As the aviation industry is currently going through the COVID-19 crisis and class courses are being stopped or rescheduled, all of the Part 147 training schools are facing major existential challenges. Due to the limitations applied during the times of quarantine (including but not limited to closed possibilities to travel and bans on holding the meetings), technical training are being closed and/or postponed for the indefinite period of time.

Below, we explore the pros and cons as well as the solutions that the whole aviation industry (airlines, MROs and others) and regulators should be considering in these turbulent times.

1. Part 147 online training

Naturally, this is the first solution that comes to mind as it provides a convenient and cost-effective way of training the team. Due to the nature of online trainings, they overcome COVID-19 challenges mentioned above rather well – they allow you to avoid physical meetings while mobile technologies open the doors to any part of the world.

The most important limitation of online trainings is that they cover only specific parts of aviation competences. Moreover, depending on the type of the provider selected, the solutions offered are more or less interactive; therefore, the actual knowledge sharing is limited to the personal willingness to study and access the materials presented online.

Pros Cons

  • Cost-effective § Limited scope of training types
  • Accessible worldwide § Limited interaction
  • Flexible § Non-controlled environment
  • Does not require physical interactions

2. Virtual training

The topic, which is now very relevant inside the Part 147 society, is virtual trainings. They are more advanced comparing to the classical online trainings, as it is based on an interactive method providing the training with the instructor of the course gathering the group of students in a virtual environment (e.g., Zoom, Teams, Skype or any other). From the regulatory point of view, such an option offers a higher level of interaction, control and knowledge sharing.

Yet is this a “silver bullet” to the COVID-19 challenge? Unfortunately, not, and mainly because of the regulatory requirements related to (i) examinations and (ii) practical part of the training.

EASA as well as other regulators across the globe were always very strict to ensuring the controlled environment of the training process (with the key focus on exams) as well as practical part of training (aiming that some part of the training would be done with the physical access to the aircraft).

Pros Cons

  • Potentially full scope of training § Limited to regulatory restrictions (exams/practical part of trainings):
  • Extended interaction via virtual meeting tools § Only partially-controlled environment
  • Flexible § Can only guarantee virtual access to aircraft/ component
  • Does not require physical interactions § Going the extra mile for regulators is essential during the times of uncertainty

Unfortunately, aviation industry by itself would not be able to overcome the above-mentioned regulatory challenges without regulators going the extra mile, which now is critically important.

Thoughts and suggestions are explored below:

  • Physical vs. virtual access to aircraft

Virtual reality is another topic roaming in the corridors of aviation world and even if we are living in a 21st century with almost everything being virtual, the conservative nature of aviation is looking cautiously at virtual equipment created. However, it does seem that we have a path to breakthrough and the regulatory voice is softening due to the numerous scientific research proving that virtual training can fully replace physical ones. Nevertheless, they can be even more effective and provide unlimited possibilities for repeating difficult tasks, avoiding simulating errors and creating an environment that would be very rare in the real world.

The transfer of full training programs to the virtual reality would have to be done anyway yet would require time and investment from the industry, therefore carrying it out now is more convenient. It also ensures the continuous learning process of the aviation professionals as well as safety now and in case of like future events.