This is part three of a three-part series. Parts one and two can be found here.—Ed. 

The first two pieces discussed the old way of training and the introduction of advanced qualification programs (AQP). This piece covers ground school in the modern age.

Ground school over the years has changed. Instead of sitting in a classroom for a day or two, pilots do most of their ground training via the internet and computer-based training modules. For the record, I prefer the old classroom style, since it was a chance to interact with other pilots, meet with managers, and trade war stories. That’s lost with the CBT model, but money talks, and CBTs are cheaper.

The training can be conducted every month or on a quarterly or trimester basis, depending on the airline. This is often called continuing qualification, or CQ. Topics covered can vary from aircraft-specific systems to company-wide items such as security or hazardous materials handling. Each module consist of a lesson and quizzes.

One major advantage to the CBT model is that airlines have the ability to add training at any time, especially if a pressing need exists to cover material deemed to be time- and safety-critical.

The FAA also requires regular training on emergency equipment and the airplane doors. Believe it or not, pilots rarely get to use the doors, and the training is especially critical for the doors that have escape slides. If a mistake is made on a door with a slide, someone could be seriously injured or killed. Emergency exits, over-wing exits, and the door to the cockpit are all covered.

Other emergency equipment is reviewed to cover location, actual use, and differences. For example, there are multiple different kinds of fire extinguishers, and it’s important to know which is used to fight specific fires (say, a paper fire versus an electrical fire). Some airplanes carry more than one kind of portable oxygen bottle. There are other examples, but the gist is clear. The flight attendants see and use this stuff every day; we don’t.

Training has moved to a more continual model, and that’s a good thing. I personally miss the old classroom sessions, but I like the more modern approach to the events in the sim. Some of them I look forward to, and others—not so much! But, it’s good to know that the training itself never ends.—Chip Wright