The overall goals of the Advanced Qualification Program are: (1) To increase aviation safety through improved training and evaluation, and (2) To be responsive to changes in aircraft technology, operations, and training methodologies.
In general an AQP differs from traditional regulatory requirements in terms of the following characteristics:
- Participation is voluntary. Air carriers choosing not to participate will continue to be governed by the appropriate existing provisions of 14 CFR, Parts 121 and 135. However, nearly all major U.S. airlines are presently participants. A growing number of regional airlines also participate in the program.
- An AQP may employ innovative training and qualification concepts. Provided the applicant can demonstrate to the FAA's satisfaction that the resulting aircrew proficiency will meet or exceed that obtainable through a traditional program, significant departures from the pertinent requirements of FAR Parts 121 and 135 may be authorized.
- An AQP entails proficiency based qualification. That is, provided that pilots are trained to a standard of proficiency on all objectives within an approved AQP curriculum, it is not necessary to verify proficiency by virtue of a formal proficiency check on every such item. Rather, the proficiency evaluation may consist of a sample of such items, in order to validate that the training to proficiency strategy has in fact achieved its objectives. Terminal proficiency objectives (TPOss), together with associated performance standards, replace the FAAs traditional event driven compliance requirements. Each air carrier applicant, rather than the FAA, develops its own TPO's on the basis of an instructional systems development (ISD) process outlined in Advisory Circular 120-54, Advanced Qualification Program. Once approved by the FAA, these TPO's become regulatory requirements for the individual carrier. An AQP provides an approved means for the carrier to propose TPO additions, deletions, or changes as needed to maintain a high degree of aircrew proficiency tailored to the operator's line requirements.
In order to assure that the increased flexibility inherent in AQP does not come at the cost of reduced safety, certain mandatory criteria have been established, among them the following. An AQP must:
- Be aircraft specific (i.e. accommodate each make, model, and series or variant of aircraft within any given fleet transitioning to an AQP).
- Provide indoctrination, qualification, and continuing qualification curriculums for every duty position. Indoctrination consists of fleet common knowledge items. Qualification consists of fleet specific ground and flight operations training for a newly assigned cockpit duty position. Continuing qualification consists of fleet specific ground and flight operations recurrent training for presently held duty positions.
- Provide training and evaluation which is conducted to the maximum extent possible in a full cockpit crew environment (e.g. Captain and First Officer). Qualification and continuing qualification curricula must include a line operational evaluation (LOE), which consists of a full flight scenario systematically designed to target specific technical and crew resource management (CRM) skills.
- Integrate training and evaluation of CRM in accordance with the provisions of Advisory Circular 120-51, Crew Resource Management Training, Advisory Circular 120-54, Advanced Qualification Program, and 14 CFR Part 121, Subpart Y. The evaluation of CRM proficiency is mandatory, and substandard performance on CRM factors must be corrected by additional training. In AQP, demonstration of proficiency in maneuver oriented technical skills is a necessary but insufficient condition for pilot qualification. For pass/fail purposes, pilots must also demonstrate proficiency in LOEs, which test both technical and CRM skills together.
- Provide AQP specific training for instructors and evaluators, together with explicit training and evaluation strategies to verify the proficiency and standardization of such personnel for crew oriented, scenario-based training and evaluation tasks.
- Collect performance proficiency data on students, instructors, and evaluators and conduct airline internal analyses of such information for the purpose of curriculum refinement and validation. Participants are also required to forward certain data to the FAA in digital electronic format on a routine basis.
- Integrate the use of advanced flight training equipment, including full flight simulators. AQP encourages air carriers to utilize a suite of equipment matched on the basis of analysis to the training requirements at any given stage of a curriculum. Judicious analysis of these requirements can enable an AQP participant to significantly reduce the need for use of a full simulator.