What is Evidence-based Training?

Evidence-based Training (EBT) is a new approach, developed on behalf of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), led by a large group of airline industry experts with the goal to increase the effectiveness of pilot training and meet the challenges of airline operations in the 21st Century. It arose from the need to develop a new paradigm for competency-based training and assessment of airline pilots, based on evidence. 

Introduction to the Evidence-based Training project:

The Evidence Based Training project is a major industry-wide safety initiative. It arose from a consensus that, in order to reduce the airline accident rate, a strategic review of recurrent and type-rating training for airline pilots was necessary. The international standards and regulations for airline pilot training are largely based on the evidence of accidents involving early generation jet aircraft, apparently in the belief that simply repeating pilot exposure to “worst case” events in training was considered sufficient. Over time, novel events occurred that were simply added to the requirements of progressively crowded training programs and help create an inventory or "tick box" approach to training.

The availability of data from both flight operations and training activity has improved substantially over the last 20 years. Sources such as flight data analysis, flight observations (e.g. LOSA programs) and air safety reports give a detailed insight into the threats, errors and undesired aircraft states encountered in modern airline flight operations as well as their relationship to unwanted consequences. It was considered timely and important to review current training practices in light of evidence from these data sources.

A large-scale comprehensive study of a range of available data sources and analyses was conducted and important differences emerged between what can be considered as three jet and two turbo-prop aircraft generations. 

The results have been reviewed. Guidance material has been published by ICAO to contracting states, and has become applicable through an agreed amendment to ICAO Doc 9868 PANS-TRG on 3rd May 2013. To accompany this and ICAO Doc 9995 Manual of Evidence Based Training, there is also an EBT Implementation Guide for operators, and the EBT Data Report, detailing the Evidence analysed, methodology and conclusions.

How is Evidence-based Training different from traditional pilot training?

There are two new and important aspects of EBT, which distinguish this type of training from the check-focused training of the past:

Core competencies - what excellent pilots do to make things go well. This behaviour is captured in the form of Performance Indicators (sometimes called behavioural indicators). The core competencies are observable and measurable and include everything a pilot needs to operate safely, effectively and efficiently in today’s aviation environment.

Evidence – the results from the analyses of global safety and training data. The evidence ranges from normal operations monitoring (LOSA) and FDA, to data collected from training, accidents and incidents.

The evidence is used to determine the need for training (called training criticality) across aircraft of different generations. These results drive a 3-year cyclic program called EBT Baseline, published by ICAO in 2013. In the EBT Baseline, the training topics were derived from the EBT Evidence Study and were used to develop and improve pilot performance in the core competencies.

How does Evidence-based Training foster resilience?

Another important aspect of EBT is the notion of resilience. In aviation terms, resilience is the capability of an individual or crew to recover and “bounce back” from a challenging situation or serious threat.

EBT is fundamentally a learning concept, which reduces significantly the emphasis on checking. This training allows and even precipitates making mistakes in a controlled environment so as to create resilience through effective learning.