Time to get your adrenaline rush

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 New upset prevention and recovery training (UPRT) regulations don’t start in the US until 2019, but they’re already in effect for EASA commercial business aircraft operators. Rick Adams looks at some of the specialist training providers catering to the bizjet pilot market

The ‘rush’ you get when your aircraft stalls or rolls into a severe bank angle has a more academic term: ‘adrenalised learning’. Adrenaline permanently etches such experiences in your memory, and it can be recalled in vivid detail long after the event. As Randy Brooks says, “Pilots will always remember their first spin.” Brooks is Vice President of Training for Advanced Performance Solutions (APS), a specialist in upset prevention and recovery training (UPRT) with locations in the United States, the Netherlands, and Saudi Arabia.

Adrenalised learning “has the most profound and lasting effects on one’s perceptions, psyche, and ability to perform in similar situations,” Brooks explains. And it might be positive or negative. If that first experience occurs in an unstructured environment, the result can be fear and erosion of confidence. But “if that experience is provided in a methodical, controlled environment, the trainee will come away from it with a strong sense of accomplishment and confidence. The likelihood that the trainee will be able to perform the exacting physical movements required for recovery, though stressed, will be greatly improved.”

I had the opportunity to fly with ‘Random’ Brooks in a UPRT demonstration at APS’s Phoenix, Arizona headquarters, and doubt I’ll ever forget the experience of looking straight down at the desert terrain after coming out of a chandelle manoeuvre. Or the thrill of flying inverted for a couple of minutes. I had no fear until we prepared to land and the controller warned of birds around the approach.

APS’s UPRT courses are offered through the Saudi Aviation Flight Academy (SAFA) in Riyadh. SAFA advertises basic upset recovery training, professional pilot upset recovery training, standard emergency manoeuvre training, and enhanced emergency manoeuvre training for fees ranging from 15,600 Saudi riyals – SAR (about US$4,160) to 26,120 SAR ($6,965). UPRT customers have included the Saudi Aramco flight department.

Captain William Roe, Managing Director at SAFA, who completed APS’ train-the-trainer course, says: “I can verify that it provides transferable skills necessary to deliberately and safely prevent, and, if necessary, recover from aircraft upsets and stalled flight conditions applicable to a wide diversity of general aviation and commercial airplanes.” Captain Roe’s experience includes management and instructor positions at Dubai Aerospace Enterprise Flight Academy and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Florida, USA. He is Chairperson for the International Association of Flight Training Professionals steering committee.

Pilots of commercial category business aircraft who fly into EASA member countries are required – as of 4 May 2016 – to go through UPRT during their recurrent training. If the aircraft you fly has 19 or more seats, upset recovery training must incorporate a full-flight simulator; below 19 seats, a simulator is required only if one is available for your type of aircraft. Aircraft operators were expected to adjust their training curricula and have their programmes approved prior to 4 May. Instructors must have the required training and standardisation before they can deliver UPRT.

Daan Dousi, EASA Acting Manager, Aircrew and Medical Regulations Section, says the agency is working on updated regulations for flight simulation training devices (FSTDs) in anticipation of UPRT being required for all initial type-rating training beginning in 2019. The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rules of stall and upset prevention/recovery training will also kick in then.

“We are following closely what the FAA is putting into place. So far we have not made a decision whether this should be trained the way the FAA is going to train or we might do it differently,” Dousi says.

Definition of the ‘extended envelope’, all-weather operations, and an “inspector competency” framework are part of EASA’s RMT.0196 Work Package 1, as well as a “gap analysis” showing differences with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Doc 9625, Edition 4, Manual of Criteria for the Qualification of Flight Simulation Training Devices – Volume I: Aeroplanes. The manual was issued in 2015, six years after EASA’s current FSTD guidelines were published.

A critical issue with extended-envelope training is the aerodynamic models to be used and how they are validated with flight test data and wind-tunnel testing. “One stall is not like the next one,” notes Dousi. EASA may opt for generic training in a ‘class’ of aeroplane rather than requiring type-specific modeling.

EASA is leaning in favour of the use of an aerobatic aircraft with all-attitude, all-angle capability for elements of initial upset recovery training, as is recommended by ICAO and incorporated into their Multi-crew Pilot Licensing (MPL) airline cadet pilot training schemes.

APS Adds Speed Machines

APS is a strong believer in on-aircraft training, and has recently acquired two SIAI-Marchetti S211 jet trainers, both currently based in Arizona. The jets have been retrofitted with Garmin 3X Touch large-format advanced flight displays to more closely represent the corporate business jet or airline flight deck.

Advantages of the jet trainers, compared with APS’s Extra 300L aerobatic aircraft, include “operating in a speed range of 250 knots or more” and “operating at higher altitudes” in air traffic control (ATC)-governed airspace, Brooks notes. He says the S211 is heavier, and therefore not as nimble, as the prop-driven Extra, and has different stall characteristics.

The S211 is a pressurised, 6000-pound, tandem-seat aircraft which can operate at altitudes up to 40,000 feet and speeds up to 0.6 Mach. It is capable of structural loads of five positive Gs or two negative Gs. Brooks remarks, “While upset recoveries should be trained to G-loadings representative of the pilot-in-training’s aircraft, there is always the risk of exceeding these limits in the training environment.” Also important is “the ability to emulate aerodynamic characteristics encountered in real-world upset events such as swept-wing stalls and at high altitude.” He noted that all standard (low) APS UPRT profiles can be done in the S211 in visual flight rules (VFR) airspace between 10,000 feet mean sea level (MSL) and below Class A airspace where the 250-knot airspeed limitation is not applicable.

“To fully expose a pilot to the entire altitude and performance envelope of an aircraft, a fully aerobatic aircraft is required,” Brooks believes. “The ability to fly into, and recover from, the full 360-degree range of roll and pitch, the ability to do full stalls, and the ability to encounter relevant upset situations for realism is ideal.”

APS’s training curricula include classroom and simulator training, as well as the on-aircraft component, but it cautions: “Simulators lack the ‘reality factor,’ fear of dire consequences, and sense of urgency.” Brooks explains: “A pilot who is afraid to be overbanked in his or her aircraft will also experience a similar degree of ‘startle’ and ‘shock’ when encountering inverted attitudes, even in a fully qualified, safe, and aerobatic-capable UPRT aircraft platform. The pilot will not, however, be nearly as apprehensive of the same environment in a simulator, if apprehensive at all.”

“Due to the incapacitating nature of the real-world airplane upset psychophysiological condition of the pilot, conducting on-aircraft training as early as possible is essential to enable a pilot to develop the mental discipline and technical skills to overcome fear and panic, to react effectively in the face of startle and surprise events, and to learn to think clearly while applying recovery principles in an actual aircraft,” Brooks adds.

FlightSafety Prefers Grounded UPRT

FlightSafety International, the leading provider of business aircraft training, now offers UPRT capabilities on several of its full-flight simulators: Cessna CJ3, Gulfstream GV, G450, G550 and G650, King Air 350 and Pilatus PC-12. Dann Runik, Executive Director, Advanced Training Programs, states that the courses, “exceed EASA requirements, are aircraft type-specific and include manufacturer-approved techniques and procedures for recovering from upsets due to aerodynamic stall, as well as high-speed/mach events well in excess of the certified maximum speeds.” The aerodynamic, flight control and simulator motion models developed in collaboration with the OEMs include low speeds that replicate full aerodynamic stalls and extreme high speeds beyond VMO (the maximum airspeed at which an aircraft is certified to operate) and beyond MMO (the maximum operating Mach number of an aircraft).

However, FlightSafety does not think on-aircraft training is necessary for upset training. Runik suggests there is potential for negative transfer of training – “The recovery techniques you learn in (an aerobatic aircraft) could be and likely are completely inappropriate for a Gulfstream or a Falcon or an Embraer, and could actually tear the airplane apart.” He also cites the difference in controls “with a stick between your legs in an aerobatic-style airplane that’s often way different than a yoke in your left hand and throttles in your right hand. So there’s a muscle-memory problem, and how do you transfer that to a different aircraft?

“The ability to do this kind of training very low to the ground showed us that anything to be gained in the aircraft doesn’t outweigh the danger of going up in an aerobatic airplane and maybe having something go wrong and actually dying from it,” Runik concludes.

FlightSafety trainees are presented with several unannounced upset scenarios, all based on real-world accidents that killed pilots and passengers. “For the most part, they will crash in two or more of the scenarios,” Runik relates. “The simulated airplane will violently depart controlled flight. You’ve got about three seconds to recover correctly or it will get into a deep stall that may or may not be recoverable, which is exactly like the airplane.”

“On their second attempt, they get it right,” Runik tells me.

As the regulations come into force, more companies are offering UPRT courses. CAE, the second-largest provider of bizjet training (including the Emirates-CAE Flight Training Centre in Dubai, which recently added a Gulfstream G650 Level D simulator in its new 7000XR design), has updated its upset training curricula to meet EASA requirements. CAE’s programme includes ground school, simulator and in-aircraft training through APS as its partner. A focus of CAE’s UPRT update has been on flight instructor training. “We felt it was extremely important to make sure our instructors are properly prepared to teach the appropriate procedures and techniques to our customers,” says Nick Leontidis, CAE’s Group President, Civil Aviation Training Solutions.

LOFT Flight Simulation Center in Carlsbad, California USA, promotes itself as the “only on-aircraft jet and Level D simulation facility at a single location (KCRQ McLellan-Palomar Airport)”. The Level D simulator is a Lockheed Tristar L-1011 model; LOFT also has a Level C Citation Jet full-motion simulator. Its on-aircraft UPRT training is conducted in a Czech-built L-39C Albatros jet trainer and a Cessna CE525.

The Ultimate High Academy, based at Goodwood Aerodrome in Chichester, West Sussex, UK, offers a three-day, six-flight All-Attitude Recovery Training (ALART) package, featuring a T67M260 Slingsby Firefly, Cessna 172 Skyhawk, and Extra 300. The charge for the course is £3,445 ($4,340) plus VAT. Its pre-course computer-based training was developed in conjunction with Bristol Groundschool. Ultimate CEO Mark Greenfield, who ran the Empire test pilot school for QinetiQ, was also a risk manager for a couple of major investment banks.

Calspan Aerospace’s upset recovery training has its roots in a NASA-sponsored 2001 study of training efficacy in prevention of loss-of-control inflight (LOC-I) accidents. Using a Learjet, Calspan claims it is the only in-flight provider of UPRT that can simulate flight control malfunctions through the use of in-flight-simulation technology, declaring: “Our unique variable stability Learjets, which simulate the handling qualities of larger jets, are programmed to demonstrate an aircraft upset or malfunction.” Calspan’s flight training operation is in Niagara Falls, New York USA.

TAG Global Training announced in July its UPRT fundamental theoretical knowledge e-learning course, Part 1, with Parts 2 and 3 to come, according to Debbie Elliott, Training Manager.

Several business aviation insurance companies are aligning with upset training companies, offering to pay for some of the training or reduce premiums for operators whose pilots complete such training. These include Calspan with Global Aerospace’s SM4 Safety Programme, USAIG and APS, and SwissRE with APS and CAE, among others.