Why Your Aviation Emergency Procedures Training is Behind the Eight Ball


None of us like change. That’s why we usually wait until we have no other choice.

Aviation training is at that point. We must change the way it is conceived. We must change the way it is designed. We must change the way it is accomplished. We have no other choice. We are behind the eight ball and the situation doesn’t look good.

For years EPT (Emergency Procedures Training) has centered on meeting IS-BAO standards.  Routinely, pilots have been asked to shoot off the fire extinguisher, locate the emergency exits, don life vests, and practice the use of oxygen masks. For those departments with a hefty budget, inflation of a life raft or simulation of an underwater escape have offered a nice change of pace. These are all necessary procedures to understand and implement. Yet they are not nearly enough. Certainly not in the world in which we live.

We need to train on more than the minimum standards

Recently an active shooter opened fire in an airport terminal in Florida. The risk of a disgruntled or recently terminated employee becoming an active shooter on the corporate aircraft, the hanger, or the FBO exists. Is our EPT covering that subject? Do we each have procedures in place to mitigate that risk?

Last year PED (Personal Electronic Device) fires became a national crisis for Samsung. The risk of fire in the aircraft cabin suddenly increased. The current statistics indicate that pilots have about 4 minutes to extinguish a cabin fire. If the fire isn’t out in 4 minutes, it probably won’t be extinguished in-flight. The statistics also suggest the plane needs to be on the ground in under 14 minutes when a cabin fire is out of control. Do we each know how to extinguish a PED fire and keep it out until the aircraft is safely on the ground? Is our EPT covering any of the other sources of cabin fires? Do our passengers know how to assist and are we confident we know how to evacuate them without fueling a fire that cannot be extinguished? Have we practiced getting the airplane from altitude to the ground in under 14 minutes during our simulator training?

Recently, two corporate pilots were kidnapped while exiting an airport in Mexico. Drug smuggling, extortion, bomb threats, and acts of terrorism are becoming a way of life in other countries. Pilots who fly internationally are definitely at risk. But there’s risk here on our home soil as well. It’s perplexing, but even after 9/11 little training has been done on how to handle a weapon on board the aircraft or an assault to the crew. Is our EPT covering any of these subjects? Do we know how to defend ourselves and protect our passengers?

There were 7,442 laser illuminations reported by pilots in 2016. Flashblindness can temporarily incapacitate a pilot. Do our crews have procedures in place should an assault occur during the critical phases of flight? Do we know how to treat an affected crew member and how to report an incident to the authorities?

We need to be proactive

These are but a few of the developing risks to the safety of crew and passengers. SMS (Safety Management System) has done a lot to help flight departments identify risks within their own operations. The ultimate goal is for each department to be proactive in mitigating these risks. Unfortunately, most departments are still relying on generalized minimum standards when it comes to Emergency Procedures Training. Here are some solutions for becoming proactive.

Customized solutions

  1. Be knowledgeable of threats to safety – Look at case studies but also look outside of the aviation industry to learn what is happening.  Use LinkedIn to follow firefighters and law enforcement officers. Read their articles and even connect if you have a specific question which requires their expertise.
  2. Use your SMS hazard reports to identify specific training objectives – Look for themes which indicate a need for revision of procedures and practice. Incorporate solutions into role plays and simulations.
  3. Talk with your colleagues – EPT is not a one shot deal. It is a career long process. Make it a habit to analyze each trip and talk about “what if” situations. Discuss scenarios with your fellow pilots, but also include maintainers and even company employees in human resources, security, or communications when deemed appropriate.
  4. Role play an emergency and practice call outs and procedures – Even if you do have a plan in place, it is unlikely you will use it when an emergency arises unless it is ingrained in your memory. Make it stick by practicing. Role playing also gives you and your department an opportunity to pinpoint procedures which are inadequate or unclear.
  5. Make good use of your subscription services –  Ask them to tailor their training to the specific needs of your operation. Role play the use of their services and discuss ways to draw upon their resources and expertise.
  6. Customize your Simulator Training – It is possible to meet all the requirements of the 61.58 and still incorporate items unique to your operation. There is no better time to practice a maneuver you wouldn’t dream of doing under normal circumstances but may be forced to consider in an emergency.

It’s time we placed ourselves in the forefront of proactive training. It is time we started asking some of the difficult “what if” questions and working together to find solutions and prepare ourselves. It’s time to get out from behind the eight ball. Working together, we can make a clean break from box checking and start pocketing some Emergency Procedures that better prepare us for the world in which we live and work.

Flight Level Training Solutions will customize a workshop for your department addressing any one of these emergency related subjects as well as others. Contact us to discuss how we can help you start being more proactive in your Emergency Procedures Training while still meeting IS-BAO standards.


This entry was posted in Safety Managers, Training Managers. Bookmark the permalink.

Share Your Insight