Friday, October 20, 2017
Transport Canada - Aviation Safety Letter Changes in the Way Pilot Proficiency Checks Are Conducted in the Commercial World

Changes in the Way Pilot Proficiency Checks Are Conducted in the Commercial World

by Wayne Chapin, Civil Aviation Safety Inspector, Chief, Certification and Operational Standards, Standards, Civil Aviation, Transport Canada

Last year alone, there were over 14 700 pilot proficiency checks (PPC) conducted on pilots who fly for commercial air operators in Canada. Transport Canada Civil Aviation (TCCA) inspectors cannot conduct every PPC. For many years, TCCA has delegated the authority to conduct check rides to industry pilots who have met specific requirements in experience, knowledge, and skill. The Approved Check Pilot (ACP) Program oversees the competencies of ACPs and pilots operating under Part VII of the Canadian Aviation Regulations (CARs). Recently, policy changes to this program have been developed that place increased checking activity in the hands of ACPs. These changes have been ongoing since 2004, and should have been transparent to you, the pilot-candidate.

To become an ACP, a pilot must meet general and practical training requirements, and demonstrate knowledge and skill in conducting a check ride. At least once a year, TCCA conducts a quality assurance review of an ACP; an inspector will conduct a check ride on the ACP during an actual PPC ride. These days, you are more likely to see an inspector in the back of the aircraft flight deck (or simulator) watching an ACP conduct your PPC than you are to have an inspector conduct a check ride on you. The inspector is there to evaluate the ACP’s performance. Except for the additional person on board the aircraft or in the simulator, there should be no difference in how the PPC is conducted.

TCCA is continuously striving to improve the ACP program by educating the ACP community and exploring better checking techniques. In the last five years, the rating scale changed to a more discriminating 4-point scale, the evaluation of crew resource manage­ment (CRM) skills has become an essential element of every test exercise, and overall weak performance can now result in a failed PPC. The next challenge will be to incorporate the Threat and Error Management model in the evaluation process as it has the potential to radically change conventional thinking on the individual’s proficiency and/or the crew’s ability to manage a flight.

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These days, you are more likely to see an inspector in the back of the aircraft flight deck (or simulator) watching an ACP conduct your PPC than you are to have an inspector conduct a check ride on you.

If you are curious about the standards used to conduct a PPC, or wish to learn more about becoming an ACP, you can consult the ninth edition of the Approved Check Pilot Manual (TP 6533), which details all ACP requirements. In addition, the Pilot Proficiency Check and Aircraft Type Rating Flight Test Guide (Aeroplane) (TP 14727) and the Pilot Proficiency Check and Aircraft Type Rating Flight Test Guide (Helicopter) (TP 14728) may interest pilots who would like more information on the PPC. These publications are available at www.tc.gc.ca/CivilAviation/commerce/OperationalStandards/acp/menu.htm. The guides cover items such as admission requirements to the PPC, flight crew concept, single-pilot IFR requirements, CRM, and the 4-point marking scale. They also provide a detailed list of the flight-test exercises as well as an explanation of your rights, should you fail a check ride.

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