Since the late 1980's when ICAO suggested that the evidence collected during training be used more effectively and efficiently, many in the industry have moved in that direction. But, to what end?
The FAA supported ICAO in 1990 when it introduced SFAR 58 stating, AQP was also established to permit a greater degree of regulatory flexibility in the approval of innovative pilot training programs. Based on a documented analysis of operational requirements, an air operator under AQP may propose to depart from traditional practices with respect to what, how, when, and where training and testing is conducted. This is subject to FAA approval of the specific content of each proposed program. Transport Canada explained; SFAR 58 required that all departures from traditional regulatory requirements be documented and based upon an approved continuing data collection process sufficient to establish at least an equivalent level of safety. AQP provides a systematic basis for matching technology to training requirements and for approving a training program with content based on relevance to operational performance.
Today, AQP is promoted as a program that will; "provide for enhanced curriculum development and a data-driven approach to quality assurance along with the flexibility to target critical tasks during aircrew training."
Back in the late 80's when all of this was being discussed, what was the definition of data? At the time, we were still filling out forms, arguing over whether a 5 Point or 4 Point grading system was better and seeing many "good progress" comments in training records.
I think we all understood then, as we do now, that data for our industry means both objective and subjective data. So let's define those so we are all clear about what we are talking about.
According to Webster
expressing or dealing with facts or conditions as perceived without distortion by personal feelings, prejudices, or interpretations;
of, relating to, or being an object, phenomenon, or condition in the realm of sensible experience independent of individual thought and perceptible by all observers : having reality independent of the mind.
arising out of or identified by means of one's perception of one's own states and processes;
characteristic of or belonging to reality as perceived rather than as independent of mind, and
relating to or being experience or knowledge as conditioned by personal mental characteristics or states.
In summary, subjective means an opinion. Objective means facts.
Based on the definitions, the industry interpreted the meanings to say that we as humans could observe and report objective and subjective data.
Airlines have since built new training systems and modified existing programs based on the premise that the data collected is sufficient. New higher fidelity training devices and training management software have been added, but data collection processes have remained essentially the same. Why has the data collection and analysis process remained the same while everything else in the industry has changed? Or, has it?
Have we accepted the idea that an instructor can collect all available subjective and objective data for so long that we no longer question the validity of the process? Are we ignoring the fact that as the fidelity of the training devices improved, so did the access to objective data?
The shift today is toward the digital transformation of the industry. Some sectors like passenger services and maintenance are far along the path, but training has gotten stuck in a rut called fear. Yes, fear, the fear of change, the fear of the unknown.
We humans like the status quo. We don't like change so much it manifests itself as fear—one of our most powerful emotions. So what are we afraid of? Afraid that using all the data available will show that our training programs aren't as good as they could be, that our pilots aren't as safe as they could be?
The proper collection, analysis and assessment of all the data available in training will, for the first time, reveal the truth about how we train, our success and our failures. It will show us what we are doing right and what we are doing wrong. Systems like Paladin Ai's InstructIQ are revolutionizing the training environment and providing us with much-needed insights into how competent our pilots really are.
The ability to train pilots on an individual level and, for the first time, confirm the transfer of training is within our grasp. Don't let the fear of regulators accepting the technology or fear that your training programs will need work hold your company back from becoming exponentially safer and more efficient. All it takes to overcome the fear is an open mind...we can help!