Introduction of the new flight crew license
The Multi-crew Pilot License (MPL) is the new flight crew license created by the Flight Crew Licensing and Training Panel of International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). This new license has been adopted as part of the review of current licensing (ICAO Annex 1) and training (Annex 6) standards. This implementation is carried out to ensure the standards remain continuously “relevant in meeting current needs while preserving and improving upon existing flight safety levels” (ATW, 2005, p.51).
A new pilot qualification was established by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) specifically for airline co-pilots in 2006.
This license is seen as a stepping stone, to implement competency-based training for other pilot licenses. Germany made the first push towards this change. This new ICAO initiative, MPL, aims at a complete overhaul in the way; commercial air transport pilots are trained and licensed (ATW, 2005, p.51).
The new licence was incorporated into ICAO Annex 1 (Personnel Licensing) in November 2006. It is based on the recommendations of ICAO's flight crew licensing training panel. The initiative was prompted by calls from industry for better ways to train co-pilots amid evidence that deficits in teamwork were major contributors to airline accidents (CASA, 2010).
Competency Based Training
The MPL is designed to develop the abilities needed to fly multi-crew airline aeroplanes. Compared to traditional training pathways it makes greater use of simulators, adopts competency-based-training methods and further applies human factors and threat and error management in all phases of training. Traditional training methods emphasise independence and individual skills. While appropriate for single-pilot operations, they can impede the transfer to multi-crew operations. Pilots moving to work in airlines have needed bridging training.
ICAO has also issued a set of procedures for training, and has set them out in its PANS-TRG (procedures for air navigation services – training) document, which shifts the focus from prescriptive flying hour requirements to competency-based training and assessment.
The procedures put more emphasis on simulator training including the use of simulated air traffic control. Pilots will still be able to take the traditional pathway to qualifying to fly as co-pilot, progressing from the private pilot licence through the commercial licence to the air transport pilot licence.
In the past, most pilots have military background and the system of Private Pilot License (PPL) and Commercial Pilot License (CPL) has been existing for the past few decades. The MPL is implemented to skip the training for the current Commercial Pilot License with instrument rating and allow the pilot to work towards the ‘frozen’ airline transport pilot license (ATPL).
The ICAO council adopted and accepted MPL in early 2006 with an applicability date of November 2006.
During beta testing, the Multi-Crew Pilot License has shown great success despite its controversial origins.
The ICAO has designed this fast-track training programme, to increase the pace of flight training, to ensure the estimated demand of 17,000 new pilots per year required to fly an approximated 2.6 billion passenger-miles by 2026.
Highlights of MPL
The Multi-Crew Pilot License programme can produce co-pilot in 240 hours, of which 210 hours is in simulators.
This training programme can be completed in 45 weeks as compared to 18 months to 2 years in the current existing system.
Introduced in late 2006, Multi-Crew Pilot License, has been driven to success by the cost and speed effectiveness.
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Multi-Crew Pilot License (2)