risking will benefit ATOs (improved training & cost effectiveness), regulators (safe & reliable training programs) and suppliers (secured business potential of new innovations). The CAPABLE process is also fundamentally future-proof, which is necessary for regulations and training design to keep up with the continuous development and evolution of technology at our disposal.

EASA has already been facilitating the development of CAPABLE in order to accredit new ABLEs (RMT .0599), with regulations possibly in place by 2022 or 2023. The NPA 2020-15 is a first step to permit new technologies to be used, and the next revision may be extended with rulemaking (such as CAPABLE) to also consistently accredit devices for all current and future training programs, thus bridging CS-FSTD with PART-FCL with a common language to value new devices in training. The advent of new training technology is a global issue, and with the COVID-19 pandemic still pressuring our industry, we look to solutions for cost-effective training, personalized training and distance learning, all values of new training technology. It is important that ATOs, regulators and suppliers from across the globe have a way to safely integrate it, but also to accredit them to capture the benefits they promise.

This presentation will introduce the frameworks of ABLE and CAPABLE with examples, and how they serve as a performance-based, future proof and technology-agnostic framework to de-risk the use of new training technology, maximize training effectiveness and open all corners of our industry to a new era of aviation training.