Taking Flight with Advanced Qualification Program (AQP)

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If you are an instructor, student or experienced pilot, I encourage you to visit HS-E 123, and click on Recommended Practice: Simulation Training for Aviation Decision Making

This is a wonderful tool for developing a Scenario or Event-based training plan.  If you are not familiar with Scenario or Event-based training, the airlines migrated to this form of training along with AQP more than two decades ago, using simulators and flight training devices. This was a migration from the military-style “Task, Condition, Standard” that permeated pilot training.  If you are not familiar with the FAA’s Advanced Qualification Program (AQP), it is a modern approach to training, evaluating, certifying pilots and other aviation personnel. Think of it as a custom-tailored education and assessment plan that aviation operators can use, rather than sticking to a one-size-fits-all program.  Together, pilots receive realistic training and evaluations while achieving continuous improvement.

Here’s a brief discussion about AQP:

Flexible and Tailored: Traditional training programs follow strict guidelines set by the FAA, with specific maneuvers and tasks pilots must perform to pass. AQP, on the other hand, allows operators to develop their own training and evaluation programs that better match their specific operations and the real-world challenges their pilots face. It’s like choosing coursework that’s directly relevant to your major in college, rather than taking a bunch of required classes that might not feel as applicable.

Focus on Performance and Proficiency: AQP emphasizes assessing a pilot’s ability to perform in various situations, including emergencies, rather than just checking that they’ve completed certain tasks. It’s more about how well you can apply what you’ve learned in practical, sometimes challenging, situations, akin to a hands-on final project rather than a multiple-choice test.

Continuous Improvement: A crucial part of AQP is the idea of continuous feedback and improvement. As pilots train and get evaluated, the data collected helps refine the training programs, making them more effective over time. It’s like using student feedback in school to improve the courses for future students.

Safety Enhancement: The ultimate goal of AQP is to enhance safety. By allowing airlines to focus on the most relevant training for their operations and encouraging a cycle of improvement, AQP aims to ensure pilots are as prepared as possible for the complexities of modern aviation.

In essence, the AQP program affords more flexibility and customization in pilot training, with an emphasis on practical skills, safety, and continuous improvement.

In scenario-based training, several variables are introduced, in real time, during a flight.  Often, there can be more than one solution for the event so long as the outcome is the same; the flight terminates safely. 

For more information about AQP visit https://www.faa.gov/training_testing/training/aqp

Chris Baur, FRAeS

Industry Chairman, US Helicopter Safety Team