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Advanced Qualification Program (AQP)

The Advanced Qualification Program (AQP) training system is developed using a systematic training program methodology. AQP is a voluntary, data-driven, alternative means of compliance to the ‘traditional’ regulatory requirements under 14 CFR Parts 121 and 135 for training and checking.

Under the AQP performance-based regulatory framework of 14 CFR Subpart Y, FAA is authorized to vary from traditional prescriptive requirements under 14 CFR 121 Subparts N and O (i.e., ‘traditional training’), subject to justification of an equivalent or better level of safety. As part of the systematic development process, AQP requires a front-end analysis of both training and operational data to establish proficiency objective requirements for all aspects of training.

Unlike traditional aviation training, AQP provides a multitude of training and safety benefits including data-driven improvement and program flexibility; integration of CRM; crew evaluation; planned hours (i.e., ‘trained-to-proficiency’); and scenario-based training and evaluations.

Technical assistance and policy support provided by the Training and Simulation Group
Email Air Transportation Division or call (202)-267-8166

AQP Summary Topics

Question Answer Notes
What and Who AQP is a voluntary, alternative method for qualifying, training, and certifying crewmembers and operations personnel, such as:
  • Pilots
  • Flight Attendants
  • Instructors and Evaluators
  • Dispatchers
  • Other operations personnel (as applicable)
AQP is an alternative to ‘traditional’ training programs, which are defined under part 121 Subparts N & O - and are based on a prescriptive rule that assumes a “one size fits all” approach to training.

AQP encourages innovation in the methods and technology that are used during instruction and evaluation.

AQP is a process (or performance-based rule) that allows for customized training to the certificate holder’s unique demographic and flight operation.

Why AQP was established to allow a greater degree of regulatory flexibility in the approval of innovative training programs.

AQP improves flight crewmember performance by providing alternative means of compliance with traditional training rules and promotes the innovative use of modern technology for flight crewmember training.

The AQP methodology directly supports the FAA’s goals for safety enhancement, through data-informed, and data-driven improvement.

Catalyst for this alternative method of compliance proposal was airline training management familiarity with instructional systems design (ISD), and proficiency-based training experience from military flight training programs.

When AQP was introduced in 1990 under SFAR 58 special rule.

AQP regulatory codification was published in 2005 as 14 CFR Part 121 Subpart Y.

In contrast to original traditional training rules from the late 1950’s and updated in the early 1970’s with the advancement of aircraft simulation technologies, and a recognized need to introduce CRM to training programs.

How Many
  • 90% of Large 121 carriers(over 1000 pilots) utilize AQP
  • 100% of Medium size 121 carriers( 501-999 pilots)
  • 5% of Small size 121 carriers
  • Over 90% of U.S. airline pilots train under AQP
  • 95% of small 121 carriers(less than 500 pilots) choose compliance with traditional training rules
  • To date, there are 71 active 121 carriers
    • 43 of those carriers still train under traditional Subparts N&O
Guidance and Regulations


  • Support safe operations by continuously improving training and evaluation
  • Remain responsive to continuing changes in the industry, including new aircraft technology, changing operational environments, and new training methods and equipment
  • Remain responsive to continuing changes and best practices relative to training and evaluation of performance


  • Participation is voluntary
  • Employs innovative training and qualification concepts with the regulatory flexibility to tailor training to individual company circumstances
  • Uses performance data to drive curriculum changes
  • Qualification is based on individual and team performance, using progressive evaluations of proficiency objectives, and the structure and maintenance of all elements (curriculum, facilities, training equipment, instructors, evaluators, courseware, and quality assurance) of the program
  • Data collection and analysis to validate individual and team proficiency, and the AQP itself
  • Training is systematically developed with an audit trail for all training and data requirements

Overview of key AQP benefits

  • Although AQP is a voluntary program, the FAA Flight Standards Service encourages air carriers to participate.
  • AQP provides for enhanced curriculum development and a data-driven approach to quality assurance along with the flexibility to target critical tasks during aircrew training.
  • The AQP methodology directly supports the FAA’s goals for safety enhancement. The primary goal of AQP is to achieve the highest possible standard of individual and crew performance. In order to achieve this goal, AQP seeks to reduce the probability of crew-related errors by aligning training and evaluation requirements more closely with the known causes of human error.
  • AQP permits a greater degree of regulatory flexibility in the approval of innovative pilot training programs.
  • Based on a documented analysis of operational requirements, a certificate holder under AQP may propose to depart from traditional practices with respect to what, how, when, and where training and testing is conducted.
  • The methods and procedures (described in AC 120-54A) are one acceptable means of compliance. Alternate means are encouraged and will be evaluated on their merit.

Additional AQP Benefits

  • AQP provides an alternative method of Qualifying and Certifying
  • Flexibility — program modification and improvement
  • CRM — provides opportunities for integration of individual and multi-crew environment for training and evaluation
  • Scenario-based training and evaluation using LOS
  • The ability to modify training curricula, media, and intervals
  • Data-informed and Data-driven program improvement
  • Access to innovative training ideas and research
  • Opportunity to achieve more efficient training
  • Crew evaluation as well as individual assessment
  • Improved standardization across fleets and flight personnel
  • Train-To-Proficiency (TTP) —shift from programmed hours to planned hours (i.e., proficiency-based training)

The development of an AQP is a five-phase process. This process provides a structured building-block approach to program development. This approach results in a program with fully documented curriculums, supporting rationales, and a development methodology consistent with AQP principles.

AQP Phases

The use of this standardized AQP development process, along with its documentation requirements, allows an AQP applicant to develop training and evaluation programs based on analyzed and justified requirements.

The documentation from this five-phase process serves as the regulatory basis to approve and conduct oversight of the AQP-developed training and evaluation programs.

  • Each phase is approved sequentially.
  • Each phase consists of specific activities, including the documentation of those activities.
  • The documents submitted in each phase must also be FAA-approved.

A library of formalized AQP Training Systems Documents — previously known as the Program Audit Database (PADB) - contains six training system documents.

The AQP Training System Document categories:

  • Management Documents
    • Application — Program scope declaration and description
    • Instructional Systems Design (ISD)
    • Implementation and Operations (I&O) Plan
  • Curriculum Documents
    • Job Task Analysis (JTA)
    • Qualification Standards
    • Curriculum Outline(s)
  • Training System Data and Reporting Documents
    • Monthly FAA Data Tables submitted to FAA
    • Periodic reviews — (e.g., monthly, or quarterly — as determined by the I&O)
    • Annual Report — (i.e., ‘end of period’ program summary and analysis)

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