Can Improved Training Lead to Improved Safety?

Can Commercial Airlines Achieve ‘One Level Of Safety’
By Embarking on a Program of ‘One Level of Training’:
What is the Relationship Between
Training and Safety in Commercial Air Operations?

By Captain Paul Miller and Captain David Williams

The paper looks at the relationship between training and safety at commercial airlines with a high level of training and finds several important aspects. First the paper finds that the training program and the safety program are integrated. In other words, safety program data feeds directly into the training program. The training program has numerous mechanisms prepared to use what is being developed, discovered and reported in the safety program

Secondly, the paper finds that the level of training is related to the level of safety. In other words, as safety risks are evaluated by the safety program manager, risks both experienced and expected, the risks and their resolutions are integrated into training at that equivalent level of importance and emphasis. The response of the safety manager to systemic as well as individual and specific risks, results in a further response by the training manager in flight crew education, in the updating and flow of safety data, in standard operating procedures, practices and techniques, and finally in simulator and academic training syllabi. This results in training at a level much higher than the minimum required by regulation. The airline addresses training requirements of the regulator but also establishes a current and valid list of safety concerns that then can become additional curricula requirements of the airline’s training sayllabus.

Thirdly, the paper finds looks at methods that training and safety departments use to integrate training and safety, programs and develop training at a level much higher than the minimum required by regulation.

The paper next examines National Transportation Safety Board Aviation Accident Reports for commercial airlines and finds numerous references to flight crewmember training deficiencies or shortfalls. The paper then offers the postulation that the achievement of safe commercial airline operations may be related to the integration of a safety program with the training program.

The paper next looks at the relationship between training and safety at commercial airlines which subscribe to minimal training requirements and determines the differences in the process of integration between the training and safety programs, from those observed at airlines that integrate safety data into training and train at a higher level. A correlation is suggested between the achievement of safe operations and training by the NTSB reports.

Lastly the paper examines the question, “If you are seeking one level of safety amongst all commercial airline operations, would you not also need to seek one level of training amongst all commercial airline operations?” This is not to ask or suggest that all training syllabi be identical, but it is to ask the question, “Would all training at least have to be of the same level, that is at a level equivalent with the risks experienced and expected?” The paper looks at ways to measure training levels of proficiency, substance and sophistication. The measurement is then used to compare training in this way at a minimum level with training at a higher level and evaluate the differences.

The paper concludes with the postulation that the FAA policy of One Level of Safety may become achievable when the industry embarks on a policy of One Level of Training. The paper seeks to examine if this One Level of Safety through One Level of Training is possible and if so, what are some of the important details of such an effort?

[The paper would be of interest to commercial air operators, and in specific persons involved in safety management and flight training. It would be of specific interest to organizations that are tasked with regulation of and promotion of the commercial airline industry as well as manufacturers of aircraft and those offering training products and services.]

CV: Captain Paul Miller is currently an international captain with a major global commercial airline. In pursuing the goal of flight operations with zero mishaps, he has served on the pilot association safety committee and on the joint safety forum of the association and the airline. He helped to compose the first rough draft of the FAA Advisory Circular on the joint FAA, airline and pilot association aviation safety action partnership. He served as a safety program manager previously in the US Navy managing safety at two major air installations and a carrier based passenger and logistics squadron. He serves on the European Advisory Committee, Flight Safety Foundation. He has presented papers on safety program management, safety forecasting and planning and response based safety programs. He holds a degree in engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, a minor degree in Humanities from Saint Leo University and is attending The College of William and Mary, Masters of Business Administration program.

CV: Captain David Williams served as an FAA designated check airman at a regional airline and as a line and training captain. He served as an aircraft mishap board member and as a pilot association safety representative. A US Navy career veteran from the maritime and antisubmarine patrol community, he served in numerous capacities in training, flight instruction and standards, including as a fleet pilot evaluator and check airman. His goals have always been to train to the particular characteristics of each individual so that the pilot group as a whole is standardized and competent. He holds a degree in science. Now retired, Captain Williams remains active in safety and training consulting.

Published by Capt. Paul Miller

Aviation safety expert with 43 years in the sky

One thought on “Can Improved Training Lead to Improved Safety?

  1. Is it possible that some airlines provide very little training to their flight crew, satisfying federal regulators but not training for procedures used on the line by flight crew members each day? Is this safe?


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