The impact of technology on workforce and aircraft training requirements
The gap between basic training and aircraft specific training is growing wider by the day as new technologies are being introduced at a record pace. Modern aviation maintenance institutions must be able to produce competent maintenance personnel with up-to-date knowledge and skills. Moreover, the situation is being further aggravated by the shortage of quality training facilities. These are costly to set up as they require instructors, expensive synthetic training tools and at least one aircraft. Moreover, the rapidly evolving technology is constantly changing the role of a maintenance technician.
According to the newest legal requirements, maintenance training must be more task-oriented and practical. This can be achieved either by training whilst maintaining an actual aircraft or by using maintenance and flight training devices (MFTDs). A lot can be achieved by introducing modern e-learning solutions which are becoming increasingly popular among more progressive training institutions. Technicians need to learn by doing and that is not always possible without the highly sophisticated software which provides students with the opportunity to train on virtual aircraft. Such training also has other advantages, such as the possibility to study independently, choose more flexible learning schedules and/or practice in more convenient locations.
‘E-training solutions improve student retention and instil good judgement skills while continuously reinforcing the technicians’ troubleshooting capabilities, which is ultimately how training translates into operational effectiveness. Firstly, the company may develop and begin using the Matrix system, which operates the simulator code throughout the entire training process. This vertical integration allows the company to present the same simulation in the classroom and on the training aids that customers are used to only seeing in the simulator. The second change is the incorporation of practical training within the classroom,’ comments Ignas Avizonis, a Manager at Engineering and planning department at FL Technics Training.
According to I.Avizonis, traditionally maintenance technicians receive theoretical training followed by practical and finally on-the-job-training. When theoretical and practical courses are taught hand-in-hand — now possible with more synthetic devices — students absorb the material better. The objective is to mix theory and practice in an optimal way to create a better competency-based training environment. Modern technical training centres are becoming more and more interactive and increasingly practice-orientated.
‘Besides the facts mentioned above, new Part 66 regulations also made 2012 the ‘transition year’ in the field of Part 145 and Part 147 training. According to the new rules, at least 2 weeks-long practical training must be conducted at a Part 147 certified training institution for everyone seeking their Aircraft Maintenance Licence (AML) endorsement with aircraft type. Those seeking it for the very first time must also carry out ‘on the job training’ at a Part 145 certified organisation,’ explained I.Avizonis.
What is more, training centres in partnership with OEMs or MROs, must also develop the total technical training (TTT) programme which integrates the classroom with practical on-the-job training by utilising the aircraft, test benches, 3D animation and simulation. A successful format provides a clearer picture of the actual job, the experience which was impossible to obtain with previous methods.
Technology advances mean a wider range of training devices which allow trainers to bring the aircraft into the classroom and offer a more interactive, controlled learning environment than the one which can be achieved on the hangar floor. The benefit is that it makes practical training safer and cheaper (limiting the need for an aircraft to be out of service), while offering a high-quality learning environment.
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