In May of 2018 the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) invited US air carriers to the Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center (the FAA’s Academy) in Oklahoma City for a one day Upset Prevention and Recovery Training (UPRT) workshop. Their intent was to make sure that US airlines were adequately prepared for a new UPRT requirement that would go into effect in less than a year.
Over a dozen representatives of major and regional airlines along with industry subject matter experts, including APS VP of Training and Business Development Randall Brooks, spoke on issues regarding the implementation of the new requirement. While the goal was to ensure that airlines were aware of the new mandate and the challenges of meeting the demands of the coming regulation, what actually transpired went well beyond what the FAA organizers had in mind.
Surprising Findings Shared
As multiple representatives of various airlines spoke, they had a common, yet surprising finding. For all airlines that had begun their efforts to train instructors in UPRT, in every case it was taking much longer to train their UPRT instructors than they had anticipated. None of them fully understood why. In addition to this finding, there were other examples of beneficial information that saved time or created value in meeting the mandated airline UPRT requirement.
Midway through the event at lunch, there was already a buzz among the participants about the available information that most in attendance had not heard or shared before. Seeing the value of this initial meeting on airline UPRT, it was clear that there was much more that could be addressed, and there was a strong desire to follow up the event in a year, possibly establishing an annual UPRT summit.
United Airlines graciously offered the use of new facilities at their training center in Denver, and this week the follow up to the FAA’s gathering will be held as the UPRT Global Summit. Expanding from the scope of last year’s assembly, this year other government agencies and air carriers from around the world will be in attendance. As for the reason airlines were spending more time in training UPRT instructors than had been anticipated, there is a growing understanding and appreciation for why that is, and it will be one of the topics addressed by those in attendance in Denver, including APS President and CEO, Paul Ransbury.
Until the requirement for dedicated UPRT went into place, airlines assumed that they had always been doing what was required to reduce the threat of Loss of Control In-flight (LOC-I), whose mitigation is the entire focus of UPRT. It was widely thought that existing unusual attitude training and approach to stall training constituted appropriate UPRT.
However, when the FAA rolled out their guidance on what constituted appropriate training for UPRT instructors in Advisory Circular AC 120-111, there were many elements that had previously been unaddressed. Enhanced instructor training on the limitations of simulation, comprehensive academic training on aerodynamics, and improvements in manual handling skills were just a few of the new items instructors are now required to receive training in which were not previously required.
In the course of providing these additional elements of training, it became apparent to many airlines that there were significant and essential aspects of UPRT that had not been previously addressed. Many of the assumptions that prevail in the normal domain (unstalled, generally level flight) are not necessarily valid in the upset domain. While normal line operational training addresses aspects of awareness and prevention, it is not comprehensive in covering the multitude of situations and conditions leading to LOC-I.
The Global UPRT Summit provides a venue to share information that will hopefully lead to a reduction in LOC-I, which has increased as a percentage of worldwide airline fatalities in each of the last seven years, and currently accounts for nearly half of all fatalities for airlines.