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Advanced Qualifications Program

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Autor:  anton  02 December 2010
Tags:  Advanced,  Qualifications,  Program
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Advanced Qualifications Program

Human Factors


The Advanced Qualifications Program was implemented by the FAA in response to new demanding technology being implemented throughout aviation and the rise of accidents involving crew coordination and human error. This paper explains the concept of the Advanced Qualifications Program developed by the FAA in the early nineties. This paper gives a historical background of the programs development and implementation throughout the aviation industry. Along with this background an explanation of the benefits of the advanced qualifications program along with the differences between the AQP and the original way that airline pilots were trained and checked are included.


In 1987 the Federal Aviation Administration started a review to determine if there were better ways to train airline pilots (Better 1993). The feeling of this time was that the current method of training and checking was not incorporating some of the key factors that are involved in cockpit situations that pilots deal with in everyday situations. This kind of thinking was revolutionary at the time, a time in which the status quo for training involved mostly the overall number of hours of flight time accumulated and pilot skill based checks. With increasing accidents that were determined to be a result of pilot error the Federal Aviation Administration (or FAA) determined that something had to be improved throughout the industry in the way that pilots and airplane crews are trained and checked. Through this review came the idea of developing a new program called the Advanced Qualifications Program which incorporated these new thoughts and ideas.

At the time of inception the current training and checking procedures involved more traditional check ride exercises, hours accumulation, and evaluation. This was a proficient method of testing the overall pilots flying skills in an airline but did not take into account personal and interpersonal factors involved in flying. A pilot can build up a considerable amount of flying time while not being involved in a functional crew environment. When this pilot is then thrown into a crew setting, where pilots and other crew members have to be able to interact with each other in a way that is efficient and safe, then they will be underprepared to deal with this type of a situation. Check ride type skill checks were also a very prominent way that airlines would test there pilots in order to determine if the pilot could efficiently and safely operate their assigned aircraft. This method was also found to be underachieving because it simply took into account the individual pilot’s ability to fly the airplane and did not focus on interaction between the different crew members and how this affects different situations. Obviously something had to change and training methods had to be updated. (Tailored 1992)

Out of this obvious lack of efficient training came the FAA’s solution called advanced qualifications program. This program took these deficiencies into account and used the growing knowledge of crew communication and coordination problems to ensure better training throughout the industry. Although this program was found to be more expensive for the government at first, it was thought that the benefits outweighed the risks and that better training for dispatchers, smoother flowing cockpit management, and up to date instruction for check airmen was worth the initial extra costs.(Ott 1990) The manager of the FAA’s transportation division initially summed up the program as follows, “It provides for a voluntary alternative method for airlines to train, certificate and evaluate their crewmembers, aircraft dispatchers, instructors and check airmen,” said David Catey (Ott 1990) The program was initially modeled after a United States Air Force program called Instructional Systems Development which was a proven program.

The AQP program allows airlines to make changes in their training procedures set forth in the regulations and incorporate more cockpit resource management (Ott 1990). This change at an airline has the largest affect on the pilot training department. The program is available for implementation by major airlines, national airlines, and regional or commuter airlines (Ott 1990). AQP allows for a big chunk of the training to be done in flight simulators or computer based training facilities which can be more cost effective for airlines (Ott 1990)

The increase in the number of flight simulators available to train pilots made it much more convenient and economical for airlines to introduce this new concept of crew interaction training or what came to be called crew resource management (or CRM) to their pilots. Delta has always been known as an airline which strives to be a leader in the airline industry. Because of this they have in a way led the airline industry in acquiring these simulators or flight training devices (FTD’s). With time came improvement to these simulators eventually leading to flight management system trainers which made it easier and more realistic for crew resource management training in an actual cockpit environment. Delta has found that these training devices, while being very efficient at training pilots, also decrease costs and save the airline money. “A very thorough training-analysis process must be completed in order for AQP to be successful,” says the system manager of ground training for Delta Airlines, “We feel the same is true for effective integration of training- devise technology. We must ask ourselves: �What technology can accomplish the training objective in the most efficient and cost-effective manner?’” he added. Delta has found an answer to this question of the best method to integrate AQP in training in its flight simulators. (Simulator 1993)

The biggest result of implementing the advanced qualifications program will be the refocus from individual pilot’s flight hours and ratings to their actual determined proficiency in the airplane. “All aviation training to date has been time-based. All certifications are based on the number of hours of training pursued by a pilot,” said Rohit Patel, the assistant vice president of an aviation company that provides technology based training programs (Ott 1990). This new program will change this concept completely. Patel goes on to explain the theory that pilots can spend so much time working on developing skills for a certain system but even with this experience you would not know for sure if that pilot is actually efficient with the system. This is one aspect that AQP tries to overcome and eliminate (Ott 1990).

The AQP program calls on the airlines to incorporate their own training programs specific to certain aircraft and the set-up of their cockpits. The airlines will then have to present these plans to the Federal Aviation Administration to be approved before implementing the plan (Ott 1990). Initially the additional costs could be discouraging to the airlines but in the long term it should result in a safer and more efficient program. The initial costs were estimated to be between 1.3 to 2 million by FAA officials (Ott 1990). From the inception of the program many major airlines have expressed interest in developing their own advanced qualification program which helped fuel the development. These airlines included Northwest, Delta, United, Continental, American, USAir, America West, UPS, and Federal Express. Interest has also been expressed by airlines overseas also according to government officials. (Ott 1990)

Although participation by airlines in the United States is voluntary, major and national airlines have adopted their own advanced qualifications program pretty much industry wide. The normal pattern for an airline to adopt their original AQP program usually starts with the airline developing a program for one individual type of airplane and getting that single plan approved by the FAA. Once they receive the proper approval from the government they can develop programs for their other aircraft based around the original. (Ott 1990)

The new AQP plan differs from the original governmental regulations for airline pilot training in several ways. As discussed before the new plan is voluntary unlike the original program. Another difference between them is that the airline can develop its own innovative techniques that they feel will work more efficiently, saving them time and money as long as the airline can still demonstrate aircrew proficiency to the FAA. Finally instead of the old style proficiency check on each specific item the airlines are now able to incorporate several items together as a whole making individual crew training much more efficient. (FAA 2006)

One of the main focuses of the advanced qualifications program is on crew resource management and human factors (Tailored 1992). As the technology of aircraft increased very dramatically the crew management training that captains and flight crews receive did not change much at all (Tailored 1992). This training was all set up by the government and was not flexible for the new procedures and environmental factors that came about from this technology. With this new program pilots will spend more time being trained on the aspects that are individually necessary for the specific type of flying that they do (Tailored 1992).

With the facts that have been uncovered about the advanced qualifications program I think that the program has proven itself useful and affective in both the airlines efficiency point of view and the governmental safety first point of view. With the training focusing more on crew resource management pilots have been able to develop more proficient skills at being an effective crewmember. In life threatening emergency situations this training could and probably already has saved lives by allowing the pilots to use all their resources available to them in the cockpit in the most efficient and safe way possible. This is also a positive change to the airline industry because it promotes safety while also saving the airlines money in the long run in training expenses. As discussed before, these savings are seen through the more efficient training methods allowed, as when the airlines themselves are allowed to develop their own plans. When this occurs the airlines can tailor to issues specific to their company and their aircraft. This results in a more meaningful and more economically efficient training program. AQP has been shown to be a win win situation in which all aspects of the industry benefit from the programs results. The airlines save money long term, the government sees safety increase, and pilots are not subjected to meaningless training. This plan has obviously benefited the commercial aviation industry.


Ott, J. (1990, June 11). Pilot Training Program Keyed to Teams, Aircraft. In Aviation Week and Space

Technology. Retrieved November 1, 2007, from Lexis Nexis database.

Tailoring Training. (1992, October 28). Flight International. Retrieved November 1, 2007, from Lexis

Nexis database.

Background. (2006, September 16). Advancd Qualifications Program Topic. Retrieved November 1, 2007,

from FAA Web site:

Better Pilots Cheaper. (1993, March 31). Flight International. Retrieved November 1, 2007, from

Lexis Nexis database.

Simulator Strategy. (1993, June 30). Flight International. Retrieved November 1, 2007, from Lexis

Nexis database.

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