Multi Crew Pilots Licence (Mpl)

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  • Topic: Aviator, Aviation licenses and certifications, International Civil Aviation Organization
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190.109 - Aviation Studies

Assignment Two – Extramural

17th September, 2012.

“What we have to learn to do, we learn by doing.” (Aristotle, 384BC – 322BC) While the new Multi Crew Pilots Licence (MPL) embodies some good ideas, these could be implemented without creating an entirely new qualification with entirely new problems. It began when, at the request of the airlines, ICAO set up the Flight Crew Licensing and Training Panel (FCLTP) to review the system by which pilots become qualified to fly air transport aircraft as co-pilots for an airline. Some airlines believed the traditional system was outdated and irrelevant (Matschnigg, 2011). The emphasis for the solution was to be on better use of technology and better Crew Resource Management – essentially teamwork. This resulted in the creation of the MPL which was added to ICAO Annex 1 in 2006. The MPL is designed to train ab-initio students in airline procedures from the outset with increased use of simulators and overarching Threat and Error Management (TEM) and Crew Resource Management (CRM) principles. There are four phases – the core stage is conducted in a light aircraft, then the basic, intermediate and advanced stages are primarily conducted in simulators. Students are contracted to an airline from the beginning and procedures for that airline are taught throughout. Then after completing between six and twenty landings in an actual airliner the student begins initial operating experience (IOE) with their airline flying actual segments (ICAO, 2006). MPL graduates are averaging just 286 hours experience on completion of their course including 196 hours in simulators and just 15 hours as pilot in command (Matschnigg, 2011). This is an alternative to the traditional Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL) where a student completes a minimum of 200 hours in real aircraft in real environments including at least 100 hours as pilot in command experience (CAA, 2011). Progression then requires an instrument rating, a type rating and in most cases experience is gained by working in general aviation before a candidate can become a new-hire first officer.

Advantages of the MPL over the CPL include safer training due to less actual flying, less pollution from simulators than real aircraft, less weather disruption to training, less noise near airports and less airspace congestion. The most controversial feature is the reduction of minimum hour requirements which Matschnigg (2011) regarded as “regulatory hurdles” and “box ticking.” A finished MPL also includes a type rating but a graduate can’t fly for any airline other than the airline they are contracted to until the IOE is complete. This caused problems for the first group of MPL students who began work for Sterling Airlines which subsequently folded before they had completed their IOE (Chandler, 2009). In this situation a student has to retrain for a CPL.

One hallmark of the MPL is the high dependency on simulators. The idea that real experience is the best way to learn is not new and explains why the MPL has drawn criticism and has been dubbed the “Microsoft Pilots License”. According to Chandler (2009), the cost of running a simulator is four times less than that of running a real aircraft but supporters say that economic motivation is not the reason for the increased simulator usage. Schroeder & Harms (2007) claim the real motivation is to fully utilise increasingly high-fidelity simulators, although much of the training uses cheaper low-fidelity simulators (ICAO, 2006). Schroeder & Harms (2007) also concede that the “operations-oriented training approach could also reduce the duration and cost of pilot training.”

A stronger motivation for the MPL concept is to avoid pilots reverting to the first practices they learned as student pilots flying small aircraft because some of these practices can be hazardous if reverted to in airliners (Matschnigg, 2011). Regression is a psychological defence mechanism...
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